Weight Loss
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Is counting calories REALLY worth it?


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Ok, so I've been using this site for awhile now, and I have no doubt in my mind that it is a successful way to lose weight and be healthy, but at what price?  I feel as though I don't have a life, worrying about calorie counting all the time, making sure I log every bite, etc.  Part of me thinks: there has got to be an easier way to do this....isn't eating healthy and exercising enough? Do I really need to count every morsel?  Please renew my confidence in this method, because shedding this 15lbs is something I am set on doing, just not sure if this method is right for me, since I've always had sort of an OCD personality, and I think this site may be feeding into it a little.  Opinions?
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well.. I think it is totally worth it! Everytime I try to go off an just eat healthy, I blow it. I figure eventually I'll be able to do this without calorie counting, and just by making better choices, but if I have to count for the rest of my life, so be it. I think its worth it.
good question. Eating healthy and exercising IS enough!

I would suggest this challenge: take a specified amount of time off from counting, but maintaining healthy eating habits and exercise. Afterwards, weigh yourself. If you maintain (or continue lose at your current rate) then you might not need to keep counting. Just keep track of your weight over time and keep on eating healthy and exercising.

I know I would fail this test, so I continue to log and count, OCD or not. lol.
The way I do it is easier.  I plan out my entire day, first thing in the morning.  I make sure I have a balanced menu and that I have all the foods on hand.  Sometimes I prepare food ahead, like when I'm going to be away from home at lunchtime.

Once I have my food log all filled out, I print it, then don't worry about for the rest of the day.  It feels good to know exactly where I am in advance.
You don't need to count calories every day.  Just take some time to make some lists of foods with portion sizes and calorie amounts.

For example, you can plan ahead of time what your meals cost, calorie wise. 

one breakfast may be worth 300 calories, one may be worth 450 calories.  one lunch much be worth 250 calories and another worth 400.  same for dinners, they will vary in calories, as will snacks.

Once you've put down a coupld of breakfast meal altenatives, a couple of lunches, a couple of dinners, and a few snacks, you can then just choose a "meal" and know about what calories you are eating.  then just add up your "meals" and "snacks" at the end of the day to get a rough idea.

Try this for a couple of weeks, and if you don't fudge on the portion sizes, you should be okay.

One thing I do to help with maintaining portion control is to use smaller dishes.   use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate.

If you notice you aren't losing weight, you could just calorie count, and portion measure for one day, or two, just to get back into the groove of accurate portions and calorie counts.
its totally worth it!

eating healthy means nothing if you are still overeating!  and so many of us in our society have been trained from birth to overeat.  do you ever recall your mom  saying "now you better finish your dinner or else no dessert?"  like really, if you aren't hungry anymore, dont finish your food!   we are trained to overeat and eat too much from childhood!

if you are trained right and dont overeat and only eat healthy foods for your body, then sure, dont calorie count. 

weightloss is a goal though.  and goals are much more likely achieved if you have a way to measure your progress and a solid plan.   calorie counting is a solid plan with very little fail rate.  its easy to measure and change if something isn't working.  

ultimately too, unlike fad diets which are appealing because they are so easy,  calorie counting will help retrain you to eating proper healthy portion sizes and you can learn a lot about balanced nutrition here too.

good luck with the weightloss.  =)  ive lost 10 lbs calorie counting =)
I understand what you're saying claire, but to me, this is not living.  I'm 19 years old, I'm in college.  I wanna go out with my friends and eat dinner without worrying about it,  I wanna sit around with my girlfriends once in awhile and munch on popcorn or eat icecream without worrying about calories.  I wanna have a craving in the middle of the night and go downstairs and raid the fridge like a normal teenage girl, is there something so wrong with that?
sorry,  hi jocelyn.

im 19 as well, college student.    if you really want to lose weight then you have to decide to make changes or it just wont happen.  i know what you mean about wanting to just not worry about it.  ive flipped back and forth between just trying to eat healthy and be "normal"  and counting cals to lose weight.    I have not been able to lose weight by being "normal" unfortuneately. 

however,  if you dont exercise already and can commit to doing it 3+ times a week (getting your heartrate up for at least 20 minutes)  then you will probably be able to lose weight slowly and not have to worry so much about your eating.    so if you aren't ready to control your eating habits and such (which is totally understandable, it is so hard for me!) then try adding in exercise.
#8  
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I don't think calorie counting is about tracking every bite. I knew basically what my calorie intake for the day was even before I logged it.

