If I were a financial advisor I would tell you to write down all your expenditures and I would then advise you where our challenges are. I am not a financial advisor. I am a personal trainer and I will tell you - if you want to be serious about losing weight we need to be serious about tracking our calories - at least in the short term.
Think about it. We know that weight loss occurs when we use more calories than we take in. If we don't know how many calories we're burning during our workouts (approximately), and we don't know how many calories we're taking in, and we don't know the amount of calories we need to net each day to reach our desired weight…we're just doing guess work.
There are a million calorie tracking apps and sites out there. My favorites are: MyPlate (www.livestrong.com), Lose It, and My Fitness Pal. These are free apps that will change your life. The reason I say this is because "knowledge is power." the more information you have about what you're doing both in the gym and at the meal table the more likely you are to succeed.
When tracking calories always err toward the conservative. If the exact item you've eaten isn't in the database, choose the item most similar.
For example: You ate a hamburger at your buddy's BBQ. A hamburger from your buddy's BBQ isn't going to be in the database. Type in "hamburger" and a zillion options come up! Don't worry. Look for a plain hamburger from any fast food restaurant. And I mean a basic hamburger not one of the restaurants signature (SUPER HIGH CALORIE) burgers. A McDonalds "hamburger"not a McDonalds "Big Mac." Thats what you would log. Although you will be surprised. Many items you don't think would be in the database are. Plus, if you're tech savvy you can add items to the database (on MyPlate). In addition, logging gets easier over time because most apps remember the foods and activites you've tracked previously so you don't have to look it up again. That's why we only have to track calories in the short term - the beginning of our fitness program. Remember: The idea is to track calories in the short term and me mindful of them forever. The ideal short term would be one month. The best way to do it is to log foods right after eating them or the completion of the meal. Only log calories for the day you're in. Do not backlog. It's frustrating and might demotivate you.
When you go to a restaurant, write down what you order on a piece of paper and log afterwards. When logging food from a restaurant, start with the name of the restaurant. Chances are it's in the database. If not, then look for the entree by name, then match what you ate to the correct portion size.
One other thing I should mention. It's just as important to keep track of how you feel after you eat as it is to log what you ate.
There is a saying: "Eat less. Move more." That's catchy right? That pretty much breaks it down to it's simplest common denominator - what it takes to lose weight. But it's a little more complicated that that. All calories don't effect us the same way. We must learn to manage our hormones. Without going into it much detail in this blog I will sum it up by saying: "Eating should not make you tired." If you eat something and you feel less alert than before, either the portion size was too large or the food you ate doesn't work for your unique individual metabolism. Not all foods work for all people and our mission is to find the foods that work for us and eat those foods.