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When can I stop tracking my food?

Sunday, April 02, 2017

I always knew the tracker was a great tool. And I used it for the entire time I was losing weight.

It was only afterward that I stopped tracking.

This is what I told myself:
I have been tracking so regularly that I now know the calorie content of my favorite foods without tracking.
I have already lost the weight, and I am no longer 'dieting' so I don't need to continue tracking.
I am finished with tracking; I do not want to be tied to this constant recording of my food.
I want more flexibility and freedom.

I was right about some of that, and it did work for a while.

But here is what happened eventually... portion sizes SLOWLY got bigger,
...I SLOWLY began to eat more high calorie foods.

And the number on my scale SLOWLY started to go up -- in the wrong direction.

I told myself that I could adjust my eating to rectify the slight weight gain.
And some days I did.
Most days I did not, though.

My old eating habits -- of overeating -- were creeping back in.

For a long time I was able to kid myself that I had it under control.
But I did NOT have it under control.
I was sticking my head in the sand. That's what I was doing.
And, unfortunately, I did it for too long.

My reality check has finally come now that I have started to track my food again.
Tracking has provided me with real and honest data,
not the erroneous conjecture and rationalization that I had been telling myself.

So what have I learned from all of this?

I have learned that if I want to be in control of my weight, I need to track my food every day.
And I will probably have to track it forever.
Even after the weight comes off again, I will need to track my food to maintain that weight loss.
I simply cannot trust me, myself, to keep the portions down and stay within the daily calorie range without using the tracker.
My old eating habits of a lifetime will creep back in -- perhaps without my even being aware of it.

Right now, though, I am okay with the idea of tracking forever.
I know how much better I feel when the excess weight is off, and when I like how I look.
It feels better than the taste of any of my favorite foods.

And here's one more thought on this topic. -

Some of my friends here on SP have successfully shed a lot of weight and have kept it off for several years now. However, they are still active on this site, and still tracking their food and still worrying about having the weight return again.
I always wondered why they still worried about regaining the weight after so many years of successful maintenance.
Now I understand.

There are some of us who need to constantly monitor ourselves when it comes to food.
I am one of them.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I'll need to track forever - thank goodness it's easy with MyFitnessPal...
    617 days ago
  • BEBARB149
    I've found the same thing even though I haven't reached my ultimate goal. If I stop tracking I start gaining. So I track no matter what else is going on in my life.
    618 days ago
    I stop, I stray.
    618 days ago
    Loved your blog, great observations!

    I have tracked for 18 months, when I stopped weight very slowly crept up, for the same reasons you described. Back to tracking - back to goal weight.

    Later I noticed that I do know my portions by heart, the problem is when I do NOT eat my portions: portion distortion and impulse eating.
    So, for several months now, I do not really track, but I do plan my meals in writing the night before, and measure all my food (except vegetables) on the kitchen scale.
    I find that this is enough to protect me from gaining weight.
    But if I get on trouble, I go back to tracking food and it always helps.

    I think I will always plan and measure my food. So little effort and so much benefit!

    618 days ago
    You have described me in a nut shell. I have to track. I have to weigh and measure my food. I don't succeed otherwise.
    618 days ago
    I totally agree! And I'm one who needs to get back to tracking, too.

    618 days ago
    I am in maintenance and continue tracking. It helps to keep me honest about portions and kinds of things I put into my body. I will probably track in some form forever. I yo-yoed too many times. I don't want to get back on that roller coaster! I wish you much success. Also, the Lifestyle section has great articles on maintenance that are so encouraging. You are not alone in this!
    618 days ago
    As one of those friends who can still see it easily unraveling, I appreciate that you've had your "ah-hah" moment... I imagine that there exist people who don't need to track forever. And unicorns, too. emoticon emoticon

    For the rest of us? Food scales and trackers! emoticon
    618 days ago
  • ROXYJ213
    Completely agree! I've always gone up and down with me weight and have realized that tracking makes me accountable. I guess it's like tracking your bank account. You can't just go crazy and not check in with your behavior, in this case food. Ugh.
    618 days ago
    I think that tracking will have to be a way of life for me from now on. I am thankful that SparkPeople makes it so easy to hold oneself accountable this way. I think it is the best way to stay successful at maintenance.

    618 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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