Devil In The Details

*The title of this post was taken from the Placebo song of the same name*

At least a couple of times a year, I go back to counting my calorie intake.

For as many conversations as I have with clients about being mindful of portion sizes, I always find it fascinating (and frustrating) how easily my own portion sizes can get out of hand.

And I am always open to experimenting with different ways of eating that might work better for me.

Over the last several months, I gravitated towards a lot of grazing. Being always within a few steps of a refrigerator, I have easy access to fruit, yogurt, protein shakes, peanut butter, bread, cereal, etc.

Because I was grazing, it was easy to eat 200 calories here, 300 there. And like anything else, it adds up.

Since I’ve started tracking again, I’m trying to settle on 3 meals a day, each approximately the same size.

One of the reasons I like it is because when I get hungry, I reach for water instead of food. As a result, I’ve increased my water intake by about 20% which has been more of an asset than a hindrance. Not having the reaction of letting perceived hunger guide me back to the fridge, keeping water intake higher has been getting me through from meal to meal.

I’ve also found that when I go to restaurants where I can track calories per meal, I end up making better decisions. Rather than going for whatever I want, I invariably pick a better (lower calorie) option.

While it wasn’t necessarily a goal, I’ve had some fat loss with the tracking too. Being mindful of where calories are (and aren’t) plus the increase in water intake has made me feel less bloated and helped me sleep better.

Recently, one of my clients found a tactic that has worked well for her. When asked what she’s been doing differently to help her with weight loss, she said “I take whatever I would have normally had before and I cut the portion in half. Even with something like pizza, if I used to have three slices now it’s just one.” (Thanks, Amy) 🙂

And calorie counting is not a perfect measurement. Some people vastly underestimate what they take in. I recently heard a tip where it was offered that if you think you’re counting calories right but you’re not losing weight, try eating pre-portioned meals for a while (think Lean Cuisine, Smart Choice, etc.) and buy enough to meet your daily calorie goal. (Thanks to Eric Helms and Alan Aragon for that one.) Try it for a week and see if you drop weight. While it may not be the long-term plan that works for you, it can spark the weight loss you’re looking for and remove the guesswork for a while.

My buddy, Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, made this handy infographic if you’re looking for other ways to accomplish the same goal. You can see it here

There are a lot of ways to tackle weight loss. I will always lean to the belief that if you’re guessing that you’re right but you aren’t seeing results, then guessing may not be working for you. Some of these tips might get you closer to where you want to be.