One of the trickiest concerns when it comes to gaining, maintaining, or losing weight is the calorie factor. Oh, those pesky little calories! They’re what determines whether I can indulge in another chocolate chip cookie or not. They’re cruel, objective, calculating, and to the dismay of my sweet tooth and growling stomach, they add up entirely too quickly. Just how important is it to be aware of calories?

When you start attempting to lose weight, you’ll quickly become acquainted with calories and the pivotal role they play. The most basic concept behind weight loss is simple equation that involves proportions: either you need to eat fewer calories than you burn or increase the calories you burn through exercise to surpass what you eat. …I hate math. The bottom line is this: no matter what weight loss method you take on, you need to have some awareness of how many calories you’re eating on a daily basis.

Image from Google

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or not, I think it’s good for everyone to be at least vaguely aware of how many calories they should be eating. A quick visit to any search engine will offer you a number of daily calorie calculators that based on your current weight, age, height, and activity level, will calculate what your daily calorie intake should be to maintain or lose weight. I looked into a few of these so-called calculators, and each came up with a different figure for my recommended daily calorie intake. At first I was outraged, “How will I ever know how many calories I can eat?!” Despite calories seeming very scientific what their their daily value percentages and their nutritional breakdowns, the fact isย it’s not the exact science we think it is. These calculators can really only offer estimates, so don’t expect to find the one magic calorie number that’ll take you to your ideal weight promise land–the best you can hope for is a range. I’ve learned to be realistic and aware of the fact that nothing with calories is exact. At the gym, the treadmill that tells me I just burned 103 calories might be deceiving me. It could only be 101–or perhaps 110.

Despite the elusive nature of calories, if you do any research into weight loss tips and tricks, the majority of sources recommend you keep a journal of everything you eat so you’re aware of the caloric impact of what you’re shoving in your face. I see the value of counting calories this way. There are numerous websites that offer weight loss hopefuls and health obsessed an outlet to chronicle their OCD meals so they’re aware of what they’re eating. I know a lot of people have success with this calorie counting, but personally it’s just not for me.

I don’t have any interest in keeping tabs on every single calorie that enters my body. I don’t want to be on a food logging website going through a long list of condiments in search of ketchup just so my daily calorie count is fully accurate. What I’ve found is weight loss makes eating scientific enough–I don’t need calorie counting to ruin food for me even more. To me, I find there’s a disconnect between enjoying food and keeping constant tabs on how many calories I’m adding to my daily tally with each bite. It’s bad enough that I’ve had to get into the habit of reading the nutritional facts of everything I eat; I’m simply ย unwilling to make counting calories another part of my food routine.

I see the value in counting calories. When you’re acutely aware of what you’re eating, you know exactly how many calories you need to burn off (which means knowing how close to death you need to get at the gym), but it just seems like a lot of work to me. I’m not advocating ignoring calories–I’ve done that before, and I have the size 22 jeans to prove it–but there’s a difference between being aware and being your own personal food Nazi. My personal philosophy is this: if you need to log your calories in the beginning of your weight loss to get in the habit of checking calorie information, go for it, but don’t let it become a crutch. You’re not going to be logging calories for the rest of your days–what kind of life is that? If you food into something that merely has calories, you’ll never be able to enjoy anything.

The last drawback of counting calories is the heightened level of accountability it puts right back on your shoulders. When you closely monitor your calories and your efforts aren’t showing up on the scale, it’s enough to drive you a little crazy. You start marveling at how it could be possible! There must be some mistake! Losing weight isn’t entirely scientific. Despite your best efforts to make it as objective as possible, I’ve got some news for ya:ย shit happens.ย Some days, you’ll gain 2lbs. for no reason, and the next day it’ll vanish with interest. There will be days you’ll eat like a pig and miraculously lose 3lbs. after being stuck for a week. These are mysteries of the universe that even calories can’t crack.

If you’re trying to lose weight, I advocate keeping your calories at arm’s length. Putting everything you eat under the calorie microscope is not only going to take away the joy of eating, but it’s going to stress you out in the long run. Being aware of calories and letting them control you are two very different things. Maybe it’s my longtime hatred of all things math, but I’ve always refused to let calories cramp my style. I know they exist, I acknowledge them, but I don’t have to like it.

