A lot of SparkPeople articles are on the fluffy side, but this one makes a really good point.
In the last year I tracked almost daily, except for a few months during my busiest time of year at work. Guess which months saw almost no progress? And no, I didn't substantially change what I ate and how I moved, I mostly just didn't bother tracking it. But when I got back on board at the beginning of this year it was really easy to identify areas that needed to be cut or tightened up or improved upon, because BAM! it was right there in front of me.
One of the most powerful parts of tracking for me is food "budgeting". I already know in advance that on any given day I'm probably going to have 4-6 cups of coffee or decaf and 3-5 ultralight beers. If I put the figures in the tracker first thing in the morning I can see right off the bat how much is left for me to consume in the way of protein, fat, and carbs, (and, marginally, calories). It doesn't always lead to better choices, but sometimes it does.
Yesterday is a good example. I usually try to pack my lunch for work, but this week the fridge was a little unfriendly, so on Friday I decided to just buy something at the cafeteria. There aren't all that many good low carb choices, and I'm BORED TO DEATH with the salad bar, so my big choices were between a Chicken Philly and a burger. Well, the Angusburger is not bad, and the Chicken Philly is not anywhere near as good as they used to make it, so I went ahead and pre-entered the burger in the tracker. Wow. After having had a really big breakfast as well, having the burger would have made my dinner pretty danged skimpy.
When I got to the grill I was surprised to hear my mouth say "Give me a Chicken Philly." Somewhere between my desk and the dining room my subconscious had been having a little committee meeting with the rest of my body and the decision was made.
Good thing, too. The chicken still wasn't great, but it wasn't as grody as I was imagining, either. I still have to fill in the blanks for a few things I ate last night, but, overall, I finished in a good range. And another lesson learned/reinforced!