So, I mentioned that I’ve started using the My Fitness Pal app to track calories. Holy smokes – I love it! I’ve been thinking a lot about why it seems to be working so well for me, and I have come to a couple of conclusions:
1) I am not a numbers person. I like concepts. I like ideas. But when it comes to the fine tune number crunching – I get bored. I tend to estimate, and I think when it comes to calories, I estimate badly. I have a coworker in the accounting department who does essentially the same thing as the app with a notebook and a spreadsheet. She loves the minutia of adding up all the numbers and keeping totals – which would drive me crazy. Fortunately, the app does all that for me. I just type in a food and it does all the math.
2) Apps are like video games. I enjoy silly computer games. I also like challenging myself so, this is kind of perfect. The app tracks the calories for each meal, plus how many I have burned working out, and then gives me totals. I like coming in under my allotted calories (not so much that the app yells at me, like it did the other day when I wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t eating much,) but enough that I feel like I scored some “bonus points.” The last few nights when I hit the “Done Recording for the Day” button and I saw I came in under my goal, I felt like I just won a round in a game.
3) While I am not a numbers person, I do like tracking. This is awesome at tracking food, water and exercise. I feel like I have a much better understanding of how much exercise I am getting each day – and how much food I am taking in.
4) It provides freedom. My accounting coworker said that the #1 reason that diets fail is because we try too hard – push ourselves to do too much. Then we become frustrated, angry, rebellious… hungry, and then we quit. I absolutely believe that has been my problem in the past. With the app I can see exactly how much room I have. There have been a couple of nights where I wanted a glass of wine or a little sweet – I glanced at the app, made sure I had room, and there you go.
I actually heard something about that on a NPR “Talk of the Nation” show about Self Tracking. They had a caller who was a trainer and she said the same thing about her athletes – that too often athletes would push themselves to injury. Self tracking allows them to back off – it does the same thing for me.
5) It is getting me to exercise… even when I don’t have to. This weekend I took several extra walks, and made some walks a little longer, just so I could add them in. Considering it is running around 14 degrees here (and much colder with windchill) that is some motivation!
So far I am feeling really good about my progress and capabilities. I’ve already lost a little weight and that is certainly reinforcing those feelings. The next week, however, should be very interesting. I am doing some traveling for work, which will mean on-the-go meals and eating options that are a bit out my control. I’ll let you know how it all plays out!
Photo credit: pupismyname