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Self-love alone cannot fix that. The body positivity movement's narrow focus means its tools can't work as predicted--or at all. Yes, we all need self-love to cope with body shaming and to resist internalizing it, yet self-love is not the cure but the response. All the self-love in the world won't prevent discrimination or systemic oppression. It can't help others see you for who you are. For marginalized people, and writ large collectively, a self-love focus is the spoonful of sugar that makes the oppression go down. Consider an incident in my life--a story about the damage body shame can do. Sure, self-love can help me recover from it, but how would self-love have prevented it? Managing our stress and finding balance in the digital age is an essential undertaking for our physical and mental health. We know that Internet overload and too much time spent on social media leads to procrastination, anxiety, depression, malignant envy, FOMO, social comparisons, loneliness, and mental and physical exhaustion. We also know that those who score high on assessments for FOMO, anxiety, depression, social comparisons, anxious attachment, and envy are more likely to overuse technology and social media in ways that undermine their mental health--thus creating a vicious cycle of self-defeating behavior. There's even reason to believe that our phones and other devices are shortening our lifespans. Evidence shows that just having a phone in the same room as us raises our stress and cortisol levels. Extended periods of high cortisol levels increase our risk for diabetes, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, cardiac disease, and obesity, among other health issues. There's now a recognized medical condition, text neck, which refers to stress injury and pain in the neck caused by looking down too often and too long at our iPhones, tablets, or other devices. Technology is here to stay, making it a permanent part of our existence. Throughout this article, we have reviewed numerous studies investigating technology's impact on our emotional health that tell us passive consumption of social media can make us feel worse than we had felt moments before we logged on and that the more time we spend on social media, the worse we will feel! We also know that using social media to meet our attachment needs over in-person interactions also undermines our emotional well-being. Skinner experimented with and that we use when we give our kids gold stars for doing their chores. While there's nothing diabolical about fitness trackers offering buzzes, beeps, and badges, the idea that we seek such rewards from a machine does make me wonder how needy we're becoming.

Positive reinforcement can be a very effective coaching tool if used discerningly, but if we get gold stars for every little milestone, we're being rewarded for mediocrity rather than real achievement. From a neuroscience standpoint, we're creating a feedback loop in our brains that gives us a little squirt of dopamine and other happy hormones each time we earn another gold star. This is ingraining a habit that encourages us to keep doing a little more each day, even when this becomes detrimental and what we really need to progress is to do a little less, but better and more skillfully. If you don't want to completely give up the extrinsic rewards your fitness technology offers, you can break the habit loop by not using it a day or two each week. Or better yet, get with a friend who's a similarly dedicated user and agree to quit together for a month. Going cold turkey might seem daunting, but having that accountability will help you stay strong. Kicking the Habit: Replacing External Reinforcement with Internal Purpose I've know a lot of people who panic when they're not wearing their fitness tracker because they believe their efforts while unplugged won't count. The glass bowl I was washing in the sink slipped from my hands and shattered, sending a shard of glass through the flesh of my ring finger. I knew it was more than a cut. I suspected I'd severed the tendon. Dutifully, I took myself to the hospital emergency room. Nope, the doctor told me, the tendon was intact and the nerve would heal on its own over time. My primary care physician later said the same thing. I wasn't convinced. I'm a scientist and physiologist, so the structure and function of the body is literally my business. I knew enough to know that my symptoms suggested a torn tendon and that delaying treatment could result in permanent damage, so I asked over and over again to see a specialist, urgently, now. This is not the story of a doctor examining my sliced-up finger and prescribing weight loss, which is something that happens to fat folks all the time. The purpose of this article in particular and article is to help readers learn to use social media in skillful and effective ways. Technology should enhance our lives, not complicate it.

