When I tell people that all I did to lose a fourth of my body weight was count calories, they don't believe me. But in the end, that's really what it comes down to. And it makes sense, doesn't it? Eat less, exercise more, et voila!
The critical piece though, is making smart choices. Sure, if you're trying to stay under 1400 calories a day, you could eat a 450 calorie scone from Starbucks for breakfast and still be under your calorie goal. No problem. But is that going to keep you going until lunch, or is your stomach going to be growling? Mine would. That doesn't mean I don't eat scones every once in a while. I'll just eat a yogurt first or pair it with some other form of protein. My point here is that a lot of people stop counting calories because they're not thinking about how best to use the calories they're giving themselves. Going for high protein, high fiber foods that will fill you up and keep you satisfied longer is really the only way it will work.
The other tool I have found amazingly useful is the program Myfitnesspal. You can download the app on your phone or tablet, or just use the online version (myfitnesspal.com). I'm not being paid by any companies to write this blog, by the way, so any shout outs are genuine. This program is awesome, because it is EASY to use. It counts everything for you, and has a huge database of foods and exercises. If you're like me, and simple addition makes your head hurt, this is an instant bonus. Check it out!
Counting calories works for me, because it holds me accountable. If I put in that I ate 250 calories for a half cup of ice cream, and actually see that choice reflected in my calorie count for the day, I'm way less likely to say hell with it, and fill up the bowl. I make better choices, and think about what is really worth it for me. Fries from McDonalds? Not so much. The occasional piece of chocolate cake? Oh hell yeah. But I'm in control, I'm aware, and I understand the choices I'm making.
This works for me. If you've never tried it, look into myfitnesspal or a similar program. If you've tried it and hate it? Don't do it! This is about making you a happier person, and if counting calories kills your soul, stay far, far away! Look for something else that works.
This blog is not focused on counting calories, but since it's the most common question I get, there you go; that's my secret. Pretty simple!