In today’s society, the newest trend is healthy living. The online world has made being healthy the most important thing to share and post. Celebrities are snap chatting their workout routines and posting #ProgressPics every so often. So, is it enough to post a picture from a good angle? We can argue that these #FitInspos edit their photos to show a greater result. However, society has now transformed their #fitfam fan base into a digital journey where we share with our quantified result online. As mentioned in lecture, Courtney explains the quantified self-movement as an act of self-monitoring with voluntary submission to self-surveillance that privileges numbers over experiences. Studies have shown in recent years that, “60% of US adults are currently tracking their weight, diet, or exercise routine, and 33% are monitoring other factors such as blood sugar, blood pressure, headaches, or sleep patterns”. (Millington, 2014 pg.480).The youth of today are all about the numbers and progress, not just the feeling of being healthy. Thus, people are now relying on the quantified self rather than one’s personal opinions. This quantified self-movement is defined as “one who devotes enthusiastically measure and track a variety of aspects of their everyday lives”(Millington,pg.480). Thus, as the, “quantified personal health assessments (are an) increasingly mainstream phenomena”(Millington,2014 pg.480), social media plays a pivotal role in this movement. Through the use of social media to share diet plans and work out routines, and new applications and gadgets allowing us to track and record every calorie burned, it has become evident that society needs the reliance of numbers to justify they are living an active lifestyle
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“Ugh I only burned 500 calories, that wasn’t as good of a work out as I thought it was.” “how many calories did you burn?” “I only walked 2000 steps today, maybe I’ll walk to the store.” These are all phrases that has been circulating in the conversation of ‘fitness’ and ‘active living’. With the advancements we have reached in our technology, our society is beginning to shift into a numbers-based mindset, centering the attention to the facts of numbers, and letting the numbers override the feeling. Social media has made large contributions into the quantified self. Lupton states that, “Health and medical support and information websites, apps and social media sites have pro-liferated, facilitating the access of lay people to health-related information and providing them with the opportunity to share experiences of their illnesses or health-promoting activities”(2015, pg.176).Through platforms such as Pinterest users are able to search up through hashtags such as #HealthyLiving #MealPrep or #diet, people are able to access ‘low cal to no cal’ food options by the click of a button. Society is implementing quantifiable eating through covers entitled “40 snacks under 100 calories” with eye catching images to users drawing them in to the idea that the intake of low caloric snacks will help an individual know they are being healthy. Moreover, other posts through Pinterest show charts of food options all with the weight and calories to compare what to eat and how much of it. For example, one cup of blueberries is 85 calories, or 10 salted peanuts is 74 calories. These platforms are active spaces for users to constantly find new content on new ways to “focus on disseminating information about behaviours such as food consumption, weight control…, physical fitness,… mental health and sexual health”(Lupton,2015 pg.176). It’s through these social media platforms like Pinterest that people need to see what to eat to be healthy, as people cannot rely on personal feeling. Society now needs people to tell them what to eat and how to eat it to be #healthy.
The diet plays a fundamental role in healthy living. Yet just as our social media platforms are posting calorie counted meals, so are our local grocery stores and restaurants. Today, many food corporations use calories as a marketing technique to draw consumers to purchase their product. Kellogg’s for example, came out with 100 calorie snacks so that you can ‘feel good’ about what you’re eating. Drawing on personal experience, when I was a child I brought the “100 calorie packs of snacks such as Oreo cookies and Cheese Nips”(Bhatnagar, 2006), byKraft in elementary school. Even at that young of an age, although I was young and naïve, I was excited to get those Oreo thin packs in my lunch as I could compensate for eating Oreos because it was only 100 calories. Therefore, drawing on my personal experience, it is evident that corporations use target markets such as youth and already imbedding the minds of children. Thus, putting an emphasis on calories, “as a way to ‘help’ consumers curb calorie intake”(Bhatnagar,2006). Not only has grocery stores used this technique but also restaurants. This quantified self-movement has been insinuated into restaurants incorporating the calories on the menu, so people are able to base one’s choice on the calories. From Restaurants like PF Chang’s to booster juice or Starbucks. Companies are incorporating the calories on to the menus to alter the consumers choice, uncovering the calories thus makes consumers more inclined to choose the lower calorie items.
