Cognitive Behavioral Strategies

Lynne S. Gots, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist

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202-331-1566

2440 M Street, NW
Suite 710
Washington, DC 20037

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Let’s Get Digital: Setting Goals and Tracking Progress

By Lynne Gots, posted on December 31st, 2011.

If you’re like a lot of people I know, finding the perfect system for keeping track of the changes you’re trying to make can get in the way of monitoring your progress.  Some of my patients spend weeks researching apps for logging behavior or combing office supply stores for just the right calendar.  And guess what?  Their quest for the best prevents them from ever actually getting started.

No method will magically transform you.  Remember, it’s just a tool.   Don’t get bogged down.  Just find one and try it.

Say you want to lose weight or get fit.  The array of on-line options for tracking nutritional data, creating food plans, measuring exercise, and boosting motivation can be overwhelming.   I road tested a few programs.   I hated one of them; I can endorse another with only a minor reservation.

The one I hated, which I won’t name but will say is highly popular, requires the purchase of very expensive exercise DVDs and vitamin-enriched smoothies.  You can also buy additional measurement tools, such as meal trackers.  In fact, every component of the program costs extra.  It smacks both of commercialism and evangelism, which bugs me.  Plus, the smoothies look and taste like something the dogs would cough up after eating grass.  So I returned it all and went back to my research.

I didn’t have to search very hard because several magazines I subscribe to did the work for me.   I found one site mentioned frequently.  The Great and Powerful Dr. Oz even recommended it!  So I signed up.

It’s called SparkPeople.com.  You can keep track of fitness and nutritional data online or through a mobile app, and it’s free.  You can customize it to set other health- and well-being-related goals, such as sleeping seven or more hours, drinking water, and getting out of bed without hitting the snooze button on your alarm (which I’ve personally been working on).

What I like about it:  It encourages you to use solid behavioral principles to set manageable goals.  Even very small steps can earn you rewards.  You can accrue points and win virtual trophies for reading articles and making positive choices.  If you’re competitive, you might be motivated  seeing the numbers add up.  You can personalize the nutrition tracker and enter foods without specifying calorie counts, an option I’d recommend for those who get overly obsessive.   It contains a library of fitness videos—free!—so you can easily add variety to your workouts.  And if you need an extra boost, you can join in message boards and group forums tailored to your particular interests, where other members will cheer you on.

Overall, I’d give this site a five-star rating.  I have one small criticism, which I’ll share in my next post.

 

 

 





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Posted in Behavior Change, Goals |

This blog is intended solely for the purpose of entertainment and education. All remarks are meant as general information and should not be taken as personal diagnostic or therapeutic advice. If you choose to comment on a post, please do not include any information that could identify you as a patient or potential patient. Also, please refrain from making any testimonials about me or my practice, as my professional code of ethics does not permit me to publish such statements. Comments that I deem inappropriate for this forum will not be published.

Contact Dr. Gots

202-331-1566

2440 M Street, NW
Suite 710
Washington, DC 20037

Email >

If you don't receive a response to an email from Dr. Gots in 48 hours, please call the office and leave a voicemail message.

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