Opening your calorie-counting app and setting that first goal was exciting. Now that you’re a couple of weeks, months, or even days in, you cringe when you think about logging your meals. Sometimes you wonder what you got yourself into.
You’re not alone. Whether it’s a matter of user experience or how the app makes you feel about your progress, there are a number of things you can try when you find it’s bumming you out. Read on to learn more.
Weigh the Pros and Cons of Calorie Counting
Do a bit of research on the topic by popping it into your favorite search engine. There are plenty of resources around the web to help you weigh the pros and cons of calorie-counting apps—and the act of counting calories itself. But the most important thing to keep in mind as you read is what the objective means to you.
It doesn’t matter if it works for your friend, a coworker, or a celebrity. You want to determine whether or not the process is meaningful and sustainable in your own life.
Remind Yourself It’s Okay to Make Mistakes
Who wants to be perfect anyway? Instead of going for perfection, try to focus on being consistent. Everyone makes mistakes, but reaching your goals isn’t an all-or-nothing effort. Avoid beating yourself up over minor mistakes, and certainly don’t skip out on eating when you’re hungry or you’ll only feel worse. Just keep on going, knowing that steady is more important—and sustainable—than fast.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you break a streak or see indicators of missed targets. But with some apps, you only need to be a few calories over for those to show up. So, keep in mind that these apps are only meant to be guides. They’re not perfect either.
Consider the Progress You’ve Made So Far
When feeling discouraged, it’s important to reflect on your progress and the steps you’ve taken so far. Change is hard. If it wasn’t, everyone would do it. But you’re showing up, and you’re putting in the effort.
If it’s a matter of missing a daily goal, think of all times you reached it. Check the app’s history view or statistics page to see just how far you’ve already come, and appreciate that as its own achievement.
Take a Break From the Calorie-Counting App
Even if you’re meeting your goals each day, calorie-counting apps can be time-consuming and energy-draining. Why not take a scheduled break from logging calories? Doing so means stepping away from the app for a set time and not going back to fill it in later. You’ll still be following the same wellness routine, but you’re simply not tracking your calories, diet, or exercise.
Breaking your logging streak in the app won’t ruin the progress you’ve made, nor will you be starting over. The role of these streaks is to gamify the app and help you remember which days you’ve logged. By no means does breaking one indicate failure. So, feel free to schedule breaks and pay attention to how you feel rather than what the numbers say.
Get a Nutrition Baseline and Move On
Using a calorie-counting app can be a learning experience, especially if you’ve never done it before. Not only do you learn the number of calories in the foods you eat, but you also learn about portion sizes and your eating patterns.
Tracking every sauce, dressing, ingredient, and so on as you enjoy them can be a super annoying experience. But you don’t need to keep doing it to reap the benefits of your initial calorie-counting exercise. Learn what you need to be mindful of the foods you eat and move on. Knowing you don’t need to sustain the granular calorie-counting habit indefinitely might make using it less painful.
Quit the Calorie App If You’re Not Getting Value Out of It
If the app is doing more harm than good, delete it. Getting rid of it doesn’t mean you’re giving up and quitting on your goal. You’re changing the tools you use. Instead, the solution could be to search for another calorie-counting app with a better user experience or a more supportive approach.
Some apps use red text or bars to indicate days you exceed your calorie budget, even if it’s just by 10. That can be unnecessarily harsh and discouraging. Others show a popup when you eat a certain ingredient—even nutritious ones—and ask if you’re making the right choices.
But it’s not up to the app to decide whether you had a “bad” day or what foods you eat. If you find this feedback unhelpful, try using a new app for a day or two. And if that’s not for you, either, try another.
If you really want to escape the noise, you could also consider using a calorie-counting app to get nutrition information but track your calories on paper. That way, if you go over, there’s no red text or graphs. It’s up to you to decide if you’re doing well or if you need to make some adjustments.
Research Other Health Metrics to Track
It might not be the app itself that’s bumming you out. It could be calorie counting in general. In that case, try tracking other metrics to help you reach the same goal. For example, you could track the number of nutritious meals you prepare, exercise minutes you achieve, or fruit and vegetable servings you eat. Do some reflection and research to see which goal works best for you.
Talk to a Nutrition Professional
If you struggle with making nutritious choices, getting in touch with a dietitian can be beneficial. These experts can help you understand the connection between food and wellness and even help you create a meal plan that suits your specific dietary needs.
If you’re obsessing over calories, being overly restrictive with your diet, or overexerting when you feel like you overate, you may want to consider seeking guidance from a therapist or other nutritional counselor. These professionals can help you set healthy dietary goals.
Don’t Let Your Calorie-Counting App Get You Down
While calorie-counting apps aren’t inherently bad, there are many reasons you could find them discouraging—or maybe realize they’re not for you. Whatever the case, you want to avoid letting an app get in the way of the changes you want to make.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that these apps are simply tools and guides on your fitness journey. What’s important is how you feel. If these apps don’t make you feel good, use these tips to change how you approach them.
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