What is the number ONE habit that is guaranteed to increase your success rate, in any pursuit, by 50%?
No, it’s not sitting cross-legged in your living room trying to control your monkey-mind. No, you won’t have to wake up every morning at the buttcrack of dawn to do sun salutations – it won’t even cost you any money.
The secret? Drum roll, please…tracking.
I can already feel the eye rolls, but give me a second to defend my case. Let’s talk about tracking, specifically for maintaining a healthy diet.
“What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get managed.”
Most of us have tried budgeting at least once. The first thing you do when budgeting is track exactly where each dollar is spent that way you can paint a clear picture of where you are overspending and fix it. Tracking your nutrition is the same concept, but instead of tracking dollars we are tracking macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats) and instead of discovering where we are overspending we will find out where we are overeating (or undereating).
If you’re anything like me, you’re not a fan taking the extra step to track everything you put into your mouth. When I first started this habit, I thought it was ridiculous and time-consuming. I told myself:
- Eating healthy should be enough to get the results that I want.
- I don’t need to track the amount of food (or timing) I’m eating as long as it’s healthy
- I could make simple adjustments throughout the rest of the day if I caved into one of my cravings.
I quickly realized that I was way wrong. I started to understand that it wasn’t the tedious process I didn’t like, it was actually just the idea of having to be honest about my meals and coming to terms with the reality that I was consistently eating more (or sometimes, way less) than I thought.
That box of Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups in the pantry – I knew for sure I was maybe having 1 serving (3 measly pieces). Maybe one during the day and a couple after dinner. Then I started tracking. I logged one while clearing out my inbox in the morning, two after dinner, one as a reward for going to the gym, and one right before taking Leo for a walk.
My 2-3 turned into 6 real quick. Which is not that big of a deal, but where else was I doing this? Dairy, snacks, coffee creamer…don’t even get me started. When I started tracking how much I was consuming versus what I thought I was consuming, it was eye-opening, to say the least.
Here are 3 of the main benefits, my friend James Clear demonstrates, to developing a Tracking Habit:
1. Tracking is Obvious
“One study of more than sixteen hundred people found that those who kept a daily food log lost twice as much weight as those who did not. The mere act of tracking a behavior can spark the urge to change it.”
2. Tracking is Attractive
“The most effective form of motivation is progress. When we get a signal that we are moving forward, we become more motivated to continue down that path”
3. Tracking is Satisfying
“Tacking can become its own form of reward. [Tracking] helps keep your eye on the ball: you’re focused on the process rather than the result.”
So I challenge you. Download the free version of MyFitnessPal and take a week to commit to tracking your food. Come to reality with what’s really going on each day. It’s so important to know the number of macronutrients you are consuming. The results will give you a clear picture of where you can start improving your nutritional habits.