I recently tweeted that I was going to stop using MyFitnessPal, @pixeldiva asked me why.
@pixeldiva because it’s a chore, a “havta” rather than a “wanna” and didn’t stop me overeating
— G (@Gordon) September 1, 2014
I am overweight. Regular readers, hell even occasional readers, of this blog will know this and know that it’s something I’ve been battling on and off since… well since this blog started (gosh, that’s a bit depressing).
I’ve joined gyms, adoped diets, and being a little bit of a geek (oh shut up) I’ve turned to gadgets and tech to help me. I’ve had a Fitbit for a couple of years, a set of Withings scales and a blood pressure cuff (as I have high B.P.) which both hook up to the Withings app on my phone, and I use Runkeeper to log any runs (few and far between recently).
Since signing up with a local gym I’ve also been using Fitocracy as a way to track my time and effort there, and I had using MyFitnessPal to track what I eat and for a while everything was ticking along just fine, gym visits were logged (personal bests gained most weeks), and I faithfully logged everything I ate in MyFitnessPal.
And then it all stopped.
A slow realisation
I’d tried hacking my behaviours and it took me a while to figure out it didn’t work.
Why? Well I could offer up various reasons (excuses), my time at the Commonwealth Games knocked me out of my schedule, for example. But eventually I realised that it was because I just didn’t wanna keep logging what I ate every single day, it felt like an obligation, a “hafta”:
Unfortunately, too many well-intentioned products fail because they feel like “haftas,” things people are obligated to do, as opposed to things they “wanna” do. Schell points to neuroscience research showing “there are different channels in the brain for seeking positive consequences and avoiding negative consequences.”
When faced with “haftas,” our brains register them as punishments so we take shortcuts, cheat, skip-out, or in the case of many apps or websites, uninstall them or click away in order to escape the discomfort of feeling controlled. [source]
I know how to eat sensibly and healthily, I’ve read up on leptins as suggested by my Doctor, I know what to avoid and what to moderate, so the extra step of plugging it all into an app became a chore and, without realising it at the time, triggered exactly what the above quote describes.
Whilst I’d open MyFitnessPal I started to miss things out, or not bother measuring portions and guessing; nights out became an open entry of calories with a note of “meal and several beers”. I clearly wasn’t invested in using the app, my hack had failed.
Props to Fitocracy
If you click through and read the rest of the article you’ll also see why I’m sticking with Fitocracy, whilst I’m not big into the community side of it, having taken a step back I can see that getting Props (likes in Fitocracy speak) from people when I complete a work out or get a PR (personal record) does influence what I do the next time I go, pushing myself a little more each time.
Of course I’ve not been to the gym in a couple of weeks so I still need to crack that particular challenge but, for now, I’m choosing to make things easy for myself and focus on the things I wanna do, not the ones I feel I havta do.