On Tracking

This showed up on my Weight Watchers app on Sunday.

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It’s congratulating me on two weeks of tracking. Every thing that has gone into my mouth in two weeks has been logged into the app. I’ve weighed empty skillets and then weighed them full of fun to determine the weight of my portion. I’ve counted out quinoa straws (which, if you like French Onion Sun Chips are a yummy and healthier alternative). I’ve eaten about six turkey sandwiches (with lettuce, pickles and tomatoes). I’ve had fruit for lunch. I’ve plugged in food I ate after I closed out the tracker for the day, meaning the huge dinner I had at sonic last week.

Let’s talk about tracking for a little bit.

I know that some people are able to rock a low carb diet. It’s easier, for them, to eliminate some foods that they feel are making them gain weight (which it probably is, did you read the new controversy about the sugar lobby?) then to have to count anything. They can live like that. I can’t. I’m not ready to consider an existence without bread and potatoes and the occasional sugary or bready treat. Things might be easier for me if I could, but I know that I can’t. That leaves me here. Tracking. Counting points. Or calories, if you want to do it for free (and you can).  It’s the trade off.  Mostly unlimited quantities of food via a low carb diet or a limited calorie diet this way.  I’m happier like this.

In the past, tracking has been hard for me.  I would track after I ate something and then panic as I watched it suck up (and away) more calories/points.  This time, I’m trying something new.  On Saturdays when I sit down to make up my menu plan and grocery list, I plug my foods into my tracker.  Breakfast and lunch and dinner.  As many as I can.  This has been working for me two ways; first, I am able to plan for splurges (coffees or outings or dessert) and I’m able to see what my meals look like.  If I want a point heavy breakfast (like last week’s coconut steel cut oats for 11 pts) I know that I have to tighten up at lunch and dinner.  If I want to splurge for dinner (like yesterdays Tacos and Rice for 15 points) I have to tighten up breakfast and lunch.

When I tracked real time, I would get really obsessive about food.  I would constantly reshuffle my points in an attempt to compensate.  I would panic when a poor choice left me without calories/points for the day. I’d feel hopeless.  I’d give up the day and decided to try again. The constant adjustment to my tracker left me exhausted, from a will power perspective, and I couldn’t resist the siren call of a binged snack in the afternoons and evenings. Tracking everything in advance feels like it takes less will power, which makes it easier for me to resist snacks or seconds when I don’t need them.  When I get to an actual day in my tracker, the points i have left are what’s available for snacks and extras and it calms me down to see how much I have to play with if I’m hungry or want a treat.

I’ve been on this diet rodeo so many times.  A million, it feels like.  I start out with great intentions and purpose and as the days go by, I just kind of lose it, but in the end this will be my last diet.  It will either be successful or it will fail and if it does, I’ve decided that I’ll be having weight loss surgery because the benefits to my health are more important than how I get the weight off.  This is my now or never point.

Today, down  8.5 pounds.