Weight Loss Support - Am I stuck on the idea of counting calories?

07-13-2013, 09:13 AM
The thing about calorie counting that I like is that it's a numbers game. I know if I'm doing well or not because I counted.

I also tried an experiment where I quit counting calories and I just tried to eat homemade food to satisfaction but I ended up gaining weight because I was eating too much. My brain tells me to keep eating.

I can't honestly say I do know exactly when to stop eating. I'd like to know, of course. I know genuine hunger but I don't know genuine 'fullness', at least not very often.

Counting calories has always been my go-to, because I know how it works and I can make it work. Except it doesn't last. It doesn't last because I get tired.

My fear is that if I tried to eat to fullness I'd end up overeating because I can't tell when to stop.

What do you guys think about this? How many of you count calories/WW points? Have any of you lost significant weight by just eating less and eating healthier things? I know it can be done but for some reason I've got it in my mind that it wouldn't work for me.

07-13-2013, 09:30 AM
I have to calorie count because I'm small. If I just ate until I was full or every time I was hungry, even if I were doing it sensibly then I would almost definitely not be eating at a deficit. No deficit, no weight loss.

Even if I were eating homemade 'wholesome' or nutritious foods, it's very easy to pack in 300 calories worth of cheese or some other high calorie food in one meal without even knowing! It's easy to make unhealthy food at home :p
Personally I don't find eating to satisfaction a method to lose weight, but rather a method of maintenance, which even then must be controlled. For me, eating for weight loss means being restrictive, and yes I do get hungry, but to me some things are just a sacrifice I have to make in order to lose the weight. It's taken me a long time to get over that.

07-13-2013, 09:31 AM
I've done well being "calorie aware" without actually counting anything. I keep a food journal and watch my portion sizes. For me, keeping on top of reasonable portion sizes and staying mindful throughout the day with the journal has been an enormous help. I still read labels and watch for nutrition info in all situations, and I don't rely on hunger cues or whether or not I feel full. Once when I'm done with my pre-determined portions, I'm done. Not sure this approach would've compatible with you but maybe it's something to consider? I hate counting calories myself so this saves me a lot of frustration. :)

07-13-2013, 10:48 AM
I am a confirmed calorie counter. I can't trust myself to limit portions and when I try to estimate I find I am eating much more than I think. I have found calorie counting works best for me.

07-13-2013, 11:02 AM
I do WW and calorie count just to verify how much I am eating. I WISH I was able on my own to Portion control. If I could I would be thin. I have to be accountable for everything that goes in my mouth or I would just gain!

07-13-2013, 11:08 AM
I have 4 or 5 go-to items for each meal. I know approximately how many calories they have, so I don't need to keep counting. When eating outside the home, I (usually) take the "calorie aware" approach.


07-13-2013, 11:10 AM
I do WW and calorie count just to verify how much I am eating. I WISH I was able on my own to Portion control. If I could I would be thin. I have to be accountable for everything that goes in my mouth or I would just gain!

That is exactly how I feel.

07-13-2013, 11:21 AM
In my honest opinion, counting calories is probably the one of the best methods for weight loss, at least for myself. I am not as strict as I used to be though, I have a general idea of calories in what I have and the portion size since I have so much experience with calorie counting in the past lol

But definitely, counting calories is a great tool. You need a calorie deficit to lose weight, and counting calories will tell you if you met that deficit for the day.

07-13-2013, 11:55 AM
I've lost most of my weight without any counting, but by using portion control with a primarily whole foods approach. I use the following tricks:

-- smaller plates & bowls at meal time
-- when serving myself, I take a little less than I think is reasonable, unless it's raw vegetables; then I take more than I think is reasonable
-- don't go back for 2nds
-- don't eat after dinner; tell myself that "the kitchen is closed"
-- always have more raw fruits and vegetables than anything else during a meal or snack

Although I occasionally count calories, I find it really tedious since I make most of my own food, and never the same way twice, so figuring out the per serving calories for everything is never-ending.

07-13-2013, 02:37 PM
I'm a calorie counter. I HAVE to do it to keep myself on track.

07-13-2013, 03:04 PM
I count calories most days. Only on special occasions/holidays do I not count, and on those days I practice portion control. I've learned to judge how much I'm eating, and giving me that day every once in a while lets me gauge how well I'm doing at it.

I never let myself not count for more than a day because the longer you don't stick to plan, the harder it is to get started again. I want to lose weight more than I want the fleeting satisfaction of the food. I know there are going to be times where it's hard to stick to plan, but I'm not going to throw myself off the mountain if I eat more than I should for one day.

As I get closer towards maintenance (I have a long ways to go yet), I'll probably give myself a day every couple of weeks to practice portion control without counting, because I don't want to always count calories. I know it's something I'm going to continue to do throughout my life, but when I get to maintenance I want to be able to count maybe twice a week instead of every day, and be able to use good judgement the rest of the time.

07-13-2013, 03:27 PM
I don't have to count calories to lose, but I do pretty much have to count something. My preference is diabetic food exchanges, which is really a shorthand version of calorie counting with portion counting for six food groups.

It sounds more complicated than it is, but once you've become familiar with the exchanges, it's easier to remember food values than to remember specific calorie counts. For example most fruits come out to 1 fruit exchange and about 70 calories. Melon and berries are lower calorie, so you get more (for most berries you get about a cup. For strawberries you get 1.25 cup).

There are many printable exchange plan journal pages for exchange plans, and all you have to do is check off the boxes.

I've been experimenting with "The Simple Diet" right now, as I haven't been up to doing much food prep lately, because of pain and mobility issues flaring up.

