For most of my life, calories never crossed my mind—and counting calories was an even more foreign concept to me! Of course, I knew that I was eating fattening foods (my clothes were snug!), but I didn’t realize just how quickly all of those calories added up. Before I knew it, more than 20 pounds piled on to my small frame. I wanted to lose weight once and for all, so I bucked up, took some responsibility, and picked up my pen. I quickly learned, though, that it wasn’t that easy!
Keep a food journal
I halfheartedly kept a paper-and-pen food journal, but I never lasted more than a few days at a time. It was time-consuming and inconvenient to continuously calculate all of those calories, so hundreds of them often went unaccounted for each day. Plus I wasn’t completely honest with myself, but just because I wasn’t writing down the 10 Hershey Kisses I ate didn’t mean they weren’t eventually going to show up on my hips.
I had pretty much given up all hope on keeping a food journal to lose weight until a friend told me about Fitday.com, a free online weight-loss journal that tracks calories, exercise, goals, and progress. It made food journaling easy; the program did all of the math work, so there were fewer excuses for me not to use it—and fewer ways to fudge the numbers. I still had to make the effort to account for those Hershey’s kisses even though I didn’t want to, though.
Tracking what I ate every day changed my thinking about what I was putting into my mouth—and how it was affecting my hunger later. Eventually I started making better choices. For instance, I realized that calorie-wise, my breakfasts were much too small, which often lead me to overeat at lunch and sometimes dinner too. Filling out my serving estimates on Fitday also helped me realize that I underestimated my portion sizes. Even though I was eating mostly nutritious foods, I was serving myself way too much. So I began using measuring cups at home to learn how to identify a healthy portion size.