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I really don't want to count, but it's the only thing that has worked!

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Old 06-07-2013, 02:04 PM   #1
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Default I really don't want to count, but it's the only thing that has worked!

Hi guys I'm back on the forums after a long hiatus and a 20+ pound weight gain. Ugh!

Here's the thing: counting calories stresses me out. It just does, and I don't know why. It doesn't feel natural for me and I end up obsessing over it which is unhealthy. I am definitely NOT knocking those who do, I myself did it and went from 250 to 168. I have been having a really hard time coming back down from my regain, and I am beginning to wonder if I should try counting again. I know that I should not do it if it stresses me out, but practically speaking I am not yet at the point where I can intuitively know when I am full and when I am not. Eventually I would love to be at that point, but I am just not yet.

Anyone else experience this struggle between counting vs. not counting? I was going to post this in the Calorie Counter section, but I wanted the opinions of both those who calorie count and those who do not.
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Old 06-07-2013, 02:16 PM   #2
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I kinda calorie count, but not every little thing that goes in my mouth. I've only been buying healthy food and I don't really have that big of an appetite, I just always loved those calorie laden foods. I figure if it's healthy, you shouldn't have to worry unless you're eating massive amount of something. For instance I'll think to myself "I can have a cup of blueberries and it's way better for me and less calories than those Doritos."
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Old 06-07-2013, 02:28 PM   #3
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I am the same way. The accountability of calorie counting keeps me on the straight and narrow. As soon as I stopped calorie counting in 2010 I started gaining weight again because at first I was eating healthy, then I'd add a little something in there, then a little more. Then I was just eating all out junk and huge meals again and feeling like crap, and having no idea how many calories was in all of it. I have tried to lose weight off and on since I started regaining but never calorie counted and I never stay on plan.

In 2009-10 I went from about 230-170 calorie counting, so I have done it sucessfully, I just need to stick to it. I started again a week ago and I am doing fine. It is annoying to have to add it all up, and I have been using my fitness pal on my phone to do so. This morning I wanted to make food but couldn't find where I had left my phone and I felt "panicky" about it, like I couldn't eat until I could record the food. I'm just going to have to get used to it again. It just needs to be the way of life until I lose the weight, and perhaps I will even need to do so after.
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Old 06-07-2013, 02:30 PM   #4
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I feel resistance to counting initially, but it's also the only thing that's ever worked for me. When I was in the groove last year, counting didn't really trigger any neuroses or unhealthy attitudes, nor for the longest time did it feel like too much -- but eventually, it did start to feel like a burden, and when it became too wearisome, I stopped tracking and started maintaining at a higher weight than my goal. My motivation to pick back up has started to regenerate itself, but it feels incredibly hard to overcome my aversion to counting calories again - so I haven't, yet. (But I doubt I'll see any progress until I do.)

This year has given me some hope that I can maintain without super-strict counting if instead I'm quite honest/conscious of intuitive tracking and remaining mindful of my choices -- but I really don't think I can lose more weight unless I can muster the will for a super-strict period of counting again. The tricky thing is that I don't think I can just force myself to want to count -- my headspace has to get to the point where I really do actually want it.

I think I'm trusting that given time, my motivation will be greater than my aversion, and I'll be ready to make the tradeoff again.
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Old 06-07-2013, 02:34 PM   #5
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Well, I think starting a new eating plan by counting is great. Since you hate it, count calories for about a week, then stop and do your own thing, but make sure you are eating similar amounts and using limited condiments as you were before you quit counting. Then, after another week, count your calories one day, and if you are eating the expected amount of calories, good job! If not, count for a couple days, then stop counting. Just use the calorie counting to "check up" on yourself.
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Old 06-07-2013, 02:39 PM   #6
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I feel the same struggle. When I counted on my last weight loss effort for a little bit, it made me batty. I'm quantitative by nature, and it made me a little obsessed so I never really adopted it.

This time around (and my final time!) I lost 50 pounds without ever counting a calorie, or anything else for that matter. But I stalled out once I reached an acceptable weight, and started bouncing around with the same 5 pounds on again off again. So, I decided to try counting again and found that today's technology (MyFitnessPal) makes it so much easier.

