Food and Weight: An Ongoing Journey

Tracking — It’s Not Just For Those on Weight Watchers Anymore!

Posted on: October 8, 2012

Yesterday, I reblogged a post by wwearlybirds on tracking.  Now all of us on Weight Watchers are well-acquainted with tracking.  But, these days, a lot of other programs are suggesting that their participants note in writing what they eat, so it really behooves all of us to understand what tracking is, what its purposes are, why we should do it, and what we should be noting in our trackers/notebooks/online journals/etc.

Tracking is simply recording things.  Different programs may ask people to track different things, but generally one could track:

  • Foods eaten over the course of the day
  • Glasses of water or other beverages
  • Calories consumed
  • Activities, such as walking or exercise workouts
  • Moods
  • Hunger levels

Its purpose is so that you can see what you do around food over a period of time (Weight Watchers, for example, has both one week and three month paper trackers, as well as their online tracking).

Why bother tracking?  Those of us who track do so because we can use the information to gain information:

  • What foods are trigger foods
  • When we eat the most
  • When we are physically hungry
  • How much food it takes for us to feel satisfied
  • How much food it takes for us to feel overstuffed
  • How well we are hydrating our bodies
  • How balanced or unbalanced our food choices are
  • Whether we are eating enough of foods that actually nourish us
  • What moods or situations cause us to indulge in emotional eating or stress eating
  • What food choices we make in social situations

So, what does accumulating all this information do for us?  The truth is, it gives us power.  When we see what we are doing, we can decide what changes are necessary to get the results we want.  We can also see, over time, our success (or lack thereof) in implementing those changes.  We can see what situations impel us to binge, and which situations we can sail through successfully.

So, why do we hate tracking so much?  Why does tracking seem harder than even some of the most restrictive food plans?  Tracking takes time.  We claim we are too busy to track.  But really, does it take more than a few minutes to write down what you are eating?  The truth is, many o us really aren’t all that conscious about what we put in our mouths.  Tracking makes us become conscious of it.  And a lot of us really don’t want to know what we are doing.  It’s really hard to claim a healthy diet when there isn’t a piece of fruit or some veggies for days on end, all of one’s entrees are double portions, all one’s snacks are high-carb processed foods, etc.

The thing is, we really do need to see what we are doing before we can successfully make changes.  And if you aren’t worth the three to five minutes it takes to track a meal, what are you worth in your own mind?

I used to hate tracking.  I admit it.  But the last time I did Weight Watchers, I became aware of just how powerful a tool it is.  I find that tracking is like knitting, in that there is always something to learn or improve upon.  I currently track several ways.  I use my Weight Watchers eTools to track my food and such activities as I am able to do at this time.  I also track by uploading my daily steps to the program that came with my pedometer.  And, finally, I track here on Fridays, posting what I call my “accountability” for each week.  Does it take a little time out of my day?  Yes.  Does it provide me the information I need to make better choices?  Yes.  Overall, for me, tracking — especially when combined with portion control (weighing and measuring) — is the most powerful tool in my arsenal.

Do you track?  Do you hate tracking?  Love it?  What information do you gain when you track?  How do you use it?



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