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LGREGG07 SparkPoints: (44,509)
Fitness Minutes: (137,189)
Posts: 118
7/8/13 11:58 A

you can always freeze the extras so you're not wasting anything (if you choose to use the meal planner). But, you have to do what is right for you! What works for some, doesn't work for others. a lot of it is trial and error, don't give up!

SINGERA9 SparkPoints: (4,308)
Fitness Minutes: (8,109)
Posts: 105
7/8/13 11:39 A

Great topic. I personally don't count calories because it doesn't work for me. I get crazy and obsessed then I get resentful. What works for me is planning. I plan what I'm going to eat in 4 to 5 day increments, I make a grocery list, I shop and then I eat what I've planned to eat. Sometimes I swap meals around. For example, I have might have Tuesday's dinner tonight, and Monday's dinner on Wednesday.

Like another poster, I also have a pretty strict set of rules that I follow, too, so that I don't go off the deep end. I eat a lot of the same things for breakfast and lunch, and add variety in for dinners (since I'm not just cooking that meal for me).

As always, I think we each have to find what works for us. I hope you find an approach that helps you achieve your goals! emoticon

MIMER56 SparkPoints: (27,832)
Fitness Minutes: (41,820)
Posts: 265
7/8/13 11:24 A

Thank you. Excellent idea. emoticon

ZORBS13 SparkPoints: (194,225)
Fitness Minutes: (189,409)
Posts: 15,817
7/8/13 11:11 A

Online Now  • ))
I've lost all my weight and kept it off for 5+ years without counting a single calorie.

The caveat: you MUST have a good sense of satiety, and listening to your hunger cues, because you need to know when to stop when you're full.

Every meal/snack I try for these ratios: 50% veggie/fruit, 25% starchy carbs, 25% protein. I always eat my veggies with some kind of dressing that contains oil and there's always some fat in my protein, so I don't worry about getting a particular amount of fat.

Start with 1 portion and then STOP eating when full.

Of course, many people become overweight because they've lost sense of hunger cues..

MIMER56 SparkPoints: (27,832)
Fitness Minutes: (41,820)
Posts: 265
7/8/13 11:05 A

I use the food tracker.

WADINGMOOSE Posts: 1,048
7/8/13 10:55 A

I'm going to be honest, unless the food pyramid suddenly includes McDonalds, Wendy's and Doritos, I did not get in this situation by following the food pyramid and I'm tired of seeing that. I'm not defending the food pyramid, but I think if most people were quite honest with themselves, they also didn't get here that way either.

I haven't used the meal planner for years, but I can't imagine what they recommend that would be prohibitively expensive - my problem was it tended to be wasteful - a serving of grapes once a week would result in the rest of the bag of grapes going to waste before it thought I should eat grapes again :) But I find that with a lot of menu plans. They emphasize variety over practicality and/or budget.

Try using the nutrition tracker to plan what you will eat - don't use the menus offered, but start looking at your budget and what you can buy (stay away from packaged foods as much as possible, really) and planning your food around that. For the most part, I eat the same breakfast every day. I eat the same snacks every day (fruit and cheese or fruit and nuts). It may not be creative, but it works and I save money by not throwing out a bunch of food at the end of a couple of weeks.

MIMER56 SparkPoints: (27,832)
Fitness Minutes: (41,820)
Posts: 265
7/8/13 9:20 A

The problem I have with the meal planner is that I cannot afford a lot of the food they recommend emoticon

7/8/13 9:15 A

I really use the Nutrition Tracker. It is the best thing about Sparks.
I hope you find an easy way that works for you!

LGREGG07 SparkPoints: (44,509)
Fitness Minutes: (137,189)
Posts: 118
7/8/13 9:07 A

You could also try using the meal planner that SP has. It might help because you would just have to make the meals and snacks it has listed on your tracker without have to count the calories. Plus, you would know that it is in your range. Then, you to be able to visualize the portion sizes/servings of breakfast,lunch, and dinner in the future (without the use of the meal plan OR having to count the calories in each meal).

Good luck! (:

ATHENA1966 Posts: 3,954
7/6/13 12:30 P

In your nutrition tracker there is a food group option. I have created groups that constitute a meal or a days worth of meals. Personally, I have only been successful when I track. I have found that tracking helps keep me accountable and aware of my triggers. For me there is a specific balance of calories and nutrients that will result in weight loss.

