When I first started SP almost 5 years ago, the tracker was the thing that helped me the most-by keeping me accountable and letting me see where I needed to make the most changes. Yes, it can be time consuming, but if it helps us to reach our goals, it will be worth every minute!
I have used pen & paper before to keep track of what I ate and the calories for the day. After using SP's tracker for awhile, i pretty much knew when I was going over my daily limits.
After losing 75 pounds, I hit menopause and it is now a struggle to lose anymore. So, I had to seek different methods to get back on the losing path. Sometimes it takes awhile to find what works best for us-we're all different and what works best for me might not be what works for you!
Now I am just eating when physically hungry and stopping when full. There is no calorie counting, but I have tracked my food for a few days too just to compare & it usually comes out about the same no. of calories recommended!! Our bodies are designed to tell us when to eat/drink and will even crave things that are needed if we listen to it.
Try new things and find what works best for YOU!! And enjoy your journey!