Why? Calorie counting has taught me what a portion is. How much a portion provides in terms of calories.

The bit about wanting to go out doesn't really come into play. You want to go out? Go out. Hopefully you've learned how to judge good food choices.  Even if you haven't you've always got the next day to get back on track.

Exercise won't drop weight if you eat too much. I think many of us went down that road. Eating healthy tends to mean understanding portions etc. If you've got that down then your fine. 
I hear what you are saying about wanting to just go out and not think about every bite.  I did that for my first 38 years on this planet.  I gained 90 pounds for my inattention. 

I'm not saying that you should obsess over every calorie.  But it is a smart move to know about how much you have eaten today, and whether that amount is too much or too little or just right. 

Think of it as a bank account.  You need to keep a running total of income and expenditures in your head, or else you risk going broke and running up fees.  Same with calories.  You don't need to know to the last penny or calorie, but you should know roughly...

anywho... I overspent my calories this past month, and now I have 4 extra pounds to work off.  :P  I wasn't logging very much.
Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes!

I don't obsess about it and it's a good meter to keep me with about a 500 calorie deficit daily. 
Thanks for your replies everyone.  My problem is, I keep gaining and losing the same 5lbs over and over.  I do really well, logging religiously, then go off for 4 or 5 days of overeating.  When I do log and eat right and exercise, I feel SO good about myself, so it's really hard for me to understand why I can't stick with it long enough to KEEP the weight off.
I've been here since September. It gets to be a habit pretty quickly and this site makes it easy. Once you have your regular meals in little groupings (like I eat the same kind of cereal, fruit milk and coffee just about every breakfast) it's just a matter of a few clicks.

Otherwise? The food's about the same as always, only less of it. Much easier to cope with than the usual sort of plan.

I could see doing some version of this forever if I have to (with the occasional "aw forget it" days). And I've never ever felt that about any other kind of food plan I've started before.
I think it really depends on you, Jocelyn.  If the amount of food you eat intuitively and the amount of activity you get balance out, then you should be fine.  I managed to zen it through most of my life.  Unfortunately, as I got into my thirties, I was zenning bigger portions, and my body didn't burn it off quite so well, with somewhat pudgy results, so I'm counting calories now until I retrain my sense of portions (and learn to graze less). 

Eat well, move your body, and see how it goes.  Be conscious of getting all your recommended dailies (vitamins, fruit, veggies, EFAs, etc).   Hopefully it will enough to get your body where you want it.   If you want a healthy body (and not look like a fitness model or gaunt celebrity), and if your relationship with food isn't too extreme, you should do just dandy.  Just hop on scale or take your measurements every month or two to make sure that things aren't getting away on you.  (I didn't step on a scale for fifteen years, and when I finally did, boyohboy had it gotten away from me).  When I hit my goal weight, I'm hoping to get back into eating intuitively, assuming that my intuition will be a little more reasonable then.

If you aren't getting the results you want,  then you may have to reconsider whether or not your instincts are working for you, and calorie counting may be an option again. 
For me, calorie counting provides more freedom, because I know exactly where I am.  If I know I have eaten a certain amount of calories, then I feel better about having a treat before bed!

