Calorie Counting NOT Working For Me

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Joined: Apr 10
Posts: 16

Posted: 25 Oct 2010, 13:33
I lost 44 pounds with Weight Watchers 5 years ago. I managed to keep MOST of it off, but about 12-15 pounds has slowly crept back over the years. But calorie counting has gotten me NOWHERE over the past 3 weeks, and I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I'm eating between 800 and 1200 calories per day (if I do the recommended 1200 I actually GAIN weight, so have to mix it up a bit). I'm exercising like a fiend. I haven't lost a POUND! In fact, I gained 3 ounces this week! What gives? I eat healthy, low fat,low cal, high fiber. I'm a vegetarian so don't eat ANY meat (including chicken or fish). I don't eat fried foods, try to stay away from sweets. I load up on veggies every day. Ugh. I'm at my wit's end!

I love Fat Secret and its Calorie Counting app for the Droid. When I first joined Fat Secret they also calculated Weight Watcher's points which was invaluable to me. I could see calories, fat, fiber, WW Points, protein...everything. Then they took the WW Points away (I'm sure, because WW threatened a lawsuit), and now I'm at a crossroads.

I don't want to leave Fat Secret, but I need an easier way to count my WW Points and record them in a diary form. I don't want to have to go back to marking every single box and bottle with WW Points - I just want to LOSE WEIGHT.

Anyone have any advice as to actually making calorie counting work? I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong!

Thanks, ahead of time.

Joined: Aug 07
Posts: 107

Posted: 25 Oct 2010, 14:02
Divide calories by 50. It will give you a rough WW Points total without penalizing you for eating fat or rewarding you for eating fibre.

That being said you should seriously analyse your calorie intake. It seems crazy low to me, but I am neither a physician not a dietician.

Joined: Jun 10
Posts: 648

Posted: 25 Oct 2010, 14:14
You have a very skewed idea of what 'healthy' means. Just about everything you listed is the opposite of the approach you should be taking. I'm just going to pick it apart one by one, and hopefully you'll get the big picture:


I'm eating between 800 and 1200 calories per day (if I do the recommended 1200 I actually GAIN weight, so have to mix it up a bit).

I have no idea what your weight is because you decided to make all your stats private, but I'm going to assume that you're not below 110 pounds with a very petite frame based on your statement about the 15 pounds that have 'crept back'. Correct me if I'm wrong though.

If this is the case and you are actually heavier than that, then you're eating way too little. Eating less does not equate to losing more. Chances are, you're starving your body. It's holding on to every piece of food you give it, and slowly stripping away muscle in order to have enough energy to get you through the day. Why are you eating so little? At my current weight of 134, I eat anywhere from 2 to 3 times the amount you do, and I experience constant success. Stop weighing yourself every day. If you start eating more, you'll gain more weight, but it's strictly food weight. Obviously, if I eat a 4oz burger, I will have an extra 1/4 pound in me, and my scale will reflect that. That does not, however, mean that I have gained an extra 1/4 pound of body fat. That would just be silly.

Your body's metabolism will need to get revved up again, but after a few weeks, it'll get back to normal and you'll be on track to losing weight correctly and effectively. So, just up your calories (I can't give you a good recommendation as to how many, since all of your information is hidden), but once you do, give it time and stop weighing yourself until you a week or two has passed so that you can quit obsessing over scale values that don't mean anything. The scale is an incomplete measuring device. You need to monitor your body measurements for the complete picture. The weight barely matters at all. Just compare Georges St. Pierre's body (170lb UFC welterweight champion) to an average guy at 170 pounds. Their bodies will look nothing alike, but their scale results will match. Why? The ratio of fat to muscle makes 100% of the difference.

I'm exercising like a fiend. I haven't lost a POUND! In fact, I gained 3 ounces this week! What gives?

