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Why I'm giving up on tracking (at least for now)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Oh, tracking. Like many Sparkers, I've always had a love-hate relationship with it. Okay, maybe just hate. But, I felt like it worked, right? I mean, I lost 20 pounds by tracking a couple years ago. I gained it back when I stopped tracking.

I have been thinking for a while that I just get so sick of it, and it has this strange psychological effect on me at this point. After tracking on and off for, hmm, 7 years, I have a pretty good idea of how many calories are in most things, including bad things, and if I have no idea, I look it up. I felt like a big part of the reason that tracking was so helpful was because it was a way to stay mindful of what I was eating -- so even if I overate something, I might not overeat as much as I would if I *weren't* writing it down.

But I found something happened in the opposite direction: if I had "calories left" towards the end of the day, I'd eat more, even if I wasn't really hungry. That's not mindful at all, is it?! Furthermore, even if I was tracking what I was eating when I was overeating, I was being a little bit more mindful but not fully mindful, as I was still eating food I wasn't hungry for.

I still remember the first day after tracking and losing 20 pounds that I told myself I could "eat whatever I want." I went WAY overboard, and it's almost like I never recovered from it, and I think part of the reason is that I was rebelling against tracking. I was so sick of tracking.

There's a reason that diets that exclude whole categories of food are so popular, and I believe it's because they have such a smaller level of mental load required when compared to tracking. Heck, it's why Weight Watchers keeps coming up with these "zero lifestyle core points" or whatever programs, because it's less for you to write down. Heck, I went to a salad bar last night and loaded it up with 95% healthy stuff.. but I picked a dozen different veggies on it, and the idea of tracking all that?! OMG no thanks. Sometimes with veggies, I'd tell myself I didn't need to track them because they barely had any calories, but still.. I'm a completist, so it bothered me!

And.. when I considered the different points in my life when I was thinnest, or lost weight, this past time was really the only time that it was because of consistent tracking. Usually, there was a change in my life and then other momentum that forced me to eat less and move more.

So what exactly am I doing instead? Well, I'm still eye-balling calories on food that I'm not familiar with, and I'm focusing on eating healthfully and not eating some of my trigger foods (ahem Reese's Peanut Butter eggs.. ) and eating lower calorie versions of other foods (hello, Halo Top) and eating lots of vegetables and cutting back on sugar in general. I'm also trying reaaaallly hard to leave food on my plate when I'm full. I also increased my step goal slightly and aim to get to the gym twice a week, as well as increase activity in general whenever possible. So far, I've lost a couple of pounds in a couple of weeks. We'll see how it goes this time.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • MILPAM3
    Did you read the blog from the Sparker who resigned from the Clean Your Plate Club. Oh, if only it were that easy!
    582 days ago
  • READY201811
    If eating out - a lot of restaurants list calories and I usually go for the lowest. Drink one glass and on my second before meal comes. I Try to carry that over at home too. I Try to eat a fist full of food at a time since that is the size of my stomach
    583 days ago
  • RSTEINER1313
    I have noticed if I dont track I feel bad and when I track I feel better especially if I have worked out and burn some of the calories off I ate.
    583 days ago
  • LEATON1900
    I think you have a great approach. For me, tracking wasn't going to be a long term solution. This time around I changed my eating habits and pay attention to high calorie food. I may not count calories, but I know that calories count! Good luck with being mindful of what you're eating.
    583 days ago
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