My Body is Not A Computer

I like data.

I like charts and graphs and budgets and just numbers in general that help me understand things. Maybe it’s because I appreciate its relationship to music theory. Maybe it’s because a class in grad school taught me how to quantify anything. But whatever the reason, I like data.

So I get really excited by things like the word count graph at Camp NaNoWriMo. Or the calorie counter on MapMyRun. Or, when I was trying to get pregnant, the temperature chart on Fertility Friend.

In my memoir about that time in my life, Hope Springs, I talked about the first month of temping, and how concerned I was that I had done something wrong. The following is a scene in which I discuss the situation with my therapist.

I could save myself a lot of time and money if I just walked into Dr. Matthews’ office one day and said “Here’s what’s bothering me, it’s probably my parents’ fault.”

But I’ve chosen to take the more difficult path. To examine each minute detail of my life. And today, it’s the minutia of my basal body temperature.

“I just don’t know if it’s right. It seems like I should have ovulated, and I just don’t get it. I really thought charting my temperatures would help me get pregnant, but right now it’s only making me crazy. But I mean, I know that it’s not the chart- itself- that makes a baby. I mean, the chart is just a tool to tell me when I ovulated. The actual chart itself has nothing to do with conception. I know that, right? No, I know that! Of course I know that. Having sex makes babies, not taking temperatures. It’s just a chart. But still.”

He’s smiling a little as I talk. I get the impression that he might even be laughing if his stoic therapist face were capable of laughter.

Last night I was running at the beach. We are so incredibly lucky to live near a place that looks like this:


So I’m looking around and trying to push a bit and enjoying the view. And I realize that at some point both running programs I’m using (MapMyRun to check pace and calories, and C25K to help me with intervals) have stopped running.

And so I stopped running. Because I mean, the workout was ruined, right? I would never figure out how many calories I had run, or how far. I would never know what my intervals were of whether they were “correct” or part of some official plan. So what was the point?

And then I thought of the scene above. And I started running again.

Because I like data. But if lack of data is getting in my way, then maybe I need to cool it with the whole numbers thing. Data about my body can be helpful. But I have a tendency to rely on it so heavily that if it’s not available I freeze. It is the workout itself that makes changes in my body. If I could track and manipulate data to get the exact physical results I wanted, I would have a biological child or two (in addition to my daughter) and would weigh about 15 pounds less. For that matter, if our bodies operated that way we could wipe out disease.

But my body is not a computer. It does not respond mathematically. Maybe I should delete MapMyRun for a bit.

(Starts to panic at the thought, realizes that if I’m panicking then I probably really need to do it…)

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Project 40 so far | Thoroughly Modern Mommy

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