One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

JOURNAL

Wednesday Weigh In: Calorie Counting

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I hopped on the scale this morning because I’ve been experimenting with calories for this week’s weigh in topic and I was curious to see the effectClick here if you missed yesterday’s 10 Thoughts on Calories post. 

20131009_weighin

Not surprisingly, it’s down a little and honestly, I feel fantastic. I’ve been focussing on whole, unprocessed, lower calorie dense foods while still keeping an eye on protein because of all the weight training I do. Here’s Monday’s food journal as a sample:

Breakfast Calories Fat Fiber Sugar Carbs Protein
Generic – Egg, 116 grams 140 12 0 0 2 14
Hormel Real Bacon Bits – Real Bacon Bits – Ready to Serve 7 g, 7 g 25 2 0 0 0 3
Generic – Organic Baby Spinach, 1 cup 42.5 grams 10 0 1 0 2 1
Total: 175 14 1 0 4 18
Snack
Jack Link’s – Premium Cuts Teriyaki Beef Jerky Jumbo, 56 g 160 2 0 10 10 28
Total: 160 2 0 10 10 28
Lunch
Cheesesteak Spinach Salad 351 13 6 12 24 35
Generic – Portabello Mushroom Cap, 1.5 med 39 0 2 0 8 4
Total: 390 13 8 12 32 39
Snack
Total:
Dinner
Generic – Pork Sirloin Roast Boiled, 4 ounces 242 12 0 0 0 32
Nature’s Own Sandwich Roll Whole Wheat – Hamburger Buns, 1 bun 130 2 4 2 24 6
Birdseye – Frozen Broccoli Florets – With Potassium Data, 1 cup 30 0 2 2 4 1
Squash – Winter, spaghetti, cooked, boiled, drained, or baked, without salt, 150 g 41 0 2 4 10 1
Total: 443 14 8 8 38 40
Snack
Raspberries – Raw, 220.0 g 114 1 14 10 26 3
Lucerne – Greek Non Fat Vanilla Yogurt, 227 g 190 0 0 29 31 15
Generic – Cocoa Nibs, 0.5 oz 28g 65 6 5 0 5 2
Total: 369 7 19 39 62 20
Totals 1,537 50 36 69 146 145

Click here to see it on MyFitnessPal.

There’s no doubt in my mind calorie counting works for weight loss. The key is to do it consistently without getting obsessive or (on the other end of the spectrum) feeling defeated by it. Do I believe you can lose weight without calorie counting? SURE! People do it all the time. They are just able to eat fewer calories without the aid of a food journal.

Calorie counting can give you a lot of information, like portion sizes and what makes smarter choices to keep you full without going overboard. On the other hand, calorie counting is work, it’s time consuming and many get obsessive with it.

At the end of the day it’s just another tool — like the scale — and a useful way to give us information.

For this week’s weigh in please share your experience with calorie counting. Have you tried it? Found it useful? Harmful?

Remember there’s no “right” way, there’s only the way that works for you.

Click here to join one of my live meetings today on Yardstick were we’ll discuss this topic live.



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Discussion

There are 58 comments so far.

    Stephanie

    October 9, 2013

    HW: 189 (day of giving birth)
    CW: 166.5 (8 weeks postpartum)
    GW: 145 (I was 147 before getting PG, goal was 145 at that time)

    I have been back on MFP for over 50 days and I log everything, but I am not obsessive about it. I know I eat some high calorie meals while out, and I log them and then move on. I also started wearing a bodybugg out of total curiosity to see how many steps I make and how active I really am without a daily workout. So far I am pleased with the results. I have been holding steady at this weight since 08/25. Its not coming off yet, but I also know I am not doing everything I can to make it come off. When I lost my weight between baby #1 and baby #2 it was slow and steady (35lbs over 18mths) and its because of this I am in no big hurry. Its about a lifestyle change for me.
    I also find that keeping busy = less mindless eating, so I try to keep moving at home/work and this helps!

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      Yup.. Staying busy has always been my secret. :)

    Martha Glantz

    October 9, 2013

    HW: 220 (?)
    Ht: 5’8″
    CW: 147.4
    GW range: 148 – 152 (was 175, then 162)
    Lost about a pound since last week and upped my calories to 1800/day because I really don’t want to lose more weight (never had this “problem!”). I find that I eat about that many/day but am burning between 300 – 500 depending on exercise and don’t add back in calories because I’m not hungry.
    I do track on livestrong every day and that works for me. I’m not obsessive about the calories and consider all foods OK to eat – some in moderation, some rarely and some often. My pattern is to keep my total calories around 1700 – 1800/day during the week as I figure calorie counting is imprecise at best and because I eat and drink more on the weekend and typically don’t do much exercise on Sunday.

