weight loss calorie counting
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With New Years Eve so close, I’ve started seeing a lot of discussion about weight loss and diets. I lost about 25 pounds a couple years ago and I’ve been asked what I did quite a bit. I thought it was a good time to share how I lost the weight and why I chose that method.

I counted calories! I know a lot of people avoid this method because it sounds pretty labor intensive. With modern technology, I didn’t find it to be that complicated. I started by using a TDEE calculator to get an estimate for how many calories my body uses in a day. I read that you should cut 500 calories per day from your base need in order to lose 1 pound per week.

Why I Chose Calorie Counting over other weight loss plans

I am only 5’1″ and I am fairly sedentary so my calorie needs per day are about 1,466. I would be under 1000 calories a day if I cut 500 a day. It’s often recommended that people cut no to no lower than 1200 calories a day, so that’s what I did even though it meant the weight would come off slower than 1 pound per week. It’s just harder for shorter people to lose weight as quickly.

Once I knew my calorie goal was 1200 a day I used MyFitnessPal to track my calories. It does take some time early on. However, you can create meals so that you don’t have to add each item individually in the future. For example, I frequently eat sandwiches with the same brand of bread, 5 slices of the same brand/type of ham, the same amount of mayo and lettuce, etc so I can simply save that sandwich and add it when I eat that. I do the same thing for chicken salad, toast, and other meals that I commonly repeat. Once you get your common meals loaded in, counting calories happens in just a few minutes per day.

Why count calories?

Well, I believed in the basic concept that weight loss is about burning more calories than you consume so I wanted to mak sure I was at a calorie deficit. However, I also am a picky eater. I was severely picky as a child and thankfully I have become open to more foods as an adult. I would still say I am picky, though. Many meal plans eliminate large categories of food such as carbs, sugar or gluten. I believe I am just too picky of an eater to restrict myself entirely from certain categories. I wanted a way of eating that I could maintain longterm and I didn’t think I could avoid eating carbs, sugar, etc forever so I avoided those concepts. While I realize it is not the healthiest option, I like how calorie counting means I can save calories from lunch or dinner so that I can make room for an extra snack or a dessert if I’m craving something “bad”. I like how there is a bit of wiggle room to “cheat” without actually going over calories and risking weight gain. I just don’t have the self-discipline to avoid cheating ever, so having a plan that gives me wiggle room for treats here or there was important to me.

Are you aiming to lose weight in 2018? What method(s) are you focusing on and why?


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This post currently has 16 responses.

  • Dana Rodriguez

    I totally agree.. short people have a really hard time shedding extra pounds. My fiance’ struggles with his weight. I don’t really because I just don’t eat very much and never have. I am going to share this with him because I think your method might be perfect for him! Happy New Year!

  • Lauryn R

    I have never been good at counting calories, but I love that it works for you! I have always been what some people “skinny fat” so if I do not stay active I am tired, and I just look unhealthy in my opinion. I never realized just how much drinking a lot of water helps as well, I have never been good at this either! I actually have to mark on my dry erase board every time I drink a cup so I can at least get my 8 glasses a day in. 🙂

  • shannon fowler

    I recently started tracking macros to increase my metabolism. I have actually lost 17 lbs 140 to 123, decreased my exercise, and increased my calorie consumption ( went from 1000 to 1850). Im pretty impressed, but it is pretty intense to track though, and I had to have a coach to help me know how many of each macro to add.

    • Tina Geane

      Wow Shannon that’s great , but I never understood all the macro thing and I definitely cannot afford a coach. I’m disabled after a drunk driver hit me I had 4 spinal surgeries. And I had lost quite a bit of weight a couple years back even though, but the medical problems had taken a turn and it doesn’t seem like I eat much, and during the day I have tea or water, but being back to sedentary I know is what happened my metabolism has slowed again or stopped. And being short and when your older it gathers in my middle. I’m hoping to go to the YMCA to do warm water aquatic exercise classes , they even do Zumba in the water. Theres no pressure on any joint. Plus yoga. I have to be cleared by my physician and the physical therapist there makes your program. And during g water, making healthy smoothies for 2 meals hopefully will help. I’m only 5″2′ so EVERY lb.shows. haha

  • Amber Ludwig

    Love that you found something that works so well for you!! I am not trying to lose weight in 2018 but I am trying to gain muscle and flexibility which takes a big change in my normally not so great diet choices!! I will be upping my protein intake severely. Should be an interesting change!

