I am not that girl that obsesses over calories. No really. Well, maybe that one time. But mostly, I am pretty loose with keeping track of my eating. (Another bowl of ice cream you say? BRING IT!) Which is likely why I’m overweight to begin with. As much as knowing which PSL is the best can be useful, and setting a goal weight can be helpful, if you aren’t watching what goes into your mouth, you’re bound to keep packing on the pounds. I know most people realize this, but the key here is accepting what that really means. I’m not saying to never eat chocolate again, or stop eating pizza for a year, I’m saying that you need to accept that a) you are not eating well (because clearly if you were you would not be in this predicament in the first place) and b) if you are serious about losing weight, you will need to change (in part) what you eat.
So, take a deep breath and say this out loud with me:
I accept that I do not currently eat well and I accept that I need to eat better in order to lose weight and I accept that I will have to make changes to my diet to do so.
(Told you to take a deep breath.) There. That’s better.
Enter the wonderful world of calories. Just like weight can be a useful way to track your progress, calories can be a great way to track what you are actually eating compared to how much you should be eating.
I’m going to get all sciencey with you here, so bear with me. Remember that whole Law of Conservation of Mass thing? Basically, mass can neither be created nor destroyed, just displaced. Which means, anything that you put into your body does not just magically disappear, it just gets reshuffled. Skipping the more complicated stuff, food is turned into calories (among other things but we are ignoring all that because it makes our heads hurt) and your body uses calories to do stuff (like make your head hurt). If you shove in more calories than your body uses, they get stored off to the side as fat (like that drawer full of random pens you have kicking around that just keeps growing and growing and really, who would ever need that many pens?) In order to lose weight, you need to make sure that the calories coming in are fewer than the calories being used (aka stop buying new pens and start using the ones you already have stashed away in your pen drawer).
If you want to delve deeper, check out the How Stuff Works’ article “When we lose weight, where does the lost weight go?”. I mean, yes this is also the website that has an article named “How zombies work” so I’m not entirely convinced of the article’s scientific accuracy, but the basic concept is there. And I mean, come on, it’s a pretty cool question to ask.
So how, exactly, do you track calories? I have no idea. But there’s an app for that! Actually, there are several apps for that.
As your beloved guinea pig, each month (or so) I will give a different calorie counting app a whirl and let you know what I liked, or didn’t like, or if I even actually stuck to using it, and I will post my reviews under the Calorie Chaos series for all of our benefits. You’re welcome.
This month’s contender will be MyFitnessPal. Boasting a ridiculous amount of add-ons and features like FB integration (um, no thank you?) and a private diary and a blog (yay blogs!), MyFitnessPal is totally free, takes about 5 minutes to set up, and will tell you, based on your height and age and weight and weight loss goal and magic, how many calories a day you should be taking in. You’re completely welcome to try it out with me this month so we can rant or rave about it together. High five! (Oh, wait, do the cool kids not do that anymore?) Fist pump! Yeah!