Wholly Healthy: Counting Calories

One of the most effective ways to improve health is to lose excess weight. Yet, weight loss can be a frustrating battle that involves our individual metabolisms, our dislike of exercise, and our love of food.

I’ve been trying to lose weight, with help from my lovely bride. What I have been doing essentially comes down to counting calories (using a phone application) and trying to stay under a particular number based on my weight-loss goals.

I have tried this before and, I admit, I hated counting calories because it is restrictive. But now at 55, I am committed to get rid of my excess fat and be fit. And, for better or worse, it involves counting calories.

It’s wise to talk to an expert and to consult with your physician based on your own health issues, medications and needs. But I can say that if anyone really wants to lose weight, it will be instructive to count calories, if only to show how many we consume without even realizing it.

When I was a younger, I ate a lot of junk food. I didn’t have to worry. But now I do. Based on what I have learned by reading packages and looking online, I have been scandalized and shocked by the amount of calories I can consume.

For instance, cookies and chips are so good! But they also have hundreds of calories in only small amounts. French fries? Baked potatoes? Waffles? Cereal? (Notice the trend that all of these are carbohydrates.) “To go from preaching to meddling,” there’s that great love of my life: sweet tea — the delicious, Southern, amber-colored elixir that daily added to my girth from childhood until very recently. The same, of course, goes for non-diet, sugary drinks that we love.

One large tea or soda can have hundreds and hundreds of calories — a shocking reality when one realizes that 30 minutes on that treadmill might burn only about 100 calories.

I’m not saying you have to count calories. But once you do, you’ll start paying attention to dietary information in stores and restaurants. Then, armed with knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to look the waiter dead in the eye and say, “Can I have broccoli instead of fries … and a water?”

It sounds horrible. However, losing weight and feeling better is so very delightful that it’s ultimately worth both the counting and the sacrifice. As the saying goes, “No food tastes as good as being fit feels.”