Friday, September 27, 2013

Calorie Counter

I am skeptical of calorie counting.  I understand the premise, but doubt the practicality.

The premise makes sense. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume.  Numerous programs will tell you how many calories a person of your weight and gender should consume.  Simply count your calories, make sure you eat less than you are supposed to eat.  Then you will lose weight.

I skeptical because I don't know how to figure out how many calories I actually consume.  Some things are simple.  I eat some instant oatmeal for breakfast and the box says the packet is 130 calories.  I eat a can of soup for lunch and the can says it is 200 calories.  The problem is that most items are not so easy.  When I eat pizza for lunch at the local restaurant, I don't know how many calories are in it.  It's kind of hard to check a chart.  There are too many variables such as the size of the slice and ingredients.  Harder yet is dinner.  My wife makes great succulent dinners but there are numerous ingredients in them.  How many calories are there?  Plus, how much am I eating?  I don't know.  Therefore, the calorie counting does not work.

At the beginning of the year, I decided to lose 25 pounds.  I ate smaller portions, less desserts, and less snacking, combined with a return to running.  Initially, I made progress.  Within three months, I lost 15 pounds.

But then the weight lose stalled.  For months, I stayed the same weight.  The good news - I was not gaining weight.  The bad news - I was not losing any more weight.  I remained 10 pounds short of my goal.

Last week, my wife talked me into trying a calorie counting app.  For many foods, I can scan the bar code and it calculates the calories.  I can review the ingredients, scan them, and estimate how much I am eating.  It figures out the calories.  If there is no bar code, like for my pizza, it searches a database and I can choose a close match.  The app keeps track of how many calories I am allowed to eat, how many I have eaten, and how many I have left for the day.  If I run, I tell it how many calories I ran and it adjusts my allowable intake. 

In many ways, it seems easy and it may work.  But, I am still skeptical.  Does it work?

I have only been using for one week, so I don't know for sure.  But, in one week, I have lost 3 pounds.  I finally got past the 15 pound mark.  Despite my skepticism, I think I will keep using the calorie counter . . . At least for a while.

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