Something really got me thinking lately.
Around the holidays I was browsing some magazines near the checkout isle in my grocery store and noticed something interesting.
Every magazine cover had something about calories:
Delicious desserts for less than 300 calories!
Meals for under 500 calories!
Low fat, delicious meals for 300 calories or less!
There’s this obsession with the numbers behind everything we eat or do, which makes you feel like you just need to know your “golden number” and then you’ll possess the secret to staying slim and healthy.
But here’s the thing: there’s a better way to do this, that doesn’t suck nearly as much as counting calories.
This is a concept I talk about in my book Master The Day, but also, how I think “smart people” will lose weight in 2016.
A Totally Different Way To Think About Weight Loss in 2016
The Flawed Idea Behind Counting Calories
A few months back I highlighted this study in the New England Journal of Medicine, where they postulated that if you ate xyz fewer calories, you’d lose about 50 pounds over the period of 5 years.
In the study, they had men on a low calorie diet, and had them walking about a mile daily.
The researchers’ predictions were that based on this daily loss of calories, they should technically lose about 50 pounds over the course of five years.
Problem was, when they actually tested this out and looked at the data, it only came out to around 10-15 pounds lost.
Tracking Works… But It Sucks
Look, at the end of the day, tracking works.
If you don’t have a lot of money, find yourself constantly overspending, and are in debt, tracking how much you spend will make you spend less money and make better choices.
If you find yourself gaining weight and feeling crappy, if you track what you eat, you will eat better, and eat fewer calories.
The problem is that nobody wants to be 80 years old, sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal, and meticulously weighing out slices of turkey and gravy.
For the average person, it just doesn’t work.
When I started working with clients I realized a simple, yet powerful principle: if you shift from tracking daily calories, to tracking daily HABITS, you can get the same results, without the neuroticism that goes along with counting every pea that goes in your mouth.
You shift from thinking,”ugh 200 calories left? Ugh this dinner is 600 calories I want? Ugh there’s nothing I can eat here” to “Okay, cool, I just need to do this habit one more time and then I can put a check mark on the paper.”
One of these is scarcity and pain, while one of them is, “okay, just one more habit to do today.”
When you focus on tracking daily habits, achieving your goals every day is easy.
When you focus on tracking calories, it’s always about how much you can deprive yourself, since the lower the calories, the better.
Here’s What That Looks Like in Reality
So if you find yourself wanting to make progress stop tracking calories, and start tracking daily habits.
Here’s what that might look like:
- Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Cook dinner. (Habit = Cook 3x a week)
- Walk 5 minutes a day, Monday – Friday. (Habit = walk 5 minutes a day)
Do you see the difference?
On Monday, if you track habits, you’re not sitting there thinking, “Ah, crap, I’m still only 1% towards my weight loss goal. I still have 35 pounds to go. This sucks.”
All you’re thinking is, “Well, I just need to cook a few times this week, and do my five minute walk for the day. Not too overwhelming.”
Ultimately, they get you the exact same reward – the weight loss and health goal you want.
But your day to day experience of these two things changes dramatically (which is the entire point, right?).
Then check them off, and you’re off scott-free. It’s by far the most effective, and guilt-free way to see progress that I’ve found.
Your Tiny Daily Habit For Today
Your tiny habit for today is simple, and has three main parts.
First, stop tracking calories. If it’s obviously not working for you, it’s making you hate your life, and it’s not sustainable at all, stop it.
Second, start picking a few simple daily health habits, and track them every day. I personally leave a sheet of paper next to my desk at home, and on my desk at work. Here are some ideas for habits to help you get started.
Third, realize that you’ll get to the exact same place, just as fast, but with a lot more fun and a lot less suffering.
The day to day experience of achieving your goals will be infinitely more enjoyable, which is the entire point. If the process sucks, how many of us are willing to see it through?
Thoughts? More Resources to Help
What are your thoughts on this idea?
Have you read my book yet?
Read more about this in my book Master The Day. You’ll learn the nine daily success habits I learned interviewing people that lost 100+ pounds and kept it off in a healthy way – by changing their habits. Plus, you’ll get a free $100 course if you show me your receipt.