JCKBSMITH23 SparkPoints: (2,627)
Fitness Minutes: (672)
Posts: 120
7/6/13 10:50 A

I personally like to count calories because I know it is correct. When you do not do this you can make many mistakes without knowing it. Of course this is my opinion so it may be different for each person you speak to.

SONICB Posts: 4,378
7/6/13 10:42 A

This is something that has worked for me in the past:

Have a set rotation of meals & snacks that fall within a calorie range (e.g. 300-400 cal breakfasts, 400-600 cal lunches, 400-600 cal dinners, 100-200 cal snacks). If you consistently choose from the list, you'll stay in range and have a ballpark idea of how much you're consuming without being totally obsessive about it.

RENATARUNS SparkPoints: (4,367)
Fitness Minutes: (2,155)
Posts: 1,379
7/6/13 10:41 A

I lost all my weight without counting calories, but I can say I probably have a ton of little rules and habits that made it easier. First, the vast majority of my over eating came in the form of a lot of sweets and snacks that I ate instead of or in addition to my normal meals. I wanted to cut those things out of my life almost entirely and eat more like my fit sister and her husband, who almost never eat snack foods and have things like cake and ice cream only rarely. Since I was wanting to do that, I did, and that probably put me into weight loss mode all by itself.

In additin I had a set of guidelines for myself for portion sizes, which I kept and have continued to keep track of by filling up certain bowls only so high, using smaller plates, and so on. I eat out rarely. I almost never drink anything but water and coffee. And I rarely let myself graze. For the most part, if I haven't put it on a plate I don't eat it.

So I don't deal with the hassle of counting calories, but I do have rules for myself that a lot of people who do count calories with succes don't bother with.

EXOTEC Posts: 3,327
7/6/13 1:19 A

I agree, counting (anything) can be a chore. I don't count calories at all, but I do count carbs (on the order of our endocrinologist!).

Are you using the Tracker here? you don't have to apply any brain cells to that at all ... just enter your food and it keeps counts for you.

I'd be very circumspect about using any USDA standards. Their recommendations (along with various medical specialty groups) are what got us into the shape we're in now.

I agree with others about portions. If you absolutely can't keep up with the Tracker (and I think that's probably the most powerful tool SP gives us), at least try to get an idea of portion sizes. Use smaller plates to eat from. Yes, portions apply to every meal, not just dinner!

Simply being more aware of what you're eating is preferable to no kind of tracking at all.

CUTIE327 SparkPoints: (12,120)
Fitness Minutes: (18,414)
Posts: 38
7/5/13 11:38 P

Honestly not counting calories can be tricky for some people. I would say definitely get a firm grip on portions sizes, following the bikini diet i.e making half your plate veggies/fruits, one fourth protein and the other fourth carbs is definitely a good idea, being active is always important, and most importantly pay attention to your hunger signals

I personally have trouble maintaining my weight not because I eat to much when I'm not counting calories but because I eat too little. So definitely be aware that it can be hard to get out the calorie counting mindset.

Article on portion sizes:

Bikini diet:

KPMP1992 Posts: 56
7/5/13 10:35 P

I was counting calories with My Fitness Pal for almost two months and never lost an ounce. I joned Weight Watchers last month and no longer count calories...just points. I have lost 6 lbs. so far.

I am quickly learning the point value of my favorite foods, so I am finding that I don't need to look up foods and their values nearly as much as I did in the beginning. :)

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,313)
Fitness Minutes: (15,545)
Posts: 9,713
7/5/13 10:17 P

The first thing you must do is learn to count calories. I really believe that before you can dump counting calories, you must familiarize yourself with it. I recently stopped counting calories, but only after more than a year of doing so. Right now, I have a pretty good idea what I'm eating, and when, because I've been doing it long enough. That's not something I ould have done 6 or 9 months ago.

Also, don't look at the pyramid anymore. It's antiquated advice that's been replaced by a much easier to use, portion-based guide called the Food Plate:

It's simple enough my 7 year old gets it and uses it. :)

SARRARAZ Posts: 157
7/5/13 9:08 P


FTSOLK Posts: 1,395
7/5/13 9:06 P

It's harder to visualize it for lunch, but yes. Just think: a turkey sandwich gets you the carbs and protein and a side salad gets you the veggies. For breakfast, eggs and toast with half a plate of berries works.

