Do you track what you eat? How about your workouts or what you did for the day?
I know there’s a lot out there on the disadvantages of tracking daily, but today, I want to talk about some of the advantages of tracking and explain to you why I do track pretty much everything. I will give the disclaimer that it isn’t for everyone and some people easily turn it into an obsession. That is not the case for me so I would like to share what I am tracking and why.
This isn’t down to the exact ounce or portion size but it’s a list of what I’ve eaten that day and any special notes about those foods.
I have always had a very sensitive stomach and aside from lactose intolerance and a gluten allergy, it’s interesting to me to learn how my body handles certain foods. I know that my body has a hard time breaking down corn and that as much as I love beets, I shouldn’t eat them more than 2 days in a row. I know that if I eat too much fruit and not enough protein, my stomach is a mess the next day.
These are things that no other person (not even a doctor) could tell me about myself. To be more self aware we have to do the research, this is all part of it.
Obviously with Fitness Friday, you know I track what I do each day in terms of my fitness…but I also track the weight I’m using on my lifts (and my Nike+ app tracks my run distance and pace).
I guess I could break out the old adage “what gets measured gets improved” and it’s true! If I want to get stronger and faster, I need to know where I’m starting and I need to monitor that progress. On the weeks when I feel like I’ve hit a plateau, I can look back and remember how far I have already come.
I have tried a few methods for this – the rubber band method, MyFitness Pal and just writing out how much I consumed.
I know this may seem silly and all but dehydration is serious and especially with this migraine stemming longer than a month, the last thing I want is to get worse because I’m dehydrated or someone to think that’s what it stems from. Drinking an appropriate amount of water each days assures me that I’m well hydrated and my water intake is not a cause behind the severity of my headache that day.
Staying properly hydrated also helps me tune into my hunger cues and be sure when stomach is growling it’s because I am truly hungry, not because I just need more water.
WHAT I DID THAT DAY
I’m not even kidding on this one. Did I grab lunch with a friend? Noted. Did I spend a few hours reading a book? Noted. Did I apply to 5 jobs that day? Noted.
I started this habit when I was on the road and I did it because I felt like days would go by and I had no idea what I did with myself. It would be easy to get down on myself for not having done enough but as soon as I started making note of what I did, I noticed a huge difference. I started realizing these days when I felt like I didn’t do anything, I was actually doing quite a bit. A post here for the blog, a post here for 50 States, social media for Ethereal, event email reach out, driving 5 hours…it all adds up. Keeping track of this helps give me a sense of accomplishment in my days (and continues to benefit me now when I’m spending my days applying for jobs). It’s also helpful for my ever waning memory. 😉
So what should you use to track?
Honestly, whatever works best for you. I started just keeping notes in a spiral bound notebook but lately I have been switching over to MyFitnessPal since I can access it on my phone at any time. While I will enter my food into the tracker, I don’t pay attention to the stats as my concern isn’t on my micro/macro/caloric intakes, it’s on my health and how I’m feeling. I love that they have the “note” boxes so I can just type in whatever I would like.
Like I said, I know this habit isn’t for everyone and I know how some people can easily become obsessive over it but I think as long as you know what works for you and what is okay for you to track and what isn’t, then everyone can benefit in some respect.
Do you track anything? If so, what and why?