10 Tips for Calorie Counting {Part 1}

I know this post is about a week late from when I planned on having this up on the blog. I really need to work on that. I keep asking myself why I plunked down money on a BlogHer ticket if I don’t, well…blog regularly. It’s something I need to work on. But, I am here now with my top 10 tips to follow if you want to be successful at calorie counting/doing Weight Watchers (same principles). I am sure nothing is going to be new and earth shattering, but it is my sincere hope that this post will motivate you and maybe make you look at your diet as less of a diet and more like a plan of action. Got that?

Now, in no particular order, I bring you 10 things I feel will help YOU lose weight, be happy and not feel like you’re starving. Or on a “diet”.

1.) Calories are like money. And everyday, you get about $1400 dollars (calories) to spend. Men, darn them, get about $2000 or more, but they’re guys. So whatever your calorie target or PointsPlus target is, think of it as dollar for calorie. You can spend $120 on a banana or you can spend all your $1400 at McDonalds. Then you’ll be hungry or have an NSF (Not sufficient food) and those are not good. You feel hungry, broke and angry. Then you wonder why in the world you spent $1400 all in one place when you could have bought lots of little things all day long. However, sometimes it’s ok to save money for a treat such as a glass of wine or some ice cream or some gooey cheese. And there are days you have a shopping spree and lose track of what you spent…and on those days you have to remember your bank account will be full the next day and to get back on track ASAP. There’s also a guy named Exercise who will give you more money to spend if you workout. Seriously, he is generous and the harder you work, the more he gives. Therefore, the next time you’re fretting about calories, just look at them like money and ask yourself if it’s really, REALLY worth the cost. And if you want some ice cream, remember your friend Exercise or save some money elsewhere during the day.


2.) The scale is your frenemy. You know that girlfriend that you LOVE to go out with once a week, but if you went out clubbing with her daily you’d be a hot mess? She’d make you feel tired, unmotivated, angry, sad and worthless…what a downer she can be! On the other hand, she can make you feel really great if she says just the right thing. But overall, you really, TRULY should only see her once a week for good measure. That is what the scale is like. Do not weigh yourself daily if you think you’ll be upset if the number is up. I used to think I was strong enough to handle the ups and downs, but now I know better that I cannot see a slight gain without feeling like shit. It makes me want to cry. Some people (very few), can just roll with it and carry on. You know how you’d react, so if you’re like me, weigh yourself at the same time/day once a week. Honestly, the scale is hidden away in the garage all week long so I won’t even be tempted to weigh myself. I weigh-in Saturday mornings ONLY. But, even if you weigh yourself once a week you can get frustrated by a plateau or a gain. This is where measurements become SUPER helpful. Buy a tape measure, measure yourself once a month and watch the inches melt away even if that frenemy of yours is being a bit bitchy.

3.) Have a support system. This is one of the things I loved when I first did Weight Watchers- I had a support system at my meetings. Eventually, I moved away and never did find a meeting that made me feel warm and fuzzy, so I had to get creative with my support system. Sure, you can do this on your own and at the end of the day it is all on YOU. However, sometimes knowing that someone else feels the way you do or cares about your success can be the difference between persevering and giving up. Nowadays, my support is mostly online via Twitter. At work, my co-workers and I are all trying to eat healthier, which is a huge bonus. I consider myself lucky to have sought out so many people on Twitter who have the same struggles and goals- I’ve met amazing, caring and friendly people. This week make it a goal to find someone with a similar goal (hey, it could be me) and offer words of encouragement, advice or lend an ear when they’re saying they want nachos topped with slices of pizza and a diet coke on the side. Just remember that YOU and only YOU can do it…but it’s always great to have some cheerleaders to root ya on. Or participate in challenges like the ones over at Shrinking Jeans. They constantly have new ones that will rev up your motivation sky high.

4.) Track your food and exercise. Some people can do this in their heads, and to them I say- AWESOME. But, I think everyone can spare a few moments in their day to track food & exercise. I personally use My Fitness Pal. It’s easy, free and tailored just for me because I made it that way. I can use it from my PC or my iPhone. I track food usually before I eat it to make sure I have enough calories. I also track my exercise because I need to see how many calories I burned so I don’t eat too few during the day. Yes, you read that right, too few… You’re going to find a lot of opinions on whether or not you should eat your exercise calories, and here’s how I see it. If you only eat 1400 calories, and you burn 400 and do not eat them, you technically have a net of about 1,000 calories you ate. You do not want your body going into starvation mode because you will NOT lose weight. Ideally, you’d eat about 1600-1700 calories (accounting for inaccuracies in MFP overestimating your calories burned). Do not starve yourself. It will not work in the long term. I eat about 70-80% of my exercise calories and lose weight. But again, the point is I track every bit of food that enters my mouth- even sauces, olive oil, etc. If it has calories, track it. Those 50 calories of ketchup, extra dollop of mayo, or BBQ smothered in BBQ sauce or chicken cooked in olive oil…you need to count everything that has calories. EVERYTHING. It may seem obsessive, but extra calories can lead to slower weight loss. On the other hand, don’t obsess. I don’t measure things such as broccoli or spinach because no one gets fat off of eating those. I just wing it and aim to eat about a cup’s worth of veggies and track it.

Also, make sure to eat at LEAST your target number of calories. Some people are like, “Oh I can’t eat ALL 1200 calories. It’s too much food! I am gonna eat less.” This pisses me off because let’s just be honest here. If you truly had trouble eating a mere 1200 calories a day, you wouldn’t be trying/needing to lose weight. Obviously you know how to eat an excess of calories and I am not talking about 1250 calories. You need to eat enough to lose weight. Period. Trust me. EAT!

5.) Measure/weigh your food. I am leading off where #4 left off. I weigh/measure all my food unless it’s pre-packaged in a single sized serving. I weigh my cereal, pasta, chips, meat, etc. I use measuring cups for milk, sauces and ice cream. This may seem a bit much, but to me it takes just a minute to make sure you’re eating the right amount, which will make your tracking a lot easier. I have a very basic Taylor digital scale that can measure in ounces and grams. Oh and I even use it as a shipping scale for my Etsy store. You can find the one like the one I use via this link. It is a great investment and it will even help when cooking up recipes and such. Buy one if you don’t have one, you will thank me later.

So, there’s part 1 of my top 10 tips for calorie counting. What’s your favorite so far or do you have a tip you’d love to share? Put them in the comments!

And in case you’re wondering, this past week I lost 0.8 pounds bring my total weight loss to an even 9 pounds in 2 weeks. Hell yes! I was hoping for more, but was super bloated thanks to the girly time of month, so I’ll take it.

Monica’s Weight Loss Bank Balance: $90 from weight loss, $110 from exercise= $200.00 total



  1. January 17, 2011 / 3:13 am

    This totally explains why I am so broke and bloated all of the time, I am eating all of my money. Genius idea!I still want to get a food scale, but I am afraid that I will start treating it like the real scale- straight from frenemy to enemy.I sent you an email earlier:)

  2. Kassi @ Truly Lovely
    January 17, 2011 / 6:41 pm

    Thanks for the tips Monica!!! And for the encouragement on My Fitness Pal! You're absolutely right, support makes it SO much easier!!!