  • John Smith

    I try to calorie count in a vague way, but Americans, etc., are tricked by the whole concept of “calorie counts” in the first place. I suspect a sedentary 5 foot 1 inch person should get about 1200 calories a day at a *maximum*. That person could definitely get by some days with 300-500 calories and a couple diet colas. That is because Americans generally carry an absolute banquet of calories around with them in “storage.” When dieters and doctors and health-industry people say an individual *must* consume 1200 or 1400 or 2000 calories every single day, that is absolute craziness and the opposite of the truth. Only if the person is an active, say, gymnast should that person commit to so many calories as some kind of “duty.” (I’m not a doctor, just opinionated.) On a very low-calorie day, I imagine supplements would be a good idea. (Yes, supplements generally are not a good idea.)

  • Sarah L

    Right now I’m at a good weight for me. I swim 3 times a week and walk the other days. I drink lots of water, which I enjoy so I don’t have to keep track.

  • ellen beck

    I think calorie counting is the way to go. Don think it is just short folks though- the older you get the tougher it is to shed those pounds. You can be in a calorie deficit and still have difficulty. I like you know you have to burn more than you take in, so thats what I aim to do. I also try and get some outside things happening every single day no matter what the weather. Righ now my calorie burn is shoveling snow!
    You look fantastic!

  • Tina Geane

    Hi Emily, I too am short at 5″2′, but I also had 4 spinal fusions, and a bit older, every little lb. Shows in your middle. I lost weight a few years back and was great at a size 7/8. But my medical problems took a kind of turn. My plan was to make healthy smoothies in the morning & afternoon., using healthy ingredients, counting the calories , and getting enough fiber with certain fruits and veggies, along with other important nutrients when I got them right , I could just change up items for a variety of flavors. Then healthy dinners. And there are some snacks. I was given a book that has awesome recipes, that go along with Weight Watchers it’s a great recipe book with real funny comments & names of their recipes . I’ll share it with you but I can’t get up at moment with foot up and hearing pad on. Then of course WhO all day, and I’m hoping to be medically cleared to do aquatic exercise classes at the Y and yoga. The exercise classes are in warm water pools that relax your muscles and there’s no pressure on joints or bones! After 4 spinal fusions and all the metal. Screws. And the bone grafts done on my hips to use for spine is exactly what I need, if Dr approves, and the YMCA , feels I am in need they will give me a scholarship membership. So I gotta get alot of stars lined up. I believe I can do this. Fingers crossed. That’s my plan. My brother bought me a nice blender with a smoothie bottle to take with you. So I’m ready, except approval, membership and oh Yea Bathing Suit. Yuck! But I wish everyone the best , alot of us short people and taller , we can do it, because we need to!!!!

  • Peggy Nunn

    I am older and it is hard for me to maintain my weight. It is easy for me to gain weight. I have to be careful. Counting calories sounds like the right thing for many people.

  • Amy D

    Congrats on your weight loss. Counting calories is tough. I think I consume at least 3,000 calories a day. I am a fitness instructor and runner, and I am constantly hungry. I will need to check out TDEE calculator. Though I am quite fit, I would love to lose 5 lbs this year.

  • Alice F.

    Loosing twenty five pounds is no easy task! Congratulations! I have tried every diet in the book and counting calories always works for me too.

  • Heather K

    Anyone reading this please don’t listen to “John Smith”. Cutting calories so drastically as he recommends can be dangerous. If you are successful it can slow your metabolism permanently. Always consult your doctor before beginning any fitness or calorie plan.

  • gloria patterson

    I have to agree that counting calories is the way to go. I hate to say i am a pickie eater but in my own way i am. There are a lot of things that I eat all the time so it would be easy to load into that ap. Going to check on the MYFITNESSPAL

  • katie

    I’m currently at a good weight. I started working retail last year and dropped 10 pounds which is pretty cool since I’m so busy I don’t realize I’m actually working out while putting things away. I do feel like I need to monitor my eating habits though since I feel like I don’t get enough fruits and vegetables everyday.

  • MeMe R

    This blog and all the comments really made me think. I know in my early 20’s I did atkins and lost 20lbs and calories restrictions and lost 10lbs. I was not happy with the 10lb loss. Today I try to just eat healthy because I have medical issues. I don’t really have much of an appetite but I think there is a lot of good tips here and good things to think on.

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