For the past 2 weeks, I violated one of the Dieter’s Ten Commandments: I abandoned tracking.
At first, it wasn’t intentional. I was out of town two weeks ago and not preparing my own meals, so it became impossible/too annoying to do my usual food logging on My Fitness Pal. After I got back, I used it once to calculate if I would be within my calorie restrictions based on my meal ideas for that week, then didn’t touch it at all the rest of the week. (I do the same exact meal plan every day over a 7-day period so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day, and so I can cook once a week and just reheat like a champ the other days. This is definitely the way to go.)
This past week, I didn’t log a single thing. I didn’t even nutritionally test drive my meal plan before the weekly cooking extravaganza like I usually do.
I don’t consider this falling off the wagon because, well, I didn’t fall off the wagon. In fact, the second week was more of a conscious decision from the I-wonder voice in my head. “I wonder if you could keep control of yourself without tracking every single thing you ingest this week,” it taunted me. That voice has evicted the one that used to tell me I could eat whatever I wanted today because it was the end of the world; the diet would start on a tomorrow that never came. The I-wonder voice challenges me with things like, “I wonder if you can make it 150 steps in the next 60 seconds” when I’m on the elliptical and “I wonder if you’re ready to add 5 pounds of weights to this machine now” when I’m lifting. I always pass its little tests. So, I accepted this challenge, too.
Here’s your full disclosure now: I had a mini ice cream on Thursday night and I had 3 cookies at a rooftop fireworks viewing party yesterday evening. I would have admitted this, anyway, just via tracking rather than in long form. (Writing it out still took less time than tracking it on My Fitness Pal would have!) The ice cream, I would have had, anyway. I bought it 2 weeks ago and planned to have it on the 1st of the new month *if* I nailed my mileage goal for June. I did, so I did. Oh, and I have a second container waiting in my freezer for some future time when I feel like it. The cookies, I had only planned on having one and I ate three instead. Here’s how worried I am about that, by the way; the old me would have kept eating them until she couldn’t remember how many cookies there were. Translation: I trust myself, and I’mma swagger about it all over this blog post.
So, did I get too cocky? Did I give myself too long a leash too soon? Is this the beginning of a slippery slope?
Well, I lost a total of 6.6 pounds during those two weeks, so… no. Another victory for the I-wonder voice!
That said, I am now returning to tracking. I still trust myself, and I clearly still have an appalling amount of ego about it, but I actually kind of like tracking. Besides, it’s another metric and another piece that fits into the overall process. I like knowing what I’m taking in every day, and I especially like being able to look back at previous weeks where I had exceptionally high or low weight-loss numbers and being able to tell between food and exercise what contributed to that. However, thanks to this little experiment, I have developed a new muscle, which is the mental muscle of being able to gauge what an appropriate portion is, approximately.
I plan to continue tracking to the bitter end of this “journey” (God, I hate that euphemism — I’m sure I’ll over-explain that in some future post), but at least I’ve proven to I-wonder that I can go without that crutch when necessary. For this to be a success long after the losing process is over, that’s an important thing to know. Yay!
I think that occasional tracking can probably help keep your serving sizes in check, though it might not be necessary to track every single day (unless, of course, you really enjoy doing it, as you said). In my experience, it’s very easy to gradually and unconsciously increase portions over time. Tracking your meals every now and then can help keep those serving sizes from creeping up without your realizing it.
On the subject of your mini ice cream and cookie festival, I believe that occasional “treats” are an important part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. I think that *completely* cutting out something you enjoy only serves to frustrate you and make you feel like you’ve totally failed when you eventually cave into your cravings. Obviously, I’m not talking about any substances that could cause serious bodily harm, but I don’t think that a single miniature cup of Haagen Dazs poses any sort of imminent danger. 😉 The difficult part is learning moderation and self-control, which it sounds like you’re on the way to mastering.