For about year, I’ve been patching together a list of symptoms that could be three or four different major immunodeficiency disorders OR just a product of my imagination. It’s hard to tell based on all of the crowd-sourced info out there. It’s the typical laundry list of odd symptoms that maybe aren’t so odd: fatigue, obesity, a lot of supposed food sensitivities, acne, migraines. I mean, ugh. I’ve felt like crap for a long time.
Life is too short for this. So in January, I started tracking 6 factors that I thought were really important to me: either they were things I wanted to do more or less of to make a positive change in my day to day and a couple things that I just want to be more awesome at.
Short story: tracking these things is working, albeit it’s been a process to understand exactly what it is I’m wanting to keep an eye on. Here’s my daily tracking list:
- Ketosis –> Diet In January, I was tracking days in ketosis. Since keto and I have been in a rocky relationship the past couple months, this has become tracking days that I can say I ate healthily. I define this as lower or no carbs, no added sugar, a reasonable macro split with enough protein, and hitting my calorie boundaries (I track macros/calories in my fitness pal). If I’ve done a pretty good-to-awesome job, I get a pink dot on my calendar.
- Crossfit –> Movement I started this as a track for workouts mainly because Crossfit kicks my ass so bad that this little blue dot was purely a reward for a job well done (literally walking into the gym). Over the past couple months, though, what has become important to me is movement–how often am I moving my body either in a taxing way (energy expediture) or to be more mobile (increased mobility and flexibility). I don’t move as much as I think I do. Neither do you, sorry to say.
- Waking Up Early –> Waking Up Early. Originally, “early” meant before 8am and now it means ideally closer to 6am but it’s basically the same concept. I was sleeping too much and hitting the snooze about 7x/morning. No bueno. This orange dot is a reward for hauling myself out of bed early enough to make the day better.
- Feeling Good In the most subjective way possible, I just wanted to keep an eye on the days I just felt good…for whatever reason, without any further explanation. I focused the entirety of March on this idea and it was the best month I’ve had in a long time. Yellow dot = power of positive thinking.
- Working at home I track this one because I wanted to see how correlated it was with feeling good because I hate my job right now. Not so much the job but…things about the job. I’m gonna leave this right here. Needless to say, the correlation between this little brown dot and the yellow one is high.
- No Alcohol This was more a curiosity than anything. I was curious to see how many days I drink without even really thinking about it. Surprisingly, this was better than I expected it would be but I also saw a clear pattern: I don’t drink on random days…chances are, if I drink today, I’ll drink tomorrow…so I’m trying to choose careful as to when to imbibe.
Truth be told, I’ve tracked some other things that become non-interesting. I tracked the number of days I did chores around the house–that just depressed me so I stopped to reconsider. I tried to track the number of days I wrote a blog as a means to starting a new habit–work got crazy and I had to set that one aside for awhile.
The game with tracking for me became much more real and effective when I found, over time, those things that I cared about enough to consider every day. They kind of presented themselves to me as my real priorities for now and I love that. The process kinda evolves and will continue to do so.
In March, I decided I wanted to dedicate the month to really feeling good, whatever that meant. It was a total game changer; I found myself reflecting much more on how to feel happy or good instead of assessing whether I felt bad or not. This focus made me want to dedicate every month to another thing with the focus of “building on.” So April, for me, is called “make it count” and I’m highlighting waking up early, feeling good, and movement. So far, I really like this approach.
One of the traps of tracking for me has always been balancing the fine line between keeping an eye on something and becoming a slave to it. If I count calories, calories end up controlling my life. If I track workouts, I end up becoming a zealot about working out. Tracking is essentially a framing activity. It asks you to determine what it is you’re going to prioritize.
When I realized that it could be creative, in that it could instill a will to behave in a certain way–you know, CHANGE–tracking became a very useful and effective tool for me. I continue to be surprised by how much satisfaction I get from marking the days that I’ve done something I consider important.