I lost 40 pounds by counting calories, and I’ve kept the weight off for over 25 years. I know, it’s not a glamorous diet fad. There was no best-selling book. No celebrity endorsement. No TV infomercial. All I did was count how many calories I consumed and how many calories I burned.
The plan, as such, is that the average woman needs about 2,000 calories a day- and even fewer if she’s sedentary (of course, more if she’s highly active). The average male needs approximately 2,500 calories a day (more or less depending on activity level).1 The commonly held belief is that the average female should consume 1500-1800 calories a day to lose weight, and the average male 2000-2300.
The first thing I did was figure out how many calories I was actually consuming, and let me tell you, that was a shocker! I had no idea that I was going so far over the limit. I had completely fooled myself into thinking I wasn’t eating that much. Ha! The truth hurt.
The calorie counts for most foods are listed on the nutritional information portion of the label or on the menu. If they’re not, they can be found by searching the Internet. If the calorie count isn’t available, it’s just like the old saying, “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.” – If you don’t know the calorie count, you can’t eat it.
The second thing I had to do was find out the number of calories I was burning through exercise. That was easy: zero. I had to start getting in motion. I (again) was super-surprised to find out how many calories were involved in exercise. I pretty much thought 20 minutes of jogging burned 8,000 calories. I was wrong. Another thing I did was stopped fooling myself into thinking that walking an extra 10 seconds by parking farther back was exercise. It’s not.
The third thing I had to do was to be honest with myself. I kept track of how many calories I ate, and I finally got off the couch (I counted the calories for that, too, meager as they were.) One thing that helped me was to make a menu for myself a few days in advance. That way, I set things up so that I could be “good “for a day or two, then have an ice cream on the third day. (And by ice cream I mean one pre-portioned bar, not helping myself to a half-gallon, as I used to.)
When people ask me if counting calories works, I tell them, yes, it does! There’s a little bit of a learning curve, but once you catch on it becomes second nature.