There’s an app for that has become a mainstream response for virtually (literally, though) every mindless conundrum our everyday lives can throw at us. From ordering a pizza to meeting your soulmate, congratulations smartphones, you’ve successfully made the laziest of people that much lazier.
In recent times, the health and fitness industry has been bombarded with apps, misfits, fitbits, tidbits, doo-hickies, and whatchamacallits intended to facilitate lifestyle changes and physical progress. At this point, we’re surprised there isn’t an app that does your workout for you. The inherent personal, gratifying nature of a weight loss journey coincides with tremendous discipline, hard work, and dedication that can’t be synthesized through an app. Sure, apps like MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun are wonderful compliments, but to maximize progress, here are five reasons you should probably consider rehabbing your “appdiction” and revisit the basics. That’s right--we’re talking good old-fashioned pen and paper.
In order to improve something, you need to track progress. Interestingly enough, improvement isn’t contingent on simply tracking progress, rather the analysis of the behaviors contributing to said progress. In other words, logging nutrition and physical activity for a given day is wonderful, but it’s not what’s going to drive results. Your fitness success directly correlates to the behaviors causing you to eat, or not eat a particular food, which then appears in your nutrition log.
One of the major issues with fitness apps is the strong lack of conscious engagement. The majority of foods are submitted to a database, in which you select the amount of servings consumed, making sure you’re still under your calorie goal. By forcing you to slow down, even using a food scale to weigh out your portions, you have no choice but to be psychologically aware of what you’re putting into your body--jotting down every food, serving, and macronutrient. There is a major difference in the sense of accountability when comparing “1 box of Double Stuffed Oreos” vs. 1 box of Double Stuffed Oreos: 2,800 calories, 140g of fat, and 260g of sugar… OH S#!T.
As Peter Drucker famously remarked, “What gets measured gets managed.” While one can argue that an app can still usher a sense of accountability through logging nutrition and exercise, it’s irrefutable to say an app fails to consider what’s most important: how you actually feel. Evidence Mag catches our drift: “The act of self-monitoring is the process of tracking and monitoring your thoughts and actions in order to become more aware about how they impact your goals.”
By manually writing down your progress, it’s easy to include notes about what’s working, what isn’t, and how you felt along the way. Maybe you begin to notice that when you eat after 10PM you wake up the next morning feeling lethargic. Or on days where you work the longest you end up having the most effective workouts because you’re that excited to get the hell out of the office. Recording things like mood, what times of day you eat or feel hungry, and thoughts of your progress are all telltale methods to understand when and what alterations need to be made to optimize output.
In a Lifehacker post entitled Why You Learn More Effectively by Writing Than Typing, your brain’s Reticular Activating System (RAS) acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, organizing tasks by order of importance dependent on where focus is needed —something that the physical act of writing brings to the forefront. In Henriette Anne Klauser’s goal-oriented book, Write It Down Make It Happen, she vividly describes the way in which your RAS reacts when you begin to write: ‘Wake up! Pay attention! Don't miss this detail!'
Once you write down a goal, your brain will be working overtime to see you get it, and will alert you to the signs and signals that were there all along." Separating science from the equation, isn’t there something to be said about the way things have been done since the invention of the written word? Lee Rourke keeps it real in his answer to this question. “It’s [writing] a deep-felt, uninterrupted connection between thought and language which technology seems to short circuit once I begin to use it.”
A visual representation of a quantity is much more powerful than a mere number. Think about this for a minute: You just completed three excruciating months of grueling workouts five days a week. You’ve successfully recorded every nauseating carb, sugar, and calorie for over three-hundred and sixty meals, as well as the weight of every completed rep for all sixty workouts.
As you flip through page after page of your blood, sweat, and tears, it’s a physical reminder of what you sacrificed to reach your ultimate goal. There shouldn’t be a day that goes by where you aren’t throwing yourself a mini party (as in a pat on the back), celebrating the incorruptible self control you demonstrated as you rejected that delectable chocolate chunk cookie or a one percent drop in body fat that finally puts you in the single digits.
There are plenty of distractions that are capable of derailing your positive strides: drinking, vacation, eating out, also known as a typical weekend. The king of self-induced lack of focus is probably sitting right beneath your nose. By writing in a book, you’re consciously separating the importance of getting in shape from texting, playing Trivia Crack, emailing, Facebook stalking, and every other useless distraction standing between you and those washboard abs.
Similarly, humans are competitive in nature, and when you’re constantly working to do better than the day before, you enter into a competition with yourself. You vs. The Calories, like a game where you’re battling to stay under your daily threshold, coming up with different strategies to maintain or further progress.
To leave you with some nutritious food for thought, cancer survivor and author of The New Rules of Lifting, Alwyn Cosgrove preaches, “Just the process of writing things down in a notebook is powerful. You should track everything, from sleep and energy levels to how you felt when you woke up. What was your mood? How did that impact your performance that day? Most people don’t even write down the specifics of their workouts. I couldn’t tell you what my weights were off the top of my head. If I haven’t written them down and I repeat the workout in a couple of days, how do I know what to do? Did I do two or three sets? The modern tools are useful, but the most important thing is to keep track of it all.”
No matter your fitness level, it’s never too early or too late to go back to the basics. If picking up a pen and paper enables you to become more aware of how your behaviors affect your goal, then it should seem like a no-brainer. Companies like fitlosophy are reinforcing notions of simplicity by integrating products like fitbook into their repertoire. As the (re)discoverers of this rudimentary mindset, fitlosophy and GYFT have teamed up to provide our readers with an exclusive taste of the simple life. Use our promo code (GYFT15) to receive 15% off your order, and enter our one-time giveaway of a fit solutions kit, inclusive of: