Which is Really More Excessive - Tracking Calories or Chronic Overeating

Most people who know me know that I started tracking my calories daily back in August of 2016. I had put on quite a bit of weight that year and to keep a long story short, after being convinced I must have a twenty pound tumor inside of me, after 16 weeks of consistent tracking and staying in a deficit I was down almost thirty pounds. Turns out, the fault was mine!

In the three years since I have kept most of that weight off. This year I gained a few pounds back almost certainly due to sloppy tracking. A bite here, a lick here, a taste there, and I put about seven pounds back on. In the last 5 weeks I have tightened up the process and I am now down 10lbs, easily and without having to work out any more often - in fact, I may actually be logging fewer active minutes a week.

I have been told that it is "excessive" to count calories - that it is a pain in the butt, too time consuming, too difficult, in short just "too much." But the only thing that is really "too much" is how many calories Americans are consuming.

According to the CDC, 71% of adults over the age of 20 are considered overweight or obese. This of course leads to a rise in chronic diseases, health care costs, and in general just a decreased quality of life. This is excessive.

The fact remains that the basics of weight management (and notice here that I said weight management and not health or fitness improvement) rely on understanding your daily caloric needs and managing accordingly. This study indicates that 71% of Americans should be aiming for a caloric deficit.

Tracking is not hard. I can understand if we lacked technology, if tracking calories or macros was  down to a pencil and paper, toting notes around all day keeping a tally. But too many apps exist to make this easy. The technology is in our phones everyday if we choose to use it.

After seeing me fairly easily get back on the bandwagon and lose not only excess pounds I gained but seeing my approval body fat percentage steadily decline, my husband has joined the MyFitnessPal app success stories in weight loss through calorie tracking. He has been a bit of a case study to me these past two weeks as he is totally new to this and yet is already seeing results.

Let me tell you about my husband. He is the ultimate type B personality. Unlike me, he does not strive for organization, data management, written goal charting, checking things off a list. He is essentially winging it through each day on his sense of humor and charm! My husband can have 15,000 unread email in his personal email and dozens of unread phone notifications, his notification bar is always cluttered to death. This is not a man who was yearning for a new way to organize his life.

However, he downloaded the MyFitnessPal app and set his goals (including a macros breakdown) and got started. That was two weeks ago today. I have asked him repeatedly if tracking his calories is hard for him, too time consuming, too excessive for his way of life. He has responded that it is not. His primary focus is on staying in a caloric deficit (which he says it no problem at all), and his second focus is trying to increase his protein intake. Two weeks in, he has seen his weight go down every time he has stepped on the scale. He seems motivated. I see him making better choices without any prompting. I can see him almost budgeting himself, realizing that some things are just not worth the calories they will "cost" him for his day. He still eats things he loves, but he eats very mindfully.

If my type B husband can master this in two weeks this then it is not time consuming or excessive. He said he spends maybe only a few minutes of his entire day logging food - which is consistent with what I have also found over the last 3 years.

People scoff at me when they see me measuring my food and tracking it in my app, they have for years. And I admit that tracking calories is not for everyone. But for the 71% of Americans who are overweight or obese it is an easy start to taking control of their health and their lives. The apps are free, and with barcode scanners and restaurants sharing nutritional information on their menus it is super easy to comply. It is the foundation to a healthier life, a reduction in risk for chronic illnesses, and a decrease in the burden we are all paying for health care.

Note: I have found it helpful on social media to follow and subscribe to other people who do this as part of their life and who are very expert. It not only makes it seems more normal, but it also provides tons of tips for maximizing caloric intake, feeling full and being healthful!