I need to track when I'm trying to lose weight. However, when I'm at a point to just maintain I simply just try to eat around the same amount (or slightly more since I'm not trying to lose anymore) as I was previously. I still weigh myself once a week and if the number seems high at one of my weigh ins I'll weigh myself everyday for a few days to see if it was just a random fluccuation or I need to go back to tracking a counting for a while again. I went from 150 to 135 tracking and was able to maintain 135 for about a year just eating healthy. Now I'm back to tracking to lose my last 10lbs and I know it's working better than if I just tried to eat less. So perhaps that's a method you could try since you said tracking worked for you. Track until you lose the weight and then try not tracking but still weigh yourself often (at least for the first few months) to make sure you aren't over eating, since I agree a life time of tracking would be a bit overwhelming!
Fitness Minutes: (30,218)
3/23/12 8:29 A
I found I had to calorie count for a couple years before I could go off the tracking and still stay on target. Periodically I log my foods to make sure I'm on track.
I think it depends a lot on what you're eating as well, how calorie dense things are, how much fat there is in things.
You can overeat anything and too many calories, regardless of the source, is still too many calories.
Where I found I had the most success is when I ate a lot of raw foods in the form of salads, wraps and soups, staying away from the dehydrates as they tended to be higher calorie and more calorically dense.
If I'm sitting in front of a salad which is 3 cups leafy greens and 2 cups veggies, with some kind of starchy carb like garbanzo beans on the salad, or a slice of bread, or sprouted quinoa, and then I measure the amount of fat added in terms of avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, oils, or butter, then I'm fine - I need to watch my fat, but I'm not going to get fat on massive quantities of veggies and leafy greens simply because I'll feel full long before I eat too many calories.
But if I sit down to lasgagne, it's very easy for me to eat 2 or 3 servings and have far more many calories than I need.
Fitness Minutes: (14,252)
9,692 3/21/12 7:57 P
I thought I could. After counting calories successfully for four months, I decided I didn't need to anymore. So I stopped. I mean, I knew what I was doing, I knew about how much was in the stuff I usually eat.
I gained 9 lbs that month.
It didn't work for me. Maybe you have better will power than I do. Maybe you're better at eyeballing it than I am. But you need to be honest with yourself. Has this worked for you in the past?
A banana is healthy, yes, but a big one's 125 calories... eating those for snacks a lot can add up a little faster than you think. :)
Fitness Minutes: (11,255)
3/21/12 7:43 P
I understand not wanting to track, because it's time consuming and (at least for me) can get a bit obsessive. I don't measure and track every day, but on the days that I don't track, I keep a mental tally of the number of calories I've eaten. After tracking for a while, I know what, say 1/2 cup of cottage cheese looks like in my bowl, and how many calories are in a lot of things that I eat regularly.
Why don't you do an experiment. Try not tracking but eating healthy for 2 weeks and weigh yourself at the end. If you gain weight while not tracking, it means that tracking is something you need to keep doing for the time being.
Fitness Minutes: (36,492)
3/21/12 12:14 P
You have a point in questioning if you could diet whole your life. In fact, that is where most people fail at, not in losing the fat, but keeping it off for the rest of their lives. To keep it off, one has to develop a series of habits such as eating whole foods in their most natural form, staying away from junk food, exercising moderately, and portion control/tracking the calories taken in. These may look like a huge hassle for some newbie, but once they become habits, they are done automatically without thinking, and thus they cost nothing.
Unfortunately tracking the calories taken in has to be part of these habits, otherwise you would gain weight on a healthy diet without eating any junk food at all. People have a huge capacity to eat massive quantities of food (at least I do!). As far as I can remember I ate whole my life very healthy food, some occasional indulgence in junk food, but still ended up obese over time.
If you overeat on healthy foods you are still overeating. Focus on learning portion sizes and recognizing hunger signals, and then you might be able to transition away from direct counting. But if that doesn't work, I say go back to counting.
Fitness Minutes: (8,106)
3/21/12 11:03 A
I understand where you are coming from because ideally, I'd like to eventually transition into a system where I can make the right choices without counting. For now, though, counting keeps me honest. Most studies show that people who track what they eat are more successful than those who don't - I guess because it forces you to be accountable.
My goal is to count until I get to goal, then transition to just eating right based on the healthy habits I've developed. If I see the pounds start to slowly creep up again, I'll know I need to go back to counting again.
3/21/12 5:39 A
what ever works for you.. really dont matter what anyone else does....I count calories.
Fitness Minutes: (8,109)
3/21/12 12:37 A
To count or not to count?
I think it's a personal decision, and it's one everyone has to come to on their own. Personally, I do not count or track, and it is so freeing. I have an obsessive personality, and the counting calories or points or whatevers was literally driving me crazy. I got tired of the battle at the end of every day trying to figure out what I was gonna eat that was within my points or calories. There are some trade offs though.
