Being somewhat athletic most of my life, it seemed I could eat anything I wanted but that seemed to change in my thirties. I wasn’t as active and I still wanted to eat anything I wanted. Weight loss was always easy, I set a goal and accomplished the goal.

As I hit my forties, it just seemed harder and harder to lose the weight. Exercise helped but ultimately it was the counting of calories that has been most beneficial. I have been tracking my calories for about 5 years in an on again and off again project but what did these numbers mean? I went to see a nutritionalist  who gave me some ideas about portion control, serving sizes, options..etc. Since I was aiming to lose weight, she told me, based on my activity level, to stick to 2000 calories a day and to keep a close eye on the scale. I should maintain a one or two pound weight loss a week. If the weight it coming off faster, I should add more calories to my diet. If the weight was not coming off, to slowly decrease my calorie intake until I meet the goal of one or two pounds a week.

As luck would have it, that number was spot on and after a few months I was back down to my high school weight of 180 pounds. The funny thing about goals is that once they are met, you tend to reward yourself, the goal has ended and… no need to count calories, I can maintain this… cough, cough.. One thing that got in my way was having an injury that prevented me from running. While I was recouping from my injury, I was still maintaining the same caloric level, so that calories I didn’t burn went right to my belly. LoL – I ended up gaining 10-15 pounds over the course of 6 months.

One obstacle in losing weight is my food habits. I hypothesize that being from a large family (large in number not necessarily weight), there was always a rush to finish your dinner so we could have second helpings. Still to this day I wolf down my food. Another obstacle is my love for Pizza (Spaghetti and steak too!). Left alone with a pie, I could likely polish it off during the course of an evening. Depending on the pizza, it could be 100-250 calories a slice! My biggest obstacle is that I enjoy cooking, I enjoy making new recipes and I volunteer to taste test all the food I make. In order to be smarter, I need to tackle these obstacles differently. For instance, I have been working on eating slower, chewing my food more to get the digestion process started earlier. I credit the slow eating and chewing my food more to my latest weight loss. With pizza, spaghetti and steak, no matter how much I love it, I need to be smart with portion control. With my love of cooking, I have learned to try to cook more calorie conscious meals – or atleast learn what type of portion I can have while counting my calories.

Counting calories is actually pretty easy. I use a website called “Fat Secret”.  Many of the foods you eat, even brand names can be selected from their database. If it is not listed, members can enter the information on their own. When you enter your calorie information and weight information for a few weeks or months, it gives you a good guide on your calorie intake. If you are not losing weight, consider lowering your calorie intake for a few weeks and see if you are losing weight. If not, keep bringing the calorie intake lower. Fat Secret also has a location where you can enter your activities during the day such as Walking, Driving, Deskwork, Exercise..etc. Challenge yourself to get in a few extra minutes of exercise each day.

A few things to consider

When you count calories, you need to count the little things that you may not realize add up quickly. Some mornings I cook an egg for breakfast. I may add Olive Oil. One tablespoon of Olive Oil has about 120 calories! Salads are healthy but if your not careful, that glob of salad dressing may contain hundreds of calories. One dressing I currently use has 100 calories per two tablespoons. Sometimes I will just measure out one tablespoon to cut the calories. How about potato chips? The tortilla chips I eat have about 140 calories for 13 chips! Don’t Wine! I’m being serious! Take your drinks into consideration as well. Wine for instance can have 100-150 calories per glass depending on the type of wine and serving size. (Beer, Soda, Sports Drink…etc) Again, these may fall into the “Obstacle” category since I can’t tell you how many times I just nosh on a bag of chips during the course of a movie! or.. umm.. had one too many, lol. Once you take these somewhat insignificant items into consideration, it can add up quickly. You may have thought you took in only 2000 calories but without adding in some of those hidden calories, you may have actually taken in 2500 calories! (or more).

I firmly believe that if you are looking to lose weight, you should also not be afraid to try new foods. I don’t neccesarily like steal cut oats but toss in a few blueberries and it’s not too bad. I’ve been mixing up carrots, broccoli and cauliflower- again, not my first choice but with some low fat lime and cilantro salad dressing, it makes it pretty decent. You can still have your chips but watch how many! 12 chips with two tablespoons of salsa is pretty satisfying. (Although, I know.. even I want more!)

I have gotten off the Buddhism topic lately but you have to admit, Food can, to some people, be suffering. If you are over-weight, you can realize that suffering and put an end to your suffering by being positive about your diet 🙂 Realize that diet is a lifetime. You can figure out what your body needs and make it a lifestyle change…. or you can continue to eat way too many calories and continue to… Suffer!

What’s it going to be?