I have often said that math is not the best tool for developing a healthy relationship with food. However, it dawns on me that outside of AltShift Activate, I’m not sure that I have ever really explained my best advice on how to track calories, fat, and carbs while doing AltShift, or even when such a thing might be necessary. So, this post will be that resource.
First things first, if you are just starting out, you don’t need to track anything. Your focus should be on simply putting foods in the right Shifts until this is comfortable for you. If you are still regularly telling yourself that “one bite won’t hurt” or “I deserve a treat” or any of the other reasons that you might use to justify something you will regret, then there’s no point in getting technical with any numbers. You will only make yourself miserable while you meticulously log every detail of things that aren’t your real problem.
Tracking is for those who can describe themselves thusly:
- I have been putting foods in the right Shifts for at least 2 months and I very rarely deviate.
- I walk 10,000 steps per day, meditate daily, and sleep 8 hours a night.
- Despite all of the above, results have stalled.
(In this case, “results” means all indications of improving health have stopped. Please note that “results” does NOT mean “I have stopped losing weight.” If health is improving in any way, you are still on the right track and shouldn’t change anything. Fat loss will likely resume shortly.)
If tracking makes sense for you, it will be because you need to find out if you are within the AltShift guidelines and/or if you can tweak anything for better results. In other words, you have to track to experiment.
Experimentation is really the only time I can get behind the idea of tracking food, and even then I believe you should return to not tracking as soon as possible. This advice has made some long-time dieters quite frustrated with me. Some people believe that not tracking will lead them to slip into bad behaviors and start drifting farther and farther from their targets. However, this point would only be valid for those who have found success already and don’t need my advice anyway. If you are asking for my help, then you have not achieved your goals and more of the same old failed methodology is probably not what you need. We need to change behavior, not learn how to strictly follow rules for the rest of our lives.
When it is a logical time for you to track your food, you should track one AltShift cycle and then stop. With just one cycle, you have plenty of information to make any necessary changes with food choices.
If you found that your carbs were a bit high in 5 Shift, for example, rather than tediously counting every scrap of food for weeks, you can simply look at your 8-day log, form a plan for how to reduce your carbs, enact that plan for a few cycles, and then log another cycle to see if your plan has worked.
With this method, you are able to stay focused on foods instead of getting hung up on numbers, calculators, and apps. Tracking can be an occasional thing that you can use very temporarily when you actually need it instead of something that keeps you in a weird and neurotic comfort zone of desperation.
If you are currently tracking your food all the time, I encourage you to stop. It’s just not sustainable and nobody should spend so much time thinking about food, dieting, and her body. There are so many better things to do with a perfectly good brain.