I eat 5-6 times per day, every three hours, and I eat a small rotation of the same meals every single day. For example, I eat 2 eggs, a bowl of oatmeal, and a piece of fruit every single day for breakfast (well, not on Fridays during Lent, when I go wild and crazy and have a protein shake). I have a salad with 3 oz of protein or a bowl of soup as my mid-day meal. I also plan what specific foods I will eat every single day, often 4 days in advance. Then I just prepare it, pack it and eat it. Boring to some, but sanity saving for me. I do know roughly how many calories each of my meals is, and the fact that they're all about the same adds even more freedom for me. I can experiment with combinations and timing to see what works better.
I agree that if you're going to go for the "eat healthy" approach, I think it helps to determine boundaries. For me, no processed or fast foods, no white stuff, no soda, no juice and I always pair a lean protein with a complex carb for every mini-meal.
Have you thought about including portion control and determining how much is enough? For example, I use a scale of 1-10 for hunger, with 1 being starving and 10 being stuffed. I eat before I get below a 3 and stop when I get to a 7 or 8. So, if I'm eating my salad with 3 oz. protein, I may not eat it all one day because I feel like I'm at a 7.
Like I said, I think it's a very personal decision, but for me, for the first time in my life, I'm not thinking about food ALL the time, or obsessing about calories. I haven't been grouchy or resentful in the 7 weeks I've been doing this, and boy, does my husband like me better.
Fitness Minutes: (20,400)
2,704 3/21/12 12:29 A
It sounds like you've experienced success when you've counted calories, and you've gained unhealthy amounts of weight when you've stopped counting calories. It seems like the choice is an obvious one to me. Not counting isn't working for you. So count.
Fitness Minutes: (1,895)
3/20/12 11:41 P
I agree - I think it's a matter of learning the correct portions and foods to eat through tracking, then when you're in maintenance maybe you don't need to track everything anymore.
Check out the Quick Track option on the bottom left corner of the Start page. It says it's for folks who want to track basic nutrition without spending a lot of time tracking. That might be an option for down the road.
However, this is a bit to each their own. One option is similar to the WW Core method - to not track "healthy" foods like most fruit and vegetables (non-fried), legumes and some whole grains, and to only track other foods like meat, fats, starches, and sweets. This way you're at least aware of what and how much you're eating. I also know someone who cut out all sugar, eats mostly whole grains, and no longer eats red meat, and he has lost a good amount of weight just by tracking starch and fat (with a goal of eating below a certain amount of each per day).
Personally, I think it will take me a while to be able to succeed while doing less than regular tracking. But my habits were many years in the making, so it'll probably take years to form new ones.
Fitness Minutes: (41,738)
523 3/20/12 11:17 P
I think the best way is to start by tracking calories. Learn the approximate amounts of calories, proteins, fats, carbs, fiber, serving sizes- and train your body to be used to eating less. When you start to reach your goals, you start to wean off of calorie-tracking. Maybe start by tracking servings of meats, veggies, fruits, grains, milks, working towards a healthy balance. Once you can do that well, then just stop tracking. See how it feels. Of course, still weigh yourself. If you notice you've gained more than say, 5 lbs, maybe go back to tracking. See where you're off. Counting calories, IMO, is not just about counting calories NOW but learning how much is enough!
3/20/12 11:14 P
This is something I've considered a lot recently, too, and I am curious to see what other people say. I am facing a similar debate, as I find it takes a lot of mental energy for me to keep counting calories every day. I feel like I'm a little obsessed and it kind of concerns me, honestly. I am at my goal weight and have been staying within 5 pounds of it for the last six months, but I am still counting every day. And I mean, yes, it's good to keep track of nutrients, etc, but I feel like I really mostly have my eating habits in place and shouldn't really have to worry about it. So I am wondering basically the same as you, and I'd love to hear what other people think!
Fitness Minutes: (0)
33 3/20/12 11:00 P
I need some advice. I calorie counted in the past and it worked, clearly, if you eat less than you burn you will lose weight, but I have always questioned myself if I can continue doing this forever. Before I would either calorie count or eat complete crap, no in between, but I wonder if I chose to eat healthy, non-processed foods 95% of the time and still log what I'm eating can I life weight. I know that the answer to this is dependant on each individual person, but I just wanted everyones thoughts on this. Instead of becoming obsessive with another number in my life should I just start being healthier now. Chose health and the weight loss should come naturally. Also know that I am aware that you can over eat on even the good healthy foods, but really how many people have you hear of becoming or staying fat from eating bananas? :)
SparkPeople, SparkCoach, SparkPages, SparkPoints, SparkDiet, SparkAmerica, SparkRecipes, DailySpark, and other marks are trademarks of SparkPeople, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
SPARKPEOPLE is a registered trademark of SparkPeople, Inc. in the United States, European Union, Canada, and Australia. All rights reserved.