The last time I lost a significant amount of weight (120lbs) I didn't truly track most of the time. I get stressed out by the time needed to track all the time. I find if I track religiously every bite for a while then I can go without tracking for a while as long as I watch portions.
Fitness Minutes: (74,443)
3,293 9/30/13 11:51 P
I lost the first 55 pounds without tracking or really even changing my diet much. I was in an unusual position though--I gained most of the weight due to a severe health problem. When I got treatment for the problem (daily injections) the first 20 pounds flew off. Then I was healthy enough to exercise again, and little by little, 55 pounds came off. Then I got stuck and had to make small changes to my already healthy but not-strict-enough diet.
However, with my current metabolism, if I want to maintain and lose more, I have to be super careful about what I eat, and tracking helps with that.
I also recommend tracking (though it is admittedly a bother at first) because if you run the reports every day you will learn a lot about nutrition. You can also see, over time, what really works for your body. I was shocked to discover how much of a difference carb consumption makes for me and I was able to figure out my ideal range--it wasn't at all what I would have guessed if I hadn't been tracking.
You don't have much to lose, so maybe you don't HAVE to track in order to get the weight off--but I recommend that you do in order to learn things that may be helpful in staying healthy and trim for the rest of your life.
I think it boils down to whether you can easily finish this sentence:
"I never had a weight problem until the day when...."
If you were at a healthy weight most of your life and then gained some for a very specific reason, because of an event or condition that you can identify, then you can probably lose that weight by going back to whatever your "normal" way of eating and exercising was. Just being mindful and careful could be enough. But if you were always overweight, or if you can't understand why you started gaining, then your sense of "normal" is somehow out of whack. There's no normal to go back to; you have to try something different.
In that case, calorie counting (or something related, like carb counting or points) is really the best bet. Keeping a food diary is the ONE thing that has been empirically demonstrated to improve a person's probability of losing weight. It's not the only possible way, and it doesn't work for everyone, but it's the approach that is most likely to succeed. It's usually best to start with the most likely answer, and then try less common things if the first one doesn't work.
Fitness Minutes: (41,013)
9/30/13 4:32 P
I tracked my calories when I first started, then for a few months after I reached my goal weight. I stopped tracking calories about 5 years ago, but I switched to a hand written food diary. I still watch my portion sizes and I've been maintaining my goal weight for about 6 years now, and I still keep the food diary. It helps to keep me mindful of what I am eating.
My name is Shari; I have been a Sparker since July 2006, I am now in palliative care for metastatic breast cancer, but I'm not letting cancer stop me from Sparking!
Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
I'm sure it can be done, but I need to track. I've got in the habit thru my weight loss journey and its worked for me. Now there are times when I dont't log it in, but I still try to be mindful of what I eat, and how much. I use 2 Ap programs on my phone, one has a lower calorie allowence then sparkpeople, so I always shoot for the lower and never exceed the higher.
I think there's probably as many ways to track your weight loss efforts as there are dieters doing them!
For myself, I've never counted calories. We're low-carb (on doctor's orders), and that entails only tracking carbs. Does it work? Yes. It's working for me. The *only* time I even look at calories is when I'm calculating my macro percentages. You have to have a total caloric intake range to be able to get those percentages. After that I never look at calories again, until/unless I need to recalculate my macros.
My biggest adjustment initially was to learn what a true "portion" size is. Then, to be able to apply it. I use a good scale and measuring aids, and now I'm far better able to "guesstimate" my portions. This isn't to say I don't still measure if I'm not really sure of the amount!
The Nutrition Tracker here has been a godsend to me. It's amazing to discover what we're really eating! Those tastes and one-bites add up. I track every single morsel of anything that goes in my mouth - such as the one tiny bite of my husband's granola bar this morning, or the couple of Tic-Tac mints I had last evening. The Tracker also makes you mindful and accountable, even if it's not shared and the ONLY one seeing it is you. It can be time consuming or become obsessive for some - but it's just an incredibly useful tool in my case. If you don't use it, I suggest you at least try it for a few days or a week. It can be a real eye-opener.
...the problem with people these days is they've forgotten we're really just animals ... (attributation forgotten)
We did not create the web of life; we are but a strand in it. ~attributed to Chief Seattle
We don't have souls. We ARE souls. We have bodies. ~C.S. Lewis
For myself, I have to track some way so if I don't track calories I make sure I weigh several times a week to keep myself in check. My nutritiousnist (sp) suggested if I stay under 200 carbs per day, I would lose the weight. I need to take her advice and try that for a while.
"If it is to be, it starts with me!"
