Right after college, I got a job as the manager of a high volume restaurant in Venice beach. It was my first restaurant manager job and I hit a lot of learning curves. When it was time for my yearly review with Flavio (my general manager), I looked at my 2 out of 5 and 3 out of 5 ratings and welt up with tears. I could barely hear the reasons for why I scored low in the individual categories and immediately felt myself get emotionally wrapped up in a sense that I failed. I was a rookie, and
I was full swing in a learning curve as I figured out what was expected of me to be successful. I went home with my report, cried again (because I’m a total baby like that) and when I composed myself, I read the details of what I needed improvement on. I worked on the areas I needed improvement, such as communication, initiative, problem solving, etc. The year after my scores got better and the year after, Flavio said I didn’t need reviews anymore.
Boom! I felt like a baller. I was too good for “performance evaluations.” At least that’s what I initially thought. Cloud 9 soon subsided as I realized that he was saying “I expect this kind of performance from you as the norm. No scoring required. You know when you aren’t meeting the mark.” Yikes, the level of commitment and resolve was set. No excuses now, because I had proven I was capable of executing.
Executing Peak Performance Without Metrics
Here’s the thing- if you're like me, you're not going to the Olympics but you try to train like you are and you'll buy anything that you think will help. That includes a heart rate tracker. I’ve used the Polar heart rate monitor. In fact, I love the product. About 3 years ago, I used it religiously for 4 months during every workout and every spin class I taught. It told me how many calories I burned, my average heart rate, how long I stayed in my anaerobic threshold. I totally geeked out on my stats every week. When I had a big calorie burn day I had to Insta-snap it, then eat a half a pizza (haha not really, but I wanted to). If I my weekly stats showed I worked out for a total of 15 hours, I felt like a badass and told myself I needed to be working that hard every week. My numbers created some sort of validation and I obsessed about them.
I got good at estimating my calorie burn. If I did an hour spinning class with hills, I could guess that I burned somewhere close to 600 calories before even looking at my wearable device. If I did a 45-minute spinning class with sprint intervals, I knew I would be between 450-500 calories burned.
So, what’s the problem? I got to know myself as an athlete on paper but lost a sense of my athletic intuition. I got to a point where I was so consumed with counting my steps that I forgot to find joy in my stride. I stared at my metrics during my workout, instead of relaxing and allowing myself to perform and enjoy the process. I wouldn’t take a day off or do steady state training when my body was telling me to, because I was afraid that my weekly numbers would be low.
The heart rate monitor was a great training tool for me because now I know what it feels like when I’m training in my aerobic threshold and when I hit my maximum heart rate. But it’s not something I want to use the rest of my life. Tracking every step and heartbeat doesn’t feel human to me.
A Healthful Lifestyle
Similarly, food tracking everything I consume for the rest of my life doesn’t appeal to me as a happy lifestyle. It has it’s place and thank you to Under Armour for making MyFitnessPal accessible to everyone at no cost. Food logging is another great “training” tool to assist in comprehending the dynamics of nutrition and balanced diets. Breaking down macronutrients and understanding your daily ratio of fat, carbs and protein consumption will help with weight management. But once you’ve figured out how to balance your macros, micros and calories daily; consistently make the right food choices that align with a healthy diet, then, ditch the app. You got this. You will intuitively know if you are eating healthfully. But if you’re at your own birthday party and are afraid to eat a slice of cake because you have to log it and your "food log numbers" will be all mess up for the week, then you aren’t living a life you can honestly enjoy.
My suggestion is to use these tools and hone the ability to execute these disciplines in athletics and nutrition but don't let them validate you. A heart rate monitor is a perfect evaluation tool for discovering the biomechanics of your max heart rate and the sensations involved to perform at your peak. Visit your peak as often as possible but don’t get so wrapped up in the metrics that you forget to listen to your body and honor it’s natural intuition. Food logging is a source you can use for accountability, or go back to when you need to hit the reset button. You should practice mindful, healthy and balanced eating; yet, don’t miss out on enjoying life’s best moments because you’re afraid to report it to the eating app fairy.