Chuck Carroll

30 Days of Tracking My Behavior

Published: 2023-03-31

Who we are today is the result of the choices we made yesterday (and the days, weeks, months, and years before that). Our behaviors, habits, and routines is what shapes our future selves. Like many, I set goals for myself at the beginning of the year. For example, cutting out junk food that I enjoy and addicted to, only to fall back into old habits a few weeks later. I decided for the month of March 2023 I would do four things everyday: read, write, exercise, and meditate every single day. I would also track my calories, macro-nutrients (protein, fat, carbs), sugar intake, and my weight.

Tracking my behavior allowed me to spot patterns over time. For example, I allow myself to eat junk food "every once in a while", or so I tell myself. The reality is that I eat junk food most days, though it's certainly not every meal, rather it's having some sort of sweets or salty/processed food everyday. As a whole, I do still think my diet is better than the average American. I also don't exercise as much as I'd like, or do I meditate and take time for self-reflection.

Reading is the easiest for me to do. This is something I do naturally and have been doing nearly everyday for years. Writing also comes easy (though "good writing" is another question). I didn't say how much I'd write, but I would at the very least write out a few new sentences for a post I'm working on (which may or many not ever see the light of day). Typically, it would be a post I've been working for a while, sometimes a draft that's over a year old.

Meditation was the most difficult, at least at first, and I'd usually only do it for 10 minutes at the end of my day. As the days went on, I did find it easier to slow down and make time. For me, meditation has tremendous value.

Even though I include BJJ as a daily exercise, I'd often postpone an actual exercise toward the end of the day right before bed, and the exercise would be something quick like 20 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, or going on a mile walk around the neighborhood (which is a bit of a stretch on how I'd define "exercise"). These activities are opposed to an actual defined workout routine. Rather than making it a requirement to exercise everyday, it would be better to make it a point to do two or three kettlebell work out sessions each week, or go on a 5 mile bike ride.

Tracking my calories was probably the most tedious. Home cooked meals that I didn't often eat would mean that I'd have to guestimate. I'd often have to sit down at the end of each day and remember what I ate, and find close approximations on online food databases, or dig a package out of the recycling. I finally stopped tracking my food intake entirely on the 28th. In retrospect, this should have been a "to don't" that complimented my four "to do's", and I probably would have been far more likely to succeed if it were a binary choice (yes I did eat cookies today, or no I do not). What I learned about my diet is that on average I consumed around 3,000 calories and about 90 grams of sugar per day. Seeing as how I'm fairly active, according to, I need about 2,900 calories per day to maintain my weight. Unsurprisingly, I maintained my weight of 200 lbs (with a fluctuation of +/- 4 lbs). The FDA recommends no more than 50 grams of sugar per day based on a 2,000 calorie diet, which comes out to 2.5% of calories from sugar. And although I still need to cut back on sweets, my sugar intake is only slightly higher at 3.0%

Overall, although this experiment was very tedious, it did provide some valuable insights into my own behavior. Granted, it would be more useful to track this data over a longer period of time. I also think that the tracking in itself alters what my behavior would have been otherwise. Another drawback about tracking this way I had to always have access to my spreadsheet which meant that I had to have my computer powered on and therefore an increased potential for distractions from the internet.

Moving into April, I'm going to continue to track my behavior but reduce the amount of things I'm tracking. I will not count calories, macro-nutrients, sugar intake, or my weight. I will also not track reading, writing, exercise. I will, however, track two things: 1) whether or not I've eaten junk/processed food (like chips, cookies, frozen pizza, etc.) with the goal of being "No" for every day of the month; and 2) meditation everyday with the goal of having a minimum average session of 20 minutes.

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