Tracking What I Care About
I’ve been successful, more or less, tracking other areas in my life, especially related around eating keto (i.e., tracking my fasting glucose, ketones, GKI), exercise and meditation. So recently it dawned on me, why don’t I track my writing? Especially around the blogging? It’s something I’ve been kicking myself for not being able to maintain, out of fear and forgetfulness. There’s always been a little voice in the back of my head to start a daily blogging practice. So I created a Blogging Tracker for myself in my bulletjournal. I bookmark the page so I know to return to it day after day. It really is true that the act of tracking and checking off what you’ve done is in itself a reward (as mentioned in the book I finished recently, Atomic Habits by James Clear, realizing after reading it that habit tracking as a system was what I’ve already been doing for quite some time now).
I really like using a bulletjournal to create a monthly tracker to track my habits. (I also use Heads Up to digitally track and record my GKI, fasting glucose, ketones via Keto-Mojo, weight, HRV, HbA1c, thyroid, CRP, Deep Sleep via Oura, steps, extended fasts, cholesterol, and more, plus waist measurements–which I wrote about here, how I whittled down my waist size). So I can at anytime I desire, look back on my health history, to analyze what went well, what didn’t. Tracking keeps me accountable, and surprisingly, helps me with the practice of not being perfect. For someone with crippling perfectionism, the practice of not overreacting to the numbers is a practice in itself. And of course, there are times when I feel down, or get too busy, and don’t track at all. Those are times I get to practice self-compassion and forgiveness, and just remember not to let more than a few days go by before showing up for myself again. Thus, an act of remembering, resetting, and a re-commitment to my why.
Why I Track
Why am I doing all this? It may seem tedious and anal to track the way I do, and for some people, this doesn’t work for them, will never work. But for me, I’ve been slowly transforming my health, body, mind, and life toward a positive trajectory over the years, and when something works, you tend to want to return to it. And the main reason why I track is because I’m committed to being happy and healthy and doing the things I say I want to do, like writing. I want to be a better person to be around with my family and friends. I know how awful I once felt, looked and acted. And I don’t want to be residing in that space more often than not. In many ways, it’s a way of disease management. Eating a whole-foods version of keto (and sometimes carnivore) helps my physical and mental health (especially once diagnosed with prediabetes, ADHD, asthma, social anxiety and bipolar disorder type 2). And after watching how hard cancer hit my husband, I want to do my best to prevent it. Now without any prescription meds since 2011, including my once-daily asthma inhalers, I am light years away from how terrible I once felt, mentally and physically. In fact, at age 47, I feel and look better than I ever looked or felt in my 20s and 30s, a testament to epigenetics at work. Of course, I still have some lingering anxiety and depression from time to time, but it’s usually related to situational stuff or the lack of something related to these areas that I track around lifestyle: nutrition, sleep, exercise, meditation.
I’m also learning that the old me that showed up every once in a while — usually around New Year’s to set unachievable resolutions — often ended up flailing, wondering why things weren’t working, feeling like a failure, a loser. Ever since I started tracking back around 2015 or so, around the time my husband Darrell was battling cancer (and we religiously tracked his GKI/glucose: ketones index back then), I began tracking my own GKI, finding that I felt better when my GKI was under 9 (when you’re in ketosis). I feel even more amazing when it’s 3 or under, my mind buzzing with clarity and my moods completely even. Anyhow, I’ll write more in detail about this in another post one of these days. In the meantime, I did write a post for Heads Up a while back (where I work part-time) about how my husband used the GKI and the keto diet as an adjunct to conventional treatment for cancer. In 2020, he’ll have been in remission for five years, now feeling stronger and healthier than he’s ever been, mostly now these days eating nose-to-tail carnivore keto, Dr. Paul Saladino-style. Note: In 2015, he consulted briefly with Miriam Kalamian, who had an e-book out then on how to cook and eat keto for cancer. She now has an excellent updated book with more in-depth advice called Keto for Cancer, a book we still refer to at times.
Anyhow, back to the blogging tracker. My reason to use this new tracker I set up is to keep me accountable. And the act of actually creating the tracker by hand is immensely meditative and satisfying. It’s a wonder with all these so-called “disorders” I haven’t been diagnosed with OCD!
There’s a little hit of dopamine whenever I’m able to show up for myself, blog, and then return to ‘X’ out the day. Even if whatever I wrote felt like a hot mess of words, that feeling of finishing, of crossing yet another day off is rife with satisfaction. And as someone who is frightened of putting myself out there, of exposure, of worrying about what others think, dealing with imposter syndrome, the act of blogging helps me with just practicing how to show up and detach from the outcome, that my words are simply “good enough.”
I’ve been calling myself “a writer” and feeling like a liar because I really haven’t published much in my life, despite having gone to a MFA program in creative writing almost a decade ago. Well okay, it’s not a complete lie because the work that I often do for clients is heavily writing-related (copywriting, copyediting, ghostwriting, blogging, social media writing, etc). Also I’ve been showing up for my novel in bits and spurts for over a decade now. But I have been frightened for so long of sharing anything with anyone. There are half-written short stories, multiple versions of my novel, bits and pieces of a possible memoir, Medium article drafts, even a blog post I’d written back in January 2019 about my 7-Day extended fast for autophagy and cancer prevention — all languishing on my hard-drive. Quite frankly, I’m tired of it. I’m sick of being afraid. I have so much to say, and have already said a lot of it, and still have even more to add to the conversation out there in the world. The act of blogging, I’ve come to realize, is really a practice of being seen, of confidence. And hopefully, of sharing something that might be helpful to at least one person somewhere out in the world.
This quote by James Clear is another reason I track:
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”
I can’t wait to ‘X’ off Day 365 and see just how my writing life, and identity as a writer, will have changed since beginning this new practice. I suspect that things will have shifted by then!