These tracking devices and systems are all the rage now, which makes them irritating, and they certainly aren't a substitute for hard work and focus. They won't pick up your feet and take them out to the pavement, but they might wake you up in the morning and make you pause before you put a plate of fries in your mouth. Trackers of all sorts are terrific tools to help you do want you say you want to do - eat better and less, work out regularly, sleep for a reasonable amount of time, drink enough water and maintain a healthy weight.
Trackers are really just a fad version of the old-fashioned diary - and there is plenty of evidence in history that those folks who keep track of their days relative to their goals are some of the most successful people around. Several years ago, when I was 50 pounds heavier and decided to get at that a bit, I started a daily food log. Actually, it was incorporated into a bigger daily journal of my day, based along the lines of an Ignatian Examen (a lovely practice I still do each evening - and maybe we'll cover that in another post someday). Being a bit of a techno-phobe and being a LOT of a anti-diet snob, I started the practice on paper because it was less alienating to me. But after my husband (who eventually ended up losing 40 of his own soft-in-the-middle pounds) got rolling on My Fitness Pal, I put my toe into the charting waters with WebMD.
Learning it was a bit slow-going, but now I love it. 'Cause here's the thing - charting, just like practicing fitness, is a way of loving myself. Does it take time? Yes, about 10 minutes 3 times a day. Is it narcissistic? Absolutely. It's all about me, baby. But you know what, it's actually all about everyone for whom I grow veggies and cook. (How do you think my husband lost all that weight? He added exercise to his life, but I made all the food.) It's also all about the many people who ask me how I lost weight, how I got healthier and stronger, how I am able to do all I do in a day. I know how I did it because I wrote it all down.
Is it boring? Not at all - in fact, I learn a ton on WebMD every single day. I learned what food really costs, in terms of weight and also in terms of energy. Some foods just aren't worth eating, and I would never have learned that if I wasn't charting. Where a food log helped me see just what and how much I was eating, WebMD educated me about what those foods did or didn't do for me. And an app or program does the same with exercise - educates you about what are the best choices for your goals. I now have a pretty ingrained sense of the calorie and nutrition values of most food I eat, but now I chart more for the accountability since things DO creep back up and into my diet that push my weight beyond my most comfortable number.
Neverthless, the pen-and-paper food diary was a great place to start, for me, and it might be for you. That act of writing created space for mindful eating in my life, and I continue to list every day the foods which I particularly enjoyed. What a gift is good food! We should enjoy it! The act of recording what I eat helps me to appreciate both the fuel and the fun that food provides. Bon Appetit!