Measuring Food Portions and Counting Calories: Who Needs It?

I love greasy french fries.  I love tri-tip steak and cake. Conversely, I hate dieting.  I hate counting calories.  I hate measuring food, analyzing calorie content and fat content and sodium and sugar content.  When it comes to food I hate keeping track of what goes in my piehole. I just want to enjoy what is put in front of me without stressing about the calories. I love to eat and, somehow, the record-keeping takes away the joy of eating. Besides, life is just too short. I figured, I could just reduce my portion sizes and increase my daily exercise.  That seems like it should work, right?

Wrong.  This kind of thinking makes sense, in general, but for the kind  and amount of intentional weight loss I’m working on, this sloppy approach wasn’t the most effective approach.  I know, because I’ve tried it before and it just didn’t work so well.  I need to not only limit how much I eat, I need to completely overhaul what it is that I am eating.  For years I’ve needed to lose the last little bit of weight I gained when I had my fourth child. When I say years, I mean a decade.  That child will be 11 this December, and when I say “little bit”, I mean 50 pounds. After the inspirational weight loss achievements of several of my extended family members and friends over the last 4 years, and most recently, my brother who started in May and has diligently taken a significant amount of weight off, I decided that this summer I would have one goal.  Shunting all my other goals (cleaning out clutter, learning html code, writing, photography, art) into second third and fourth places on my priority list, I decided to make this summer my Lose It summer.

While I’m no expert, there are some basic things I know about losing weight.  I know that I have to take in fewer calories each day than I expend and I have to do this over time.  This means I must both cut the amount of calories I am eating each day and I must expend more calories each day and I have to keep at it.  Daily.  I also hate feeling hungry.  This means I must do some things I hate:  dieting, calorie counting, and, yes, if I am going to be serious and make a dent in the pounds of flesh I hope to remove, I must actually measure my food and keep track of everything I eat. To fail to do so, means I fail to lose weight and get healthy.  Ugh!

No, this is not what I look like, but it is what I feel like I look like, except I'm not a guy.

It was with every ounce of my overweight, lethargic being that I resisted this piece of the getting-in-shape picture…for years. Determination does strange things to people.  I suppose, if the goal becomes important enough, one begins to do whatever it takes to get there. The goal finally became important enough to me that I’ll do just about anything to get there…including cutting out my gin and tonics and, yes, measuring my food and tracking and recording my calories.  I refuse to buy clothes in larger sizes.  I’m sick of how I feel and how I look.  Next fall, I’m getting a new and challenging work assignment and I need to have my game on.  In order to do that, I need to feel good and I’ll need to be in shape.  I finally got to my place of being sick with the status quo and determined enough to really do something about it. This time, I think my determination will stick.  I’ve got the support in my personal life and I’m doing some things very differently this time around…and…I have my bike to keep me exercising and liking it.

One of the common things that those I know who’ve intentionally gone about losing a significant amount of weight consistently report as being helpful is the importance of recording, as accurately as possible, everything that goes into one’s mouth.  In order to be accurate when monitoring calories, food must be measured.  I’m finding that if I don’t measure my food, I can’t really record accurately my calorie intake, and if I don’t know my intake, I can’t see or anticipate progress or know how to monitor and adjust my behavior. I’m working against a self imposed deadline and noting progress is essential.  I’m also easily distracted and very, very good at lying to myself and justifying everything.  If I keep track of the calories, I cannot make excuses, I cannot justify that extra helping or that alcoholic beverage.  Measuring, counting and recording are forcing me to stay focused and keeping me honest.