KARA2126 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (2,377)
Posts: 37
7/5/13 9:02 P

I'm trying to understand it plate wise but I only visualize it as dinner, is that supposed to be for breakfast and lunch as well?

WADINGMOOSE Posts: 1,048
7/5/13 5:31 P

For me, (when I'm not tracking) I try to just be aware of what I'm eating. Most of the time it should be good, healthy food - I don't really weight or measure fruits and vegetables because it would take a lot to over eat those. I know what a serving of meat/fish/poultry is and I try to make sure I'm staying at that, ditto carbs. I can't eat the whole bread basket, you know?

We buy a lot of produce and if that starts rotting in the fridge, I know we aren't eating enough of it and I need to change that. Usually, I'm replacing it with something that I'd rather not be eating.

I started tracking my food again because the scale isn't moving when I felt it should. I still don't weigh/measure, but I realized how many "treats" I was giving myself.

I don't know that it's about counting calories (for me) it's about being accountable and aware of what and how much I'm eating. And when I want a frozen yogurt, it's easy to "forget" I had a muffin at a meeting at work.

I look at it this way, my sister in law is pretty thin. She doesn't measure or count what she eats, but I can tell she's aware of it by what and how much she puts on her plate. About 1/2 what the rest of our family shoves on our plates (before I was losing weight).

If you want to look at it plate-wise, half your plate should be veggies. 1/4 protein and 1/4 carbs. I tend to lean toward starchier veggies so I skip the bread more often than not.

BUNNYKICKS Posts: 2,433
7/5/13 5:03 P

The Weight Watchers plan is a little less persnickety than "counting calories." I did it once wayyyy back when, and found it an easy way to keep tabs on how much food I was consuming. I was very successful with it. (a decade later though, i'm doing it over! sigh!).

These days I'm counting calories because I find it easier to just plunk things into the nutrition tracker than I found it to look up points-values and jot them in a notebook (though, of course you can do the WW thing online these days too... but... at a cost). My husband, however, MUCH prefers "counting points." He internalized the points system back in 1999 and still is able to eyeball a piece of chicken and go "that's 'bout 3 points there, and two for the salad dressing, lettuce is free..." and although my own record is bound to be much more accurate down to that very last calorie, his method is quicker and easier for him, and keeps him in the right ballpark for weight loss.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,249
7/5/13 4:46 P

the usda servings are portions of food. a portion/serving of meat is 3-4 oz, a portion/serving of cheese or nuts is one ounce, and so forth. yes, some of the 1/2 cup counts as a cup stuff is confusing. but look at the what counts as a serving portion, and aim for 3-5 of them.

KARA2126 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (2,377)
Posts: 37
7/5/13 4:35 P

thanks but I've been on sparks before counting calories and lost 35 pounds but later on I gained 25 of it back because I started eating bad and for some reason don't understand how much of what Im supposed to be eating thats healthy. I feel like Im eating healthy but too much.

7/5/13 4:30 P

Some people can, some people can't.

I lost my first 15 pounds by giving myself guidelines: No drinking calories (water or tea only), three desserts a week, get 10 servings of vegetables and 5 servings of fruit each day (a serving is only 1/2 cup, so a salad would get me 6-8 servings of vegetables, easily). Exercise at least 10 minutes a day, even if it is just a walk in the neighborhood.

After that, I needed to count calories to continue losing.

After you count calories for a while and develop a good mental understanding of what 1200/1500/1800/2500 calories looks like, and are aware (mentally) of what you are eating, then I think you can loosely track calories in your head and lose weight that way. Some people have a hard time with this, and end up eating too little, or feeling deprived, or eating too much. But I think it's possible for someone who has spent a long time (6 Months+) counting calories.

KARA2126 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (2,377)
Posts: 37
7/5/13 4:14 P

Does anyone know how to stop counting calories and find an easier way like just tracking servings of food groups from the pyramid? I've looked at the pyramid but their servings are different from portions, its got me totally confused. I would love to live my life without counting calories and eating while maintaining a healthy weight. My mom told me about the "Deal a meal" which is now known as foodmover but I just don't get it.

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