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During lecture Courtney posed the question, “Are our bodies the pinnacle of technology but we need assistance in realizing their full potential?” (Stzo, 2018, lecture 4). With the great advancements in technology related to health and wellness we have shifted in moral importance from what one does weigh to what one should weigh. Therefore, new applications and gadgets have become popularized allowing us to track and record every calorie burned. Through, “digitized sensing and monitoring technologies for health promoting purposes”(Lupton, 2015 pg.177), came the Fitbit. The rise of the fit bit caused a re-conceptualization of the self, the body, and of health through comparison and standardization. Millington believes that people enhance, “one’s lifestyle through activities such as dietary monitoring and exercise tracking”(2014, pg.480). However, I would argue that this movement of self-tracking and conversion of feeling into numbers is leading society astray from the importance of healthy lifestyles. Fitness should be about how you feel, not the numbers you see. The Fitbit is a multi-functioning self-monitor with a “comprehensive range of health-tracking features”(Low,2018). This multi-use gadget “can be worn on the wrist or in the pocket, as well as a free smartphone application that can record many of the same categories of information, such as steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned over the course of a day”(Gilmore, 2016 pg.2525). The fit bit is a prime example of society’s reliance on numbers over experience however, these fitness devices are inherently flawed. Hoy highlights the potential problems of these fitness tracking devices and states that, “cconsumers assume the devices are 100% accurate, even though they can drastically over- or under-estimate energy expenditure, especially for activities other than walking”(2016, pg.97 ). Although this can be rather informative, it also can poorly educate people on a fit experience. Now everyone is viewed as an ‘expert’ in self training, paying to close attention on the facts and not enough on the experience.
Similar to the Fitbit, the Apple watch also promotes the health and fitness aspect in the self-tracking, and stylish wrist watch. This smart watch, linked to ones Iphone has multi functions from answering texts to purchasing items. But its main feature is marketed through the fitness perspective of the gadget. The Apple watch is marketed as an experience, as “health and fitness features consumed a large portion”(Philips, 2014). This gadget includes a “heart rate sensor, accelerometer onboard (and) a move ring displays your daily calorie burn”(Philips,2014). The market for wearable fitness technology is rising in popular demand, “generating a 35% increase in revenues between 2013 and 2014. Wearable technology as a whole is projected to generate US$19 billion by 2018″(Gilmore, 2016 pg.2525). However, with all these self monitoring gadgets people often lose sight of why they are exercising, and focus more on the comparison and standardization. Courtney presented a satiric clip in lecture criticizing the constant competition with tracking devices, specifically fit bit, and how individuals care more about the number then the experience of exercising. This clip by Baroness Von Sketch Show, clearly illustrates through comedy how individuals solely rely and listen to the information on these devices. Whether your lacking or excessing to much of something, individuals put the facts of technology over one’s own personal judgement.
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Drawing on personal experience, I am a part of a fitness club called Orange Theory Fitness, argued to be the “new green in high tech fitness”(Olick, 2017). This fitness center is centered around the quantified self-movement. “Orangetheory offers a 60-minute interval workout that’s split between cardio and weight training with a heart rate monitor to track your intensity” (Rosenzweig, 2015). This work out focuses on the ‘after burn’ earned when hitting a certain number of ‘splat points,’ which indicate how long one has been in the ‘orange zone‘. This “so-called orange zone is when you exercise at 84 to 91 percent of your maximum heart rate”(Olick, 2017), recorded and tracked by heart rate monitors. If an individual hits twelve ‘splat points’ it indicates you receive the ‘after burn’ meaning you burn calories for the next twenty four hours. With this theory I am in constant competition with myself. If I do not reach the 12 points then I am disappointed and believe I didn’t have a good work out, or I could have worked harder. Orange theory also counts your calories as you work out. Thus, if I don’t burn over 500 calories I am discouraged. This is a prime example illustrating how people today rely on the quantified self-movement to dictate one’s health and fitness.
