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Quitting Tracking


Rednwhite

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I want to start off by saying that I don't think that tracking your calories and your macros is a bad thing. In fact it has helped me, because before I started tracking I was unknowingly under-eating on most days, and I discovered that I wasn't getting enough good fats and protein into my diet (the protein was a particularly difficult one as I was a vegetarian; I'm now a pescetarian who's discovered the joys of My Protein, so it's a little easier).

 

BUT after a year and a half of tracking and counting and weighing and obsessing... I've decided that it's not for me, and it's not sustainable. I have a somewhat controlling personality and I like systems, so give me an app which lets me count everything I'm eating and see it laid out before me in neat little pie charts, and I will take it to the next level. Lately I have also found myself craving more chocolate and sugar because I've been telling myself that I'm not allowed them, whereas before I started tracking I just simply didn't want them very often, or if I did want them I'd only want a bit.

 

I've never really had an issue with my weight aside from the fact that people have always accused me of being too skinny, but I'm still a little nervous about a life without My Fitness Pal. It feels weird to type that, but it's true, because I've come to depend on it so much.

 

Has anybody else had experiences like these? My inspiration for quitting tracking came from a YouTube channel - can't remember the username, but her name is Josie Mai - who described an issue a lot like this, except perhaps a tad more extreme.

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Tracking can be problematic for some people. It's good that you noticed it was making you obsessive, you have excellent insight. So after this long, you've probably learned as much about macros as you need to. Delete the app and get on with your life, and feel free to nibble a bit of chocolate once or twice a week.

(you might find dark chocolate is much less crave-tripping than milk or white. Those little wrapped Ghirardelli squares are good for portion control, provided you can confine yourself to one at a time!)

there is some natural sugar in most foods, it is not qualitatively different from the sugar you put in your coffee, except that the latter is more concentrated. If your ADDED sugars intake is low, don't sweat the occasional sweet.

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.

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I've never consistently tracked my calories, and it's because it doesn't work for me. When I can see what I'm eating like that I unconsciously restrict myself a lot more than is healthy (the last time I tried I ended up averaging 600 a day) and it just exacerbates my pre-existing food guilt problems. I decided for my own mental health that I'm not going to be closely tracking them, just doing rough mental estimates.

I am still figuring out how macros work but I'm going to try tracking those once I get the hang of them and see if it works out better because I'm already in a bad enough place that my therapist is telling me I should schedule in "cheats" on my diet plan. Until then I'm just focusing on only eating whole foods and not worrying about those details.

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I had to quit tracking too. It made me miserable, really, but it did even worse for my fiancee and her eating disorder. She had like an 80 day streak going before we finally broke her habit. I think I made it up to a thirty day streak, but I was tracking for six months. Now, I barely weighed anything, but I was starting to get pretty obsessed about calories.

 

It wasn't until I finally learned what I wish they taught us earlier, that a calorie isn't a simple calorie, that I stopped worrying about that part. And now, for this challenge coming up, I'm trying to track my Carbs and Added Sugar intake, but I'll probably just free-hand it and keep a simple diary in my challenge thread.

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I think that's an awesome step! Tracking calories (or whatever) can be a great learning tool, but it's no way to live (unless you love it). I think that when you stop tracking you can start to really listen to your body. I know for lots of people the numbers can get in the way a bit - they have numerical targets they feel they 'should' reach, rather than targeting that happy place the body wants to get to.

 

Are you going to go cold turkey, or ease out of it?

Warrior Princess
Eating Psychology Coach

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tracking sucks .... i do it every now and again to see what my daily intake is .... just to make sure stuff isn't creeping back in ... like the daily quest bar, that I convinced myself was protein and therefor good, loosing site that the extra 200kcal in the morning wasn't needed 

 

and to remind me that the handful of nuts as a snack and the dessert of greek yogurt before bed even though I wasn't hungry were also good protien sources .... but all of it added together meant I stopped loosing fat.

 

Now I am back on track, I won't calorie count again until I stall ... again.

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Wow, I have heard of others having similar issues with tracking but I didn't realise it was so widespread.

 

Hratheceane - I had a 547 day streak! I agree that it's not a good idea for someone with a pre-existing eating disorder. I hope you're both much happier now you're not tracking.

 

Sambalina - I spent about a week easing out of it by not weighing my food, and then I decided to just stop altogether. But purely out of habit I'm finding myself considering what to eat for my next meal and then trying to work out how my calories and macros would look afterwards, but I'm aiming to be a little less hard on myself.

 

Eleanorsbee - Have you tried cutting down to half a Quest bar? Those things are incredibly high in fibre and one is far too much for me.

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I had to quit tracking too. It made me miserable, really, but it did even worse for my fiancee and her eating disorder. She had like an 80 day streak going before we finally broke her habit. I think I made it up to a thirty day streak, but I was tracking for six months. Now, I barely weighed anything, but I was starting to get pretty obsessed about calories.

It wasn't until I finally learned what I wish they taught us earlier, that a calorie isn't a simple calorie, that I stopped worrying about that part. And now, for this challenge coming up, I'm trying to track my Carbs and Added Sugar intake, but I'll probably just free-hand it and keep a simple diary in my challenge thread.

Tracking doesn't work for everyone, but calories are in fact calories. They're a measurement of the energy contained in a given quantity of food, and the human body regulates its body fat based on your energy intake.

So although it may not work well for your lifestyle, tracking calories is an extremely effective method to make changes in your body composition, and it's prone to by far the smallest rate of error when done properly.

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/08/carbohydrate-hypothesis-of-obesity.html?m=1

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Maybe using an app like two grand (I'm sure there are others out there) might be a good way to transition out of it? You just take pictures of your food to keep you accountable to eating well, but without the tracking. I just downloaded it and am going to start using it soon. 

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Try not, do or do not- Yoda

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Oh yeah, I love TwoGrand - but they just changed their name to... 'My Food' or something. It's a cool way to track without tracking.

Warrior Princess
Eating Psychology Coach

Adventure's Guild Challenge winner: Challenge #24

â•‘ Live the Whole  â•‘ Bucket List â•‘Level up my Lifeâ•‘ 

"Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion."

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I use my fists to track- basically, work out the rough numbers for a fist of carbs, a fist of protein and a thumb of fat and go from there. Numbers will obviously change based on the foods, but it gives you a fair ballpark figure that requires zero obsession :)

"No-one tells a T-Rex when to go to sleep".

- Jim Wendler

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Tracking is not good for me either. D: In fact, when I started tracking, it made my eating worse, because it exacerbated any guilt I felt around "bad foods." Before I started tracking, I ate pretty intuitively, and it actually worked really well. I preferred to eat healthy foods that made me feel good, and I knew that things like muffins or fast food or too much bread weren't healthy, so I ate them in moderation and would always go for smaller sizes. Despite this, I decided to try tracking my calories... and when I started listening to the numbers instead of my body, I became fearful of food.

 

And yet I find it hard to stop, because I'm so afraid that I'll start gaining weight if I don't track... so I'll quit for a month or so, then go back to it.

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I'm in pretty much your exact same situation (including taking inspiration from vmfitness :)). For the next few weeks, I'm quitting tracking cold turkey, after developing an unhealthy relationship with food after doing it on and off for the past year and a half. Tracking has taught me valuable information about calorie info though, and I will continue to measure food and portion sizes when I can to make sure I'm not downing crazy amounts (too much or too little). Keep us posted on how you're doing--I, for one, would benefit greatly to hear how you get along.

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