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I grew up in a household where dessert was an everyday occurrence and my grandfather’s Italian-American heritage meant that pasta was on the menu every other day. My health and wellness journey began when I got a bit older and decided I wanted to become physically healthier as a means of feeling more confident. I started exercising, making healthier food choices, and boiling weight loss down to its most basic scientific concept: calories in versus calories out.
The act of counting calories tends to get a bad rap. Some may say it’s too rigid, too time consuming, inaccurate, and in some cases, even unhealthy. To each their own, truly. Especially when it comes to weight loss. But counting calories has helped me lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way time and time again throughout my life. I employed this habit as a young woman, then again before my wedding (for which I had bought a dress a year in advance), and most recently, in the months after giving birth to my son. I’ve lost a significant amount of weight postpartum, and I’m darn proud.
Perhaps what I love most about counting calories is that it is (in a sense) guaranteed to work when done correctly. It’s science! And science is pretty cool. I like how it presents weight loss in its simplest form. To me, it’s motivating to think about weight loss as simply choosing to eat fewer calories than I burn. In the past when I’ve tried other weight loss methods, things can start to feel too confusing, overwhelming, and gimmicky. Counting calories is pretty cut and dry.
I’ve also found that counting calories allows me to really hold myself accountable. If I’m tracking everything I eat, I’m much more likely to put away the crunchy snack I automatically reached for after a stressful conversation. For one, I don’t want to have to take the time to put the food into my digital calorie log. For another, it allows me to pause and ask myself if I’m actually hungry. If the answer is no — and let’s be honest, it usually is — I have extra incentive to put said snack behind closed cupboard doors. When I’m working with a finite number of calories per day, I’m much less likely to waste them on things that don’t fill me up or just aren’t worth it. (How many less-than-stellar sweets have we all eaten in office break rooms?)
To me, it’s motivating to think about weight loss as simply choosing to eat fewer calories than I burn.
With so many digital options available, counting calories is also really easy. I personally like using my Fitbit app, but in the past was also a fan of MyFitnessPal. I’ve been at this long enough that I have a pretty good idea of how many calories are in many of the foods that I eat. Having this knowledge is honestly very empowering and helps me to make healthful decisions outside of simple calories. Banana and peanut butter? Healthfully balanced and fatty in the best way. Store-bought cupcake? Devoid of all nutritional value and probably dry and not all that tasty.
As I said before, weight loss is so incredibly personal. What works for one person may be totally wrong for another. But in my own journey, I’ve found that counting calories is absolutely the most effective method for losing weight (specifically fat). I’ve used this method to lose a healthy one pound per week until I reached my goal on many different occasions. If you’ve been scared away from calorie counting in the past but are looking to jumpstart your weight loss, then I highly recommend giving it a shot. You may find it as empowering as I do — and if not, that’s OK.