I noticed on MyFitnessPal yesterday that I hit 800 consecutive days of tracking (801 days today). I am actually a little bummed out by it, as the days I missed before it were a day and a half when out of town as I recall. I had a lot of tracked time before that.
I didn’t always eat well during the time that I tracked. During some if it I was going up and up and I tracked but I still overate. Nonetheless, I have no doubt that tracking had a lot to do with my losing my 61 pounds. I even have double tracked Weight Watchers Points Plus at the Weight Watchers site. Even when I overeat, it helps to track. It keeps me honest. I can go back and see exactly why I gained weight.
And, it isn’t just the total calories. Tracking lets me look at what I eat and see patterns. There are some restaurants that I basically never (or very rarely) eat at, because when I do I tend to not lose that week. I eat out a fair amount and some restaurants are easy for me to eat at (Panera, Genghis Grill, Chipotle) while others are a struggle (IHOP, most Mexican food restaurants, Macaroni Grill). For a lot of restaurants it just depends on what I eat (Chili’s, the Counter). By keeping a record of what I eat I can see this very clearly and it helps me plan.
I track throughout the day as I eat. So, I can look at MFP and see how much I have left at any time. And, that isn’t just on calories. For example, I keep track to make sure my protein is high enough. I watch my carbs.
Tracking makes me see with open eyes what I’m doing. When I wasn’t tracking, I did gain a lot of weight. I tended to not think as much about what I was eating and just kidded myself as to how many calories I was eating. But, when I was tracking and gaining weight, I knew what I was doing. That contributed to my slowly starting to eat less so I could start losing weight.
Many people don’t like tracking. Some find it too time consuming. In truth, it was time consuming when I started because I didn’t have a database of foods that I had tracked so I had to look up everything from the main database. But, over time, I usually didn’t have to do that as I would tracked the food before. One reason I like MFP is that most foods are in the database. I rarely have to add one (more common is that the formulation changes and I need to edit a food). I also love the feature on the phone app where I can scan a food label to quickly record a food.
At this point, tracking everything I eat in a day takes less than 10 minutes, even if I have to add in a new food. On many days, it takes less than 5 minutes total. It took a bit more time at the start, but now it is truly second nature.
Weight Watchers members may wonder why I track at MFP as well as Weight Watchers. Basically, I like both. At MFP, I like all the data I can get as to actual calories and macronutrients. You don’t get that with WW tracking. On the other hand, I like the whole weekly points concept of WW where I can see at a glance whether I am on track for the week. In MFP, I may “overeat” for the day from the MFP standpoint, but I look at WW and I know I’m OK because I still have plenty of weekly points left.
If you haven’t tried tracking, I really do recommend it.