Most people I talk to who are trying to lose weight are at a point where they are frustrated with fad diet approaches. It sounds enticing to “lose inches quick” or to “drop 20 pounds in 10 days”. But in reality, these approaches have failed us time and time again.
They are unsustainable, unrealistic, and truthfully, ineffective when it comes to helping your body find its happy weight!
On top of that, these same people not only have been trying to lose weight, but will also admit to me they wish they could learn to love their body as it is. Can you relate?
Let’s back up for just a second and talk about weight. Spoiler alert, 🤫 this is one of the measurements I’m going to tell you to stop tracking!
But it’s an easy reference for those of us who know our body feels heavier than usual. Maybe we’ve been through something (oh, I don’t know, like a pandemic, job loss, grief, moving, etc) that has trickled into our body size changing. Bottom line, we know when something is “off”.
There is a difference between ALWAYS wanting to lose “that last 5 lbs” (I’ve been there)… and knowing we’ve gained 15 or more lbs that we usually don’t hold. If you are the first one… my recommendation is to ONLY work on self-love and body image, NOT WEIGHT LOSS. The tips below will help you too.
If you’re in the second group (you honestly feel like your body is holding more weight than it wants to, and you feel it is affecting your health)… these 5 things to stop tracking will help you navigate your journey with positivity, empowerment and peace of mind.
Oh, and I won’t just tell you what to stop doing… that’s annoying. I will also give you tips on what to do instead!
4 Measurements to STOP Tracking for Weight Loss
I’m guessing you knew this one was coming, but let me explain why.
- Measuring calories consumed and calories burned is so far from a perfect science, that all it does is contribute to negative mental obsession about food and fitness.
- Calories on food labels can be off by hundreds. 😱
- 2 people can have the exact same diet, the exact same exercise routine, and have wildly different results. When we put ourselves in a box of “caloric deficit” to lose weight and it doesn’t work for us, we make ourselves wrong versus the (broken) cookie-cutter system!
- We burn calories differently at different times of the day. Eating a 50-calorie apple in the morning will metabolize differently than the same apple eating at midnight.
WHAT TO TRY INSTEAD: Don’t account for every single calorie. Practice nourishing yourself with 3 meals a day. This might sound scary to a calorie counter. The concept of skipping meals and eating less is ingrained into our head as the “way to lose weight”.
But did you know that over a period of time… weight gain (particularly fat) is more likely to happen from NOT eating enough than overeating? 9 out of 10 clients I work with are gaining more weight due to UNDEREATING, not overeating!
If you need a focal point, set a goal around eating nutrient-dense, whole foods. Do not to restrict any foods, even treats.
2. YOUR WEIGHT
I know, I know… I’m hitting you with the exact opposite of what seems like would be important to know if you are trying to balance your weight.
I used to weigh myself multiple times a week. It started when I did a bodybuilding competition and I had to weigh in for my coaches to make sure I was losing 1-4 lbs every week to be “stage-ready” in time. What I didn’t realize at the time was how completely consumed I had become with the number on the scale.
I would not drink water and try to go to the bathroom before my training sessions so I would weigh less when I got to my training session. At one point, I hit a plateau and didn’t lose weight for over a week. They cut my calories and added another 30min of cardio to my workouts… every. day! 🥵
Looking back, all I can say is what a big lesson that was of just how easy it is to let one little measurement start to take over your daily energy. I believe it can happen to anyone. It starts seemingly harmless, but before you know it you’re compromising on life, skipping dinner with friends, eating all your meals in, trying to be the good little girl or boy who now seeks validation and worth by being able to control a number.
If you’ve ever weighed yourself with regularity, you know that number does not like being controlled. Especially for women, our body weight can fluctuate 8-10 lbs during different times of the month. It’s our natural body doing it’s genius job of taking care of us! It ebbs and flows like nature, and yet we judge it and try to change it.
WHAT TO TRY INSTEAD: Throw the scale away! Tell the doctor you don’t want to know your weight for mental health reasons. If that’s too big of a step, start limiting how much you weigh yourself. Once a month is what I suggest, not more often than that.
Pay more attention to how you feel. It’s ok to notice “I feel bloated today”, or “I feel light, strong and energetic”. You can sense into how your clothes are fitting, especially if you have made a few changes with food and fitness (not dieting, just healthy habits).