Lose it!  is an online tool that helps with tracking calorie intake and expenditure.  As someone who absolutely hates this part of the weight loss regimen, it is important to me that record-keeping be easy.  Lose It! is easy, it is online (great for me) and, best of all, there’s an app for it, so I don’t have to log on to my computer, I can record my calories on my phone from wherever I am.  It makes it pretty easy to see, whether or not I’m on track for the day.  If I want to eat something, and I’m not sure how many calories it is, I can search for it among the database provided or, if Lose It! doesn’t have my food listed I can look it up at The Calorie Counter website, then log that information into Lose It! and Lose It!  stores it for me under My Foods so that it is there the next time I want to eat that food. The website also has the ability to track nutrition information as well.  That’s a feature I’ve yet to explore, but as I become more informed about fueling my body for longer more intense rides, this will become a aspect with which I’ll probably need to acquaint myself.

But why talk about losing it with Lose It!?  Because of Lose It!‘s social aspect.  Like many programs of it’s kind, Lose It has the ability for the user to connect with friends in order to encourage each other and to share progress. This morning as I logged my breakfast, I was thinking that I wish some of my  friends were members with me.  It would make the entire process a little more fun, because I am greatly encouraged and motivated by the progress of others. (This, I think, is part of the genius behind programs like Weight Watchers, because that encouragement and accountability is built in to the weekly meetings.)  Right now, I’m working pretty much on my own.  I know I have other friends, on Facebook, and elsewhere who are working on getting healthy.  This, for many, includes losing some weight or improving muscle or whatever. Maybe some of my friends are maintaining a weight that they’ve achieved.  I think it would be fun if we could connect and share our progress as we work to achieve and maintain our personal goals. Even though our goals may differ, we can share insights about what is working for us or what hasn’t worked as we progress.

I’m pretty self-motivated (once I get motivated) and I’m fairly confident that I can keep myself moving toward my goal this time with or without friends joining me on Lose It!  I just think that it would be more enjoyable along the way for all of us if we were there.  So, if you are a friend of mine on Facebook and are working on getting some weight off or are working on keeping it off, I’m inviting you to check out this site and consider adding me as a friend. If you’re a reader out there and you come across this, I hope you’ll check Lose It! out. Leave a comment and let me know.  If you know of another, better or different program, let me know that too! Hearing about your journey will certainly motivate me to continue mine and, hopefully, I can return the favor.  (And, no, I have not been paid or even asked to plug the site; I just really, really like it.)

I've achieved my first goal of getting started; now to continue.

Until then, I continue to measure, count and lose.  Today it was fun to record an additional 3 pounds lost since beginning my program on the 12th of this month.  That’s 9 pounds in a week and a half.  I’ve become pretty anal about recording everything I eat and my exercise.  The funny thing is, the entire process is making me more aware of my eating habits and how many calories are really in those drinks I was drinking (a good thing, I guess?) and more aware of just exactly what is in (or what isn’t in) the foods I eat. Surprisingly, I’m not hungry and giving up the bad stuff (read cutting out my beloved gin and tonics or cheese, crackers and wine) has not been that tough.  I took yesterday off from cycling (never from calorie counting although I completely splurged and went overboard on a few drinks out with friends), which made five days in a row of riding with a total of 105.94 miles for those 5 days.  I am currently sitting on 68.34 miles since Sunday, and my goal is to exceed 100 miles for the week.  I think I’ll do that easily.

They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  My first step was to set goals and begin tracking my calories and exercise. I’ve crossed over from resisting the record-keeping to embracing because I’m beginning to experience the benefits and convenience of being informed.  Besides, it’s not as complicated or time consuming as I thought it would be and for a busy person (who isn’t these days?), that’s just another bonus.

About according2cat

Hi, I'm Cat A. Brasseur, @According2Cat on Twitter, or @TheDigitalCat on Instagram, and I write about my cycling adventures. In 2010, after 25 years off the bike, I decided to get a bike and start riding again. In 2012, I was diagnosed with DCIS, an early and completely curable form of breast cancer. In 2013, I decided to get a faster bike. I'm a teacher by day, a cyclist and blogger by night, a single mommy by life. I ride every chance I get. I'm learning that both cycling and life are easier when you're in the right gear.

Posted on June 23, 2011, in Fitness, Goals, Weight Loss and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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