Is tracking calories obsessive?

Sopia Loren:  Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.My husband asked me the other day if I am “still obsessing over what I eat.”  I told him that if he meant am I still keeping the food diary, then yes I am still obsessing.

Even though I think it makes me look crazy, I bought a food scale so I could be more accurate in my record keeping.  I am not good with numbers, and my guesses at quantity are all over the place.  Sometimes I grossly underestimate; other times I think I’ve eaten way more than I have.

I think of myself as tracking calories, not counting them.  What’s the difference?  Mindset.  If I were counting calories, I’d be limiting my food intake.  To me, tracking them only means that I record what I eat.

Tracking calories is still working for me.  So is avoiding an excess of refined sugar.

As I told my husband, sugar is too delicious for it to be safe to say I’ll never go back to my high-sugar habits, but the reduced joint pain continues to motivate me.

Being pain free is much more appealing to me than either weight loss or being able to eat candy at will.

After three months of sweets as very rare treats, I can honestly say that sugar is not the temptation it was three months ago.  At Costco last week, I bit into a sample of a caramel something ice cream bar and found it sickeningly sweet.  I didn’t even want a second bite, and threw it away.

A few months ago, I’d have been debating the ethics of a second sample.

That’s not to say I have not enjoyed a cookie or three when my daughter bakes them, or that I have stopping making desserts myself.  (Although, right now, being summer, there is nothing better than bowls of berries with freshly whipped cream.  No sugar needed.)

My homemade granola and muffins aren’t sugar free, either, and I eat them almost daily.  There is a world of difference between a Pumpkin Walnut Oat Bran Muffin and a Baby Ruth, though.

Beyond the sugar, there are still days I am not inclined to eat enough, and the diary reminds me to eat a handful of cashews or drink a glass of milk before I go to bed.

I’m still losing weight, slowly but steadily.  I lost three pounds last month, bringing my total to eighteen pounds lost.

Because I am tall, weight loss has to be more dramatic than that to be noticeable on me.  I haven’t even changed clothing sizes, although I can feel the difference in the way things fit.  My husband and my sister are the only ones who have noticed the change.

I’m fine with that.  It might make me self conscious if I felt like my efforts were on display.

Which begs the question – why am I blogging about it?

It’s been a month since I mentioned my progress, and I plan to continue to keep it at that.  I debated dropping it, but decided that would just make regular readers wonder if I’d given up.  Like my husband, you might be curious if I’m still obsessing over it.

I am.

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17 thoughts on “Is tracking calories obsessive?

  1. I was just talking about using My Fitness Pal to help record/count the food I am eating. A friend of mine uses it. She discovered she was not eating enough each day and that this was keeping the weight on. It’s very interesting how our bodies work. Now that she has added more fats into her diet she is losing weight. I think losing the weight slowly with real diet changes probably has long lasting effects vs. the yo-yo fad dieting. Thanks for keeping us updated.

    • That has been true for me. I was eating too much sugar, but not enough calories overall. Fitness Pal is time consuming at first, but it doesn’t take more than a few minutes a day for me now.

  2. Good for you for staying on top of it. My daughter and I have once again resolved to lose weight (me before Blogher, her before an upcoming bridesmaid stint). We use the Lose It! app, which is pretty cool for keeping track of what we’re eating and weighing then sending each other the daily reports each night. Sugar isn’t my problem, though, it’s the carbs of pasta, rice, potatoes, bread and CHIPS. I take salty over sweet any day. (Maybe I should just sprinkle salt on my tongue when I have a craving, which would help me avoid the associated carbs.)

  3. I have been using Fitness Pal since January and have lost nearly 20 pounds. I love it!! I’m much more mindful of what and how much I eat. I still typically eat chocolate daily. Very few people have noticed…good or bad? My husband is also tracking calories and he used that word “obsessive” with me, too?!! I have debated whether to write about it but haven’t at this point. Keep up the “obsessing” if it works for you!

    • That is great, Phoebe! You keep up the obsessing, too. I also eat chocolate almost every day – one square of Lindt 85% dark. It’s my afternoon snack.

  4. Given current societal messages that push 24/7 eating, I think many of us need tools or structures to keep food in perspective.

    I’m tall, too. It took 40 pounds before people really noticed. And, that, as you noted, brings its own set of problems.

    • I suspect that is what it would take for me, too, but I’m hoping that the loss is so gradual that nobody will notice anyway. And congratulations on losing the excess weight!

  5. I need to get back to tracking. And avoiding sugars and grains. I’m so much healthier when I just say no! Makes me wonder why God didn’t arrange for my aversion to all things bean to apply to all things processed instead! Seeing more all the time about the way that Genetically Modified Crops are affecting our health too. Scary! Are you on My Fitness Pal? I love it for tracking and for support and accountability!

  6. Pingback: Weight loss after 50: The most effective tool, bar none | After the kids leave

  7. I’ve found cutting down my sugar intake meant I no longer crave as many sweet things – and if I do it tends to be healthier versions (Raspberries or frozen yoghurt over snicker bars…) although not always of course. I’m not using MFP at the moment, was finding it just too much on top of everything else but did find it helpful.

    Glad it is working for you 🙂

    • As a lifelong sugar craver, I’ve been surprised how little I’ve missed it. I think part of that is that I am not abstaining completely. I think the other part is distinguishing between home baked and manufactured sweets. More than the sugar, I think I’m losing my taste for the industrially produced candies I used to eat regularly.

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