I counted for a week and it really helped me get back on track and be successful again. Now I'm just counting sometimes as a reality check, but not with full fervor.

Anyway... I think laciemn's advice above me is good. Hopefully it helps to know others have the same struggle that you do.
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Old 06-07-2013, 03:38 PM   #7
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I like counting calories. I thought I would hate it too and I never thought I would be able to stick with it but I love it now. It really helps me to "see" what I've eaten and how much more I can eat that day. Or if I go over one day because of a birthday party or something I can be more careful for the next few days to even it out. If I didn't use it I would have no idea how many calories I was eating in a day and this helps me be more confident that I am doing (or at least trying) to do the right thing.
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Old 06-07-2013, 03:43 PM   #8
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Hi there,

When I went on my first diet at age 16 I was obsessive about counting calories. It ruled my thoughts. With each successive diet I became a little less stringent, and I still managed to drop the weight at an even clip every time.

I don't believe it's necessary to be exact about counting calories -- as long as you're honest with yourself and use common sense. (For example, when I nibbled an entire muffin's worth of batter, I had to be honest in estimating the calories and compensating for them by eating less of something else.)

Since reaching maintenance in November 2011 I no longer keep even a loose tally of calories in my head, though I remain calorie-aware in my food choices (most of the time).

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Old 06-07-2013, 04:26 PM   #9
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Well I don't mind counting calories, so I do. And it just so happen to be crucially necessary for getting off this last stretch of weight and maintenance. I count calories secondarily, carbs first, because of my plan (yay Atkins!).

If you do not want to count calories, track another way. Do an exchange plan (measured servings), nutrient control (low carb, low glycemic, the No S diet, etc). But intuitive eating with NO tracking structure is asking for disaster on those of us who became obese. It may work well if you use the scale as your daily tracking tool and restrict/correct if you pass out of your weight maintenance window. But again, something must still be tracked or we'll intuitively eat our way back up the scale in many cases

I'm glad calorie counting worked for you, it works for me, too. It is second nature now, after several years of faithful measuring and logging I now regard it as necessary, basic, and unthinking as brushing my teeth or tying my shoes. I do it, it happens, life goes on. No stress or drama, just another requirement of daily life to function well
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Old 06-07-2013, 06:40 PM   #10
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I count calories, but it's mainly because I use MFP due to needing to count carbs and sodium. Mirax3, you said that counting calories stresses you out. Would it be possible to identify what stresses you? For instance, have you always used a calorie book as opposed to an application? Do you add up your calories at the end of the day and get stressed if you feel you've gone over? I just ask because maybe altering your approach would reduce the stress. I always do my calories in the morning first thing before I've had anything to eat. I envy the people who are able to look at something and roughly know how many calories are involved. I look at something and almost always under estimate what is there. With that said, I don't record every single bite. Unless I totally change up what I'm eating, I just record it that morning and leave it. Sometimes I'll throw in a handful of nuts. Some days I'll skip my snack. Good luck.
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Old 06-07-2013, 07:00 PM   #11
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I've been struggling with this myself, so I've experimented with looser forms of counting, and I've discovered that for me COUNTING is more important than what I count or how precisely it is that I count.

I've been having a hard time over the last few months, because I allowed myself, because of health crisis issues, to believe that I didn't have the time or energy to count.

My sister sent me a gorgeous blank journal, with a Celtic knotwork cross on the kelly green faux leather cover. It's so pretty that I was hesitant to use for such a mundane purpose as my daily journal. Usually I log my food, symptom, thoughts and feelings in spiral notebooks.

I finally reminded myself several days ago that there is no better purpose for the journal and that I'll hopefully be less willing to abandon or discard the journal either before or after it's filled.

I have noticed that I take the documentation much more seriously in it's beautiful binding.

So far, I've been estimating calories, but I'll probably return to exchange plan counting, because I tend to be most comfortable with that form of counting, and it encourages me to eat whole foods (because they're easiest to count).

