I’ve Written Before About The Trap of Tracking Things…(Steps, Calories, Etc.) … Yes There Is A Time and A Place For All of This…But At What Cost. I Wont Go Deep Into It Today. So With That Little Preface Though I Don't Want You To Think That I’m Completely Against The Idea of Tracking…Whether It Be Steps, Calories, Macros, Weight, Grams of Peanut Butter, Etc… Yes Those Things Can Be Advantageous. So Please Please Please Come Back To This Point At The End That I Am Not Completely Anti-Tracking Things, I Think Its Good and Very Beneficial At Times!
With That Being Said Though I Think That By and Large They Do Excessively More LONG TERM Bad Than They Do Good…Which Is Generally In The Short Term. The More We Are A Slave To The Numbers The Further We Distance Ourselves From Living In Walking Stride With Our Own Bodies and Actually Learning What ‘Works’ For Us, Not What ‘Works’ According To A Number A Scale, Step Count, or Macro Calculator Tells Us!
Some Basic Issues That I Have With Being Addicted To The Numbers…
When It Comes To Calories Eaten…The Numbers That We Decide To Stick With Are Generally Made Up, Usually Far Under What Our Bodies Should Actually Be Eating, and Perhaps Most Significantly They Are Simply A Guess Every Time. The Actual Amount of Calories Within Food Items That Have Calories Labeled On Them Can Be Off By Roughly 20%, That Adds Up To A TON of Calories Throughout The Day/Week. Those That Don't Become Just An Estimate… And Let’s Be Real For All of Us That Track Calories Like This… We Take The One That Looks ‘Better’ In Our Minds…If Your Fitness Tracker App Has 2 Different ‘Small Bowl of Ice Cream’ Options and One Says 240 Calories and The Other Says 440 Calories You’re Picking The 240…Maybe You Even Meet In The Middle And Say It Was 340…Good Job, However It Was Probably 640 So You’re Still Up A Creek!
When It Comes To Macronutrient Ratios…The Numbers That We Decide On Here Are Generally Made Up From Someone Touting A Special Type of Diet and Make It Seem Like We Are Resistant/Intolerant To Everything and We Have To Avoid Certain Macros or We Will Become Fat, and Life Becomes A Measuring Game Prison For No Reason and Usually Leads To Failure and If Nothing Else Entrapment.
When It Comes To Calories & Macros Combined … Many Get Caught In The ‘Energy Balance’ Argument (Especially When It Comes To Weight Loss) and They Use It As An Excuse To Sneak In Junk Food and They Don't Focus On Quality Which Leads To Repercussions Down The Road of Overeating and In General Just Living A Lie. We Get Lost and Obsessed With Sticking Under A Specific Calorie Limit and Ensuring That Within That Limit The Exact Number of Grams of All 3 Macros Are Specific and When We Do That Obsession Grows and Grows and When The Bow Breaks It Makes The Fall That Much Harder and Its Grossly Unnecessary.
When It Comes To Steps… The Desire To Hit Your 8,000, 10,000, 15,000 Steps A Day (Or Whatever Number You’ve Decided You Need To Hit) Becomes A NEED and When We Feel We NEED To Do Something It Can Take The Enjoyment Out of The Activity…and Walking Should Be Fun, Enjoyable, and A Joyful Activity That We WANT To Do, Not That We HAVE To Do! A Prime Example of Trying To Force Fat Loss Instead of Learning To Love The Process.
When It Comes To ‘Calories Burned’ Trackers…These Are Highly Made Up As Well, Probably More Than The Calories Eaten. To Say That The Number of Calories A Rough Estimate of What Certain Exercises Will Burn Is An Extreme Overstatement. We See These A Lot On Things Like Treadmills…10 Minutes At A 6 Minute Pace = _____ Calories Burned, Or You Log Onto Your Fitness App and Put In ‘Cardio Workout Bootcamp’ and It Tells You That You’ve Burned ______ Calories. Well These Are Just Silly For Many Reasons But Number One Being IT’S NOT SPECIFIC TO YOU AT ALL, But You Probably Take It As Such (AKA Living A Lie)… Do You Think That If A 280lb Overweight & Untrained Person and A Marathon Runner Ran On A Treadmill For 10 Minutes At A 6 Minute Pace They Had the Same Energy Output??? … Absently Not, The Untrained Person Just Worked Their A** Off and Is Probably In A Pool of Sweat and Dying While The Marathon Runner Was Napping That Entire Time.
… I Will Stop There With Examples, But Here Are 2 Really Good Resources To Check Out and Dig Deeper Into Some of These Perils!
Precision Nutrition Calorie Numbers Article … This One Has Great Points On The Unreliability of Number of Calories In A Large Variety of Food Issues.
JAMA Calorie Tracker Article … This One Has Many Good Points That Should Be Considered, One Is The Emphasis On Potential Short vs. Long Term Results.
