Saturday, July 9, 2011

Healthier, Happier Me: Getting started by counting calories

So since the first of January this year, I've lost over 10 pounds. I'm not normally the type that sticks to New Year's Resolutions but this year was different. I was sick and tired of looking in the mirror and not being 100% happy with what I saw. Now I'm not saying I'm completely out of shape, nor was I completely overweight but I'm not getting any younger. I know the rounding the corner on 30 doesn't just mean that I am now "flirty and thriving" (I love the movie 13 Going on 30), but it also means I get to look forward to things like slowing metabolism and being more susceptible to health problems.

So I made the decision to start counting my calories. I knew I had to crawl before I could walk. The first thing I set my mind on was figuring out how much I was putting into my body. Was I eating too much, too little, the wrong amounts of protein, veggies, etc? It's maybe not the right choice for everyone, but it made it was the decision that worked for me and to me it was a good place to get started.

Now there are a number of ways you can go about tracking what you are putting into your body:

Food Journal: You can keep a simple notebook where you track what you eat on a daily basis. This certainly keeps things easy to track during the day but you have to come home each day and figure out the amount of calories in each item which can becoming time-consuming and monontonous.

Online Tracking: There are number of online trackers you can use. Things like MyFitnessPal, MyCalorieCounter, and MyFoodDiary. Just a simple google search of the words "online calorie counter" will bring you over a dozen more. Some are free services and some require payment. It's up to you to decide if this is a method that will work for you. I chose to go about counting my calories in a different manner because I wanted to be able to count whether I was near a computer or not.

Calorie Counting Phone Applications: This is the method I chose. This was the best choice for me for several reasons. First it was free via the application Calorie Counter for my windows phone. Second it was portable, with this application I was able to instantly enter what I ate at which times of day. Third, it has a database filled with restaraunt calorie counts and popular grocery store items. Another perk is that you can enter caloric information yourself if you can't find your item in the the existing database.

So that's my first step to a healthier, happier body. Counting calories is a good litnus test for you to figure out where you really are in terms of health. Lots of people think they are not losing weight because they are eating too much when it turns out they are not eating enough. Or they may be eating the right amount but are missing out on getting enough fiber or protein. Weight loss, like life is a balancing act.

Calorie counting isn't something you have to do every day for the rest of your life so don't stress over the time it takes when you first start out. The amount of information you gain from taking the time to chart your eating will help you out tremendously, so don't skip this essential first step. Eventually you will only count calories sporadically, as a maintenance step.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or nutritionist. I am merely sharing my personal experience. Obviously you should consider going to see a professional before you get started with any weight loss or exercise regimen.

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