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For years, I had the mindset that if I wasn’t wearing my Fitbit, did the workout really happen? (Answer: No.) Not only do I rely on my Fitbit to track my exercises, but I chose to invest in this specific Sense model because of its sleep tracking tech—a must-have for my chronic sleep struggles. And for a long time, I refused to unclip it from my wrist because I was engrossed in understanding what the data said about my health. But after accidentally leaving my beloved little tracker on my nightstand one day, I took it as an opportunity for an experiment: What if I put the Fitbit on the shelf for an entire week? Here’s what happened after I—a Fitbit-obsessed gym rat and insomniac—took a break from my favorite wrist tech.

I Stopped Wearing My Fitbit for a Week CAT
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Did my workouts change without my watch?

Before and during this accidental experiment, I was completing Krissy Cela’s Sculpt It at-home program four times a week on the Tone & Sculpt app. So while the structure and schedule of my training stayed the same, my perception of how much effort I contributed to the workout altered in a surprising way—I actually became more laser-focused on form, reps and performance. Without my watch, I didn’t take my 15-second “breaks” between exercises to double-check my heart zones. Without my technological crutch, I released myself from the noise and instead focused on improving the movements.

What changed mentally and physically?

Who knew that forgetting to wear my watch one day was like lifting this invisible weight off? Without a way to compare calories burned to friends on social media, I began to enjoy my newfound focus and drive to push my body while listening to it. I tapped into critical components like mind-to-muscle connection and can-do motivations. For example, I watched instructional videos on proper form before exercises, I thought about the specific muscles I was targeting when performing reps (...Yes, I really did think "Glutes, glutes, glutes" during my hip thrusts) and I repeated positive affirmations out loud—even when I didn't feel too positive—anytime I wanted to quit.

I even felt less stressed with no daily notifications on my Stress Management scores. While I continued to struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night, without the reminders of how my sleep was scoring, I wasn’t beating myself up for going to bed too late or for not hitting the average hours of deep sleep.

Physically, nothing changed. And truthfully, I didn’t expect it to. I looked the exact same before and after the week-long experiment. Yes, my mental and motivational approach to the workouts altered, affecting my perceived exertion levels—aka the level I feel my physical activity to be at a given time. However, my diet, caloric intake and actual exertion levels maintained relatively the same from that week to previous weeks. I was going to bed and waking up at relatively the same time, walking the same route around the neighborhood, completing the exact workout program as I did a week prior and, most notably, eating similar serving sizes and meals every day.

In short, if I wanted to see physical changes, I would need to adjust the amount of energy expended, caloric intake and fuel my body with micronutrient dense foods. Visual body changes will usually take months to notice (sometimes years), and most definitely not one week.

Will I go back to using my Fitbit?

Without a doubt, yes. I absolutely love seeing my hard work translate into data that I can analyze over periods of time. But I no longer feel this obligatory need to wear it 24/7. In a way, I am choosing not to wear it constantly because I don’t need to. If I was asked a year ago, I would have sworn that I would never take it off—obsessing over numbers because maybe then would I finally lose that weight, be more productive and reach a totally zen me who didn’t need to take a cortisol manager before bed. But this constant need to check my watch for calories burned, hours slept or steps walked was an unhealthy obsession I was blind to before.

Rather than feeling the constant need to care about heart rate zones or calories burned while wearing my Fitbit, I utilize the lessons I learned while disconnecting and just let myself breathe. And if I realize I forgot my watch on my nightstand while I’m on my way to the gym? Well, guess what? The workout still counts.

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