We've all got to get out and move more and rely on technology less. In doing so, we recognize that yes, we'll definitely make some mistakes. But we'll learn as much if not more from these as we will from our successes, and so we'll make progress long before science confirms what we find to be self-evident. The key is to put on your shoes, get out the door, and begin. Keep your ears and eyes open so you're able to absorb new information, but make sure that your quest for new information doesn't produce inertia. Be Your Own Experiment As the wearables revolution has taken hold, we've become too beholden to our technology. In doing so, we've abdicated our power and freely given away responsibility for our health. I have a hiatal hernia. My doctor probably missed early diagnosis because of fatphobia; This example is but one of many that demonstrates that medical reliance on BMI is harmful to people of all sizes. On those rare occasions when I experience symptoms from my hernia, it can be terrifying. I feel like I can't get air and I'm going to pass out and die. It helps fuel a meditation practice where I focus on being conscious of my breath--and knowing that nothing is more important in that moment than that breath. Watching the heart-wrenching video that captured Eric Garner's murder, turning his death into a national discussion about racism and police brutality (less discussed was the fatphobia), evoked deep emotion for me. Eric was an asthmatic, and as he struggled for breath, he repeated the words, I can't breathe, eleven times. Eleven times. I was stunned watching the video, as it seemed so clear to me that I was watching a murder. Whether it's a family, a substitute family, a community, a religious organization, a gardening club, a article club, or a professional association, it's well established that being a part of a group or tribe is crucial for our emotional development and well-being. In fact, statistics and research support the fact that our social connections and participation in groups enrich and add meaning to our lives and decrease our risks for depressive disorders, anxiety, substance abuse, loneliness, and low self-esteem.

Furthermore, there's also reason to believe that social connectedness is at least as good for your health as exercising or quitting smoking. It aids recovery from physical and mental illness and provides resilience in the face of stressful life events and transitions. As I was writing this article, Facearticle launched its new ad campaign More Together, which featured groups of people connecting with slogans like, We're More Unstoppable Together, We're More Intergalactic Together, and Whatever You're Into, There's A Group for You. These ads encourage Facearticle users to expand their digital social network from individual virtual friendships to include various Facearticle groups based on interests, from gardening to superhero comic articles. In many ways, Facearticle's campaign gets it right. As Helen Keller famously said, Alone we can do so little; In an era when we have enough tools and devices at our fingertips to connect us 24-7, one would think loneliness would be on the decline. Yet studies show we're lonelier than ever. To reclaim yourself, you need to ask a very simple question about your physical practice: what works for you? This can be as simple or sophisticated as you want. Maybe it's as easy as tracking your mood, on a scale of one to ten, every morning. Or if you're a data guy or girl, perhaps you chart and plot everything--sleep, mood, body weight, exercise performance, resting heart rate, desire to train, and sense of fulfillment--on a spreadsheet. If such information gathering motivates you and helps you continually improve, there's no harm in it. Cheat Mortality, Not Your Wallet In recent years, testing companies have taken advantage of athletes' relentless pursuit of progress and come up with all sorts of fancy tests. If you want to fork over a few hundred bucks and get back a nice, fancy spreadsheet full of graphs and charts, far be it from labs to deny you the pleasure. And yet, despite the broad range of measurements now available and the eye-catching ways of presenting them, the four best predictors of mortality are unchanged from fifty years ago. They're still: How could this happen? I discussed his death and my reaction with a Black friend, who was not surprised by the video.

Welcome to my world, she said. Me and other Black people live our lives with the awareness this could happen at any time to any of us. This was years ago and I'm still processing that. White privilege underlies my surprise that Eric Garner could be murdered by a police officer, someone with a job mandate to protect people. Not everyone can afford that kind of naivete, as my friend so eloquently pointed out. For some people, the simple act of breathing requires a constant vigilance well beyond my experience. Meditation is much more than you alone on a cushion. The practice is strengthened when we integrate the awareness that some people are struggling to breathe because systems like white supremacy, patriarchy, and other forms of oppression have us in a chokehold. At the same time, there's research indicating that, when used in specific ways, social media can have a positive impact on well-being and belongingness. In this article, you'll meet Jackie, a middle-aged widow who, despite digital advances for connecting, hasn't been able to form meaningful friendships. You'll also meet Riley, a millennial who grew up in a dysfunctional family and who is on the search, both online and off, for people who can stand in like family. This article ends with suggestions for how social media can be used to reflect our authentic selves, incorporate positive shared experiences, and promote belonging. The Drive to Belong People who struggle with feelings of belongingness often say, I feel like an outsider. People don't care about me. I feel disconnected from the rest of the world. I feel alone even when I'm with other people. Instead of wasting your hard-earned cash on a battery of exhaustive (and, often, exhausting) tests, you can get almost any lab to perform the four listed above for less than fifty dollars and in just fifteen to twenty minutes. If you find that you're lacking in any or all of these areas, get with a strength and conditioning coach and ask him or her to devise a program that syncs up progress in them with your other health and performance goals.