However, I agree that the method is not made for everybody.
sorry for the OT but i REALLY love that you have the "Venus" of Willendorf as your pic, nicoley. haha. i'm in AP art history this year (im a senior in HS woo woo haha :D) and she was like the FIRST one we studied ... hehe.

in any case in response to the thread:

i havent logged my calories on c-c in a while, but i DO count them religiously. haha. BUT...there was a time when i ate "normally."

i found the best way for me to maintain or keep losing was to find out my BMR, which is somewhere between 1400 and 1500...and try not to eat more than that a day. if i eat 1500 calories in a day i will maintain my current weight. try and figure yours out...like, when i calculated it it told me it was 1427...but i am really active so i thought i should add a few more... you can even keep losing with this...if my BMR is 1500 and i'm active i may burn at least 2000 in a day maybe more...

if letting go and not caring is really important then just try to keep one eye on the calories and make somewhat healthy decisions. it may have been bad for "my diet" to share that double fudge brownie with ice cream with my boyfriend, but if it doesnt go over your cals, theoretically you wouldn't gain weight. you may not lose but i would rather maintain than gain.

i'm 17 btw so i totalyl know whta you mean about "not caring." haha. you can be "normal" so to speak without "not caring" is my point i guess. just find a happy medium. no one's going to think youre weird for eating healthy. you may think they will but most people really dont care.
*new here*
before i found this site, i'd read an article about calorie counting on MSN and decided to try it
low and behold- it worked! but...it gets to be an obsession, whether you want it to or not.
someone commented about loosing and regaining the same five pounds...i have similar difficulties. There are sets of days where i log every calorie and make sure i burn it, but there are also those days- sometimes escalating into a week or more- where i try so hard but am so hungry all the time. Does anyone else suffer from what seems like week-long binge eating?

sorry, OT, but in short, calorie counting is definitely worth it, i think, but i have to agree that it starts to control your life after a while
PS; i have a pretty bad perscription case of OCD, so i can relate to that...ever had to eat foods with only even numbered nutrition facts? :)
Just an observation - if you log on religeously for four or five days, lose five pounds, stop logging on, and then gain the same five back...isn't the answer in the question? :) When you log on (and therefore control your caloric intake), you lose - when you don't (and eat whatever you want) you gain. That would say if you're bent on losing that 15 pounds, it's really worth it!

Another thing to think on is maybe the perception is the problem? I mean if you go into this thinking 'I hate having to log on and counting every calorie I consume' you're taking a kind of negative track. Maybe you can think more along the lines of 'I love the fact I've been able to loose x-pounds' or 'I'm going to love the fact that I set a goal and obtained it' or something that you really want out of your weight loss plans? What was your original motivation? Maybe you can focus on obtaining that instead of what you don't like about the process.

- G
 much effort to log in and count every cal I eat. But after doing it for the past few days I find this site VERY helpful! I always eat healthier and workout more if I feel accountable to someone else. By seeing my progress on here I feel good about myself!

#19  
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I use this site as well, however i know that most of you will probably sneer, but im not using it to diet or anything for being over weight, im actually anorexic and i use this web site to practically make me crazy counting all of my calories.  I can relate to you in some ways, it really does make you feel like you dont have a life.  The question i often ask myself, is why cant we all just eat what we want and be happy.  Somehow its not good enough.  Im sure your doing great and keep up the good work, maybe you could just chill on counting every once in awhile...i wish i could!
I just started counting calories on the 29th. I've tried a hundred different things, but counting calories has helped me to be disciplined, and REALLY, lack of discipline is my issue. My plan is to count calories for a month... trying to stay around 1000, but not stressing if I hit 1100-1300.  I'm doing this to discipline myself... once I know I can discipline myself, I can work on trying fuller meals and not worry so much about calories.

Also, I'm taking off one weekend day where I don't count, but since I'm working so hard during the week, in my head I don't want to screw it all up, so I didn't end up breaking 2,000 (I don't think) on my off day.

I have fun counting my calories. It's kind of become a game to me to see what I can fit in my day! haha. Plus, I'm a "lists" person, so listing my food has been very helpful.
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