Counting calories to lose weight

Woman holding her mouth uid 1461141Way back in January, I mentioned in a post that I wouldn’t mind losing 5 pounds. At the time, I weighed around 128. In July, I went to the doctor, and their scale showed me weighing 134! Needless to say, I realized that day I needed to do something.

I am getting older and know my metabolism is changing. (I will be 41 later this month.) I also realize people don’t get fat overnight. The weight just slowly creeps up on them. I figure I need to do something about this now or end up overweight as a few of my friends have become as they have gotten older.

When I was married 18 years ago, I weighed 104. Now there is no way that I am going back to that weight. My body has changed in those years. After all, I did have two kids. But I would like to get back down to 120. I think that is a perfectly realistic goal and appropriate for someone who is 5’ 2″.

I know that most diets don’t work. You need to change HOW you eat. You need to make lifestyle changes. Looking at my diet, I realized that a lot of my problem was portion control and eating when I wasn’t really hungry. To me, it made sense that I should work on counting calories as a way to lose weight. If I cut out eating the ice cream and snacking when the kids did, I should easily be able to shed a few pounds.

I checked several calorie counters out there, and they said to maintain my current weight, I needed to eat 1800 calories. To lose a pound a week, they suggest cutting 500 calories a day which sounded like a lot to me. Of course, I really had no clue how many I was currently eating. So I began counting my calories. I chose to do this with the help of an app from I chose the free version of MyPlate. It has many of the foods – including restaurant meals – already listed in it, or you can manually enter your food.

Part of the trick of counting your calories is knowing how much you are eating. I, like most people, just pour cereal in my bowl and dig in. But doing this means you really have no clue if you are eating one serving or two. So I began measuring my food. It was eye-opening to say the least. How does 10 chips really make a serving? Who knew that EACH flour tortilla was 100 calories? And that there are 500 calories in a small McDonald’s milkshake?

So for the past month I have been measuring my food and counting my calories. The app has suggested 1319 as my target goal for calories per day. I have been over every day. Basically, this only gives you 400 calories per meal with 119 for snacks. While breakfast is easy to keep under 400, lunch and dinner are hard to do. But I have kept my calorie count to less than 1600 each day (200 under the amount to maintain my weight.) I figure with this count I may not be losing a pound a week but half a pound a week. That is fine with me. I am not in a hurry, and I don’t want to feel like I am starving.

As for August 30 (five weeks into my calorie counting experiment), I have lost 7 and a half pounds. I have been feeling pretty good about this plan. Once I meet my weight loss goal, I will change the app to “maintain weight” and count calories for a while until I have a good idea of how much I can eat and not gain weight. Now that the kids are back in school, I am hoping to begin exercising again. With these changes, I am confident I can meet and maintain my ideal weight.