23 thoughts on “Calories Cramping my Style

  1. I don’t think weight loss should involve hunger.

    If you’re hungry after you’ve eaten, it’s probably due to leptin resistance, plain and simple. Leptin resistance comes from a bad diet and a messed up thyroid.

    This is why I advocate Mark Sisson’s “The Primal Blueprint” as a WOE (Way Of Eating). Following his guide allows you to fix you leptin and cure hunger, once and for all!

  2. I used to track my calories in the beginning to monitor my intake and it was crazy how much I was eating. I have definitely learned to control myself. I’m not a nazi now, lol.

  3. I’m currently doing Weight Watchers. They don’t do calorie counting but work on a points system. Different foods have different point values and you’re allowed a certain number of points per day (depending on your age, weight, height etc). I am a point fiend, I count my points religiously because it is easy to lose track and go completely off the scales. Thing is that EVERY food has a points value, so I can eat that chocolate chip cookie without feeling guilty, as long as I include it in my points. I’m losing weight healthily and steadily, so it works for me.

    1. I’ve heard from a lot of people that they have a lot of success with Weight Watchers. I sometimes eat the Smart Ones frozen meals you can find in the freezer section at the grocery store. The calories, the food tastes good, and I don’t have to cook anything–it’s a win, win, win. I just can’t imagine keeping track that closely of everything I eat. Too much work for me.

  4. Keeping a journal handy–especially in the early stages of changing our lifestyles–is the absolute best way to keep track of your progress; it will show you what is working for you, and what needs to be tweaked! Thanks for all the tips of cutting down on the calories:))

    1. I definitely agree that when you first start, it’s important to be aware of what you’re putting in your body. At least until you can readjust your habits. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Gaining knowledge as to how different foods work in a body, and specifically yours is a key. Of course there is the obvious eat appropriate portions and exercise, you’ll be fine. There is basic truth to that however understanding exactly what foods and combinations of them do is quite valuable as well as developing good habits, unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition, that will take away from the constant battle of try to remember what you’ve eaten or regret at what you’ve just put in your body. Awareness seems the key, self discipline and focus creates the habit and then……’re golden ๐Ÿ™‚ Jeesh, now it sounds like hard work.

    1. Ha! In the beginning I think it is kind of hard, but once you just get in the swing of things it just becomes one of the hundreds of decisions you make every day.

  6. I’m on a weight loss plan and I’m trying to be conscious, but not obsessed, with calories, and I’m losing weight the way I want. You’re exactly right when you say awareness is important, but unless you’re some ultra-athlete or have some crazy specific goals with your physique, awareness should be sufficient. Precisely counting, for example, the number almonds I permit myself in an afternoon sucks the joy out of living.

  7. When I lost weight I counted calories and it really helped; I completely agree with you. I never deprived myself. I would eat snacks (like pretzels or something that isn’t terrible) but I would only eat what I could fit in the palm of my hand when I grabbed some out of the bag. It’s not hard counting once you get used to it. Great post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. This is a great post. I completely agree with you on not being able to track calories. It’s good to know how much is healthy for your height, body type etc, and just stick to clean eating and maintaining a moderately active lifestyle. Counting calories consistently and waiting for religious results to show up will most definitely drive you up the wall

    1. I really think being smart and being aware are the best things you can do for your health (in terms of eating) long term. Making a vow to count calories forever would have me running for the hills after a few weeks.

  9. I log my calories daily using an iPhone app. I’ve done it for years! I think you just have to find what works for you as an individual. Some people need to see the number at the end of the day, and others can just “feel” it.

  10. Very nice post! The crazy thing about calories are the huge ass number of them you will find in certain foods. The whole “Eat this Not That” books are shocking to say the least. Never, ever get a milkshake my friend! The calorie apps always have an opposite effect on me…lol. I tend to lokk at it like $, Hell I got 797 calories to burn, I better go drink 3 more beers to make 8;)

    1. It is crazy! Sometimes with calories I find that the more I learn, the less I want to know. But I guess it’s better to be aware and healthy than ignorant and fat!

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