There was a fascinating "Note to self" podcast early in the archives about the downside to the use of health-tracking technology. About how logging and seeing every step you take, calorie you eat, water you sip, minutes you sleep can make you anxious and hyper-focused on yourself. I definitely experienced this with calorie tracking, as you may remember from several years ago. I found myself really anxious about going over on any given day, and putting way too much of my self-worth on whether I was "good" or "bad" about staying in my calorie goals (and the app makes it easy to assign value judgements by putting you in the green & giving you happy faces, vs. red & exclamation marks!!!!). I was also running running running without any focus on speed or form, just to get a bigger calorie buffer into my day. My perfectionism came out full on, too, the thought of "incomplete data" when I just could not remember every bite I put on my mouth at a potluck, or had not even a ballpark idea of the ingredients or calorie count of some concoction I imbibed drove my CRAZY. I had to stop.
After a couple years of having it sit in a drawer, I pulled out my old fitbit zip in January and replaced the battery and worse it almost daily. I did it only because I signed onto an app that would import data and then award you points that ultimately translated to $$$. A friend of mine told me about it and I figured free money was reason enough to pin the tiny thing to my waistband or bra step. It took me 6 months to get $10, so its not a get-rich-quick scheme. When the battery died yet again in July I put it back in the drawer. The fitbit NEVER motivated me to walk more, maybe because I know I walk plenty most days and if I don't hit my goal by the end of the day, something in my routine was off enough that it would take way too long to do enough pacing around my house to get there.
The perfectionism thing I noticed with MyFitnessPal extends to spending tracking as well. We had a bit of a snafu that ended up with an overdrawn bank account and scrounging our house for cash for pizza last week (long story, it was a good reminder not to slack on keeping an eye on our bank balance and transferring from emergency fund when needed instead of planning to do it "later"). Said snafu had us updating all our Mint passwords and deciding to go back to YNAB. Notice I said "us". G said, "sure, sounds like a good idea" and then promptly never logged a thing unless I reminded him of it. I logged my few meager purchases for 3 days and when I didn't notice the groceries he brought or the packages that came from Amazon, I started getting all twitchy about the incomplete data. I had two options: remind him (i.e. nag) to do it, or let it go. I chose the latter. I'm keeping a close eye on our bills and balances, but we are NOT going back to logging every purchase. If G ever decides he wants to be consistent with it, I'm on board, but I CANNOT keep reminding him daily or, worse, just looking at bills and ATM withdrawals and trying to piece together his spending FOR HIM to enter into YNAB, which is what I was doing for many months before.
There was an episode on the "Happier" podcast where someone mentioned that YNAB similarly made him nuts because of this intrinsic NEED to account for every single penny and he had to quit, and I was so happy to hear I'm not alone in this lunacy. I don't know if it is the scientist in me or what, but if I am collecting data, I want it to be as complete & accurate as possible! How can you begin to make sense of estimates & guesstimates and days of blanks? What conclusions do you draw from that? I think some would argue that some data is better than no data, and "perfect is the enemy..." etc... but I can't get my brain on board with that.
Things I do track currently: water intake (because I sometimes forget to drink enough & then don't feel well), meditation (just a yes or no, so I remember to do it every day), and my plank challenge (again, yes or no, and I try to do it 3X a week, on non-gym days...I'm up to SIX MINUTES). Yes, sometimes I'm chugging water to meet my goal, but there isn't really much of a downside to this. Maybe forcing myself to meditate at night when I'm falling asleep (sometimes I just completely forget during the day!) isn't necessary, but I like seeing that streak (85 days!). Those things are actually more of a to-do-list then really getting into hard numbers and data, so they don't lead to that sort of hyper-focus and anxiety. I sometimes write down what I've eaten in my planner for a week or two at a time, to make sure I'm not fooling myself with excess snacks or letting my lunch "creep up" (I sometimes start adding more items just to use up excess fruits or because we bought something I wanted to try, for example).
Anyone else let a tracking app make you crazy, or am I truly neurotic? (actually don't answer that second part!)