I do not like counting calories. In fact, I don’t do it. There is so much logic behind it and on paper it makes sense but for me it just didn’t always work. Besides that it is annoying. Trying to calculate the calories of every piece of food you consume is very difficult.
Here is the theory, and I am not saying that it is wrong or not effective, or even that it can’t work for you. For me, there is just a better way. Anyway this is what the logic is. A pound of fat is 3500 calories. So if we burn 3500 calories more than what we eat in a week we should 1 pound a week. Most programs recommend that you eat around 1500 calories a day. If your body burns about 2000 calories a day then you will be burning 500 extra calories a day. There are seven days in a week so in a week that equals 3500 calories. Therefore you should lose 1 pound a week. I have tried this way of losing weight a couple times and I found that it worked sometimes and didn’t others.
I think the closer you are to your weight goal the harder it becomes to lose weight by just cutting calories. When you only have a few pounds to lose I feel other factors need to become involved such as the foods you are choosing to eat and what kind of exercise you are doing.
The much easier thing to do and I believe the most effective in the long run is to listen to your body. When you count calories it is intellectual. You are not asking your body, are you hungry? are you full? When the diet is over you have not learned to listen so you do not know when you are hungry and when you are full. You just go back to eating with your eyes and not with your stomach. When you learn to listen to your stomach it is much more satisfying. It is easier to turn away extra calories when you know your body has had enough.
I remember I was teaching a preschool ballet class and a mother of one of the 3 year olds told me a story. Her daughter was starting to eat too much and they were trying to teach her to listen to her tummy. She would have to ask her tummy if it is still hungry or if it is full. One day after a meal the mom asked her daughter what her tummy was saying and the little girl said, “my tummy says it is full, but I can still have a treat!” How often have we all said that?
I have said a number of times that on this site that I do consider myself a food addict. There were a couple periods in my life where I had to be constantly eating. I couldn’t stop. It was scary. Luckily I am very active and I usually would pig out on carrot sticks and not potato chips so I didn’t gain too much weight. But I felt completely out of control. What helped me was to start to listen to my body. I had had enough and knew I needed to do something. Food had complete control over me. That was my turning point. I didn’t want to be a slave anymore.
What I did then and still do now is when I am eating, I take my time. I enjoy every bite and make sure that I am breathing. When I have eaten some of my food, I take a deep breath and feel what is going on. Is there still room in there? Is there another course that I should be leaving room for? When will I be eating again? This is going to take while for you to learn. There is a lot of trail and error. Eventually you will get to know yourself and how much food you can eat in a day or week. Then you can serve yourself the right amounts at meal times and not think about it as much.
If you are someone that eats fast food, goes out to eat or eats processed food often then yes, you need to look at the amount of calories that you are putting into your body. You will be amazed at how many calories are in junk foods! Or if you are someone that sits in front of your TV or computer and blindly eats a whole bag of chips in one sitting then yes, look at the calories. But really ask yourself, “am I hungry?” The answer is probably no.