Robot Mother, The Guilt Bracelet, and an apology.

I bought a new phone.

That’s not the subject of the post, but that’s sort of how all the necessary components came together. I was meandering around the Danger End of Oxford Street in some unexpected sunlight with the Resident Australian and opted to annoy her by addressing my “my phone is annoying” issues right there and then by immediately buying a new handset, because that is how things get done in my life. After paralysing indecision and weighing of choices something then happens on an impulse, etc.

Anyway, this new phone has approximately 400000% more processing power and can sustain more than, say, one app. Combined with the ongoing insanity of trying to both eat like a person and not become a giant pillow cloud for a second time in my life, with the tenacious irritating of my friends by persistently posting FITSHAMING updates on Facebook to inform them, unfiltered, of exactly how many pressups I can’t quite do yet (spoilers: I can do five! In a row! Badly! This is so much better than the NONE I could do before!), and with the Guilt Bracelet which my Delightful Boyfriend bought for me after I interrogated him for a solid month on what his did, that extra processing space opened up a wonderful new world of being less insane.

How?

First, I asked if anyone could think of an app that would tell me how much of whatever nutrient I needed to eat, and then how much I had left of that per day, when I told it what I was eating, to stop me from doing the awful thing where I either set myself a limit and proceeded to dramatically undercut it (“I don’t need to eat 1400 kcal a day, that’s too high!”) or didn’t set myself a limit but then tried to eat as little as possible anyway (“I’m not really hungry/if you eat that you’re a filthy disgusting failure!”). Outsourcing my common sense, since my own has been so comprehensively destroyed by mental illness/eating disorders.

Anyway, it turns out that’s exactly what MyFitnessPal does.

It upped my calorie intake after asking me a bunch of questions…

Normally when Real People do that I sort of vaguely agree with them and then mutter that they have no idea how lazy and fat I am and how little I do and how immediately I will turn into a whale if I eat That Much, and ignore their advice. Occasionally with a side of “YOU’RE JUST TRYING TO SABOTAGE ME” for added crazy. When various online calculators ask me how active I am and I try to give a representative view, I then decide they’ve been adjusting based on a falsehood.

Unfortunately this time I picked the lowest possible activity level. I am a spod. A layabout. My job is writing. My sports interests are nil. I don’t own a bike.

It still told me to eat more than I was eating.

But wait, there’s more.

Not only did Robot Mother scold me about my different nutrient intakes (“your goal was to stay under 2300mg sodium, you salt-hoovering slag”), and allow me to scan barcodes with my phone for information (MAGIC TOY DOES MAGIC THING, DEREK IS ENTRANCED, SURELY WE ARE LIVING IN THE FUTURE), and make it perplexingly difficult to update with workout information (“how many calories does it burn? How the shitting fuckfestival would I know that?”), she also offered a link between The Guilt Bracelet and The Food Hitlering.

Carrots, as well as sticks

Previously my motivation has been “if I do the walking motions, the Guilt Bracelet flashes a light and buzzes and that means I am a Good Boy”, because I have been well-conditioned that rewards are social rather than physical; the other motivation is that if I don’t have a consistent line of green bars on my weekly activity graph (data solves everything, or at least provides me with prettier and more mathematically accurate ways to berate myself) I am A FAILURE MADE OF LAZINESS.

But now that the Guilt Bracelet and Robot Mother are in cahoots with each other, I have noticed: the more I move, the more food I am allowed.

Adjustment

It turns out: the calorie goal is minus activity. Meaning, that’s how much I should be consuming when my movement is taken into account. Not set, no matter whatever else I do, but something I can alter with my behaviour. The illusion of control is mostly what’s necessary to help break a habit which is born from the need for control.

Or, as a different friend told me, as we compared notes over (meticulously-inputted) lattes: it helps not to have to think about what you’re eating because then you don’t feel like you’re getting it wrong all the time. She was referring, too, to Huel, which has provided us both with an Eating Problems Safety Net repeatedly.

And yes, I can feel myself becoming obsessive about this, too. I think it’s something that has to be accepted, after a certain point: there is no way I will ever be comfortable, carefree, and non-compulsive about food. Every time I try there is the spectre of the Delayed Reaction Regret, and given that this is often accompanied by purging I don’t really want to deal with that. Better to let the robot take care of it, and move on to more important shit, like this book

About that apology?

Yeah. If you’re a real flesh human who has spent a lot of time in the last couple of years trying very hard to make me stop eating things that have no calorie content, or stop obsessively making tinier and tinier meals, or even just fixate slightly less brutally on the exact 0.3kg weight fluctuations: sorry. You were right, about that paradoxical window of consumption: sometimes you do need to eat more to get smaller.

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2 thoughts on “Robot Mother, The Guilt Bracelet, and an apology.

  1. I identify with a lot of what you’ve written here. I’m spending time at the moment trying to hack myself healthy (I’m using ww and runkeeper) while dealing with the tendency to go over the top. My goal for the summer was 10 pushups, so far I’m at – half a push up. Which is basically a push down….

    1. The advice I got with press-ups (I can now do ten but it’s taken me a long time and they are PRETTY BAD PUSH-UPS) was to start doing as many knee-push-ups and wall push-ups as possible and to plank for increasing periods of time to build up core strength, I uh, I did rather better at the planking than at the kpu-ing…

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