Thursday, August 6, 2009

Calorie Counting One Day A Week

Calorie counting is the bane of the fat person's existence, and even the thin woman's for that matter. I particularly detest it and it's not because I have an issue with restricting what I eat. The main reason I hate it is that it is such a finicky affair.

You have to weigh the food you eat, inspect labels, and do searches for calorie counts. Even when you find values that appear to apply to the food you're going to eat, there's always some part of it that doesn't quite work. For instance, if you're looking for breast meat chicken values, they often include bones and skin when your chicken has one, the other or neither. That means you can't get a proper weight measurement since the calorie count of the amount of chicken they give is for chicken with bones.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that some food may not give nutrition information for a serving, but by weight. I've seen food that offers calories per x number of grams or ounces so you have to then multiply the total weight or the weight of a "serving" to figure it all out. All in all, calorie counting is a huge pain in the ass.

Since I hate it so much, I decided that the best way to deal with it for now is to put myself on one day of counting for starters. Most days, I just eat sensibly (small portions, healthy food), but Thursday is the day I put myself through the torture of doing a count of everything and marking it down in a notebook. The reason for this is three-fold. First of all, I want to have one day of fairly restricted calories (1200) so that I grow accustomed to the idea of "enduring" one day where I'm seriously cutting back. The other reason to do it is that the awareness I gain from that one day in terms of seeing how much you can eat "on a diet" is refreshed. It decreases the chances that I'll overeat the rest of the week because I have a good idea of where the sweet spot might be. And finally, I want to just get used to deprivation. In the future, when I reach my target weight, I want to be able to occasionally have an indulgence and know that I have a habit in place to make up for it the next day. That is, counting now and restriction now is practice for the future in order to maintain a goal weight.

If you hate counting calories, I recommend trying this once a week method. It won't seem as oppressive and will likely temper your eating habits for the rest of the week. Additionally, you can build some confidence in your ability to control your eating habits while telling yourself that it's just for one day and you can do whatever you want the next day. Even if you pig out the rest of the week, that one day of change will likely change your eating through time as it'll develop both your ability to resist temptation and your awareness of calorie counts.