Count Calories, anyone?

First of all, today went well. I went to the Y and did the elliptical for 50 minutes. There won’t be any workout tomorrow, but there will be Friday.

My question for today is: should I count calories? I know that calories count – consume fewer calories than you burn, and you’ll lose weight – haven’t we all heard that a thousand times? But does that mean I need to journal all my food and add up all the calories each day. The truth is, I ate whatever amount of calories I ate, regardless of what I record in my food journal. And it’s a big chore to record at the end of each day. Ideally I would journal each thing before I ate it, but that doesn’t work for me, since I’m gone to work all day and then often go somewhere directly after work. So it ends up being that at the end of the day I go back and try to remember everything I ate that day. And I get way too caught up in and worried about the numbers. I worry about whether I had one serving or two of this or that. Here’s what goes through my head:

That hamburger that was served when eating at a friend’s house – was that 85% lean, 75% lean, or worse yet? Well, it didn’t seem to be that greasy, but I bet these folks would buy the cheapest meat there is. Yeah, we’ll go with 75%. And how much did eat? Well, a normal serving is 4 oz, but this seemed pretty big, it could have been 6 or even 8. And the bun – that was a large bun – it wasn’t your average 110-calorie bun. I’ll guess it was 220. I hope that’s not too low. And the cheesy potatoes – those were swimming in butter an cheese. How many calories was that? Well, I probably had about 1/4 cup, which is 4 Tbsp. Pure fat is 120 cals a Tbsp and it couldn’t have been that because there were a few potatoes and some cheese in there that would bring the overall calorie density down. I’m gonna say 80 calories a Tbsp, so that’d be 320 calories. Okay, so 820 calories for the meal. That’s seems awfully high. Was I off on something? What if I was too low? I could have had a 1/2 cup of those potatoes – I obviously didn’t have measuring instruments ….

So I think you get the idea. It just adds stress. If I have to eat at somebody’s house, I have to eat at somebody’s house – and the best I can do is make the best decisions there. I need to choose the lowest calorie option, whatever that may be. And it does not matter if that meal had 80 calories or 800 calories – it doesn’t change what I should do next. I need to focus on establishing good habits – like not eating dessert daily, learning to pass up the sweets that are offered to me, learning to eat more veggies and fruits, learning to snack less (or at least snack more healthfully). And the calories – well, they just don’t change any of those things. So, along with ditching the scale, I’m ditching the counting – there go the numbers. I don’t need the numbers – I need to change my mindset, attitude, outlook, and habits. I will try this approach for the next 4 weeks – the worst that can possibly happen is that I won’t lose much, or any, weight – but I wasn’t doing that anyway.

What do you think?

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  1. #1 by Lola Fierce on April 22, 2009 - 10:27 pm

    Oooh, this makes me nervous. But, I do understand what you are saying. I think your approach to try it first is good. I mean, if you see its not working, then you could re-evaluate.

    I think you are right, you need to focus on eating lean protein, cutting out processed food and adding more fruits and vegetables in your diet. If you can eat clean like this, the numbers won’t matter quite so much.

    Bottom line is you need to do what works for YOU. It may not be what works for me or what works for someone else. But this is about YOUR weight loss….so I say try it out and if it doesn’t work out, re-evaluate.

  2. #2 by Christy on April 23, 2009 - 4:54 am

    I have been counting calories for 8 weeks now and have lost 15 pounds. I think focusing on ONE area….either points, calories OR carbs makes a difference. Not to mention I highly recommend visiting a nutritionist to find out your resting metobolic rate. I can burn almost 1700 calories if I just stay in a coma all day. I can burn much more when i get up and have a regular day. You have seen my blog and commented on the calories. Most of my calories are NOT burned from exercising. I only burn 400-900 calories a day with exercise. But when you add those calories burned to the rest of the calories I burned just sustaining myself you see the numbers are huge.

    A tip I highly recommend…and learned from watching the Biggest Loser – is that you should limit your disruptions while you are in weight loss mode. I try to avoid eating at a friend’s house as much as I can. If we pick a restaurant then I can pick what I want to eat. I can have a soup and salad instead of potatoes swimming in butter. I put things on MY terms because I have a goal that I want to reach. I have skipped work events just because I am focused and did not want to eat their foods. I do not always skip stuff…yesterday I ate at a potluck…regret it now, but there is not much I can do to fix it now.

    The ball is in your court. What ever you decide find something that works for you and stick with it. For me…I tried a couple things and did not have success. Then I purchased a Bodybugg and started counting calories….I am losing this time around.

  3. #3 by Mom on April 23, 2009 - 7:36 am

    I like your less stressful approach of not counting calories so carefully. I personally could do well with that if I would cut back on junk food and sweets. I am excited for you to be trying a new approach of no scales, no calorie counting, no numbers! I believe this will work. And Mother knows best…

  4. #4 by Heather on April 23, 2009 - 8:22 am

    If your friends truly care about you, they will respect your weight loss goals. You can accept a dinner invite, but very politely ask ahead of time what will be served. Or, ask them to keep you in mind when they are preparing their dishes – maybe they can avoid sprinkling cheese on one corner of the casserole, for example.
    Or, offer to have dinner at your place – that way you can prepare low fat/cal meals and you know exactly what’s gone into the food, or what size serving you can have.
    I’m with Christy – keep your distractions to a minimum, or make them work for you!

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