    Love this blog and the Wednesday weigh in!

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      Glad you like it! :)

    Jessica

    October 9, 2013

    HW: 212
    Current weight: 166.8 (-3 pounds from last week!!!)
    Goal weight: 150?
    Calorie counting is literally the only way I have ever been able to lose weight. And I dont need to drastically cut calories, usually 300-500/day. What keeps me on board is how easy My Fitness Pal is to use (it knows what I eat frquently so it is super quick to enter foods) and making meals from websites that already told me calorie info (Green Lite Bites, Skinnytaste)
    I had an awesome week. I ate 1650/day. I didnt feel deprived because I worked in treats (pudding, ice cream, mini snickers). I also worked out 5 times. But this is my first week back at it. I have a history of doing well for a few weeks and then falling off bigtime. But I have some mini goals that I am working for so I am working hard to stay on track!

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      CONGRATS on your awesome loss!!

    Imacrazymomof4

    October 9, 2013

    I’ve been using MFP for over a year and what I love about it is that when I decide to have some skittles, beer or other things that may not be the healthiest choices I can gauge my distruction before it gets completely out of hand. It allows to you to average out the week so to speak, so if you know you are going out of town and are going to be eating out you can see that you have room to splurge because the days prior you didn’t use all your calories that you could have. Otherwise, I could allow a bitty Halloween package of skittles or sour patch kids to throw me off the deep end thinking I had done some unbelievable damage when in all reality it was not even 100 calories. Even knowing the food you consumed yesterday can explain a gain…every time I eat Chinese food I gain even if it was within my calories for the day because of all the extra sodium. I was one of those people who said I wasn’t going to be a slave to journaling my food forever, but with MFP it has been so unbelieveably easy to not think of it as journaling. At the end of the day I know if I’ve drank my water, had my fruits and veggies and feel basically good. Trust me I love a tall frosty mug of beer and big ol cheeseburger with fries and I don’t feel a bit bad about whoever seeing it…my food diary is an open book. I don’t just document the good days I take responsibility for it all good and bad. If you can’t do that what’s the point?

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      Agree! I just sometimes get lazy those days. lol

    A Ro

    October 9, 2013

    HW: 194
    Current Weight: 178.5
    Goal Weight: 150

    What is funny is I hated to count calories because I would usually obsess about it and stop. This time I am using it as a tool, a means to gather information. I love my fitbit and how it connects to my fitness pal so those tools (along with the scale) have helped me. I am not feeling obsessed about it this time. I am working out more and feeling great. My scale isn’t moving fast enough for me, but honestly that really isn’t getting me down because I have been feeling so good. I am in control and not obsessing on either end of the food spectrum (counting calories or over consuming them)

    Thanks for this blog!!

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      Hey, you are rocking it! Don’t worry about time. You’ll get there and with the right state of mind which is probably the most important part.

    Christy

    October 9, 2013

    HW: 220 (10/2/13)
    CW: 216.3
    GW: 150 (milestone goal: I want to break 200, which is where I always stumble & fall on my weight loss journey)

    After years of dieting, I pretty much have calorie and portion sizes memorized for most foods! I’m serious! I know what my allotted calorie count is for the day, and I can gauge my portions and calories accordingly in my head or by the meal.

    While most diet plans swear by the journal, I don’t like it. It didn’t end up as either a reference tool or motivation for me. It always ends up as something I resented spending time on.
    I don’t reach my goal weight because I “fall off the wagon.” I stop eating healthy and don’t practice thoughtful meal planning. I practice thoughtless eating. I choose to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. I also don’t lose because I choose not to increase my activity. Very important! I can’t lose weight by diet alone. I have to increase my activity.
    The most helpful things I do to lose weight is to make sure I have healthy, low calorie food available (especially snacks; something I can grab quick) and low calorie, healthy meal plans (why I like Greenlite Bites for recipes).

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      I think your goal should be no more thoughtless eating. That’s where I was too but i call eating consciously. No more autopilot.

      Christy

      October 17, 2013

      I like that idea… conscious eating. You’re right autopilot for me gets me every time. Since writing the post above, I did jinx myself once with thoughtless eating. I decided the next day to start doing the journal because I rail about thoughtless eating and the journal forces one to think about what you’ve eaten. But the bigger picture is I have practice conscious eating… the journal can’t create that for me, only assist.

