Are you tracking?

Are you tracking?

[00:00:00] **Aurooba Ahmed:** Well, hello! This is The Daily Five with Aurooba, that's me, where we reflect on creating our best lives a little bit every day. Here we go.

[00:00:15] So you're trying something new, something you think will help you create a better life in some way. That is excellent. And are you tracking it? Are you tracking the results of what you're doing in some way?

[00:00:30] There's this cliche of the thin woman in pop culture who obsesses over everything she eats and then recounts it to her boyfriend at the end of the day. This woman is considered shallow, boring, and annoying. And, you know, like anything taken to the extreme, obsessing over what you ate and how much you ate too much is unhealthy. That's how you develop eating disorders.

[00:00:56] But do you know why they ask you to keep track of your calories when you're trying to make any kind of physique change? Well, apart from the fact that more than half the change comes from diet, it's because sometimes awareness is more than half the battle.

[00:01:13] I'm going to stick with the food example because it's a really common one. By keeping track of what you eat and making yourself aware of the calories it has and the macros it has, something changes. The very act of recording what you eat changes the way you eat. Sometimes, that might mean you start planning your food intake in the morning, making adjustments to meet whatever goal it is that you set.

[00:01:41] A few years ago, when I was trying to increase my bench press from the 90 pounds I was stuck at to get to 100 pounds or more, I decided I needed to double how much protein I was consuming on a daily basis.

[00:01:56] I lived and breathed by the macro breakdown of my food in the app, My Fitness Pal. If you've never had to do this, by the way, increasing your protein intake can be really, really hard. Or, well, at least it was really, really hard for me. Paying attention to my food during that time changed the way I ate almost permanently. In fact, it wasn't until that stint of needing to up my protein that I started to like a lot of the foods that are now a pretty normal part of my life, like, say, shepherd's pie, smoked salmon, and quinoa.

[00:02:34] Even if you change nothing about how you normally eat, but just start tracking it, typically that will start to affect your decisions. It's almost like, like someone is watching you, and so you try to make better decisions. Now, what that says about our society and culture and traditions, I don't want to get into because, jeez. But it's true, anyway.

[00:03:01] The same thing happens when you track anything else. You don't just start to collect data, you start to react to it, because that's a very natural thing to do. Sometimes in really obvious ways, and sometimes in really subtle ways.

[00:03:19] What is good data and what is bad data? That's perhaps a different episode for another day because not all data is necessarily good or necessarily useful, perhaps. But data in general does have a tendency to compel action of some kind. And a lot of the times, in our case, action is what we're looking for. Sometimes we have trouble getting started or trouble keeping going. And If data can compel us to keep going, then data is good for us.

[00:03:55] Tracking isn't a particularly active activity. At least, you know, it doesn't have to be. It does have to, however, be non judgmental and honest. Don't fake the data. And don't judge yourself if the data isn't what you think it should be. Just collect the data. Remain mindful of it. And Watch how it starts to affect your decision making. Sometimes in ways you don't even notice, and sometimes in big ways, you know, it can be a real motivator just by keeping track of something.

[00:04:30] It is, in my experience, a very remarkable thing, because it's just numbers sometimes, or just some tables, or maybe a checkbox, or a tick on a calendar, and yet the effect it seems to have on us, when we see a bunch of that, well, it's quite something.

[00:04:54] Thanks for listening. Same time tomorrow?