Dieting is never a fun subject, mainly because it’s so difficult to stick to. Whether it’s cutting carbs, eating raw foods, becoming a vegetarian, or controlling portions, it’s a big commitment.
Why I prefer calorie counting
I hate health food. I like bread and cheese and ice cream. My soda is a staple on days when I didn’t get enough sleep. Most diets and nutritionists would tear me a new one saying stuff like that, but I’ve made it work for me. I’ve lost twelve pounds over the past three months and I’m four pounds from my goal.
It’s all about portion control, AND journaling.
Portion control is much more preferable for me because I can eat whatever I want, but it’s just in smaller amounts. I can eat out at lunch, even at places like Chipotle with their human baby-sized burritos. How? I’ve worked out the number of calories in the burrito I like to order and determined the proper portion size. For me, one of those burritos is three meals. Yes, THREE. If my burrito is 900 calories, I only really need 300 in a sitting.
It’s not about starvation. It’s about choosing lower calorie foods and choosing foods that fill you up better. A burrito is extremely filling, and it has the added nutrition and fiber from the beans, and the brown rice fills you up better than the white (though I’ll admit, the white rice still tastes better to me, so I do get it occasionally). You can get some extra protein from the meat, and the salsas are low in calories and loaded with flavor.
Journaling is extremely important with calorie-counting and portion control because you have to know how much calories you’re taking in to be able to limit them better. Do you pour a fuller than standard size bowl of cereal? Do you drink 8 ounces of milk or juice, or just fill the glass up? Do you always have a cocktail or beer when you get home? These things add up quickly, and you won’t realize just where all those extra pounds are coming from until you start doing some research, checking labels, and tracking your meals.
There are plenty of smartphone apps out there for calorie tracking. There are also plenty of websites and support groups, online and off, to give you the tools you need to succeed with your diet and weight loss goals and help keep you on track.
Weight Watchers is all about portion control and calorie counting. Livestrong.com is a great resource (it’s what I use) for tracking calories and exercise activities. It has a huge database full of restaurant menu items as well as store-brand ingredients and foods to help you figure out how many calories you eat in a day, as well as other tools to help you stay on track.
You will probably feel some peer pressure to eat more than your daily calorie limit, and it’s really hard to maintain that willpower over your portion sizes when your favorite food is in front of you, but it’s worth it. You will not even believe how much better you’ll feel after losing even a little weight. It’s true what they say: you will have more energy and it will get easier to make healthier choices and cut back on portions. Eventually, you will get to the point where a three or four hundred calorie meal fills you up, and you will learn how to plan your days better around what you plan to eat.
Another possible downside: you may hit some plateaus and get discouraged. Don’t! When you do hit a plateau with your weight, it may be time to adjust your calorie intake. Lowering it will help you get back on track with the weight loss. One thing I really love about using Livestrong.com is that they have a BMI calculator that adjusts when you adjust your weight. While it can be easy to adjust your calorie intake in order to keep losing the weight, there comes a point at which calorie cutting is not going to cut it.
The other part of weight loss is exercise. I’ve found that when I hit a plateau, even if my calorie intake is on track, the difference comes with exercise. Dieting will only get you so far—exercise is there to pick up the slack and get you to your goal.
Photo by: Angelica Portales