I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I know who use online trackers – whether to calorie count or monitor movement – with few to no results.
It’s not surprising to me. I, and many other people like myself, have found that the more I track the more I think and the more I overcompensate. While taking 10,000 steps a day is a great goal, far too many people focus on the “calories burned” section of a fitness tracker or health app.
Some people, I’m sure, do remarkably well with these metrics. Most people, however, see calories burned as the concrete number of calories they can then consume – that’s where the problem lies. Most people see the calories burned as an excuse to overindulge. This might not be an issue if it’s a rare occurrence, but as people move from monitoring their intake and expenditure weekly to daily and even hourly, it might help you justify that 400 calorie coffee drink.
So, what are some ways to use your trackers and really get results?
1. Be honest with yourself. While this goes without saying, it’s also a really difficult thing to ask. Too often we are our own biggest critics, which makes us less likely to report that piece of chocolate cake. When we know that an entry will bring us over our daily calorie mark, we’re often dishonest with ourselves. Instead of judging yourself on the days you go over, make a pact to report more honestly. Once you have a well-rounded view on your strengths and weaknesses (maybe you’re great at eating a healthy breakfast every day but need a sweet treat at 4pm), you can set realistic goals to make everything (even that piece of cake) fit.
2. Set realistic goals. Maybe your hours at work are crazy and you can’t get to 10,000 steps a day just yet. Maybe eating 1,636 calories is just impossible for right now. We get it. Everyone’s journey to health and wellness is completely and totally different, and you need to respect that journey. Try setting 1-2 realistic goals per week and procede from there.
3. If you don’t use it, lose it. If using your tracking app is helping, use that to keep you honest. But, if your fitness trackers simply aren’t helping you, ditch them. Maybe this is a cop out, but sometimes the world of calories and steps can hold you back from living a happy life. I truly believe that stress and lack of sleep prevent weight loss and make us generally unhappier beings. If your fitness trackers are causing you to lose sleep and feel stressed, ditch them! Maybe a journal is more your style and you can jot down some thoughts and feelings next to your food and exercise log. Whatever it is, find what works for you because what makes you look and feel good is definitely not one size fits all!
What are some of your best practices when it comes to tracking apps and devices?