Looking at the food court in a local shopping mall today I thought about these two questions:
How many people have calories on their mind?
Do any of them count calories?
I’m gonna go out on the proverbial limb here and say probably none of them.
Harsh? Maybe. But I too was once a frequent visitor of the common food courts eating fattening foods and feeling my clothes getting tighter by the fry. So chalk this up to experience.
After several failed attempts at losing weight, I finally took some responsibility and found an unlikely weapon against fat-> The PENCIL!
Keeping a Food Journal
In the beginning, I tried keeping a food journal but it never lasted more than a few days at a time. It was time consuming and an inconvenient exercise to calculate all of those calories ingested over the course of a day. In the end, calories were either forgotten or grossly under-estimated.
The Missing Ingredient
I had pretty much given up on keeping a food journal for fat loss until I read Tom Venuto’s Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle about proper goal setting.
There is a ton of material (good, bad, and down right awful) in pretty much every corner of your local book store but the reason I found Venuto’s more compelling was the emphasis of a 90-day goal.
He explains the importance of the three-month goal as being the perfect time frame for a short-term goal, especially fat loss. Whereas a long term goal doesn’t carry the same sense of urgency. A one-year goal? Forget it. It’s too far off and procrastination would kick in closer to the deadline.
So with my new short and long-term goals established and written clearly in my food journal (usually at the top of my ledger paper), I’ve never looked back at my former unfit self.
This one change may seem insignificant to most, but I really think it was the key to my success and now I try to incorporate it into almost every aspect of my life.
Modern Day Food Journaling
Today, you can find countless tools on the web to make food journaling much easier. Websites that track your caloric intake, suggest exercise movements for creating a caloric deficit, and charting your progress in “real-time” definitely provides an added level of motivation and excitement apart from your clothes feeling snug or checking yourself out in a mirror.
So if you dreaded the nightly calculator punching and recording your totals, this is absolutely for you. One particular online fat loss journal that seems to be getting a lot of press these days is FitDay. From everyone I’ve talked who uses it, they have nothing but good things to say, especially it being free (except the premium version which doesn’t seem to be very different).
I admittedly haven’t tried FitDay or any of the other online tools yet. Call it pride or a resistance to change but doing it manually with pencil and paper is how I learned.
Do I Count Calories Today?
The short answer is no.
But without it, I’d severely lack the nutritional knowledge and bench marks to live the healthy life I do now. For someone who had zero knowledge of nutrition, calorie counting served its purpose for me and now I am able to practice other strategies like portion control and responsible eating.
Though I have found much more enjoyment in exercise in recent years, diet is still the essential piece of the fat loss puzzle. As much as I really have tried to get around it, it’s impossible to out exercise a terrible diet.
Calorie counting allows you to take control of your life by providing you with the information you need to make more informed decisions about your health BUT without taking the time to write down your goals (short and long-term), your fat loss efforts may end up insignificant and disappointing.
The benefits of calorie counting are important to understand. More importantly, I believe proper goal setting is what will carry you through the ups and downs of your fat loss journey. Look up our review of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle by Tom Venuto to appreciate this important step towards a better you.
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