Calorie Counters - Questions for CC maintainers




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NorthernExposure
02-28-2010, 12:44 PM
Ok, I'm obviously quite a long way away from maintenence, but occasionaly I like to visualize and plan for being at goal, because I WILL get there :)

I love my current plan and calorie counting works well for me. However, I don't see myself being this "anal" about journaling every single thing I put in my mouth for the rest of my life.

Once I get to goal, I think I will continue journaling for a while (a few months, maybe?) until I have a good handle on what kind of food/exercise blanance I will need to maintain my goal weight. Since this IS a lifestyle change, I will continue to eat healthy and exercise and NOT go back to my old ways.

However, I don't want to be obsessed with calories the rest of my life. I think after doing this for a year or more (I hope to be at goal and maintaining within 2 years of my January, 2010 start date, for sure), I will probably have a pretty good idea of what and how much to eat. Or am I totally wrong?

What do you do? Do you give yourself a weight range and go back to calorie counting if you get over a certain weight? Or do you continue to count calories? Do you have a good handle on portion control, etc. without calorie counting or is it something you feel you need to do forever?

I realize everyone will have different things that work for them and I will need to find what works for me, but I'd like to hear your experiences.

Thanks!!


Meg
02-28-2010, 01:31 PM
Good for you for thinking about maintenance now! :cp:

There's a recent thread in Maintainers that you might want to check out : Do you still journal? (http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/living-maintenance/194603-do-you-still-journal.html) Just about everyone who responded still counts calories and journals. Most of us feel that it's one of our most useful maintenance skills. :)

I think most calorie counters reach a point where counting calories is so natural that it just becomes part of the background of our lives. We might keep a running tally in our heads or know the calories of our common meals, so we can track mentally. Most of my meals run about 250 calories, so I can swap them around and still know my total calories for the day, even if I don't journal them. Or we might take a few minutes every day and add them up with Fitday. But I don't think it's an obsessive thing with any of us. It's just part of the normal routine of our lives, like keeping a budget and balancing a checkbook.

To answer your questions, personally I count calories every day using Fitday. I weigh myself every day and log my weight. Both of these things take only a few minutes and I always know how well maintenance is going and am sure that my eating is within my plan. It works for me. :)

Most maintainers have a weight range rather than a set number, with a "red line" at the top of the range that we won't cross. If my weight starts to creep up, I go back to basics, cut my calories, and get the pounds off before they become an issue.

On some things, I'm fine on portion control and can eyeball. But on other foods, like PB and cereal, I still weigh and measure just because I know myself too well. :lol:

I can't imagine not counting calories every day, either in writing or mentally. One thing I've learned on my personal journey is that I need to eat mindfully and thoughtfully because left to its own devices, my body will want to eat too much of the wrong foods. So I eat with my brain, not my stomach. :lol: And calorie counting is the cornerstone of mindful eating to me.

But as you so rightly said, everyone's different and different things work for different people. Once you reach your goal, I think you'll have a good sense of what will work for you for maintenance, since maintenance really doesn't look different than weight loss. And it never hurts to experiment! :)

Shmead
02-28-2010, 02:05 PM
I'm about half way to maintaining, but already calorie counting has become approximately 100X easier than it was when I started. Have faith. Counting for the rest of your life would be nothing like how it is right now for the rest of your life.


NorthernExposure
02-28-2010, 04:54 PM
Thanks for your responses.

Shmead, even though I've only been at this for a couple of months, it's already getting easier. I have certain foods/menu items "memorized" and have am much better at eyeballing what a cup of rice or 6 oz of meat looks like. I can only imagine it will get easier as I go along.

Meg, what kind of weight range do you try to stay within? 5 lbs either way? I know we have to allow for natural fluctuations, TOM, etc., but I can't imagine this would be more than a few pounds? At which point do you feel you're "gaining" and not just "fluctuating?"

Thanks again for your thoughtful response :) Very encouraging.

fruitlady
02-28-2010, 05:49 PM
I will gladly count calories for the rest of my life. I couldn't maintain without it. It's better than losing track and gaining all the weight back. I have maintained for 9 mo., ( I stay within a 5 lb. range, if I get close to my weight limit, I stick to my diet strictly)all together I have been doing it for 18 mo. It's so automatic now, that I don't mind at all. You'll find the best way for you when the time comes, it may take a while, but you will.