Learning to live a balanced life in the digital age is possible. This article gives readers four recommendations to help with integrating technology into your daily life in ways that allow for maximum enjoyment. Recommendation #1: Prioritize Real-Life Relationships Over Screen Time I hear this kind of thing a lot in my practice: I'm so lonely. I haven't spoken to my son in five years. I'm just sick over it. My wife and I are constantly fighting. This means they've come to believe that unless their effort is being measured and recorded, it's worthless. There are even social media hashtags--like #stravafail--dedicated to this. This is a dangerous game to play, physically and emotionally. Such a mind-set suggests a deep overdependence on a device and some troubling self-worth issues, which technology is merely exacerbating. So what happens when someone tries to go cold turkey and shoves their tracker in a drawer or deletes their monitoring apps? Not surprisingly, they go through withdrawal symptoms. Transitioning from the quantified self back to the regular old self can be a long, grueling mental process, wrote Cari Romm in New York Magazine's August 26, 2016, issue. After ditching her wearable, she felt a weird sense of nihilism that's been dogging me the past five days--the feeling that walking doesn't matter, that all my uncounted steps are somehow for naught. It's not enough that they get me to where I'm going; Romm goes on to cite a study by Jordan Etkin from Duke University, who found that when people unplug, they do less of their chosen activity than when they were tracking it. That experience and others like it--of being profiled and dismissed, based on what status or lack-of-status signals your body is transmitting--is body injustice, and it's a central focus of the Health at Every Size and body positivity movements. I'm a slim person, however, so that particular example of body injustice is not part of my experience--but if we track my story all the way through the health system and almost to the courtroom, we will indeed see body injustice rear its ugly head.

At some point, I caved and gave up on self-advocacy. If my health care providers are convinced I am wrong, maybe I am. After all, they're the experts, right? When I was finally allowed an appointment with a hand specialist, my fear was confirmed. My tendon was torn, and because too much time had passed, it was no longer repairable. As a result, I now suffer persistent pins-and-needles sensation in that finger and can't bend it, which makes typing a challenge--a not insignificant problem, given that I work as a writer. These were avoidable outcomes with proper diagnosis and timely treatment--both of which I'd rallied for. I went into mediation with the insurance company to hold them accountable, and it's in this place, the aftermath of the injury, that the body injustice of our health system and our wider culture presented itself. And when we're not fighting, we ignore each other. We all suffer when our significant relationships aren't going well, making it harder to bring balance into our lives. After all, it's thought that our deepest desires center on being loved and being able to love. Most psychologists agree that in order to be happy we need someone to love, something meaningful to do, and things to look forward to. Good relationships keep us happier and healthier, says Robert Waldinger, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. Furthermore, it's not the number of friends we have that makes us happier; Supporting John Bowlby's groundbreaking theories on the benefits of secure attachment, Waldinger's research links having warm and secure relationships in childhood to better outcomes in our health and emotional well-being in our later years. In fact, there's a link between the presence of meaningful relationships and heart health--all good reasons for prioritizing our in-person relationships! Couples or individuals who come to me for help improving their relationships frequently ask, Where do I start? Where do we start? So if you're removing the external motivation that such a device provides, what do you replace it with? The answer is to rediscover the very thing that hooked you on your sport from the get-go: the challenge of self-improvement, the joy of discovery, and the pleasure of the activity itself.

Sometimes when we defer to a wearable it switches our focus to competition, so that the activity itself is no longer enough and we can't enjoy a pickup basketball game or a company softball league without worrying about our stats. Love of the game might be a cliche, but it's also a valid phrase that reminds us what pure motivation and enjoyment look like. When I talked to Lenny Wiersma, sports psychologist for USA Swimming and the UCLA swimming and water polo teams, about this topic, he told me that fitness trackers can be fine for early-stage motivation, but then said that he isn't sure if wearables will keep people in the game long enough to see the changes they want. So if they're not going to derive benefit from self-monitoring past a certain point, what can they do to keep active? Replace an external motivator with an internal one that's combined with being outdoors. If you look at surfers, snowboarders, and other extreme sports athletes, nature is a large part of why they keep doing an activity that involves danger and risk, he said. Initially they get a rush and try to replicate that, but eventually their motivation shifts. Being in a natural environment forces us to be present and conscious of what's happening. It seemed like a straightforward judgment. My concerns and their responses were all expressed in writing, including their own specialist's determination that a full recovery could have been expected if I had received the timely care that was repeatedly requested and denied to me. But during my deposition, the attorney representing the insurance company asked me about my pending top surgery. If you're thinking, but wait, there's no connection between a finger injury and top surgery, you're right. There's not. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, a politically progressive place where I've been living my gender identity confidently for decades. I have supportive, progressive-minded friends and colleagues and a workplace where I'm valued, and I am well educated on gender identity. Body acceptance has been my life's work. I'm considered a leader in the body positivity field. I teach practices that help you relearn the skill of self-acceptance, and in both my previous articles I share tools to help you advocate for yourself in institutional and medical settings. What can we do to change things now? One thing I tell people they can do right away to improve their relationships is to prioritize their real-life relationships over time on screens by unplugging when with others.