Friday, September 05, 2014


I’ve been thinking long and hard about tracking my food.  I’ve tracked my food for 8 years, more than 8 years if I want to be honest with myself.  For most of that time it’s been a near religious adherence.  Oh, that’s not to say that I haven’t had a week or two where I just didn’t track.  That’s also not to say that what I’m tracking has been utterly healthy for me.  But I’ve pretty consistently written down my food intake for eight long years.  I’ve had incredible success with it.  I lost quite a bit of weight.  I also gained quite a bit of weight.  (Luckily I gained quite a bit less than I lost….and for that I am grateful.)  Tracking worked for me.  Plain and simple, it worked.

I don’t know if you noticed something about that last sentence.  “Plain and simple, it worked.”  Still don’t see it?   It was written in past tense.  It worked.  It’s no longer working.  I can track until I’m blue in the face and it isn’t working.  Last weekend I wasn’t tracking but was totally cognizant of what I ate and I was showing a loss on the scales.  I decided to jump back into tracking and it all went to pot.  Seriously.  I’ve thought about it and come up with some thoughts about why it got rough once I started tracking.

  1. The process of tracking is SO old.  I’m sick of it.  It’s the same old same old.  Boring!
  2.  I am constantly thinking about food. I’m thinking about how many calories I have left for the day and what in the world I can eat that will fill me up but yet stay within those calories.  I stress about the days where I’m left with 200 calories for dinner.  (And anyone that has counted calories will say that this happens!  Heck, I’ve been there with less than 200 calories for my dinner!).  I then have a stellar day with calories left over and I eat ice cream just because I can.   It’s constant and it’s honestly stressful.   Tracking has elevated the importance of food from its previous high and lofty place to a God-like status.
  3. When I have a day where I’m low on calories it becomes a mental game.  My mind is screaming at me. “You’re going to be hungry with just those few calories.”  In reality, I should be satisfied with that food and probably would have…until those thoughts started floating around in my head. 

I’m absolutely petrified to not track.  Let’s be honest here. For the last 8 years tracking has been a way of life.  It’s been my crutch on this weight loss journey (The rubber gripper on the bottom just slipped off a few times causing me to fall!  Ha ha ha).  To not track scares the living doo doo out of me.  Holy cow, what if I slip and gain a ton of weight.  What if tracking is what has kept me from regaining ALL of the weight that I had lost.  I’m frightened!  Frightened beyond belief.

So I have been thinking about it.   Here is the guidelines I’ve come up for myself to give myself some semblance of support as I try to go trackless.

  1. Weigh daily.  I have always done this when I’m on track.  I understand that there will be fluctuations based on the time of the month, the sodium in the foods that I am eating the day before, what time I had dinner the night before, etc.  I’m ok with fluctuations. I can understand those.
  2. Fruits and Veggies.   My body needs the nutrition of fruits and vegetables.  And voila, they are usually low calorie.  I’ve historically seen that when I’m eating my minimum of 5 fruits and  vegetables daily that my weight seems to drop.  I’m filling up on low calorie and highly nutritious foods.   So I will be eating at least 5 servings a day. 
  3. Carbs.  This makes me sad.  So sad.  But I have long known that I have to limit my bread and pasta intake to once a day.  Just the way it needs to be sadly enough. (I’m not even going to look into the natural carbs in fruit and such…’s the breads and pastas that kill me.
  4. Blog.  Regularly!   And honestly!    That does not mean once a week.  That means every one to two days.  Be honest about where I’m at and what I’m going through. 
  5. Exercise.  This will only work if I am consistently exercising.  Something.
  6. Eat using the same principles that I have been using while tracking.  If I have a big dinner planned, then that means that I better eat light for lunch and breakfast.   

I’m scared, but I’m ready to dive head first into this.  Hopefully my plan of eating what I need and not what my projected calorie count tells me to eat will pay off.  I can always start tracking if it doesn’t appear to be working and I can and probably will do spot checks on my calorie count here and there.  I will be and plan on remaining cognizant of the calories that I’m eating.  I’m just not going to panic over it and count each and every one. 

On the flip side, I'm happy to be away from MyFitnesspal's "streak".  It's cool when you have a huge streak but it became just one more thing to stress about.  I literally logged on when I had the flu last summer.  I didn't leave my bed, let alone eat.  Yet logged on to 'maintain my streak"   That's just odd!

Let this experiment begin!

And after all of this rambling.....I lost 2 pounds this week!  (I went back to my trackless eating yesterday)


Kerstin said...

8 years of tracking, that's impressive! I don't think I could ever do that although there have been many times when I tried to. When I decided to loose weight this time round I made a conscious decision to not track or count anything. And it was pretty scary because I simply did not trust myself to make the right choices. Much easier to hand over control to some "system". Your plan sounds very similar to mine, I do believe that we still need rules if we want to loose weight, but at the same time I am also a bog advocate of learning to listen to our bodies because they will tell us to eat less if we are overweight. Sticking to a plan like this requires a different mindset but I absolutely believe that this is the only way to make lasting changes. Well done on the weight loss, you can absolutely do this!

Unknown said...

I think this entire process is about learning ourselves, and that the things we are doing resonate with us. I think it is so great that you are willing to try something new. You have a great plan, and you are still staying aware. 1 of 2 things will happen. 1) You will love not tracking and it will be a great change of pace or 2) You will realize that tracking works better for you, but you will go back to it with a different mindset about it. I relate to what you said about still being obsessed with the food while tracking. I struggle with that a little myself. Good luck, and I will be excited to hear how the experiment goes.

Anonymous said...

Tracking works for me, but that's not to say it will always work. That's the problem with these things...they work until they don't, and then you have to be open to trying something new. Sounds like you're able to do that, which is great! Also, tracking only really works for me if I plan the day completely ahead of time and then stick to it.

Alati said...

Tracking of me is vital at this point since I'm just beginning but I can see how after all that time you need a change. The new plan seems like a good one. Looking forward to keeping up with your posts!

Lori said...

I could have written the same post except for where you have logging your food, I would have written weigh every day. I'm freaked out not too.

Unlike you, I've yet to come up with an acceptable substitute. I hope your new plan works well for you.

Kyra said...

I hope you figure out what works best for you now. :) For the longest time, if I worked out I ate perfectly. The two were connected. I worked to disconnect the two because if I missed a workout it unraveled the day for me, so I needed to make each one its own thing... but that kind of didn't work right for me. *sigh*

I'm looking for my next thing that makes it all click for me.

Unknown said...

I think a person has to keep re-inventing the process to keep it fresh. I get bored with all aspects of my process. Usually, for me, buying an outfit I would have never been able to wear 50 pounds ago freshens up my attitude about using my tools like food journaling for watching my weight. But sometimes, I just do it being bored too. :-)

Sonya @ Finding Drew said...

Good luck!! It looks and sounds like a great plan. You got this :) tracking is hard. Im doing it, but hate it. Good for you for switching it up and doing something new to find what works the best.