    Kimberly Anne

    October 9, 2013

    I love to hate counting calories. I mentally feel so stressed and constructed when I track my food BUT I know it works….and someone like me with little self control when it comes to eating needs the structure.

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      I like the structure sometimes too.

    Brenda A

    October 9, 2013

    I don’t think counting calories is the best way…
    I actually saw a video I think you should watch
    http://wakeupthin.com

    Laurie J

    October 9, 2013

    HW: 220
    CW: 202.4
    GW: 165-172

    I can’t lose without calorie counting. I have been using My Fitness Pal. I LOVE it! I also try to eat cleaner and lower carbs. This usually helps me lose. Also, of course exercise, walking and weight lifting. I am 5’8″ btw. :)

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      You’re doing great!

    Dukebdc

    October 9, 2013

    Can I ask for advice? My husband is leaving on a 6-day work trip in a few hours. We don’t have kids, so it is just me alone at home after work. These are the times when I get crazy with food, because no one is there to see it and judge. (clarification: my husband doesn’t judge me, but I judge myself harshly for overeating in front of him, if that makes sense.) Positive words or suggestions would be most appreciated.

    Now, on-topic: Calorie-counting is my foolproof way to lose weight. And to be fair, I don’t have a lot to lose, so your mileage may vary. I know I will lose slowly with 1500-ish a day, and slowly gain with 2000-ish a day, and that is my framework.

    It’s a foolproof technique, but you have to actually do it to see results. I am up almost 10 pounds from a few months ago, so you can guess how much calorie-counting has been going on in these parts. No public weigh-in for me today, though I did step on the scale this morning, and my head is not in the sand.

      Martha Glantz

      October 9, 2013

      Maybe use the time while your husband is gone to cook up some healthy dinners in the crock pot? Or make big pots of soup/stew? That way you’ll be busy making dinner, having something healthy ready to eat and you can freeze the leftovers.
      Give yourself a pat on the back for being self aware and being ready to take positive steps.

      Dukebdc

      October 9, 2013

      Martha – that is a GREAT idea! It is finally cool enough for my favorite chili recipe. It’s vegetarian and I can easily portion it out and eat it for days and days. Thank you!

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      When I read your comment it made me smile because I would be the complete opposite. If my husband was leaving I’d be elated because I finally get to control all the food in the house!

      Listen, it’s all in the way you frame it. You can look at it like it’s a fee for all because he’s not there OR you can look at it like an opportunity to experiment with new healthy foods and eat completely on your terms.

      Does that make sense?

    Sam

    October 9, 2013

    I’ve lost weight in the past with WW, but gained it back and after a few years when I went back again, I just felt like it was a game of numbers. I felt like I really didn’t know what I was eating and this time around with My Fitness Pal and counting calories I feel like I’m more in control of what I’m eating, more accountable for what I’m eating, and more aware of when I’m eating. I think I’m in a better space mentally at this point in my life as well, I’m not focusing so much on the end goal but making better choices for myself which will help me get to the end goal. My new focus is to eat smarter, move more, and get more sleep! So far 2/3…that more sleep thing is harder than it sounds!

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      Hey those are my goals too! :)

    Lynne

    October 9, 2013

    I was a Weight Watcher and a points crazy person. I have been a calorie counter and was either obsessive or casual (estimating, rounding, whatever worked to make the numbers fit). I had success, but ALWAYS regained when I stopped. It still sounds completely ODD to me, but last Dec 12, I went to a hypnotist. I had relatives that were losing LOTS of weight and I wanted in… I don’t weigh myself, I don’t eat bread, or sugar or fruit… It’s a meat based diet (no protein without eyes), but it’s organic (mostly) and real food and I have shockingly been able to stick with it. It’s free will. I am not deprived. I really just don’t want cookies or fries.. people can eat them in front of me and I don’t care. Like I said I still can’t get my head around it… I am anxious about maintenance since I have gone from a 14 to an 8… Don’t worry – I am not selling anything – simply sharing. I LOVE your site, your attitude, your recipes…

      Martha Glantz

      October 9, 2013

      I did the same thing! Have lost and regained weight my whole adult life. In October 2011 I went to a hypnotist and she helped me so much. Suggestions that really stuck: choose healthier foods, only eat when I’m hungry, move more. I’ve lost 70 lbs and feel great. Went from an 18 or 20W to size 10 or 12.
      this time feels very different. It’s not like I “went on a diet.” Instead I changed how I eat and moved and that’s it and that won’t change.

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      Hey whatever works!! I’m glad you found what you needed.

