Everyone is looking for the next big piece of technology to do ‘the work’ for them. We are obsessed with wearables, supplements, feedback systems, and fads. But are these interventions helpful?
The answer is ‘it depends’.
Below is a list of the only actions that will lead to definite outcomes in your health.
- Regular exercise
- Increased whole foods
- Decreased processed foods
- Overall control of food consumption
- Sugar and alcohol avoidance
- Sun exposure
- Better sleep quality and duration
- Purpose in life
- Healthy relationships
- Controlled suffering (i.e., Sauna, Cold Showers, Stillness Practices, Airdyne Intervals)
You need to ask yourself, ‘is this gadget helping me achieve the goals on this list?’
If the answer is ‘yes’, it’s a helpful ‘hack’. If the answer is ‘no’, you’re wasting your time and money on a feeling of success rather than tangible progress.
For instance, a gym membership is only as helpful as your attendance frequency and how hard you work while you’re there. The structure, environment, tools, and support can all play a factor in a gym’s effectiveness (compared to working out at home, which may produce a low success rate). If owning a gym membership doesn’t encourage you to exercise, it’s a waste of money.
Tracking your calories with a wearable is only as helpful as the degree to which it motivates you to move each day.
Monitoring your sleep is only as helpful as the degree to which it increases your sleep quality and duration.
You get the idea.
The truth is that we become obsessed with information, trends, methods, and hacks because acting on the acquisition of these tools often feels like success, even when we don’t get anything tangible from the purchase. It’s akin to the empty shopping carts you leave around the web. Putting a product in the virtual cart often scratches the buyer’s itch to the point that following through on payment is unnecessary. Then there is the refusal of buyer’s remorse; our determination to prove to ourselves that the thing we spent a bunch of money on wasn’t a total waste of our precious funds. It ‘works’ because we bought it, and because we spent money on it, we refuse to admit otherwise.
I’m willing to bet that if you add up the amount of money you’ve spent on external interventions over the last decade, it does not line up with your rate of success. In fact, I would wager that your health has actually declined as your health spending has increased.
Why is that?
The answer is complicated. But a significant piece of the equation is that external purchasing of health and fitness is an attempt to outsource solutions to internal problems.
Overeating, late-night snacking, constant grazing, laziness, technological distraction, late nights, poor sleep, high stress, and other factors that lead to poor states of health do not exist because we don’t ‘have an app for that’ yet.
But people will keep making fit-tech, and you’ll keep buying it, and nothing will change until you do the difficult, internal work.