In today’s day and age, it seems like all of us are trying to lose weight, get bikini ready, or tone up for one reason or another, and with that comes diets. It seems like there are so many ways of eating that claim to be the be all end all of health. Whether its Keto, vegan, Paleo, Macro counting, juice cleansing, or high carb, they all boast stories of people who have finally found their perfect body and balance with that specific diet. If you are like me, it gets a bit confusing, and you even get to the point when you don’t know what stories to trust, and which are fabricated. This is where counting calories come in.
While I can’t offer any guidance on many of these diets, I can do my best to shed some honest light on my experience with calorie counting. I won’t give hard and fast numbers on my results, because everybody is different and those numbers don’t tell the whole story, but here are some things I learned from counting calories for two months.
One of the things I realized right away, is that counting calories is way easier than I thought. I imagined I would be inputting each piece of a meal as they went day after day, but that wasn’t the case. I used the MyFitnessPal app to track my caloric intake, and it was very user friendly. Once I input my most common meals (I suggest doing this day one or two to save time), logging my food only took a few seconds. Also, almost everywhere I went to eat, I could just find through the app, or substitute it with something similar.
This was by far my biggest takeaway from counting calories. Before I even logged my food, I thought that eating healthy was enough. I thought that as long as I didn’t give into pizza cravings that day, I should be on track. The thing I realized my first day was that while I was eating clean foods, I was eating way too much of them. I am talking close to 2500 calories a day. From counting calories, I gained a better understanding of the notion that it comes down to calories in vs calories out. Even after stopping my food tracking, I still had a rough estimate of what certain foods contained, calorically, which has kept me on track long-term.
The bottom line is that counting calories can work if you do it right. If you consistently log all of your foods and stay beneath your goal for each day, you will probably see results. The thing is, you have to stay honest and consistent… you can’t have 5 great days, then consume everything in sight on Saturday and hope that it won’t count if you don’t log it. Your body doesn’t break its intake into neat 24 hour periods, so if you consume 3000 calories one day and 1000 the next, it’s the same as having two 1500 days.
I really think it’s important to acknowledge your own personality when considering something like calorie counting. I am lucky enough to not have an addictive personality, but what I do have is a love of control. So while I don’t usually have to worry about diets going too far for me, I do have to keep an eye on anything that gives me a sense of control. For instance, logging my food into neat little categories, and having control over whether the calories counter reached the red zone or stayed in the green, became a bit too alluring to me.
This is just me being as honest as I can, so my final experience is that it might not be for everyone. If you have a tendency to obsess over the number on the scale every morning, logging food numbers on your phone might not be right for you. On the other hand, if you tend to not pay attention to what you are eating, calorie counting might be the thing that helps you hit your goals and gives you a better relationship with food. It will always be different for every person.
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