    Annie Buck

    October 9, 2013

    I lost 18 pounds in 3 months by counting calories and exercising. It really truly works. The downside for me was spending so much time figuring the calories and logging them. I got obsessive with it, and then just ended up quitting. I think it’s also makes you very conscience of your food choices- like- do I spend my calories on this snack cake, or do I have an awesome chia/greek yogurt smoothie for the same number of calories?

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      I agree. Were you using an online journal? What made it so time consuming for you? I think if we commit to it in the short term we can learn what we need to learn and then stop counting over time while still staying “on plan.”

    LG

    October 9, 2013

    Hi Roni,
    I have counted calories for many years and I mostly like it, but it’s difficult to stop even when I try. Yikes!

    It’s so interesting when you post your calorie totals because I think we have very similar activity levels, but I’m 5 ft 7, around 132lbs, 32 years old and I can somehow eat around 2050 calories per day. (That’s 1900 on most days, plus two days per week that I get up to 2400ish. So 2050 average per day.)

    I did have a time in my life where I restricted to only 1200-ish per day, and then had to “re-feed”. I gained about 10lbs and then lost it all when my body got used to eating more, I suppose. Anyway just an observation of the energy needs/intakes from person to person.

      Paula

      October 9, 2013

      I cut down to 1200-1300 a day and continued exercising only to see the scale go up! I thought I was the only person this ever happened to. So it is possible to lose weight by eating more?

      LG

      October 9, 2013

      From my experience, yes. I’ve been eating this many (around 2050) calories a day for several years now and my weight hasn’t gone up at all; I’m at my “happy weight”. Years ago, I would have never thought I could eat this much and be happy with my body. :0)

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      And I can’t go over 2000 without gaining. I think my sweet spot is 1800 range.

    Paula

    October 9, 2013

    Tried it. Lost weight. Got to be too much work. Gave up. Gained weight. So I guess I need to do it, but not get too crazy!

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      The key is to do it and pay attention so you don’t have to do it forever. Learn from the journals, what are you eating when you aren’t counting that you don’t when you are, how big portions are, things like that.

    Nancyabc

    October 9, 2013

    I have tried counting calories to lose weight and all kinds of crazy diets that didn’t work–I think WW works for me not so much for the points ( I find them much easier to keep track of than calories) but because of the meetings–I always give up when I stop going to the meetings. I haven’t missed a meeting in over 4 years. I am not close to goal—-still working, not giving up, and at least I have kept off 130 pds. It sounds like we all need to find our own path to Nirvana but we only get there with a little help from our friends.
    Oh I did go to Over Eaters Anonymous a long ago–that was a group that didn’t work for me.

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      I agree.. Meetings were a huge part of my success and now I’ve shifted from them to my site and the community I built online. Support it invaluable.

    Ashley

    October 9, 2013

    I have found that counting calories is the only thing that works for me. I’ve been using Myfitnesspal for a while now. Tomorrow is 100 consecutive days! I’m down 40.4 lbs. I feel like I’ve learned so much about food and portion sizes by journaling my calories that when I feel ready I will be able to maintain without tracking every single thing. I love how you are able to go back to it when you need it. Sometimes I do feel like I am obsessive about the tracking but it’s working and I feel like it’s what I need right now.

    Here’s my numbers for today…

    HW: 207
    CW:167.4 (-1.6)
    GW:165 (For now! It’s getting close…)

    Enjoy your week!

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      WOW you are rocking it!!

      Ashley

      October 10, 2013

      Thanks! Your support has helped more than you’ll ever know!

      Jessica

      October 10, 2013

      WOW! Congrats on your loss!!

      Ashley

      October 10, 2013

      Thanks! If you’re the Jessica that posted on here earlier Congrats to you too! Looks like we’re in a similar place right now! Youre doing awesome!!

    Sammy @ Peace Love & Ice Cream

    October 9, 2013

    Calorie counting absolutely works for me! During my weight loss I journaled every day! Now that I’m in maintenance mode I’m much more flexible and rarely write things down…but I think all of my time journaling really taught me everything I need to know! It comes instinctively now. :)
    -Sammy @ www.peaceandloveandicecream.com

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      That’s how I feel about WW old flex plan.

    Karen P

    October 9, 2013

    HW: 187.4
    CW: 115.8
    weight range : 113-117
    Height 5’1″
    Age 47
    Menopause: Yes! 2013

    Thyroid disease: Yes 1997

    Months in weight maintenance: 20 months
    Years to get here: 40 years.

