One of my friends asked me 2 questions recently:
1) Had I lost weight?
2) How was I doing it?
My answers were:
1) Yes, I’ve lost 8 pounds since the end of our vacation, which brings my weight lower than it was before we left and returned home.
2) I’m counting calories. It’s the only way to know exactly what I eat and how it affects my body.
As trainers, we advise our weight loss clients to seriously reduce their carbs. This gets them to increase their protein, and provides a fairly satiating diet. When they follow this nutrition plan, most of them are successful.
But some of them insist that even with complying, they aren’t losing the weight they want to. If this is the case, I ask them to do what has always worked for me when I want to control my own weight. I ask them to count their calories, meaning weighing, measuring and recording everything they eat or drink. That’s when they see what they’re really eating. Frequently, it’s an eye-opening experience.
That’s my advice to anyone who wants to lose weight or lose fat. You don’t have to do it forever, just until you learn what portion sizes should look like and how many portions you should have. If you hem and haw, and make excuses, the problem clearly isn’t the diet as much as the motivation to change. If you’re not really ready to look with open eyes at your nutrition, then own that decision and stop stressing over losing weight. No judgement from me. (It took me years to finally decide that I was willing to do whatever it takes to lose the weight and then 8 months to actually do it.)
If you do count calories, you’ll learn pretty quickly that it’s a powerful tool that you can use as often as you want, both to stay on track and get back on track if you fall off your plan. Honesty and consistency in recording help a lot here.
As lean as I am, I still count calories when I have a specific goal in mind. It keeps me focused and motivated. I like knowing what I’m eating and knowing how much I need to adjust if I don’t get the results I want. Counting calories will work no matter what kind of diet you choose to try. Every macronutrient, Carbohydrate, Fat, and Protein, can be measured in calories, and to lose weight, you need a calorie deficit. Check with your fitness professional or a nutritionist to figure out the specific calories you need to lose, maintain, or gain weight.
As a side note, if you really get into recording your food intake, you might find it entertaining and enlightening to start journaling your exercise, your sleep, your measurements, and any other relevant data that can help you create the body you want. What gets measured, gets managed.
by Joan Kerrigan
Yours in good health,
Marlton Personal Trainer