Early years (2000 to 2003ish)
What can I say? I was a nutritional idiot. I sometimes think back on the shear volume of ignorance I had about food, and it is terrifying to behold. Examples include:
- Kung Po Chicken is good for you. It has chicken.
- Big bowls of granola are an awesome way to lose weight.
- Fettuccine Alfredo is super good for you because it has broccoli.
- Salad with a cup of blue cheese dressing is much better than that piece of steak.
- All wraps from the sandwich store are a great bet because all wraps are definitionally diet-y.
- Tuna salad is what you eat when you are being super disciplined.
Final (?!) weight loss: 2007
At this point, I had lost a bunch of weight my first time around, and I was pretty consistently down 20 pounds from my peak of 240+. However, I was still about 15 pounds from where I really wanted to be. I started the year with tracker in hand (or on computer to be more specific), and I kind of waged war. I once and for all re-did my breakfast and lunch routines with full knowledge of my POINTS each day. I significantly reduced inter-meal consumption (at least before dinner), and I jacked up my Activity POINTS. Finally, I reached my goal weight, became Lifetime and entered into maintenance.
During this time, tracking was the diligent routine that allowed me to make a bunch of these hiugh impact lifestyle changes.
Maintenance: 2007 to present
OK, it's now been close to 12 years from the first time I started tracking POINTS (now PointsPlus) values. I will be the first to admit that I do not track on a regular basis. My tendency is to eat the same things from breakfast and for lunch, and I know what those meals ring up. I really don't eat during the day (on week days anyway) outside of an apple, a fat-free Greek yogurt or perhaps a Weight Watchers mini-bar. My days are largely controlled, and at this point, tracking won't add much to the equation.
This begs the question for grizzled veterans like myself: is there any need or point to tracking anymore? The answer is yes, and I just need to embrace it, but in a very specific way. Here is how I'm now thinking about my tracking applications:
- Course correction: sometimes after multiple weeks of travel, excessive socializing, etc., I can feel my better lifestyle start to slip away. Intuitively, I know that if I ignore that this is happening then I will definitely start adding weight. I now know myself well enough to know when this is slipping effect is starting to happen. During these times, I can/will pull out my iPhone and start tracking away. It gets my head back into the game, and it refocuses me on applying reasonable restraint.
- Will power: I have a basket of Weight Watchers mini-bars that sits outside my office. They are largely for visitors and to encourage colleagues who might otherwise be afraid of me to at least walk by my office. There are times that I look at that basket and seriously consider plowing through 3 to 4 of those little guys. Mini bars are meant to be eaten one at a time and not by the bag full. It is amazing to me how much my Tracker protects me from this temptation. If I know that I will need to track the PointsPlus values of these little 4 second snacks, I will almost always divert myself to my refrigerator where I keep a collection of apples. In this context, my tracker is kind of like my home security system.
- Attacking persistent weaknesses: I am the first to admit that I am a million miles from perfect on the program. I can go pretty far off the reservation on weekends, particularly when it comes to grazing. I still struggle with mindless munching, bordering on binging, after dinner, both home and away. I also know that if I ever want to address these weak spots, I need a tool to help me get there. In this context, I have recently been thinking about focusing my tracking on weekend days and post-dinner. Per #2 above, I know that if I make myself track it, I will be much less likely to mindlessly munch. If I can keep this going for a long enough period of time, then I have a real shot at establishing some healthier habits.
|Friend or foe? I say definitely a good buddy.|
- A tool for servitude (i.e., the wrong way): This is when I look at tracking as a sentence of misery. If tracking is something I have to do to its own end, it can be a pretty depressing thing to think about. "Mr. Kirchhoff, the court has sentenced you to a lifetime of tracking with no hope of parole." Looked at it this way, tracking is little more than a basic diet. Who wants that?
- A really awesome tool to help me achieve something bigger (the right way): When I think of tracking this way, it's very much like my iPhone or iPad. They are super cool gadgets that let me do more stuff with more success and more ease. I think of my tracker as my tool to help me achieve the changes in my life to which I aspire. I really want to stop this post-dinner grazing thing once and for all. My tracker can be an invaluable tool to help me get there. The point is not the act of tracking by itself. The point is achieving a higher level of personal performance and establishing better and healthier habits. The tracker is simply the tool that makes me much more likely to get there.
That's my story, and I'm sticking with it!