It was just over two weeks ago, in the middle of BODYPUMP, when it happened.
We were on track 4, performing deadlifts, when I felt my BodyMedia armband start to slide down. I wasn't in a position to readjust it so I let it fall to my wrist and subsequently flail around as I performed cleans and push presses. It was awkward to say the least but the class must go on.
I tried to guide the participants through the stretches as I struggled to get it positioned correctly. But I couldn't. I took it off, threw it in my Lug Life gym bag and resolved to take care of it later. I came home and inspected the device as I chatted with Mark, lamenting that my beloved BodyMedia could be broken ... or not. As it turns out, the grippy circular piece of Velcro that keeps the armband secure was no longer attached to the end plastic piece. Seemingly all I would have to do is get some super glue and put it back on.
The weekend passed and days soon did, too, and I not only didn't fix it - I didn't even go to the store to get the glue. I was a bit taken aback by my lack of interest in doing anything as I had become reliant, to say the least, on the armband that measures daily calorie burn and uses software to sync with MyFitnessPal, giving me all kinds of statistics on my eating and exercise habits. I would only sync and charge the band if it coincided with a shower because I didn't want to lose any information. The 15 minutes at night to take care of those tasks seemed like too much time without it. When Mark asked to wear it out of curiosity, I quickly shut him down because a) it was mine; and b) I didn't want to lose a day's information for his experiment. On the days I charged it, syncing the data, I would anxiously review the data to see if I had burned calories I deemed sufficient while managing to eat within a certain range. I considered it a valuable tool for weight loss/maintenance.
The more time I spent without the device, the more I began to wonder just how many numbers one person needs? Do I need to know how many calories I burned while I was sleeping or teaching BODYPUMP? Do I need to to know how many fat grams are in my breakfast? It was 15, if you are interested. Do I need to know how fast I run a mile, how many I log in a week? I can tell you that, too. How much water I drink? Because the truth is that you can have and log a number for just about anything, especially with the advent of smartphones and the near rush of apps being created.
There's apps to journal food (I use MyFitnessPal), track mileage on runs, to calculate BMI, to practice Tai chi. There's even one, not so shockingly, to track water consumption. For at least three months, I used the Waterlogged app to keep tabs on how much I was drinking throughout the day after seeing Lauren at Oatmeal After Spinning write a post about it. Drinking enough water should be a priority for everyone but even more so for those with an active lifestyle, and I was "concerned" that I was not staying hydrated. I set an arbitrary goal to drink 80 ounces of water a day - mostly because that's what Lauren did - and started getting Waterlogged.
What I discovered, though, is I drink enough water. More than enough water. I usually drink two big glasses - 32 ounces - before eating breakfast, bringing me more than a third toward my goal. One glass at lunch and dinner add up to another 32 ounces. Then there's the two water bottles I usually drink at work for about 40 ounces. If you are bad at math, I'll tell you that's 104 ounces - 24 over the goal and 40 over the recommended 8 glasses. The more I realized I drank enough, the more cumbersome it got to track. The more cumbersome it got to track, the less I did it. The less I did it, the more the app reminded me that I wasn't. And then I just got annoyed. The app got deleted, and I've been hydrating just the same.
Of course, it wouldn't be so easy to just let go of some of the other numbers I track. I see success and progress in my splits, average pace and mileage. It's also an important aspect of training for a distance event. I find security and confidence in tracking my food (usually), knowing that I am not eating too much and can review my good selections.
As I contemplated this post, though, I wondered what it would be like if I just stopped logging my food and try to eat intuitively. I have been at this game long enough that I should know what to eat and when, how to eat to fuel my body and when to say enough is enough. I thought it could be an interesting experiment to give it up a week and see whether I gained weight, lost weight or stayed the same. But I couldn't commit. A sense of fear hung over the idea, and I was reluctant to give up the control, unwilling to risk gaining weight.
I considered the flip side, nonetheless. By stopping the numbers game, I can stop the fixation. I can settle into a pattern living life and not living to eat. I could stop trying the manipulation and numbers game that I play every day to get things the way I like. Rather, I could eat foods based on a nutritional profile and not label.
I have had a taste of that intuitiveness by not wearing the BodyMedia. Have I gained weight? Well, I was up two pounds on the scale yesterday but I don't weigh myself frequently enough to know whether it's a trend, water weight or the over-cited muscle growth (because obviously I'm now a meathead). I know whatever the reason, the weight gain is not because I gave up those numbers - though I will say that it made me reluctant to give up the numbers in terms of calorie counting.
What are your thoughts? What numbers do you track?