Have you ever wondered what all the data in your Cronometer could be useful for? Some people have been logging foods into Cronometer for years and have hundreds of days of entries! If you’re thinking the past is in the past then think again. Then head to the Trends tab.
When you go to your homepage in Cronometer, right next to the Diary section you’ll find your “Trends.” Click on this and the first thing that comes up is “Charts,” which will show you charts of your calories consumed, biometrics (usually weight), and energy.
Click over to “Nutrition Report” and you can choose a time period (days, weeks, months, even “all time”) to look at your average calories, macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, alcohol, caffeine and water.
Click to “Full Report” and you can print a detailed report of any time range you choose. Next, you can click “Snapshots” and look at the pictures you’ve taken along your journey, hopefully using the tips provided to take the most accurate pictures to show your progress over time.
What do our Trends tell us?
Okay, you’ve found the data in the Trends tab. Now, what can we learn from it? First and foremost, I think our trends tell us how seriously we’re taking our use of Cronometer. If we skip days, lie to our Cronometer (which I do on days that are less “perfect” than others!), or forget certain foods on a regular basis (like when I just noticed that the French Vanilla flavored creamer I like to put in my morning coffee has 35 calories per teaspoon), our trends will not accurately reflect our health. In order to make sure we’re not looking at days when we just plain forgot to enter anything in our Cronometer, we can click the “Non-empty Days” setting on the trends menu:
For instance, I am fanatical about recording my weight. I weigh myself under the same conditions every morning and record it first thing. So my weight trends are very accurate. I’m also very good about recording my exercise. Thanks to the beautiful place where I live, my main exercise is “hiking or walking at a normal place through fields and hillsides”
(I notice that Cronometer doesn’t include a subcategory for “with a very large dog,” but I suppose that doesn’t affect the number of calories burned!), and I time the amount of time I walk daily.
Once the weather started to turn cooler and I started working day shifts – both of which cut into my hiking time – I noticed my weight slowly inching up. Instead of trying to determine what the cause for this steady increase might be I consulted my favorite app. Sure enough the evidence was there; the Trends tab helped me identify the relationship between my exercise and my weight.
Where we fail to use Trends to its fullest is when we neglect to record our calories and nutrition accurately. Our calorie counts can seem absurdly low if we forget a day or a meal (or an apple cake!), and our nutrition can be way off over time if we don’t record everything we eat.
Rather than view this as a reason to beat ourselves up, I find it helpful to look at the inaccuracies in my calorie and nutrition reports as indicators of what was going on in my life that made me less likely to diary accurately. Was I having PMS induced sugar cravings and overindulging on sweets? Was I travelling and eating a lot of unfamiliar, unmeasured foods, so not recording instead of estimating? Or was I going through a stressful time and loosening my grip on the routines that keep me physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy?
For me, and for many of us, diet and exercise are just as important for our mental well being as our meditation, spiritual practices or relationships with friends and family. While we all strike a different balance with our nutrition – some of us are vegan, others prefer the ketogenic diet. And excerise differently – whether it be endurance athletes or weekend warriors – anyone who takes the time to utilize Cronometer is serious about their health. Being conscious of our diet, exercise, moods, sleep, and all the other things Cronometer allows us to measure is part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Cronometer is like meditation to me – if I skip my morning meditation, my whole day is a little off. It usually means that something is off balance in my life: maybe work, relationship stress or just the change of seasons has me out of my routine. Sometimes what we don’t record can tell us just as much as what we do: when I skip a food, a day or a few days, what’s wrong?
I look at my Trends the way I might look at a personal journal. Trends show me life patterns and can help me determine what throws me off, so I can watch out for obstacles in the future. Did my diary suddenly get sparse when I started a new job or left a relationship? Does my weight go up or down with natural rhythms like seasons or for women, monthly cycles? Do I feel better and sleep better when I get more exercise, or am I overdoing it? Do too many carbs make me more likely to binge, and less likely to report my true calorie intake while my (faithfully reported!) weight climbs up?
When we view our Trends we can garner information that can help us become the happiest, healthiest we can be and that’s a tool that can be a powerful tool for positive change!