Self Tracking: The Weight of it All
diet and weight loss | food tracking
Melinda Watman has a company called thefwordfand and has been tracking since she was 3 1/2 years old. In this talk, she discusses about her long history of self tracking and her highs and lows of maintaining her weight. She also discusses the weight of self tracking, what if one suddenly wants to stop but cant.
clock | scale
Thank you. I’m Melinda Watman and amongst other things I have a company called thefwordfatand the title, Self Tracking The Weight of it All which I suppose will be a little bit different than some other talks, but they all seem to be in the food and the eating industry here.
So what I’d like you to think about is what if in all of the self-tracking you do, you suddenly wanted to stop and you couldn’t. And that motion and noise in your head just kept going, as opposed to saying I love my toys. I use my toys. Sometimes I track my toys. Sometimes I don’t track my toys but I can always say I’m done with my toys. What if you couldn’t?
And you look at someone like Chris Dancy, who tracks I don’t know, like 500 plus things a day and besides being completely mind boggled by that, I wonder if he’s reached that point where you can no longer say, I can shut it down. I can no longer do it. I mean I can no longer say voluntarily I’m not going to do it.
So think of it as a switch in your brain that you can’t turn off, and every time that you eat something or run or anything and you say nah, I don’t want to do that anymore, you can’t say that.
And sort of that what’s all about, when did this start? When did we have our first awareness of self-tracking that was beyond our deciding to do it? And I like to think of myself as one of the earlier self-trackers because I’m here there is QS, and I was already self-tracking at three and a half years old, and I’m going to tell you about that.
So the question of course is for all of us, does it start intuitively? Do we choose it on some level? What goes on where this is self-tracking may have originated at a very young age?
So for me, there was the food realization; bad food, big me. I got that relationship really early and I tracked that, so I knew that along with that the size perception or distortion. There was what it should be, what I probably was, and what I thought I was. Based on, big food, bad food, bad me. So at three and a half I got all that. I also got time. I knew that if there was enough time-lapse between good food and bad food, I could ask for some bad food. I could have fun stuff, and that had a lot to do with my mother who had her own tracking going on.
So at three and a half, I had to come up with a math equation to track good food, bad food, mom, time, I want to eat, what I want to eat, but I can’t eat what I want to eat and it was all going on in a little battle in my head. And that battle started at three and a half, probably at four but I remember it at three and a half.
And so again keep in mind just one thing, one thing you track and say I want it to stop. But it can’t. It goes on and on and on and on, and it grows. And so by the time it grows to adulthood, for me, that’s what happened.
And so now I will tell you a couple of chapters that got me there.
So here’s a riddle: What does a ninth grader and weightwatchers have in common?
Nothing, literally nothing and when I was in ninth grade that was like minimalist weightwatchers, we’re not talking apps, we’re talking like no frozen food. So that’s what happened. I went white-knuckling all the way, didn’t go because I wanted to and gained three pounds.
So now the (boys? 04:30) was way up. The ante had been raised, and my next - but that’s what I volunteered for. I was in my 20s and I went to the Rice House in Durham, North Carolina. It was a miracle for me. I was going to get cured. I was going to be thin, the noise was going to go away, no more tracking, no more anything. Of course I still didn’t know the word tracking mind you, but my brain did.
For those of you who don’t know then rice diet this is it; rice, fruit, rice, fruit, rice, fruit, rice, fruit, occasional chicken, occasional vegetables, rice, fruit, rice, fruit, rice, fruit, rice, fruit, rice, fruit, exercise, starvation, weight loss. And that’s what I did for almost a year with amazing results as you might imagine because how could you not lose weight on every grain of rice being counted, that was impossible.
I didn’t need any kind of biometrics. I didn’t need any kind of app. But, the good days ended as you might have predicted. And that’s what happened. so, rice, fruit, rice, fruit, rice, fruit, rice, fruit, ice-cream, ice-cream, cake, cake, fried chicken.
And there we are though. This is the final chapter sort of kind of, but not really. So what happens from here to there is sort of like back to the very beginning of what I think of as the early adoptive days, where we knew that Weight Watchers and the rice diet wasn’t going to work. And I was an early adopter of bariatric surgery, which did work as you can see, and I thought that if I was thin it would take the noise away.
But we’ve come full circle because last night I was asked if I would be interviewed on the Insider on a report of fasting and I said sure. this was three hours before it and what happened? I immediately thought my god, what do I eat today? How do I look? What do I weigh? What did I eat today? Of course I know what I ate today and started ticking it off. So I am not even conscious of this behavior. So it cannot be turned off.
So some of you are probably saying, well yeah that’s normal. You go and start by addressing what’s happening and say to yourself, I wonder what’s this, and what if I did that? yes, I agree. But it’s episodic, not constant. And that’s the difference between what goes on with me.
So think about your brain on music. You get that song in your head and it won’t go away. It just keeps on, and suddenly you think oh it’s gone, no it’s not. No, it’s still going to play.
That’s what happens when somebody can’t turn off the tracking. That’s what happens with me. The tracking won’t go away.
So I leave you with two things. One, see if you can think about the very first memory you have of tracking something. And then, what is it that possibly made that happen.
And that’s it, so thank you very much.