Fitness Minutes: (226,065)
9/30/13 10:45 A
It is possible to lose weight without logging/tracking your daily calories. I know logging can make some people (me for example) extremely neurotic. I didn't log my food choices. But, I was mindful of my portion sizes. I did learn to read labels more carefully. I did use a food scale (ocasionally). Using a food scale helped me to learn portion sizes. So, if you don't want to log, you may want to consider getting a food scale so that you are aware of your portion sizes.
If Americans suffer from anything, they suffer from portion distortion. Don't eyeball or go that's looks like a portion. Learn to weigh your food because you may be eating more than you think if you're just eyeballing.
If you don't want to use a food scale, then consider the palm rule. Look at your palm. a serving of meat is the roughly the size of your palm. You might find this article on portions, helpful.
Also, if you don't want to log online, consider writing your food choices in a notebook. Being able to see what you've eaten during the day can help you lose weight because it's a visual record. the mind plays tricks. It forgets about that cookie we had at work or that latte at 3pm. Recording keeps us honest.
When I first went to college 10+ years ago, I lost about 30 lbs without tracking or trying very hard. But I had a lot of excess weight to lose (I went from north of 250 -I'm not sure how heavy I actually ever got - to about 220). And high school and my parents house were more conducive to bad choices than the college cafeteria and walking around a college campus, and I stayed around 220, even when I was exercising on a regular basis because I still ate garbage more than I should.
I have had a bunch of up and downs since I started to actually try to get healthy in 2007, and the ups were always characterized by not tracking. I've pretty much determined that I will probably have to track for the rest of my life, even in maintenance mode (which I am pretty close to now). It's what I have to do to keep myself on the right path.
odds are that if you're asking this question then you aren't one of the people who can do this. because there are some who can. it's just that those people tend to just do it and that's it. and there aren't very many of those people. most of the time there are little things that you need to realize [a serving of nuts is one ounce or about 1/4 cup. so even though they are a healthy snack a full cup is four servings and around 800 cals. avocado is basically pure fat even though it is a fruit. a serving of meat is 3-4oz. a serving of cheese is an ounce and about the size of dice.] and those little things can be very hard to catch just relying on looking and not tracking and measuring. that's not to say you have to do it forever, though some will. just that getting a good idea of where the foods you eat are and how they fit in with one another can be a huge help. and it's by tracking that you can decide to skip measuring your celery and your lettuce, but you may always need to measure your oil and cheese. in other words, by tracking you'll see where your pitfalls are, the things that you don't eyeball well. and you can practice to get better about it and you can also see what you need to pay the most attention to overall. it may be that you undereat when you are eyeballing and so it's not so much that you can't cut, it's that you cut too much. and you need to track to figure that out.
-google first. ask questions later.
9/30/13 9:01 A
I think if a person had a LOT of weight to lose (like, 100 pounds).... it would be possible to not track calories and just cut back on the soda or candy bars or other junk/ empty calories, and lose weight. The closer you are to goal weight, though, the more every calorie counts and the harder it would be to lose weight if you don't keep track of what you're eating.
I found the Nutrition Tracker to be the number one most helpful tool, with my weight loss. You can set up the things you eat often as "Favorites", you can set up things you always eat together as "Groupings", and you can enter your own recipes into the Recipe Calculator. At first it seems really time-consuming, but personally I think it's worth the time it takes. I'm also one of those who plans my day's eating in advance. Easy enough to swap things out or delete or add something. But I start each day with a plan.
Ruth in Cookeville, TN Central Time Zone
Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think - Christopher Robin to Pooh
I would imagine you could, but the knowledge and accountability you get from tracking are very powerful tools. If you're truly unaware of how much you're eating, then the tracker will show you. If you're aware but just not making good choices, the tracker will force you to be accountable (to yourself).
Maybe you could track for a set length of time, or just so many days a week? I tracked for over a year before I felt comfortable stopping, and I still go back and track for a week every now and then, just to see how I'm doing.
Fitness Minutes: (1,945)
1,177 9/30/13 8:51 A
That's what I try to do also, but it's difficult to stay on track
I don't like counting calories and have always struggled doing so. I have been successful in the past but I was working with a trainer every day. Now I'm on my own and I have been trying to track my food and I'm surprised to see how many calories I have been consuming throughout the day. It makes me think twice about what I put in my mouth. I haven't had any luck losing much yet but I just started last week.
9/30/13 8:25 A
I was about to say that I used to be able to, when I was younger...BUT... my problem goes both ways. If I don't track my food I'm as likely to eat too little as too much. I have a feeling that if I had paid attention earlier in life to more carefully tracking my food and eating ENOUGH calories, my body wouldn't hang onto the fat cells like it does.
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Fitness Minutes: (89,871)
9/30/13 7:50 A
not me, I suffer from portion distortion and always seem to overeat when I'm not tracking. I track in the morning before I start eating and if a portion of rice is half a cup I measure it out. I usually stick to my tracked plan but if I make a substitute it's easy to change.
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