The power of tracking

“What gets measured gets managed.” Peter Drucker

There are some things that just do not come naturally to me, such as diet. A diet that relies on willpower is a diet that I am doomed to fail at. I will, at best, see it out for a couple of weeks. After which it’ll trail off into one justified cheat after another. Then follows guilt and then follows failure.

If I remove the temptations that stand in my way, if I control the environment so that failure is significantly harder, I’ll last far longer. I cannot eat the pack of crisps I haven’t bought. But controlling an environment is only one part of the equation. The most fundamental thing is tracking. Constant feedback is a constant reminder.

I’ve often wondered what I’d like to get as a tattoo. I’d want it to be something that has meaning to me, and I’d want it to be something that was a constant reminder. It’d be a daily meditation, probably of some zen or stoic philosophy. I’d considered the word: invictus, after the poem. The idea behind any such tattoo wouldn’t be in how good it looked, but what it reminded me of.

I’ve lost the most weight ever when I’ve weighed myself daily. I don’t expect my weight to drop each day. There will be variations based on hydration and sleep, but when I’ve weighed myself each day I have had that consistent feedback on how I’m doing. I got to know and understand my own cycles.

Tracking calories and macro nutrients too, that proved helpful. I’d set out what my rough goals were, I’d track what I ate, I’d prep the meals 3 days at a time, so I’d cook twice a week. Then the 7th day would be a “cheat” day, which is to say a day with a caloric spike. I’ve found that I’ve done better with less carbs, which was a tough one for me to handle following my fruitarian days where the diet was 80%+ carbs.

Finances is another thing that I’ve found far better when I tracked it. Tying in to the diet, I’d know what I’d bought and what I had to buy. I knew what bills were coming up, I knew how much I could pay off my debts at the end of the month. It’s a form of review of your life, too, noting down your expenses.

These things have been primarily numerical, something that can be quantified. But I don’t doubt it is the same reason that meditation and journaling are successful. All of these things form the habit of gaining feedback and feedback is vital to any kind of progress.