Meg
02-28-2010, 05:53 PM
My comfortable maintenance range is five pounds and that's also the number of pounds that makes my pants uncomfortably tight. So both the scale and my pants reinforce each other!

I think ten pounds would be too big of a range for me. Ten pounds could take a long time to undo and I think it would play a head game with me. It just seems so much easier to deal with small lapses than larger relapses.

And Schmead really is right about calorie counting getting easier. In fact, I don't know how to turn it off at this point! :lol:

NorthernExposure
02-28-2010, 06:48 PM
Well, you ladies sound like you know what you're talking about! Congrats to all of you for your weight loss/matinenance. I can't wait to join the club :) Thanks again for sharing your experiences with me.

Meg
02-28-2010, 06:58 PM
Feel free to join us now! The Maintainers forum isn't just for people who have reached goal -- it's for anyone (like you!) who's thinking and planning ahead. We have people who post with us at all stages of their journeys. What we all have in common is a commitment to keep the weight off for life and it sounds like you would fit right in! :carrot:

Lori Bell
02-28-2010, 07:15 PM
HI N.E. I've been maintaining now for almost 8 months, and I will be celebrating my 2 year anniversary of the day I started my healthy lifestyle "diet" in a few days. I still journal my food, and I still religiously count my calories...even on "bad" days.

I've made a few Rules for myself that I strictly adhere to in order to maintain my loss. One is, if for any reason I go off track and gain more than 3 pounds I change it on my signature and sidebar here at 3FC. I feel that by not keeping honest with everyone here, I'm only fooling myself...and fooling myself and trying to fool others is what got me to 333 pounds to begin with!!! I HATE to have to bump it up, so I stay on track most the time. I have a 7 pound range I consider safe...Between 139-146 with 143 being my "goal".

Maintaining is hard, but it's getting easier all the time, but I don't see myself ever being able to mentally tally and eyeball things without a drastic gain....(past experience tells me I am unable to do that. ;))

sweetnlow28
02-28-2010, 07:20 PM
I am glad you asked this question northern. I have been wondering the same thing. At this point it seems daunting to think about counting calories for the rest of my life but I trust the advice of the maintainers that it will become natural and more of a routine with time.
Good topic ;)

JulieJ08
02-28-2010, 08:07 PM
I made the switch to quit calorie counting. *But* I did that while still losing, so I suppose it's still within the category maintaining the same way you lose ;). What works is different for everyone.

I think the important thing is accepting what works for you, whether that means learning to maintain without calorie counting (letting go of calorie counting can be hard even if you don't need it), or whether that means accepting that you need to keep calorie counting for ever in order to maintain.

midwife
02-28-2010, 09:42 PM
That's great you're thinking about maintaining now. I think that you'll find what works for you---and that is different for each person. I second Meg: come check out the Maintainers forum!

PeanutsMom704
02-28-2010, 09:51 PM
I also have a while to go towards maintenance, but I also like to think about it, and direct my life in a way that I think will work for me during maintenance and for the rest of my life.

I definitely plan to continue to track calories on Fitday and to weigh and measure on a regular basis. I think I'm getting pretty good at eyeballing, but I also know that "creep happens" and that if I'm not periodically confirming the amounts I eat, I can start to eat more without realizing and think I'm still having that 1/2 cup of rice or 1 oz of cereal, when it's really more than that. (grains and starches are my biggest concern - I don't want to cut them out and I do not do well on a low carb plan, but I do want to make sure that they are the most portion controlled part of my diet. As I posted somewhere else earlier, I am not worried about gaining weight from too much broccoli! And having some grains works for me, but too much would not work)

I also know that I need to listen to my heart and this past week, I took a few days off from journalling my food. Not from trying to make healthy choices or from at least estimating my portions and keeping a loose running tally in my head. But the process of logging into Fitday and tracking it all felt tedious and frustrating and hard. And normally, it's something I enjoy - I like seeing the percentages for my day and getting at least some idea of my nutritional balance. I would expect that in maintenance, I might sometimes take a similar break. Just a couple of days now and again, just to make sure that my journey is something that makes me happy rather than something I have to force myself to do. And generally speaking, what I am doing - what I eat, and the activity I do - does make me happy. So I feel like I have maybe found the happy medium for me - to use the tools that I have at my disposal but to not become a slave to them.

And fwiw, logging into Fitday and putting all my food in today was fun again, which is exactly what I had hoped would happen after giving myself those 3 days off logging.