Most foods I don't have to look up, because I've been doing exchange plans since 1974. Not that it took 40 years to memorize the values. For most veggies, one cup raw, or 1/2 cup cooked = 1 veggie exchange. Most raw fruits are 1/2 cup = 1 fruit exchange except for berries and melon ( you get a much bigger serving for melons and berries). Most meats are 1oz = 1 protein exchange.

It doesn't take long to memorize the most common food values (and the rest can be found online just as with calorie counting and WW points).


I like the intuitive nature of exchanges, but I still have to struggle with "counter's guilt" and remind myself that whatever I count it's supposed to make my life easier and not more stressful.
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Old 06-07-2013, 08:06 PM   #12
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I really dislike counting calories. Mostly because many of my meals have SO many different ingredients, it is such a hassle to count up ounces and grams and cups and....AHHHH it makes me want to tear my hair out!!! Plus, I tried staying at my "recommended" calorie intake to loose 1 lb a week and I was famished every day. And this was after drinking water when I felt hunger pangs, waiting a little while and telling myself that hunger for a few hours won't kill me, etc. I still ate my calorie amount by 4pm. And I eat a variety of great, healthy food! So I agree, calorie counting stresses me out. I'm doing a lot of strength training, so I don't think there is any calculation that can show me how many calories I accurately need to loose that lb a week. I finally decided that I'm done with counting.

I had success before by intuitive eating (although at the time I didn't know it was called anything!). I lost 30 lbs in 6 months, 5 years ago, without really planning. Every day I just ate well, did not eat a lot, only ate when hungry, and worked out. I didn't snack, didn't binge, didn't have alcohol. For some reason, I was able to eat probably only 1500 calories a day, and I wasn't hungry. That definitely is NOT working for me this time!

I'm with you. Calorie counting stresses me out, especially because it makes me feel guilty about being hungry! Personally, I am going to keep trying intuitive eating. Yes, I snack more often than I need to (which I need to work on). But overall, not being stressed and feeling guilty about food makes it worthwhile. I know you say you can't really tell when you are full yet, but maybe you could plan the size of your meals and have the willpower to STOP when your plate is done? I just believe that linking food with guilt and stress (or really, most emotions) are what got a lot of us here in the first place. Every time I'm finished with my planned meal, I tell myself "I just finished fueling my body, I have no need for food now, go do something else". Sometimes it works, sometimes I still reach for a snack, but I am overall happier being able to eat when I'm hungry and not have to worry about calories so much! Please note, I am still very aware of what I am putting in my body and avoid high calorie, nutrition lean foods. This has come after weeks of counting the calories in many of my meals so I do have an estimate of what I am consuming every day. Good luck!!!
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Old 06-07-2013, 10:26 PM   #13
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Whatever way you choose to do it, you are going to have to count/track/journal or whatever. But you have to keep track in some form.

If counting cals drives you batty, try something else. Count servings, 1 of protein, 2 of veggies, 1 of whole grain, 2 of lean calcium, and so on.

I count in Weight Watcher points, my preferred method.

It does not really matter how you count it, but you have to count it!
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Old 06-07-2013, 10:46 PM   #14
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I don't love calorie counting, but I can't stay on track without it. For great recipes that have all the calorie counts (and WW points) listed, I use skinnytaste.com. I've also found that sparkpeople.com has great easy recipes with calorie counts as well. Once something is in my LoseIt app, it's easy to figure out how much I'm consuming.

Am I obsessed with it? Yup. Am I sick of it? Usually. Should I stop? Nope. I'll regain and then some. I think the advantages outweigh (pardon the pun) the disadvantages when it comes to counting calories.
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Old 06-07-2013, 11:53 PM   #15
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I find calorie counting very satisfying and I also count my carbs which I try to keep between 70 - 90. I did try Weight Watchers for a while but just couldn't wean myself off the calorie counting.
It's all a case of what works for one person is not necessarily good for another. Find what you are comfortable with but then stick to it and above all be honest about what you are consuming!
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