July Challenge: Tracking Your Food

What can you accomplish in a month? According to science, that’s all it takes to start forming a new habit, and good habits lead to good results. That’s the goal behind our Monthly Challenge, to help you form the right habits – physically and mentally – to make significant strides toward your best, healthiest self.

Imagine you’re looking to make a major purchase – house, car, collectors’ edition box set of Game of Thrones, whatever – but you have no idea how much money you have in the bank. Hell, imagine you don’t even know how much money is deposited in your bank account each paycheck.

Are you going to feel confident in making that purchase? And if you do actually make the purchase, what do you think the odds are of it working out positively?

Yeah, probably not good …

Yet, this is how most Americans go about their lives when it comes to what they eat, as only 12% actually track their calories and food intake. This despite 70% of Americans voicing concerns about their weight.

Look, just like making a major purchase, being healthy is a major decision. And major decisions mean putting things in place to ensure those decisions work out positively.

You wouldn’t buy a house without running your financials, nor would you run a marathon without implementing a training regiment. So, why would you decide to lose weight or make the decision to improve your health or eating habits without tracking what you eat?

Needless to say, the benefits of tracking are significant, and it goes beyond losing weight. Though, 88% of people who track their intake on applications such as MyFitnessPal for even as little as seven days lose weight.

Mindfulness is a huge plus for tracking. If you’ve ever done a monthly budget, you might be surprised at the end of the month how much you spent in certain areas, like eating out or clothes. And as soon as you see that, your awareness of your habit grows and makes you more mindful about where and what you spend your money.

Same thing with tracking your food, as by tracking daily, you can then go back at the end of a day, week or month and see what you ate and where you might’ve splurged a little too much.

This will also hold you accountable to whatever goals you set because the act of actually tracking it means you have to stay consistent, or else it won’t work.

And maybe the biggest thing is it puts you more in control.

Unfortunately, many people have dysfunctional relationships with food. They love the tastes but hate how they feel about themselves afterward. And often, people feel they don’t have control or the willpower to get off this cycle.

Yet, by tracking your food, you can hold yourself accountable and take control of everything you eat. Basically, you put yourself on a budget, and this way, when that major purchase comes around (splurging on some pizza at a party, perhaps), you know you can afford it because you’ve made the sound decisions prior to save up.

The challenge: Track what you eat each day in a spreadsheet or one of the many apps.

You know why most people don’t do a monthly financial budget? Because unless you’re really into numbers and data, it’s not fun! It downright sucks seeing you spent way too much on television streaming services or that you spend more on gas for your car than what you eat.

Tracking your food is the same way, unfortunately.

Once you start tracking, you’re probably going to get a big slap in the face about how much you eat, what you eat, or how it may not be the most ideal diet. That initial shock can be rough, but it does pass.

If you need another metaphor, look at working out.

If you haven’t ever worked out before or even in a while, that first time going for a run or hitting the gym can be BRUTAL! As can the soreness after. Yet, by sticking with it, it gets easier. Your body adapts. You adapt. And what once was tough suddenly becomes normal.

That is what we hope this challenge does for you with tracking food. We’re not even talking about tracking calories, but just your food. Regardless of whether you want to lose weight or just eat healthier, tracking your food provides priceless insight into your starting point, areas for improvement, and ensuring progress over time.

Fortunately, while you can use a spreadsheet, there are plenty of apps to help. MyFitnessPal might be the most popular, but there are plenty that you can quickly plug in what you ate throughout the day and by the end of it, see a full breakdown of how well you did.

And don’t give me the “I don’t have time” or “I just forget” excuses. It takes maybe a minute to put in a food item right after you eat it. You can spare a minute, and in doing so, you’ll put yourself on a path to truly empowering yourself and your health.