Tracking Data and Creating Change
One of the sure fire ways to initiate change in my life has been to track data. Whether it has been food, exercise, finances, meditation or sleep I have found it to be the corner stones of my ability to set a plan and take action. I have a bookshelf full of black and white marble notebooks in which I record gym workouts, stream of consciousness journaling, food logs and sleep patterns. For me…it has changed my life and made me a better functioning human being.
In my early 20’s I remember dreaming of getting into the gym with more frequency and with greater intensity to build a Zeus like physic. In the business of television and stage you can image the heightened pressure to not only have talent and the skills to pay the bills, but a great body as well. Let’s be honest, when you are competing for one role against 500-600 other guys… every edge you can gain over the competition helps.
True story: Early in my career I had a Broadway director saunter over to me and grab a pinch of my muffin top at a company party and exclaim,” Broadway hates chubby.”
So there was always the element of positive reinforcement coming from the work place.
So self-motivated or fear driven, I would go through these bursts of wild inspiration. I would pack hours into the gym, going every day for two weeks straight. I’d lift like a monster, sweating and howling at my man lumps in the mirror at Gold’s Gym on 54th street. I had no idea what I was doing… but I was committed. I was determined to grow.
There was no rhyme or reason to my fitness regime; I just went balls to the wall. Jumping form machine-to-machine, usually retreating to the least inhabited corners of the building. These areas were far less intimidating with no one to witness my lack of weight training knowledge.
After each workout I’d plop down at Subway and eat a foot-long steak sub covered with cheese, mayonnaise and extra chipotle sauce….(obviously I needed extra protein and calories to fill out the damage I just done pumping out 10 sets of decline bicep curls book ended with no cardio.)I’d have a bag of Frito chips cause I needed extra carbs in the source of GMO corn, and then I’d walk over to GNC to slam a container of Cookies and Cream Muscle Milk to top off the tank.
In July 2010, Consumer Reports found that Muscle Milk Chocolate powder had arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury at levels near or above those considered safe by the U.S. Pharcaopeial Convention. Daily exposure levels were exceeded when 2-3 servings were consumed in a day. The company has settled numerous class action lawsuits against their line of low grade protein drinks.
Besides the obvious mistakes I was making, this “all out effort” lasted about two weeks. A few double shifts as a singing waiter at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a late night of drinking at Musical Theater Mondays and I was derailed for at least a week. Thus the process would start over again. Luckily the magical metabolic rate of my 20’s allowed for some gains even on this extremely flawed system.
This pattern went on for years, until I got cancer. ::DROPS MIC::
Now to be clear I did not get cancer from these poor health choices, although they did not help….and that’s a different blog. My favorite saying,” If genetics are the gun, environment is the trigger. “What thankfully happened “FOR ME” in my 20’s was a wakeup call louder than any bullhorn you could imagine.
I instantly saw the fragility of life. I Knew I had to come up with a better mousetrap. Out of neccessity I began my system which I still teach clients today though Freddie Set Go of checks and balances. The rule: You can’t change what you can’t track.
Here is the thing, it’s not about writing down the good things you do in your daily health paradigm, it’s about writing down everything…no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. What you want to shoot for is the long view, the bigger picture. In September when I returned to the hospital for my fourth surgery to remove growing scar tissue in my abdomen I tracked walking times, breathing exercises and farts. Yes, I tracked Farts. After surgery on your intestines farts are one of the most important indicators that you are ready for solid food and the bowels are awake….and yes my nurses loved me. I am a firm believer in participation in my own improvement!
“How do we move a mountain? One stone at a time”
I want you to think 2 to 3 months down the road. I want you to be able to see a pattern that’s working or not working. Like video taken in an acting class… this data tracking can be a harsh teaching tool. I remember the first time I watched a reel comprised from a commercial acting class I took in NYC. It was painful to watch. ALL the bad habits, NONE of the magic and a horrible “Saved by the Bell” inspired hair style. There was nowhere to hide. For those of you who don’t know…the camera does not lie. But you know what? I got better faster and was able to quickly make adjustments. I grew as a performer. These days I can objectively watch myself on Camera without super critical judgment…just some mild discomfort. The same goes for food journaling.
“Is that really what my face looks like on camera?”
From 8 years of training I can tell you my clients who track find sustained improvement. I respect the fact that people will discover enlightenment and growth when they are ready to handle it…AND….I’d like to help it along if possible.
How many people out there have had the goal or dream of thriving in a better place of health? How long have you held that dream and not been able to find a springboard to take action? I waited years until I was forced into action. There is no motivator like scheduling a CT scan every 6 months to see if your cancer has come back…at least for me. To be able to sleep at night, I needed to take control of everything I could possibly change in my life. Then at the end of the day, when my health goes south, I am not devastated. I know I did everything I could to control the aspects of my environment I could.
