I’ve been very truthful in that my diet is horrible. Have I tried to eat better? Sure but I always have problems with eating too much and eating the wrong stuff. I knew it was a problem but was too lazy to fix it. I made some half-heart attempts but never put anything permanently in place to correct the problem.

This is further mind-boggling because I knew that I needed to be counting, or tracking, my calories in order to solve my weight problems. So why don’t I do it?

Why Don’t We Count Calories?

Is it because we’re lazy? Maybe but I think the biggest problem is because we think it’s too hard. We’ve all seen the books available that show nutritional information for particular foods (calories, fat, carbohydrates, etc.). You have to look up your food, figure out how much you ate, and then write it down in whatever you were tracking it in (legal pad, moleskin, or perhaps excel). Then you had to add up everything and see how you were doing. Now you needed to figure out your balance of carbs, fats, and proteins. Good luck!

It Doesn’t Have To Be Hard

These days there are online tools (both free and paid) that let you do all this. They have big databases of pre-loaded foods with all the nutritional information already entered. All you have to do is figure out how much you consumed and the rest is done for you. Some of these online tools even track goals (weight loss per week, total weight loss, goal weight, etc.) as well as your exercise. They’ve taken all the hard work and made it easy.

I’ve used Fit Day in the past but was never really sold on it. Their database had a lot of food in it but you still had to enter a lot of stuff manually. Maybe that’s why I quit using it. Two days ago I was on Livestrong.com and found The Daily Plate. I looked at it but didn’t sign up. Then I read over on Jason Kearney’s blog, Out Here In The Middle, that he used The Daily Plate. so I headed back over there today to sign up (for free) and see what it was like.

I’ve only experimented with it a little bit but already love it. It pulled up my brand of oatmeal right away so I started putting in the rest of the things I’d eaten for the day. It tells you how many calories you’ve eaten for the day, how many calories you have left to eat based on your goal (for me it’s losing 2 pounds per week), and a nutritional breakdown. It also lets you add how many glasses of water you’ve consumed for the day. It’s got a ton of features I haven’t even explored yet.

Needless to say, I like it a lot. I’m going to give it a go, see how it works, and write a more detailed review later.

You Still Have To Measure

These online tools are great but in order to make them work we still have to measure how much we’re eating and exercising. For those of us cycling we have our trusty cyclocomputers to tell us how far and how fast we’ve ridden. What about food? We guess right? Wrong!

I’m just as guilty as the next person when it comes to measuring food intake. Some items are easy (1 packet of artificial sweetner has this many calories). What about that big bowl of noodles last night? Or that container of chicken I had for lunch? Or the taco dinner at your favorite taco joint. When left to do our own guesswork we always underestimate. Especially when it comes to food and counting caloric intake!

How can we, I, take our weight loss seriously if we can’t be honest with ourselves on how much we’re eating? The answer is that we can’t. Period.

That’s why I’m buying a food scale today.

Are You Counting Calories?

I’ve included a small poll below to see how many of my readers are counting their calories. Do you do it manually using the old book method or do you use one of the online tools?

Leave us a comment below if you have any good tips or recommendations for counting calories. Or maybe leave me a comment because you love my blog so much.

Vote Now! I guarantee there will be no hanging chads!

Feature image courtesy of Alan Cleaver.