The Wrong Motivation

Last week, we had our fantastic annual group holiday; Jennie, Gideon, Angus and I squeezed in to our little hatchback for the drive down to the Lake District to spend the week with school and university friends. We had loads of fun, and as ever there was loads of food, drink, and merriment. I wasn’t so foolish to think that I’d want, or be able, to keep up my 1600 calories/day diet, but I did want to keep on tracking what I ate.

I’d tracked my food and drink every day since March, as I find that even when I cheat for a day, tracking it and seeing the calories stops me going off the rails completely. The app I use, MyFitnessPal, keeps a tally of how many days you’ve logged in and entered food or exercise information, and my streak was 108 days at the start of the holiday - I was proud of that, particularly when I hit my hundredth day.

So I dutifully added everything I ate and drank to the app, ticking over 3000 calories each day (which is ‘not going off the rails completely’ on one of our holidays!) It wasn’t easy, not least because using the app was really slow due to our extremely flakey internet connection (love a rural broadband connection over weak WiFi boosters in a thick-walled old house with 14 nerds trying to get their fix on 2-3 devices each!)

On the fourth day of the holiday, I tracked my food, and got the same old ‘data stored locally’ messages I had been all week. But on the fifth, I’d lost my streak of 111 days. It didn’t sync what I entered until after midnight, so despite the fact I’d been entering as I ate through the day, I was back down to a single day. It shouldn’t mean anything - I knew I’d kept track, so what difference does it make?

Well, it made enough of a difference that I stopped tracking. What was the point, I had no streak to maintain, and I wasn’t going to hit 1600 calories anyway, so why bother? It turns out, my motivation to track was wrong, I should have been focusing on not going off the rails, not what my login streak was.

As a result, I’m sure that I ate more, and have more work to do in the next five weeks to get down to my goal weight. It’s very much in sight, but if I’d had the right motivation, or if the app took in to account the time food was tracked not just when it was synced, I’d be in a better position now.