In conclusion, society has transformed the world of health and fitness into a digital journey based on quantified information that we can share online. However, as we constantly rely on the numbers, are we forgetting the experience of fitness? And if we constantly rely on these numbers, then have lines have blurred between experience and numbers? Who is the judge? Although this quantified movement is beneficial to many as these, “trackers can help to keep you motivated“(Taylor, 2015 pg.9), and one has something more tangible to reflect on. I would argue that one’s fitness should revolve around experience and feeling rather than hard facts. What is making these quantified work outs so popular is the rise in technology. People feel as though they cannot rely on one’s self to make decisions and therefore need technology to tell them. Yet what is missing from this quantified movement is experience, that killer sensation one gets after completing a work out. That amazing feeling of self-empowered confidence given when you have climbed to the top of that mountain and see how far you have come. I would argue we are shifting in the wrong direction, surrounding our lifestyles with numbers and must shift back to the experience of health and fitness. It has become evident that society now needs, “documentation that helps source out the ‘truth’” (Szto, 2014 pg. 325), of one’s physical ability. However, we can’t rely solely on numbers as everyone’s bodies are different. For people to quantify work out routines are completely based on their personal physique. Teens online for example, look at Instagram Fitness stars who promise, ‘follow this work out and diet plan, and you will look like me’. This belief is inherently false as everyone’s bodies build muscle and burn calories differently. Therefore, Through the use of social media to share diet plans and work out routines, and new applications and gadgets allowing us to track and record every calorie burned, it has become evident that society needs the reliance of numbers to justify they are living an active lifestyle.
1. Do you quantify your workouts? If you do, could you go without it?
2. In your opinion, do you think counting your calories (whether in your diet, or workout) is healthy?
Bhatnagar, P. (2006, January 11). The hottest food trends in 2006. Retrieved April 07, 2018, fromhttp://money.cnn.com/2006/01/10/news/companies/food_trends/
Gilmore, J. (2016). Everywear: The quantified self and wearable fitness technologies. New Media & Society,18(11), 2524-2539.
Hoy, M. (2016). Personal Activity Trackers and the Quantified Self. Medical Reference Services Quarterly,35(1), 94-100.
Low, C. (2018, March 26). Fitbit Versa review: A stylish smartwatch at the right price. Retrieved April 08, 2018, from https://www.engadget.com/2018/03/26/fitbit-versa-review/
Lupton, D. (2015). Health promotion in the digital era: A critical commentary. Health Promotion International,30(1), 174-183.
Millington, B. (2014). Smartphone Apps and the Mobile Privatization of Health and Fitness. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 1-15.
Olick, D. (2017, January 6). How a studio called Orangetheory is the new green in high-tech fitness. Retrieved April 9, 2018, from https://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/06/how-a-studio-called-orangetheory-is-the-new-green-in-high-tech-fitness.html
Phillips, J. (2014, September 09). Meet Apple Watch, the new Apple smartwatch with a clever new navigation scheme. Retrieved April 08, 2018, from https://www.macworld.com/article/2604309/meet-apple-watch-the-new-apple-smartwatch-with-a-clever-new-navigation-scheme.html
Rosenzweig, F. (2014, July 25). The Inside Scoop About Orangetheory Fitness. Retrieved April 09, 2018, from https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/the-inside-scoop-about-orangetheory-fitness
Szto, C., & Gray, S. (2014). Forgive me Father for I have Thinned: Surveilling the bio-citizen through Twitter. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 1-17.
Taylor, A. (2015). Get Fit with Apple Watch Using the Apple Watch for Health and Fitness / by Allen G. Taylor.