It would be really helpful if you explained what 'exercising like a fiend' means. A lot of people have the misconception buried in their heads that exercising for long periods of time ensures that you'll lose more weight. Unfortunately, it's easy to do too much, and people just don't realize that there is a limit. There's a chance you could be over-training yourself, and you wouldn't be the first. Generally people that get serious about weight loss just want to do everything in their power to shed fat, so they spend hours every week on the treadmill/elliptical, but they never see results.

Post your weekly exercise, and I'd be glad to make the proper recommendations. To give you a very brief and generalized suggestion though: Add weight lifting, shoot for progressive overload, train to failure, and give yourself proper rest time (either work out separate muscles every day, 5-6 times a week, or do a full body workout 2-4 times a week). When doing cardio, if you choose to do it, start out very slow, and up the intensity (duration, pace, or weekly frequency) gradually. Don't go all-out at first, that's a massive mistake. Also, consider doing HIIT instead of long distance running. There is a lot of research out there to suggest that it's much more effective for fat loss than traditional, muscle-stripping cardio.

I eat healthy, low fat,low cal, high fiber. I'm a vegetarian so don't eat ANY meat (including chicken or fish). I don't eat fried foods, try to stay away from sweets. I load up on veggies every day. Ugh. I'm at my wit's end!

Since when does low fat and low calorie mean "healthy"? That's pretty much going against everyone that has ever lost weight on atkins, or every athlete that has ever eaten a proper diet.

Fats are essential. Foods like eggs, cheese, nuts, avocados, cream, etc are healthy as can be, yet they are loaded with fat. It's important to note that dietary fat is not the same as body fat.

Also, being vegetarian can be great and rewarding, but that doesn't mean that meat is unhealthy. I guarantee you that I'm 'healthier' than most people, all the while eating chicken, tilapia, steak, etc every day, because there's more to nutrition than all these traditionalist extremes you've laid out. I don't want to tell you to stop being vegetarian, that's something deeply rooted in principle. However, if your motivation for vegetarianism has to do with 'health', then you'll be happy to know that you can go out and enjoy some steak right away.

It's impossible for me to list out everything you need to know in a forum post. It's evident that you're taking your nutrition advice from TV commercials and media soundbites. I strongly recommend you pick up a nutrition book and do some research. It's very rewarding, and it will open up a lot of foods for you that it seems you've been restricting from your daily diet. This will be key in your weight loss success.

Lastly, I don't mean to discourage you from using weight watchers, I'm sure it's helped a lot of people. Still, weight watchers is really nothing more than a form of calorie counting. By following their point system, it tries to ensure that you never under or over eat, but honestly, it's not hard to figure out without using 'points'.

So, if you want to continue using online food trackers such as this one, you may have to go the extra mile in order to do the point conversions. If you find that to be too much of a hassle and you still want to use fatsecret, you might as well ditch weight watchers. Portion control, a little nutrition research, and proper exercise will easily be just as, if not way more, effective.
If you think my post is too abrasive, harsh, or offensive, you're:
A) Wrong.
B) Too sensitive.
C) Not going to receive an apology for pointing it out.

Joined: May 10
Posts: 548

Posted: 25 Oct 2010, 14:47
800 calories? That's not healthy. You should be eating 1200 minimum. Yes, you might have gained weight but that's to be expected if you're starving your body. It's going to hang onto every calorie it can get. If you're working out you need even more calories. I stalled at 1200 when I started working out and had to change it up to 1400 for the days I lifted and did cardio in order to break my stall.

I recomend you read this article about being obese at 700 calories a day.

Joined: Jan 09
Posts: 4,546

Posted: 25 Oct 2010, 14:52
The article sherilyn posted is the best advice you are going to get. It's hard to wrap your head around it, but it's true. Eating too little will keep you from losing weight.

If you do gain a few pounds as you increase your calories, it's all good because you're resetting your metabolism. If you continue to do what you are doing, your body will start cannibalizing its own muscle, if it hasn't already.

I'm a vegetarian too and I need to keep a special eye on increasing my protein intake. If you eat eggs and dairy, those are a great way to increase protein. If not, then tofu, soy, beans, lentils, nuts, etc.

