How My WHOOP Band Cured My Toxic Relationship With Wearable Health Tech

A portrait of a woman trying her best to be healthy—whatever that means.

It’s no secret that I love all things related to health and fitness. Ask anyone who knows me. I love working out. I’m a huge nerd when it comes to nutrition. I’ll be the first to try any kind of new recovery technology so I can hit the gym harder and more frequently.

Naturally, when wearable health tech first emerged on the market all those years ago, I was sold (literally). A wealth of information was accessible by a strap on your wrist.

But is having all of that data at your fingertips a good thing? The jury is still out, but as someone who is trying to consistently optimize their workouts and adequately recover, it feels like a necessity. And after years of trial and error, I’ve finally found the one piece of tech I plan on keeping for good: WHOOP.

(Un)Healthy Beginnings

Let’s back up for a second here. I should give you some context. Specifically, about my fraught and toxic relationship with wearable tech in the first place.

My first-ever piece of health tech was a humble Fitbit, and at the time it felt like the pinnacle of technology. It counted your steps, measured your heart rate, and told you how many calories you burned throughout the day. Revolutionary! I could now track every move I made.

But something else about me? I don’t really do anything halfway—I go full send. A blessing and a curse, I’m aware.

The same goes for working out. And when your workout of choice is CrossFit (the only exercise that has consistently kept me coming back for more for close to five years—but that’s a story for another post), you need to recover as hard as you push yourself in the gym.

So when my Fitbit was telling me that I hadn’t made 250 steps in the hour (even though I had just run two miles an hour earlier), I immediately stood up and moved. I wanted my “active minutes” to be consistent every day. I wanted to burn a certain number of calories.

And if I didn’t? Panic.

The Breaking Point

Slowly but surely, I began to get more and more obsessed with what my Fitbit was telling me. Was my heart rate variability (HRV) high enough? Why did my resting heart rate go up last night? What’s my calorie burn looking like over the past few weeks?

Of course, this fed into my already existing propensity for disordered eating habits, OCD, and hyper-fixation as a result of ADHD. Paired with feeling like I shouldn’t (or rather, couldn’t) take a rest day, or heaven forbid go to a yoga or pilates class instead of the gym, I was quickly burning out. And my body was suffering.

I was consistently exhausted, sore, or both. My body just hurt. And not the, “Oh, I’m really sore from a tough workout” hurt. The, “My bones may or may not be crumbling inside my body right now” hurt.

The absolute worst part was that I wasn’t having fun working out anymore. Everything felt like a slog.

I’ve been in periods of grind before, but this was a different level. And when I stared at the little band on my wrist, I knew it was the catalyst for my spiraling. But how could I break up with the piece of tech that was giving me such valuable information?

WHOOP, there it is.

In a moment of weakness (or maybe sheer panic), I ordered a WHOOP band against the judgment of just about everyone I know. My friends are all well aware of how I can get when it comes to wearable health tech and also know that I get tunnel vision with the information it spits out.

But I didn’t care. I got a free 30-day trial! The impulse order was placed. No turning back now.

Upon getting my WHOOP band a few days later, I immediately ditched my Fitbit. It has been sitting dormant in the drawer of my nightstand ever since, probably confused as to what happened.

I was surprised at how quickly I became accustomed to not having a screen on my arm, since the WHOOP band is literally just that—a band of fabric with a metal clasp. My brain was immediately calmer. Taking an extra step to open the WHOOP app and check your data makes you ask yourself if you really need to see it right then and there. Not having it at your immediate fingertips on a screen on your arm is a blessing, in my opinion.

You don’t even have access to certain data until the WHOOP band calibrates to your body over a period of four to seven days. It’s not measuring against any baseline except your own, which is another fantastic feature.

So after wearing my WHOOP band for close to a month, what have I learned?

The Results

I’m not getting enough sleep.

After a few days of wearing my WHOOP and proudly pulling around seven hours of sleep per night, I was shocked to see my recovery score was averaging around 40-45%. I had been sleeping well! Anything over seven hours of sleep for me is a win.

To my total surprise, my WHOOP band promptly told me I needed a whopping nine hours of sleep. Every. Single. Night. Based on my activity level, the WHOOP app gently explained that to recover properly, I should prioritize sleep more.

It wasn’t chastising me for not sleeping enough. Just encouraging me to get into bed earlier and try to keep my bedtime consistent throughout the week.

I’m now sleeping for close to eight and a half hours most nights. WHOOP gently guided me to better habits, and I followed. I honestly didn’t think I would be able to sleep that long, but here we are. My new goal is to sleep for a full nine hours.

I’m (probably) overtraining.

As I said before, I love CrossFit. Nothing makes me happier than hitting the gym, lifting heavy objects, and setting them down (along with a million other things like cardio, gymnastics, and barbell cycling, to name a few).

But this is a double-edged sword.

Because I love it so much, I hate taking days off. Even when I know I need to, I want to get that endorphin rush and push the bad stuff out with an hour of CrossFit. I get antsy on days I can’t train, which makes me the prime candidate for overtraining.

And WHOOP has no problem telling me that. I’ve learned how (and when) to scale back thanks to my band, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Even now as I’m writing this, I know I should take a day off tomorrow and do something light since my recovery is at a staggeringly low 36%.

And while I still struggle with giving myself a break, I’m getting better about easing off a bit to recover and run it back feeling fresh. Baby steps.

I’m terrible at managing stress.

Another interesting feature of WHOOP is the stress monitor. It takes various data into account (like HRV and resting heart rate) to give you a general idea of how stressed you are every day. And while some of this stress is good (like when you’re working out), there’s also the not good stress.

Of course, this is just a general guess. WHOOP says that it obviously can’t accurately predict if the stress you’re experiencing is good or bad, but it gives you the data anyway to see if there’s any correlation between your perceived stress throughout the day.

And oh boy, am I bad at managing my stress levels.

The funny thing is, most of my stress comes from outside my workouts. And while I can equate some of it to spending 30+ minutes in a 212°F sauna, a vast majority of it comes from things like work and life in general.

It’s staggering to see how stress can take such a toll on your body, and while I haven’t incorporated it into my wellness routine yet, breathing exercises and meditation are currently at the top of my to-do list to help mitigate the effects.

I have the tools to correct my bad habits.

The wild thing about WHOOP is that the information isn’t overwhelming. It’s not here to chastise you or make you feel bad about any habits you want to change. It merely presents the information in a digestible way and says, “Here. Do with this what you will.”

That means I now have access to a wide variety of resources to optimize not only my physical health during workouts, but my mental health as well. And honestly? We’d be remiss not to prioritize our overall wellbeing.

So regardless of your fitness level, WHOOP is the one piece of wearable health tech I can’t recommend enough. I promise you’ll get something worthwhile out of it.