Is Tracking Everything You Do A Don't?
Work + Life Balance

Is Tracking Everything You Do A Don't?

I SAW A COMEDY SKETCH AT THE SECOND CITY IN CHICAGO RECENTLY FEATURING A YOUNG WOMAN WHO INSISTED ON TAKING 22 FLIGHTS OF STAIRS INSTEAD OF THE ELEVATOR. SHE HAD HER FITBIT ON.

When the device suddenly stopped working, she freaked ("It's not going to mean anything without my Fitbit!"). The sketch was hilarious, sure, but also an eerily accurate commentary on how the advent of tracking devices has made us all a bit obsessive about monitoring everything we do—from exercise to food, from sleep to ovulation. And while studies show that keeping a food diary results in people losing more weight than when they don't, does tracking our every move really result in improved, sustainable, healthy habits?

Maybe, maybe not.

In the past when I've wanted to shed a few pounds, I've found that logging my food intake keeps me more mindful and less likely to make emotionally charged decisions about what I'm going to put in my mouth when, say, I'm overtired or overstressed. But I've found that there's a limit to my tracking. While there are some great apps out there (shout out to MyFitnessPal or Livestrong.com Tracker, both of which I've used in the past), I always come back to my roots: namely, I put pen to paper.

It's the simple act of writing it down—or knowing that I'm going to write it down—that automatically makes me more accountable with my food choices.

I may not have the benefit of precisely tracking every calorie, sugar gram, or macronutrient, but because I trust myself to make smart decisions about nutrition, it's the simple act of writing it down—or knowing that I'm going to write it down—that automatically makes me more accountable with my food choices.

Tracking is insightful because it produces measurable data, but perhaps even more powerful is developing mindfulness {click to tweet}, self-awareness, and ultimately sustainable habits about healthy eating and exercise. That being said, if you consistently find yourself being more active because you have your Fitbit on, then that's clearly a great motivator.

But if tracking your every action is leading to obsessiveness and anxiety, maybe it's time to put your tracker on a vacation for a bit. {click to tweet} After all, just because your tracker's wrapped around your wrist doesn't mean that you'll suddenly lose the ability to choose almonds over the cupcake, or take the stairs over the elevator. To that end, the bigger picture is about learning to trust ourselves to make healthy decisions. Knowledge is power, and that ultimately comes from within.

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Have you seen great results tracking what you do? Tell us your method below.