And finally, if you haven't already, make sure you see a doctor and tell him/her about your issues so you can be tested for any metabolic problems and know exactly what's happening with your body.

Good luck!
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Joined: Apr 10
Posts: 16

Posted: 25 Oct 2010, 15:01
An00bis. Wow! Thank you for the very detailed response. Much appreciated.

I'll try to bullet-point some answers for you. Fat Secret recommends that I eat 1200 calories a day for weight loss. As do most other calculators I've plugged my stats into. I'm 5'1", weigh 129 pounds and listed myself at a moderate activity level. It's only been recently that I've upped my exercise. I am taking yoga 2 days per week, ballet 1 day per week, and do various other forms of cardio / weights to fill in the blanks. I power walk about an hour 4 days a week. Do arm weights and "floor" exercises each night when I watch TV. That includes situps, etc. I worked with a trainer for a year and have incorporated a lot of exercises that he has given me into my repertoire. I do the "Bar Method" (don't know if you're familiar with that), but it's a combination of isometrics / pilates / bar work that helps to target specific muscle groups. I do that 2 days per week for about 30-45 minutes each session.

Regarding foods, I actually DO eat healthy. Because I'm a vegetarian, I make sure to eat eggs and legumes, nuts, cottage cheese, yogurt,tofu and other meat substitutes (Quorn products are excellent!) for my protein. I've chosen a vegetarian lifestyle not for health purposes, but for my own moral purposes. I am an animal advocate and (for me) couldn't justify eating them if I'm constantly working to help and save them. So that's why I have chosen to eat what I eat. For years I ate only chicken and fish, but (again, for my own purposes, I don't like to preach my beliefs to others), I couldn't justify eating them anymore. So last year I went totally meatless.

Regarding fats, I don't count "healthy fats" as eating high or low fat. I eat avocados regularly (we are fortunate to have an avocado tree in our yard), 1/4 cup of walnuts every day with a cup of yogurt, I use olive oil in my veggies when sauteing. So when I say that I'm eating "low fat" it simply means I don't buy ice cream with 24 grams of fat per serving or eat frozen pizzas with 32 grams of fat per serving. I just don't go there. I will sprinkle my own pizza dough with a light amount of cheese for taste, and load it with good foods like eggplant, fresh peppers, onions, zucchini and tomatoes. I truly do eat very healthy.

So what I'm saying is, I was very successful at losing weight with Weight Watchers. I did the same amount of exercise and ate my alloted amount of points (which by the way, 18 WW points only equals 800 calories per day - roughly). I used to be at 20 points which is about 1200 calories. But now that I've gone into a new age bracket (48 years old), they have cut my Points by 2 per day. I tried eating 1200 calories a day and gained 3 pounds the first week, 2 pounds the following week. When I cut back to 800 calories, I finally lost a pound. If you are saying that I should eat triple that, I can't even IMAGINE what I'd weigh. But maybe I'll give it a try next week.

Bottom line is, I'm just trying to find a healthy balance. I went on a bit of a binge the past year or so and have gotten back to better eating habits. I can't fit into any of my clothes anymore. I was down to 109 with Weight Watchers (which might have been a bit too thin), and was comfortable at 115. That's where I'd like to be now. If I can get back down there I'd be a lot happier in my own skin.

Hope that clarifies things.

Thanks again for taking so much time to guide me! Really, I appreciate it.


Joined: Apr 10
Posts: 16

Posted: 25 Oct 2010, 15:05
Thanks to the rest of you for your responses, too! K8yk, I have my annual exam next week and am going to get some blood work done. I'm also going to tell my doc what I'm trying to achieve and see if she has any advice for me. I'm going to read the article you sent, Sherilyn. Thanks! It's just perplexing, that's all. I weigh myself once a week (every Monday morning), and was just so bummed that I gained weight this past week instead of losing. When you are diligent and mindful and think you're on the right path, it's just frustrating to not see any results. That's all.

Thanks again, all! Smile Happy Monday!