    Okay- in the first year of weight maintenance, I tracked on my fitness pal. Seeing the carb range and seeing shifts in my weight helped me immensely the first year. I maintained at a higher carb level 100-125 or so the first half of the first year. The second half of the year up to the present, to maintain my 72 pound loss, I have to eat between 50-90 grams of carbs.

    Boom! The missing link to weight maintenance. Eating a low inflammatory, grain and dairy free diet really works for me. I’ve never felt better or younger.

    Glad you are taking a non-processed, nutrient rich approach, Roni. Getting your food template to complement your crossfit work outs is key – IMO. Keep up the good work. So worth it.

      LG

      October 10, 2013

      Thanks for sharing this! Interesting to read.

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      Thanks!!

    Suzie

    October 9, 2013

    HW: 255
    CW: 216.6 (-1.6)
    Goal: 199 (for now)

    Down another 1.6 pounds over the last two weeks even with a trip to Portland with my 3 month old!

    I’ve gone back and forth with calorie counting for the last 15 years with varying success. I definitely find it easier to lose when I focus on the quality of the calories that I’m eating. I’ve been eating “clean” for the last month and working towards a paleo lifestyle but decided to log my food on MyFitness Pal just to see and I am naturally cutting calories because fat and protein are more satiating and less triggering than sugar.

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      Nice job!! And great observation on your food journal.

    CC

    October 10, 2013

    HW 252
    CW 231 (-1)
    GW 180

    Been using weight watchers online and loose it together since may. Prior to may, just weight watchers. I have had some success. I feel using calorie based food journaling (verses weight watchers) has been easier for me but I do like weight watchers support system. I guess I am still searching for the weight loss sweet spot.

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      Nice job on the loss! Finding the sweat spot is what’s it all about. We all need to tweak things to work for us.

    Connie P

    October 10, 2013

    I just switched back to calorie counting this past Sunday and joined Myfitnesspal – I had been on weight watchers, but counting calories has opened my eyes on why I wasn’t loosing weight on WW – fruit! I know WW says to eat the 0 points food with common sense, but…..I used it as an excuse.

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      I agree! Although I like points (at least the old ones) sometimes it’s better to just know the cals. Especially if you don’t need a nudge to eat more unprocessed stuff.

    Macey

    October 10, 2013

    I do calorie counting when I do not see progress on the scale. If I do it all the time, I get very obsessive and it always ends up backfiring. When I need a check in, about once every 2 weeks, I get my mind back in the game without carrying an obsessive, self-sabotaging mindset.

      RoniNoone

      October 10, 2013

      Great approach!

    LisaM

    October 10, 2013

    My long wait is over – I’m finally settled back into the scale reading I’m used to. Admittedly, it’s 3 lb over goal, but it’s a place that’s comfortable for me.

    On calorie counting – your post yesterday about the 1200 calories of pizza vs real food sure illustrates my conviction that you need to know a fair amount about nutrition before calorie counting is useful. It’s been so interesting to watch my brother the past 5 years or so. He finally decided in his mid-50’s to address his weight, and lost 70 lb quick with one of the hospital supported all-liquid diets. Then gained it immediately back, in part because he focused only on calories. Luckily, the program included a good educational component, which he decided to pay more attention to after the quick re-gain. He’s still way over a healthy weight, but is starting to implement what he needs to do to get & stay healthy. WW is the same way, and it scared me when they left the “exchange” concept for points. It takes some experience with points to figure out how to apply them to get the results you want.

    Marina

    October 12, 2013

    So far I lost 47lbs thanks calorie counting and my daily visits to the gym. In my case, i ve been counting calories for 20 years, and I always founded this actitivy calming, cathartic, and help me to control ( sometimes) how much I eat.
    When i tell people what i do, they think I am obsess about it.
    In the last 7 months I was able to lost almost 50 pounds and, again, I ve been call obsess about gym. What do I care? I am in the happiest moment of my life, and finally I feel good about what I eat and how my body has changed. If works for me and it is not harmful, whats wrong with it?
    @ roni: lately, i wanted to write you , because you have been a great inspiration and companion in this weight loss process. Your blog is the only one i have been reading for 2 years. You transmited me the joy to live in the most plentiful way.
    Sorry for my bad english, I wish I could express myself better.
    Thanks again!
    Marina

    runfromthecouch

    October 12, 2013

    I struggle with finding the right structure. I’ve had short-term success on all kinds of programs. I know calorie counting works, and for me right now, it is trying to find it within myself to want it badly enough or to love myself enough to start. Thanks for this post. Look forward to reading more now that I’ve found your blog.