Focus on non-scale victories: celebrate doing 3 workouts in a week. High five yourself for eating a healthy breakfast every day this week. Tell a friend how proud you are that you started journaling or meditating on a regular basis!
3. YOUR EXACT MACRONUTRIENTS
This one comes with a caveat. Macronutrient balance IS important for health. Macros are protein, carbs and fats. And it can be a strategy for building lean muscle to work on getting enough of each of these nutrients.
HOWEVER… if you are someone who has come to the conclusion that measuring and tracking has put you in a tailspin of diet mentality, self beat-up, and being on again off again with extreme approaches, DON’T count your macros.
If you’re looking to create true food freedom, tracking something daily will not get you there. You need to at least take a break from any exact tracking. Kinda like when you break up with someone… and the next person you’re attracted to is oddly similar… It’s tempting to rebound and argue “but this is at least better”.
Nope. After a bad breakup, it’s usually best to be single and have some cushion time for self-reflection.
So don’t “break up” with dieting and then start dating “macro counting”.
WHAT TO TRY INSTEAD: Focus on getting high quality, whole foods. Whole foods means not processed, limited additives, preservatives, flavorings, etc. Think of foods as close to their natural source as possible: meats, fish, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, fruits, veggies, beans, and I DO count grains and whole-fat dairy in this category.
You can practice macronutrient balance by eye-balling it. If you look down at your plate and about half is bright fruits/veggies, 1/4 is a protein source (meat/fish/tofu/beans/quinoa) and 1/4 is another carb or starch source like rice/pasta/potatoes/corn, etc. That’s balance!
4. POINTS (or any other system that leads with a restrictive, rule-laden approach to food)
Not naming names lol, but I think we all know what I’m talking about when it comes to tracking points. And you know what, maybe it has helped some people. I’m not going to argue with that. However, for many of us, tracking “points” does more harm to our mental health than it does benefit to our physical health.
In one study involving university women, it was found that fitness, diet and tracking apps had unintended negative consequences for the majority of study participants, including “fixation on numbers, rigid diet, obsession, app dependency, high sense of achievement, extreme negative emotions, motivation from ‘negative’ messages, and excess competition.” (1)
I have a client now who feels traumatized because she’s trying so hard to create food freedom, and can’t help but see a number of points flash through her head when looking at certain foods. It’s fear-provoking and NOT healthy.
WHAT TO TRY INSTEAD: The other side of this psychological coin is that as humans, when we check things off a list, or track that something was accomplished, our feel-good hormones are released. We become more motivated to continue. We’re more consistent because of that motivation. We experience pride in ourselves!
I’ll be the first to say, there’s nothing wrong with that! It’s when this tracking controls us, not the other way around, that we need to take caution. So if you are someone who feels motivated by accomplishing things…
Track habits, not numbers.
Give yourself more grace and leeway than you think you need.
Set habit goals SO small you feel like you could and should be doing more (but it’s still more than you’re doing now)
Join a community dedicated to a non-diet approach to health.
Want ALL these tips explained further in a 5-step balanced goal-setting system? Download my H.A.P.I.E. Goal Method masterclass and sample habit tracker PDF for FREE HERE.
This freebie will help you continue moving forward with body love and health, without dieting.
If you’re trying to help your body find it’s happy weight, without dieting, and you are ready to work on loving your body now, stop tracking: calories, macros, weight, points, and anything else that promotes a restrictive, rule-based approach to food and fitness.
Trust that prioritizing self-care, whole foods, and regular movement (without obsessing over the numbers) will promote natural weight balance in your body. Work on your body image and a positive relationship with food along the way.
When weight is taken off the table as “the main goal”, often it balances as a side effect of working on ourselves in a more balanced, holistic way.
My name is Tessie Tracy, and I’m a Certified Eating Psychology and Nutrition Coach, as well as a fitness expert & keynote speaker.
I’ve helped hundreds of women like you finally lose the diet mentality, and feel on track and consistent with healthy habits that don’t include restriction, punishment or guilt!
I’ve been featured in various media outlets, such as Well + Good, BuzzFeed, The Wash Post, USA Today College, and more. And I’ve worked with major companies as a corporate wellness trainer, such as USC, George Washington University, Nissan, Bank of America, Westinghouse, and MindBody, to name a few.
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Comment below with any questions or thoughts you have!