Joined: Jun 10
Posts: 19

Posted: 25 Oct 2010, 15:24
Hi LovesDaisies. The ladies are giving you exactly the info you need in order to lose weight. They've given great help and direction to me and won't steer you wrong. Good luck!! Smile

Joined: Jan 09
Posts: 4,546

Posted: 25 Oct 2010, 16:49
Also remember that as we age, the healthy weight/body fat percentage goes up. So even if you were 115 several years ago, that doesn't mean your body wants to be that weight now that you're older. Or maybe it does- who knows! Weight doesn't tell the whole story. It could be that you've gained a few pounds of muscle with all that exercise as well!

And just because the scale isn't going in the direction you'd like, that doesn't mean there are "no results." You might try taking your measurements or noting how you feel and your improved cardio vascular health. The number on the scale isn't the best way to judge progress in the short term.

Here's an article worth a look
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Joined: Apr 10
Posts: 16

Posted: 25 Oct 2010, 22:55
K8YK, thanks, again. I will check out the articles, and your blog. And you're right, the ONE THING I have noticed is that my flexibility has improved a lot just in the short time I've been doing yoga and ballet. It's an amazing difference. So that's a good thing. I really just want to wear my 5 pairs of J. Crew cords I bought three years ago that I love so much. LOL. Is that so wrong? They have been sitting under plastic and all I want to do is wear them again!

I'll try to do better this week and see what happens. Thanks everyone!

Joined: Jan 12
Posts: 1

Posted: 12 May 2013, 04:31

That was a fantastic article sherilyn70. I'm 100% sure that I've been doing exactly this.

Joined: Aug 12
Posts: 1,286

Posted: 12 May 2013, 08:44
The article is interesting, but I disagree with some of it.

First, the author is describing a "common" woman dieter who counts calories religiously and has done so for years, eats little but protein, and consumes 700 calories while stubbornly stuck at her current weight or even gaining weight little by little.

I would disagree that this is a common scenario. In most cases women who find themselves in this position are eating a high carb diet and moderate or low protein diet, simply because that's what most Americans do. Nutrition authorities tell us to eat 60% of our calories as carbs every day. The woman in the example is eating no vegetables, but most calorie counters who are trying to be healthy do. I've never seen anyone who fits her intake profile on this site or others, though I often read the complaint that "I eat X number of calories and track every bite, but am not losing weight." Even those who eat very low carb diets eat vegetables, because you can eat an awful lot of vegetables and stay low carb.

If she is truly religious about being "healthy", she may be eating a very low fat diet, or one where all the added fats come from vegetable oils, which is actually something that correlates with overweight. And she is probably eating a lot of wheat products, which also correlate with overweight.

People who eat a lot of wheat products tend to weigh more. Is it the gluten? Some say yes, but the fact is that grains are easy to eat a lot of, and it doesn't take a lot of extra calories to push us into a calorie surplus.

I agree that she has broken her metabolism over an extended period of time by eating less and less. But she did that in response to the fact that her metabolism started to contract and become more efficient at processing calories on its own.

Of course her body doesn't want to lose the fat. She's eating such a starvation diet that her body is trying to conserve fat for the next real famine. Her body assumes she lives from famine to famine.

Unfortunately, the solution is not simply to increase calories and then continue to eat a restricted diet, but at a higher caloric level.

She needs to occasionally and regularly feed her body enough healthy calories so that she will pop out of that starvation mode (which is a much-overused and misunderstood term, but I think applies well here). She can do this while maintaining a weekly deficit at what ought to be her normal metabolic rate. So by having some low calorie days and occasional high calorie days of high quality food, she can retrain her body not to need to cling to the fat.

Only after a month or more can she find her new level and begin to create an occasional deficit, to avoid the "constant macro/constant calorie deficit" that got her into this position in the first place.

I am distrustful of writers who clearly manufacture atypical "examples" to prove their points.

Any dieter who has been able to successfully restrict their calories through calorie counting over an extended period of time, but whose metabolism has slowed down so much that they are eating hardly anything, should look into intermittent fasting.

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