All of These Things Are Good Examples of Some Potential Flaws That Being Consumed By Numbers May Have, But To Coincide With Some Sections of Thoughts I’ve Written About Recently About Addressing What Our Real Food Issues May Be, The Biggest Concern That I Have With Tracking Is A Dependency and False Grip of Reality On Things That Are OUTSIDE of Ourselves. We Get Lost In A Game of Numbers and Feeling Like We NEED To Track, and Before We Know It We Cant Even Go Out To Eat Without Consulting A Computer To See If It’s ‘Ok’, We Can’t Lose Weight Without Having A Detailed Regiment With Every Single Aspect of Your Life Scripted Out By A ‘Professional’.
All of This Number Tracking Is So Insane When You Really Think About It, It’s All Just A Mirage That Allows Us To Hide Behind The Reality That We Just Eat Poorly and Refuse To Admit It. How Did We Get To The Point Where Losing Weight, Being Adequately Active, Building Muscle, Sleeping Like A Responsible Adult, or Anything Else Requires An Excel Spreadsheet, Magic Formulas, and Digital Feedback To ‘Prove’ To Us That Things Are Working?… It’s Just Crazy!
And This Isn't Even Touching The World of Detox Diets, Patches For Weight Loss, Teas and Powders That ‘Boost Metabolism’, and All The Other Just Infantile Things That We Chase Instead of Facing Reality.
I Say All of This To Get To My Main Point, What I Consider To Be The Biggest Detriment of All of This Is That With Every Single Number That We Track and Feel Obsessed With The Further We Get From Understanding What Works For Us, The Further We Get From Taking What Our Body Is Doing, Feeling How Our Body Is Feeling, and Reacting & Adjusting To What OUR BODY Is Telling Us! We Are Blessed With A Beautiful Vessel To Live Within On This Earth, and It’s A Vessel That Gives Us All The Information That We Need To Make It Look & Run With Excellence! Our Energy & Vitality Will Tell Us All That We Need To Know About If Whether Or Not The Amount AND Quality of Food, Exercise, Movement, Sleep, & Happiness Are Working For Us! Our Appearance In The Mirror and Tightness of Our Jeans Will Tell Us All We Need To Know About Whether Or Not We Are Eating Putting Either TOO MUCH, TOO LITTLE, or Like Baby Bear’s Porridge The JUST RIGHT Amount of Food Into Our Gullets…But In Order For Us To Hear Those Commands That Our Body Is Telling Us We Have To Actually LISTEN, And Then The More Important Aspect of It All We Must TAKE ACTION ON CHANGING! Every Single Number That We Try To Force Into Our Life Shuts Off The Volume of Our Body and Denies Our Ability To HEAR Those Commands. We THINK That We Are In Control When We Do These Things But It Is Just A MIRAGE, It’s Actually Just A Disguise That Is Taking Us Further Away From Being In Control…It’s Just An Illusion That Thrives On and Needs Short Term Results To Make It Seem Like It’s WORKING! However All of These Things Are Setting Us Up For Long Term Failure, Setbacks, Staying On The Same Hamster Wheel of Up and Down Weight, and A Lifetime of Non-Enjoyment Within Our Own Health and Fitness. This Is Very Hard To Accept When You See Quick Success, But I BEG OF YOU To See The Forest For The Trees!
My Last Point and Detriment Is That Aside From Getting Us Further Away From Becoming In Tune With Our Bodies, To Be Trapped By Numbers Takes The Enjoyment Out of Living A Full Life Of Health and Wellness…Who Want’s To Live A Life Constantly Tracking Every Single Calorie, Worrying About The Number of Calories You’ve Burned, Skipping Nights Out For Fear of Food, Going On A Treadmill So You Can See A Number Instead of Enjoying The Outside, Worrying About How Many Carbs You’ve Eaten, and Consistently Adjusting Your Life Because of a Number On The Scale… A Life Within The Prison of ‘Numbers’ Just Sucks and It Keeps Us From Actually LIVING!
Are You Overweight? … You’re Eating Too Much…Eat Less and Move More!!! That Doesn't Mean You Have To Cut Your Calories Obnoxiously Low and Start Doing Crossfit WODs Twice A Day 6 Days A Week! … Just Stop Eating So Much and Move More! My Biggest Argument For Doing So Is Mastering Portion Sizes and Be An Adult!
I Understand That’s A Facetious Statement, and In Fact That’s Just As ‘Not Helpful’ As Being Trapped By The Numbers… The Reality Is That It Takes Time and Effort To Get Away From The Number Tracking Trap While Maintaining A Healthy Weight, Healthy Exercise Regiment, and Healthy Relationship With Food, Fitness, and LIFE!
Ditch The Calorie Counter…Eat Whole Food Until Your Satisfied
Get Off The Treadmill… Go Outside and Push Yourself
Forget Counting Steps… Just Enjoy The Breeze and Colorful Trees
Lose The Macros … Eat Some Protein, Some Fats, Some Carbs, and Not Too Much
Break Your Scale… Do You Like What You See In The Mirror?… See Point Above If Not
Don’t Keep Falling For Detox Diets, Deprivation, Patches, Powders, Etc…. NO JUST DONT DO ANY OF THAT!
Now Comes The Biggest and Hardest Problem... Actually Being Able To DO IT...It's Easy To Say and WAY HARDER To Get Yourself To Actually Do It...Stupid Prison of Our Mind!!!! But It Can Be Done With Practice and Repetition!
Let’s All Escape Numbers and Live Healthy!