Again: If genetics are the gun, environment is the trigger. Just because you have a genetic predisposition to diabetes, cancer, MS…does not mean those genes will express themselves. Chronic disease does not happen over night…it takes years.
So without any further stalling I’d like to recommend a few ways to journal and then give an example of a few days of my entries and you can decide if this speaks to you.
Tools of the trade:
As far as Electronic recording goes I love Day One and Evernote. Both are easy to use and downloadable onto any phone, tablet or computer. This way you never have an excuse not to have a place to write things down. Most of us are in constant contact with a phone of sorts.
I used Day One for years until I started paying for Evernote, which allows for peer editing and collaboration on notebooks. For me this allows me to view and edit client food logs, give notes, and inject inspiration into their daily journey. You can also invite a friend to view your food logs and give feedback. Keep in mind there are fancier APP’s out there which will track calories and nutrient ratios, but since I track more than food (supplements, sleep, exercise, and meditation) I like to have something I can keep in one place.
My guiltily pleasure is a black and white marble notebook. The kind I used in Mr. Light’s History class to take notes. There is something very nostalgic about this method and I love the tactile feel of a pen or pencil on paper. I have a bookshelf filled these and a box in my storage unit with 20 more. I save them for future generations or when Aliens invade and want a better understanding of the eating habits of our people.
I’ve included a few samples of the data I track, followed by a few few sample clients across the U.S. And while it may seem like a lot of effort, it provides me with valuable feedback. These food logs only take a few minutes a day, which I can always justify the value over time spent on social media.
Side note: The general guideline for my clients is a whole food diet, with a moderate amount of clean animal protein, large amounts of green veggies, roots veggies, and herbs. A small amount of fruit and water throughout the day. Sugar, wheat and processed foods are out. Dairy is on a case to case basis and if present is in the form of grass fed yogurt or 1+ year aged cheese.
Sleep: 1:00 am-9:00 am
8:00 am Morning: 24 hour Bone Broth 1. Cups with Sea Salt
Supplements: Vitamin C 2,000 mg
Meditation 15 minutes
Morning Yoga: 15 minutes
10:30 Bulletproof coffee
1:00pm Sautéed carrots, zucchini, spinach, broccoli ½ Avocado. 1 can of boneless skinless sardines Wild Caught.
Supplements: Curcumin, vitmaine C 1,000mg , Nutirent 950, digestive enzyme, krill oil 2,000mg
2:30pm Gotham City Acupuncture 1 hour nervous system/ Jaw tension, scar tissue
6:00 pm Banana –Zucchini Pancake topped with blueberries, tahini, and ghee butter. 2 table spoons of coconut oil
Want the recipe? Click Here
Supplements: Curcumin, vitmaine C 1,000mg , Nutirent 950, digestive enzyme, krill oil 2,000mg
6:30 Visualization of performance and meditation
8:00 PM Cagney Musical – 2.5 hours
9:30pm Branch Chain Amino Acids, stevia, brain octane oil.
9:50 berries, ¼ orange, sea salt pinch
10:45 magnesium Calm tea
11:00 1tbl spoon coconut oil ¼ cup organic strawberries, ¼ cup organic blueberries, stevia
12:15 am Meditation: 5 minutes, Gratitude Journaling
Last month I met with a millennial money expert and took a hard look at my “numbers.” The amazing Stephanie O’connel encouraged me to do the same thing I do with food and apply it to my financial world. Again…I am a big fan of hiring a coach. One of my most valuable commodities is time, and I just don’t have enough hours in the day to explore all the subjects I’d like to learn more about. The fix? Hire an expert!
We decided to track my financial spending and saving patterns through a wonderful APP called Mint. I can link all my bank accounts, credit cards and stocks through mint and see where my income is being spent and where I need to save. So at any time of day I can have a quick snapshot of my financial health right on my smart phone.
And while I may not “love” money and the divides it places on our community, I enjoy having my finances in order. This allows me the freedom to pursue my dreams and focus on the elements of joy and spirituality I talk so much about. This subject of “financial health” is it’s own blog…but I felt it aligned nicely and deserved a shout out!
Today is your day. Let’s get tracking. Remember it takes 30 days to form a habit. Those first few weeks are going to be tough. Once you get going I promise it will bring nothing but awareness and insight of your eating or financial habits. In turn you will be able to make some changes and optimize energy levels and nutrient intake.
Be the “Change” you want to see in the world. Love and Light. Till next time..Freddie Set Go!