that is the question –
A while back, my Fitbit stopped working. For some reason I’ve resisted contacting support for a replacement. Turns out I needed a vacation from tracking.
Some ‘pros’ to daily tracking
I feel like I walk more when I’m tracking my steps. Of course, I can’t know for sure, since I only track when I’m tracking, but I’ve noticed that I’m motivated by that number, so I take more trips to the garage, trash cans, and volunteer to run more errands. When I forget my phone upstairs, “hurray, more steps!”
I feel similarly when I track my calories. I have a clear numerical goal, and I like to hit it. Not over, not under. Hit it.
When I track my food (not calories) things are a bit different. I make better choices, and tend to eat less, but I don’t feel the motivation quite so much.
When I track my weight, it gives me the confidence that I’m watching out for myself; I’ll never be fat again, at least not without being painfully aware of it happening.
Some ‘cons’ to daily tracking
Tracking my steps makes me feel a little obsessive at times. I’ve been known to take a walk around the block or not go to bed on schedule because I was a few hundred steps away from my goal.
Tracking my calories gets tiresome, and I’ve found that over the years, it got less fun and made me want to jump ship and leave my diet behind. That’s not good, right?
Tracking my food feels like a waste of time. At least when I do it regularly. I feel like I’m writing things down just to write them down. It’s almost like writing each ‘to do’ down and checking it off as you finish after you’ve already finished it. Granted, it means your to do list is always completed, but what’s the point when it’s already done? Similarly, if you’re eating healthy and making good choices, what’s the point of writing it all down when you eat it?
Tracking my weight only takes a minute, but when months go by at the same weight, what’s the point of tracking it each week? Isn’t it obsessive? When I was still trying to lose weight, weeks without weight loss were very frustrating.
Can you track for too long or too much?
If tracking is taking the fun out of walking, or making you dread meals because of the math, then you might need to change things up a bit.
Your steps – Take a tracking vacation for a week and see how you do? As I’ve found during my Fitbit holiday (one month to date), I’m still doing okay. I still walk, even though I don’t know exactly how far. Walking is still fun, even when it’s not a number.
After a week, carry the tracker again, but don’t watch your numbers. At the end of the week, see how you did? I’ll bet you did ok.
Your food – Track differently. Instead of counting calories, log your meals for a while. Weighing and measuring can be a pain. Ugh. Still, over time even the healthiest and most experienced dieters let portion sizes creep up again.
If you’re a food logger, tracking calories for a few days or weeks can reset your food>portion size>calorie judgement. If you’re stalled or backsliding, try it for a bit.
Your weight – Put the scale out of sight, and check yourself in a month. I’m a firm believer in ‘no surprises’ when it comes to regaining weight. It’s the awareness that matters. Once a month is pretty low stress. Not much (dietarily) can happen in one month unless you totally go off the health wagon!
There’s a time and a place for tracking.
Tracking can be a great tool, and if you’re making good progress or you enjoy the process, don’t make a change, but consider that one day, you might not love tracking anymore.
Know that it’s okay not to track every day or every thing if you don’t actually need to.
It’s okay to change your tracking method or frequency, as long as you have a good plan.
What do you track? Everything? Nothing? How often?
Do you like it or loathe it? Somewhere in between?
Have you taken a tracking vacation? How did you do? How did you like it? …and did you go back?