It's a meal replacement plan of 3 shakes or soups, 2 entrees, and at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. Calorie, protein, and fat guidelines apply.

For me it boils down to counting something and documenting the count in my food journal. Those two things are my bottom line. I can do them, or I fail.

07-13-2013, 04:22 PM
I'm a calorie counter, it's been my go to for the past 8 months

07-13-2013, 04:44 PM
I do WW points and calorie counting. You see, I'm broken when it comes to food. I just don't have a natural off switch. So, points/calories supplies me with an artificial off switch. Maybe some day, I'll be able to give it up but for right now, counting is what I need to do.

07-14-2013, 01:34 AM
I started out calorie counting, and I still keep mental estimates more often than not. However, after a few months of being completely wheat-free [because of an allergy] (and calorie-controlled and eating pretty healthy, but personally I think wheat made the most difference), I discovered a mental and physical off-switch for food that I never knew I had. Since then I can truly trust myself with food for the first time.

Good luck!

07-14-2013, 08:12 AM
Thank you for all the insightful comments.

It seems I haven't gotten myself 'stuck' on calorie counting.

Sometimes I just have to take a step back and see where I might be going wrong. I know calorie counting works, I just haven't been able to get it to work for me because of the perceived effort it takes. In reality it doesn't take that much effort.

I have this fantasy of being able to eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full and just have that equal weight loss until I'm at a normal weight. It seems lovely but the fact is it probably won't happen that way for me. Left to my own devices I overeat, even when I feel like I'm not.

You don't get to be almost 300 pounds if you're good at stopping when you've had enough calories. :P

I don't dislike counting calories. I'll just have to get it together and try to make a habit of it. I've made a habit of working out at least twice a week, which is good. I'll start making it a habit of just counting my breakfast calories. Maybe I'm taking on too much at once.

I'm also working on meditation. Maybe finding ways to calm my mind will help when things get stressful. I don't think I'm particularly bad at worrying or over thinking but I do have a tendency to drop new habits when things get stressful even a little bit, like school starting or having trouble at work.

Ultimately I'm still young and I'm still growing into the kind of person I want to be. Spiritually, mentally, physically, habitually...I'm not quite there yet and I don't know many 22 year olds who have it all together. :P I've been giving some long thoughts to where I am in life and where I want to be when I graduate school. I spent a lot of time using drugs and alcohol and I think it stunted personal growth. I'm kind of making up for lost time here. Maybe that's why I have so much difficulty sticking to new habits. I'm not used to it. It's pretty new for me.

07-14-2013, 01:18 PM
It's a process for everyone, and very few people of any age have it "all" together.

I think we're also taught/conditioned to think of food counting and journal-ing as strange, excessive, difficult, compulsive..... just because we rarely see anyone else do it.

We don't usually see strangers brushing their teeth, either, but we tend to assume that most people do. We don't question or comment on others hygeine, but people sometimes will comment if the see you in the act of journaling.

For me, it helps to see my food logs as no different than showering or brushing my teeth or hair. If I forget to do any of those things, I do them as soon as I remember. I don't think about how hard or annoying it will be to do these things forever. It's just part of a daily schedule.

Maybe some day, there'll be an "an easier" alternative tooth brushing, maybe a cleansing chewing gum, but I don't think about how great it would be to not have to brush my teeth.

What I'm trying to say is we do a lot of things every day that are more difficult and complicated than food jounal-ing, but we don't think about it, because those are things seem normal to us.

No one thinks you're obsessive if you brush your teeth every day, or pay your bills on time or balance your checkbook.

Our upstairs neighbor vacuums every day, sometimes twice a day. We don't. Both are ok. I think it's important to see food self-monitoring as normal, because it stops feeling hard, when it feels normal.

07-14-2013, 07:20 PM
Calorie counting largely got me to where I am today, but the last 20 or so came off by following my nutritionist's advice of three meals and two snacks/day, with the meals consisting of a protein, a carb/grain, and fruit or veg. No calorie counting, just portion control.

Now I'm trying to be an intuitive eater ("Intuitive Eating" was a life-altering book for me). I have my hunger cues down pat, but I do still struggle with the fullness cues. But the nutritionist's advice on portion sizes have helped me figure out how I should feel, fullness-wise, after an appropriately portioned meal.

07-19-2013, 01:09 PM
I have come to the conclusion that I'll have to calorie count for the rest of my life, and that's ok with me. It's the only thing that works for me. I tried intuitive eating, and it just wasn't for me. I gained weight. And then there were times when I wasn't really sure if I was hungry or not, so I wouldn't eat. Then I got a tremendous headache and fatigue (which I'm sure was low blood sugar), but I didn't eat because I wasn't truly hungry.

Calorie counting is as hard or easy as I make it. I don't even have to be exact. Just knowing how to figure portion size by visuals (like Weight Watchers taught me a while back) works.

I'm thinking of switching back to Weight Watchers, because points is just an easier way of counting calories.

07-19-2013, 07:27 PM
I wouldn't make it without counting calories. The only way I can reliably tell if I'm hungry is if my stomach is growling, and then I stop eating when it stops growling. That doesn't seem right to me, so I count calories instead.

Counting calories got a lot easier for me when I got a kitchen scale. Now, instead of guestimating 'well, that looks like a medium banana....and half of maybe a large sweet potato...' I can just plop whatever I'm eating on the scale and plug it's weight into fitday.com and all the calculating is done for me. I also don't eat anything that's difficult to find the calorie count for. Which is fine, because those foods are usually high calorie anyway.

If you like complicated foods like that, you could try the weight watchers frozen meals - they have calories listed on the back, and taste great.