As of tomorrow, I will no longer track a whole bunch of things. It will be weird, because I’ve been tracking some of them for years, and the bookkeeper in me is slightly upset about terminating those logs, entering a dark numberless age, using nothing but intuition. And yet, there are mostly no good reasons for tracking all the stuff I track – let’s take a look:
Steps/miles – this started so innocently; a challenge to myself to walk 10,000 steps a day, be a little healthier, get off my butt. It came at a time when I was working late at the office a lot, in the winter, and when I had mostly given up running. But I’ve always been an obsessive walker – six miles to the office every single day, even at 41 weeks pregnant, in the middle of summer, anyone? So I should have known that this would get obsessive. In the beginning I stuck to the 10,000 step goal, then it crept up to six miles a day, then to seven. The last few months I’ve been walking for more than eight miles a day on average, some weeks even nine. And it’s not the only exercise I do. And all that walking takes a lot of time, time that could get allocated to other interesting things. It wouldn’t be so bad if these were walks of discovery, but it often ends up just re-walking the same old routes, just to hit the numbers. Where’s the joy in that? My walking heroes WG Sebald and Will Self would not approve. Besides, I don’t even really have to count. I kinda know how many miles I walk in a day. I live in New York City. One city block = 0.05 miles. That’s why this measurement definitely has to go.
Weight/body fat/calories – up until recently I’ve been pretty much the same weight since the age of 14, give or take a few pounds, pregnancy excepted (and even there, I was back at my normal weight within ten days). When my clothes feel a little tighter, that’s when I know I might have put on a pound or two. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out. And body fat is a joke. My scale will show anything between 16% and 26%, depending on what time of day I measure. All I know is that I do a ton of exercise and that I’m slightly underweight. Body fat is not a useful measure for me right now, especially with a scale as capricious as mine.
Macros/micros – I eat healthy, always have. I know there’s a ton of discussion on the fine details of what makes the ultra-mega-super-perfect healthy diet, but let’s agree that if you don’t eat processed garbage you’re already three quarters of the way there. I eat fish, and good meat, eggs, fruit and tons of vegetables, and I ferment my own dairy (buttermilk/quark, yogurt/labneh and kefir). And then occasionally I’ll have something that’s got sugar or grains in it, if it’s worthwhile stuff. I don’t restrict or go on crazy binges; eating this way comes easy to me and always has. Having tracked the fine details of the food I eat over several years I know I’m good as far as vitamins and minerals are concerned. And tweaking my macros has never made any difference, except when I’ve tried to eat lower carb, as an experiment, and it made me feel weak and tired. And tracking food intake is fiddly and of all the tracking by far the most time-consuming. No more of that; life’s too short.
Mood – I tried to track that with an online tracker for a while but it’s so basic that now I just use a spreadsheet. And guess what – my mood is pretty much the same every day, alas. Genetics and a fairly stable life mean I’m usually pretty decent mood. There’s maybe a couple of days of mild despair in any one year and one or two days of feeling just grand. The rest is average. I sometimes wish for a bit more ebb and flow, but then I talk to someone in a crappy mood and decide maybe I’m better off the way I am.
More later on the few things I will continue to keep an eye on.