To Count or Not To Count…

…that is certainly the question.

I’ve been an on-and-off user of My Fitness Pal for about a year now, which is an app that tracks your calorie count and workouts. I can honestly say that when you follow it to a “T” you get the results you want. But at what cost?

I find that there are pros and cons of counting calories and I’m having a tough time deciding if I want to continue using the app or simply just try to trust myself. Sounds easy, but it’s not. The best way for me to make this decision is to simply create a pros and cons list.

Pros: 

  • As I said before, if you stick to the allotted calorie count that My Fitness Pal provides, as well as complete the workouts you entered, you will see results.
  • It’s actually very eye-opening to calculate how many calories certain meals are. Meals that you thought were “healthy” you may discover are anything but. I’ve also had the opposite happen with meals I was scared to calculate and actually turned out all right.
  • It helps with moderation. For example, I often make homemade pizzas. Without calculating, I might have eaten several slices without thinking about it. Now, I’ll realize I can have two slices with a side salad and fit into my daily calories no problem.
  • It keeps you from mindless snacking. The times where I’m truly dedicated to recording all of my eats into the app, I will not eat something other than what I had already planned out in the calorie count for the day. This helps with the many times that I’m faced with treats at work!

Cons

  • Time. Breakfast and lunch are no problem, as I typically eat the same thing everyday. But it does take quite some time for me to calculate what a dinner meal would be calorie wise since there are usually many ingredients involved.
  • Measuring. Literally having to measure out every ingredient can be a bit annoying, and also adds to the time factor. You really need to invest in a food scale to be accurate (I have one from Crate and Barrel and absolutely love it).
  • It can mess with your head…depending on your personality. I have the type of mind that is going to be submerged and overwhelmed with calorie counting. It tends to take over my life when I’m really into it; I just get crazy with it. Many years ago I did Weight Watchers and my mind has not been the same ever since. But that’s a different post for a different day.
  • In comparison to much of what I’ve read, My Fitness Pal suggests quite a low calorie count for me. It’s hard to feel that I can really “trust” it but with the millions of users out there and my knowledge of the formulas they use, I guess it makes sense.
  • Part of me feels like I should just be able to trust myself. Plus, why shouldn’t I be able to have the occasional treat? Everything in moderation!

Well, simply by looking at my list, I have more cons. That should make my decision simple, but it still does not. I’m just not sure I’m ready to trust myself and feel I stick better to goals when there is something to make me accountable.

What my heart is telling me is that I need to learn to make better decisions. Me. Maria. Not an app. And if I falter, maybe My Fitness Pal is a backup plan that can help me get back on track. What I really want is to be able to listen to my hunger cues and make smart choices.

Honestly, I’m a little scared. Without relying on the app, will my mind think “PARTY!” and eat junk and go out to dinner every night? I really hope not. But I need to make decisions for me and change me. Will I be writing to you again in a week that I’m counting again? Maybe. Yet for now, goodbye Pal.

Do you use an app to keep track of your calories and workouts?

Anything to add to my pros and cons list?

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2 thoughts on “To Count or Not To Count…

  1. I completely understand this struggle. I have found that when I am following any type of plan too strictly I revert into disordered thoughts and behavioral patterns. Whatever you decide to do, your health and happiness are the most important things. Good luck!

  2. I have battled my weight for as long as I can remember, and even though I still have kind of a lot of weight to lost, I have stopped counting calories. When I count calories I become obsessive with it. The planning, adding, subtracting, measuring… it consumes me. I still measure some foods to make sure I am having a serving, and not 4, but having taken the pressure off myself, I find that I make better choices when it comes to food.

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