I may have mentioned this topic, but I don’t think I have written a whole post about it. Keeping track is one of my keys to success thus far.
I learned the importance of tracking what I eat decades ago when I first joined Weight Watchers (the year they allowed peanut butter and you did not have to eat liver once a week). Weight Watchers has counted exchanges, points and other ways over the years but it was always easy to keep track if I did it. I really have no idea how many times I joined Weight Watchers. I know I was within range of my goal at least twice – if not three times- following the program. The first time I was 10 lbs from goal and moved back to Michigan to begin graduate school. Dorm food did not really go with WW, nor did the MSU Dairy. I returned during graduate school and was very close to goal again when I moved again. The trackers in their various forms were always a key to my success on the program, however. Whether I was counting exchanges or points, I knew if I wrote it down that I had eaten it. The time I was most successful I planned a week in advance and did not stray from what was on the planner. I always had the successful weeks to go back to if I needed a boost. Unfortunately I threw out all my trackers in one of my moves. I wish I had them just for information.
Even when I was totally on the Bariatrics program, I tracked what I ate. It seems silly. You only get 5 foods a day. How hard can that be to keep track of? It was more of a mental exercise though. I also kept track of what I ate so if I felt like I was in a rut I could really see if I was or not.
Now I am following a 1500-1800 calorie a day diet. It is more important than ever to track. It is very easy to eat something, think it wasn’t much, and keep going. Those things that don’t seem like much add up though and that is when I gain or just maintain.
I have used a variety of ways to keep track of what I eat as well as keep track of my exercise. An excel spreadsheet, pencil and paper, and a variety of online tools have all been part of my tracking system this past year. I have recently settled back into an excel spreadsheet in Google docs. It’s easy. I can share it. I can add notes. I do have to look up calories but that is not that difficult. There are pros and cons to many of the online trackers.
I used Training Peaks and My Plate on LiveStrong for several months each. I like both of them because I could track exercise and food in both of them. Both of them are a little hard to use though (so I thought). If the food wasn’t in the database then I had to add it. The same was true with exercise. I could never get some of my workouts quite right in either one. I still have to look things up but I can control the format a bit more in excel.
The best way I have found to track my exercise is to write down what I do. I use the ratty looking journal that is on top of the pile in the photo to track my exercise every day. I write notes in the book about how a workout went or how I felt afterwards. I write about anything unusual and I include notes that I have made on scraps of paper or notes about workouts that Sam has given me. I haven’t reviewed this log in depth but I am looking forward to doing so at the end of the year.
Some of the other sheets of paper in the photo are plans that Sam gave me when we began. He still gives me workouts but he is just as likely to send it in a text as give it to me in writing. I like to have a record so I can go back and see my progress.
I recently purchased a Garmin, which I am still learning how to use. I download my workouts from it when I have remembered all the pieces. This is helping me see what my heart rate is and if I am in the right training zone or not.
I also have a log of all my races that I keep in Google Docs. This document was based on advice from David Glover in a webinar on planning a race season. This document has helped me see my progress over the past year and has really helped me create a plan for what I want to do and accomplish.
The last tracking I have kept has been of my measurements. Every week for over a year I recorded measurements. I took a few weeks break but now I am back to doing this again. this is also pen and paper on a chart I create in excel. This has been a tremendous motivator because I can look over the weeks from June 2010 to the present and see how far I have come.
Tracking has really been one of the keys to my success this year. It keeps me accountable to myself and to the people I share this information with who are supporting me. These are the ways that work best for me but there are many different kinds of trackers online and in print so you need to find what works for you.