Over a month has passed since we moved to a new place and only yesterday we finally got our broadband! Yay!
I never posted to my blog on a regular-regular basis, but my posts still happened quite often. The reason I’ve been out of blogging (and out of any activity involving the use of internet) is because we finally moved to Athlone and we couldn’t get a landline and broadband because of some technical issues with wires. For a stay at home mum, who moved into the town where she doesn’t know anyone, it literally meant the end of any social life. A whole month we tried to solve the issue and were at last told that there’s no way we can solve it (as the cable is broken somewhere in the attic, and there is no way up to the attic in the building – how logical is that?), but luckily there turned to be a solution and we are officially online since yesterday! 🙂 Also it was a month that I had to spend with a hideous electric hob that wouldn’t fry eggs or brew coffee in briki in less than 15 to 20 minutes. Cool, isn’t it? Luckily, the hob got replaced, too.
Now, the topic of my today’s post is about counting calories. Why should you try it and why does it work? More importantly, how does it work? Although for my husband and for many other people with mathematical type of mind it is the Why that matters the most. They simply don’t understand why it works when it’s so inaccurate, so approximate and shouldn’t work at all.
Ever since I first started counting my calories by making everyday logs into My Fitness Pal app, my husband and I have been having these discussions, which had more of an argument nature, about why it would or wouldn’t work. He tended to see the latter side – it wouldn’t work because: you can’t count exactly how many calories you take in, the information provided on the back of the pack might be inaccurate, and if you use the app database for searching energy values for the food you eat it can be even more inaccurate. There can be ten the same products with different values. How do you know which one is correct? Then it becomes even more incorrect, if you don’t use scales appropriately to monitor your portions. There are many points which can ruin your progress just like that. And I understood all those points. And… I never paid them much attention and still lost some descent amount of weight (considering my starting weight was not high for most people).
I think that was the most shocking part for my husband – the system worked for me, despite that I almost never used the scales and evaluated the weight of my portions visually, and I didn’t think twice if I didn’t know which of the entries in the database to choose – I always chose the average one, not even worrying about it being incorrect. I neglected almost every rule of counting calories right. But it worked. I will tell you why, although I advise coming to this more carefully. You will achieve better results if you will observe those rules.
Now onto how’s and why’s.
Counting calories and making daily logs are meant to give you an idea of how much you eat and to make you able to trace your diet, see where you go wrong and correct it according to your needs. It might be used for weight gain (when you need to) as much as for weight loss. It is darn simple. What you need is
- Free Registration on websites like http://www.CalorieCount.com or http://www.MyFitnessPal.com OR a Mobile App of the sort
What you do next is create your goal and start your log on a website or in an app. It will ask for your weight and measurements and your goals (like lose ½ lb a week or more). Then it will tell you how many calories you will have to consume to achieve your goal. When I first started, my weight was 52 or 53 kgs (don’t bother to ask me why I even wanted to lose weight!) and the suggested calorie intake was 1750 kcals per day. I tried it for a few weeks, but my weight stayed the same, because that didn’t create a calorie deficit for me. 1700 kcals is my true calorie expenditure (or was at that time). So I lowered it to 1600 kcals per day, and 2-3 kgs were gone with the wind in no time. Then I lowered it even more to achieve 48 kgs, and the new calorie intake was 1500 kcals a day. I still live on the same intake, occasionally overeating. The thing is, if your weight is low and you’re not a stranger to exercising, occasional overeating will likely lead you to increase of muscle mass, whereas an overweight person will experience increase in body fat. Sad, but true.
My logging was never perfect; neither were perfect my eating habits. I could overeat one day and eat less then I should the next one. I could eat cakes and pizzas at first and still get result in the end. One of the reasons I got the results is because when you start seeing everything you eat (you realise it so much better when logging), it makes you feel kind of ashamed that you eat so much junk. First, you start watching your portions. Even if you’re lazy to weigh your food properly, but still want to lose weight so much, you will start observing how much you eat and will start decreasing the portion sizes, so you can squeeze more meals into your daily intake. For example, even if you eat cake, you’ll eventually start dividing your regular piece in two, so you can have it twice a day instead of eating it all at once and going overboard. Then you will start paying attention to what exactly you eat, and sometime later a log full of pizzas, ice creams, cakes and sodas will make you feel ashamed, so instead of three sodas you will drink two sodas and one glass of water, then instead of a piece of cake you will start eating a piece of fruit, because it will look better in your log. And so, even without truly counting calories, this pseudo-counting will help you make small changes towards the better you. Although it is still better to do it the right way, any way will make a change if you commit to it.
A few more things, before I let you go. If you have friends join the same network and do their logs, it will bring even better results, because you wouldn’t want them to see how bad you’re doing. It will encourage you to eat cleaner and eat less. If you add exercise, such as walking, and log it too, you will see that it will let you eat a bit more and even let you have little treats. Don’t worry about ruining your progress by eating more after a good exercise. You won’t. If you meet the everyday calorie goal, you won’t ruin anything. Remember to start slow, especially if you have a lot of weight to shake off, and don’t worry much about eating clean from the first day if you’re a food addict. Anything more than a slow start will lead you to an abrupt stop. And remember to always stay true to yourself. You have no one to fool, but yourself. By letting yourself have a little too much, you’re only ruining your own result, not someone else’s. Bear that in mind.