You can also do basic versions of these four tests yourself. For VO2 max, use the four-hundred-meter walk test and six-minute walk/run test, or the two-thousand-meter time trial on a rowing machine, from which Concept2's calculator will estimate your VO2 max, at http://www. At the other end of the scale, if you're a pro athlete who wants deeper understanding of your physiology, you could go to most exercise physiology labs and get a battery of tests done, including an ultrasound or MRI to measure muscle mass, DEXA for total lean body mass, and a metabolic cart for VO2 max. In addition, you could get your strength tested on an isokinetic dynamometer or, better yet, a force plate with motion capture to assess movement technique/quality. Such a range of tests will usually cost between $1,500 and $2,000. Bragging Rights If you spend any time on cycling, running, or triathlon forums online, you'll see many multiarticle threads on VO2 max numbers. While this can be a valid test if you use it to learn about your limits and then train to push them, for many, a high score is just something to brag about. We're all trying to breathe in a world that isn't set up for us all to breathe. We can use our meditation practice to engage with it, rather than retreat from our collective reality into individualism. The nonjudgmental acceptance of what is enables us to make sense of our experiences and allows us to learn to meet ourselves with compassion. Meditation can't make the oppression go away, but it can help heal the wounds of oppression. By cultivating our ability to sit with our experiences, it can also teach us to extend that compassion to others, allowing for greater empathy and countering the othering that upholds oppressive systems. MEDITATION AND TRAUMA Meditation isn't for everyone. It can lead to dark places. Someone vulnerable to PTSD, for example, may need to avoid paying such close, sustained attention to their internal experience. Forms of meditation other than the formal, sitting-with-eyes-closed style can be helpful starting points, such as walking meditation or yoga. My family and friends rarely include me in their plans. My social-media profile looks like I have lots of friends.

But in reality, I never actually talk to anyone IRL. People across all cultures, religions, racial groups, economic groups, and genders have an innate drive to form relationships that are enduring, positive, and meaningful. The belongingness hypothesis, formulated by psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary, suggests that our most satisfying relationships are made up of frequent, affectionate, and reciprocal interactions with the same people over a span of time, as opposed to interactions with numerous and interchangeable people. Baumeister and Leary also say that we exert a great deal of time and emotional energy gratifying our fundamental drives to form relationships. Abraham Maslow's theory of what motivates humans, as expressed in his hierarchy of needs, discussed in article 1, also echoes many of the sentiments of the belongingness hypothesis. Our need for acceptance, love, and belonging fall right after our basic needs for safety, food, water, rest, and shelter. When we talk about relational issues like belonging, it's impossible to leave out Bowlby's theories on attachment. His work highlights that, although humans are built to form relationships, our attachments need to be secure and emotionally healthy in order for us to thrive throughout our lives. I've seen firsthand that a lot of people who get tested and try to put the number to use in lactate threshold-based training never retest to see how they've changed their bodies. So they cling to this old number for months or years and waste hours and hours of training time on trying to move forward from a point that they've long since surpassed. As with any other physical test, obtaining a VO2 max score should be a learning opportunity. If you're going to do it and then train to the test, you should get retested every three to four weeks to see what your new capacity is and then adjust your training strategy accordingly. And while you're at it, skip the self-aggrandizing forum posts! Greed Is the Game In addition to calling our self-awareness into question, the wearables revolution also presents ethical issues regarding the privacy, security, and availability of performance and health-related data. Does a company that makes fitness wearables have the right to mix your data with those of other users to improve its software or conduct research, or even the right to sell the information to a third party? You don't have to be a modern George Orwell to have serious concerns about the answer to such questions, which, to date, manufacturers of fitness tech have failed to address. NBA players seem to share these worries: their December 2016 collective bargaining agreement included the formation of a wearables committee to oversee the use of devices and the data they harvest. Be thoughtful about whether it feels right for you. If you are coping with trauma, you may want to seek out guided help from a trauma-informed and trained professional.