A few days ago I downloaded this app called “My Fitness Pal”. Anyone else tried that one? You enter everything you eat and drink during the day, and it tallies up your calorie intake, as well as the nutritional info. And then it tells you “If you eat like this, you will weight X kg by X date.”
Every day so far, I have exceeded my recommended calorie intake—and it’s not even an unreasonable goal because of my active lifestyle. But I like chips.
What changed? Did my diet change for the worse because I started tracking it? No, I just got a reasonable picture of what I am eating.
A few days before that, I tallied up my expenses and receipts for the month of November to see if I made budget. I didn’t. Not even close—saved only because I worked overtime and made more than I’d projected, and even then I went backwards last month. Ugh. I’ve been tracking my budget for the last four months, and I have never made budget perfectly. But this much I know, I’ve been a lot closer when I’ve been tracking it.
Of course, that doesn’t make it any less depressing.
I also track what books I read, how many audios I listen to, the stats to my blog, Twitter and Facebook. Most months I make my goals, but the progress seems really slow.
Claude Hamilton, in his book Toughen Up: Basic Training for Leadership and Success, says, “We track what we respect. If you don’t respect your money, you won’t track it. If you do respect your time, you’ll track it… those who don’t respect their time and money enough to track them are always too busy and broke.” Ouch. I suspect that the same thing applies to my diet: I didn’t respect my body, so I didn’t track my diet, ergo I’m overweight.
I don’t know if tracking my food-intake will help me lose weight, but not tracking it would have kept me on the same path of weight gain I was on, just as not tracking my finances would have kept me broke. As it is, I am able to live off 80 percent of my income, and slowly am gaining financial traction. Because I set goals and revisit them regularly, I read more, learn more, and do more because I respect my time.
As you see, I go from failure to failure. When you’re losing, the scoreboard is depressing. That’s why some kiddy sports team have eliminated it—as if that could boost the self-esteem of said kiddies by sticking their heads in their sand. “Oh, they’ll feel bad if they see that they suck.” Yup. They will. Maybe it does boost their self-esteem for the moment, but it will ultimately hurt them by giving them unrealistic expectations: their boss will keep score on their productivity. Their bank will keep score on their accounts. Keeping a scoreboard keeps you honest about your failures, and when you have the courage to confront your weakness and do something about it, there are few things that build your self-esteem more.
For further reading, check out the chapter on keeping score in Resolved: 13 Resolutions for LIFE by Orrin Woodward, or the chapter on putting first things first in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
Or this article on keeping score at Orrin Woodward’s Blog here