Want to get into shape (or do anything else worthwhile)? Ditch your phone (after reading this)

Steven Joseph Sheftall

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October 1, 2020
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Thesaurus.com lists two synonyms for motivation as ‘desire’ and ‘action.’  But aren’t they different?  Because what good is desire unless it leads to action (and subsequently, results)?

Let’s talk about you wanting that six pack,  that hourglass figure,  whatever your heart so desires:  Let’s streamline your fitness goals, so you can show off on social media.

I’m being sarcastic — intentionally.  We’ve become puppets of our phones,  compulsively (and obsessively at that) checking new notifications,  repetition after repetition.  What if those reps were squats?  What if we became obsessed with a new, actual hobby?  I’m being direct now:  We might actually have that something to show off.

In How to Break Up with Your Phone, science journalist Catherine Price describes how “smartphones are causing otherwise mentally healthy people to show signs of psychiatric problems such as narcissism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”  Price goes on to cite studies associating heavy social media use with negative effects on self-esteem, impulsivity, and sleep problems (from anxiety and depression).  So, if you’ve been reading closely thus far, that means Facebook doesn’t care whether you’re your own biggest fan (a narcissist) or struggling with self-confidence (low self-esteem):  So long as you are scrolling through and clicking around, you are profitable.  And that’s all that matters (to them). 

We’re unlocking our phones subconsciously — That means without realization we’re doing it, whether bored on the subway with no reception/access to our loved ones, but also at the dinner table once we get home.  Smartphones (or, more aptly, the human beings behind their designs) have hijacked our basic autonomy and willpower to “fight the urge.”  Our devices are also turned to in uncomfortable situations:  We take them out of our pockets in exchange of another nervous, bad habit like biting our nails.  Either way, we aren’t confronting the situation – reality – we’re diving in and out of our virtual worlds.

Tech-hub Silicon Valley has continually tailored its billion-dollar empires to A) get us engaged and B) keep us using for as long as possible – with ever-persistent, nagging ways to get us back should we ever decide to deactivate or (gasp!) delete our accounts.  Ever think about why notifications are red, for example?  That wasn’t an “Oh, this looks nice” decision..  My guess is it was very much a calculated one reflecting the “urgent” nature of the color.  After all, that latest Memes update is really crucial!  (Who doesn’t like memes..  But you get the point).

Whatever your goals may be,  it is my hope that you prove a successful individual removes distractions.  I’m not saying deactivate right now your Facebook and/or Instagram, etc. — I’m realistically asking to at least start small, like removing a notification (Just about every type can be customized).  Time management isn’t mastered overnight, and subconscious habits require conscious effort to conquer.  But you need not be discouraged when you are building your best self towards whatever you want to achieve in life.  To quote the face of the fitness industry, Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they worked on it every single day.”  It is my hope after reading this that you got some spark of motivation to terminate some notifications!

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More tips:

  • Use “Screen Time” on iPhone to evaluate your current level of social media usage.
  • *The average user spends nearly 2.5 hours on socials per day! (Medium.com).  Besides the ample time that provides to work out, you also avoid mindless eating, so it’s a two-fold benefit.
  • Make Do Not Disturb your best friend (But allow phone calls – See next bullet point):
  • Tell people to call you if something is time-sensitive; otherwise don’t be offended if you don’t respond to texts right away.
  • If you need further confirmation about social media’s alarming effects on our mental well-being, watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix.  

Now, go kill it!  Go terminate!

Steven Joseph Sheftall

Steven Joseph Sheftall

Hi, I'm a recent graduate of NYU's DPD with the intention to pursue the RD and a PhD in psychology down the road, with the ultimate goal of a dual practice combining nutrition and mental health services.