Why You Don't Need to Count Calories or Weigh Yourself (Secrets from a Fitness Writer)

I may be unconventional when it comes to dieting and exercise, but I know that what do works for me, and really that's all that matters. Oh, and I know that I am staying thin and fit in a healthy way- which also matters! Having been a healthy living, fitness, and diet writer for tons of magazines for over 10 years, I have learned lots of trade-tricks, tried too many diets, and finally figured out how to maintain a healthy lifestyle without any weird (or too weird) habits. I am a foodie, love chocolate and cocktails, but believe in moderation and living a fit life (as opposed to viewing working out as a chore).

Here's what works for me. Might work for you too.
eating dessert
I DON'T Count Calories
Counting calories is great for people who aren't yet familiar with the approximate caloric value of certain foods. It's a good way to start to familiarize yourself with what is considered to be "healthy" and "bad." Like using the scale to measure your weight instead of gauging your size by your clothes, some people like this mode of measurement. It keeps them on track. But it isn't necessary. For me, the counting is stressful as I keep a running tally in my mind that I fixate on, running the numbers over and over again in my analysis of "did I eat too much today?"

Instead, I will have 1-bite of dessert (instead of the entire cake), choose to focus on veggies, lean meats and dairy, plus I drink lots of green tea. I also use a measuring cup to help me make sure I serve myself up the serving size listed on the nutrition facts (instead of attempting to eyeball a ½ cup of oatmeal). Once you put in the energy to learn about wholesome foods, once you know that oftentimes it's the healthy foods that happen to also be the lower calorie foods- like vegetables with an average of 40 calories per cup, you won't need to count those calories anymore. Beyond quantity and calorie of foods, learning which foods have major weight-loss benefits (ex: spicy food burns fat, vinegar slows digestion), you can usually put the calculator away.

skinny jeans in the kitchen
I DON'T Weigh Myself- Ever. I Use "Tester Jeans" Instead
If you're scared of the scale, don't use it. It is a great thing to track weight if you need that number count, but if your goal is to look and feel better, I'd go for tester jeans. I actually stopped weighing myself in college because I was weighing myself way too often and became a bit obsessed with the scale. I found that I was thinking about food and exercise all of the time (I was also a dance major in college so body image was an issue).



I have a lot of muscle and I weigh more than I look like I weigh, so I would rather not stress over the number and instead gauge my "weight" by how my tester jeans fit. Tester Jeans are one pair of jeans that I never wash and I never actually wear- that way they stay the same size. For me, "tester jeans" are sanity savers. Fact is your weight fluctuates by a pound or 2 during the day due to water and food consumption, and digestion. I prefer to "weigh in" with my tester jeans every Friday, before the weekend, so I can see how I'm doing and see if I need to watch it a bit over the weekend or if it's ok to let myself go a bit. I'm no longer strict with my size. I know that if my tester jeans are a bit tight, I just need to be a bit more careful and I can shrink down a little. I truly believe that this is why I have pretty much stayed the same size for a long time, because I won't buy myself larger clothes, I just have to keep fitting into them! Works for me, but we are all different and something else might work better for you.

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