Losing weight is hard. Period.
BUT! There are several things that we can do to increase our chances of success. One of those things is keeping track of our caloric intake.
Each of us has a certain amount of calories that we have to eat in order to maintain our weight. For me, that number is about 1700 calories per day, which I'll refer to here as my maintenance calories. If I eat less than that, I will lose weight! If I eat more than that, I will gain weight. To figure out your maintenance calories, try using this free calculator here.
One pound is equal to about 3500 calories worth of food. So in order to lose one pound of weight, we have to reduce our caloric intake by 3500 calories over any given period of time.
Likewise, gaining one pound in one month means that we've eaten a total of 3500 calories too many that month.
There are two ways to reduce caloric intake:
1) Eat less, or
2) Move more.
If I were to eat 1400 calories today, that's 300 fewer calories than I need to maintain my current weight. If I were to do that for 12 days in a row, I would have consumed 3600 fewer calories and lost a little bit more than one pound!
Exercise is another way to reduce calories by burning the calories that you've eaten. If I eat 1700 calories but I burn 300 calories while running 3 miles, and I repeat this every day for 12 days, then I will also lose one pound! Make sense?
A great way to track those calories and stay motivated using our mandala trackers is by writing down how many calories you've eaten each day, and then add up the cumulative amount of calories that you've restricted or burned as each day goes by. Take a look at the photo below to see how I might do this.
For each day, I write how many calories I ate that day (that's the first number). I then calculate how many calories above or below my maintenance calories I am, and cumulatively add this second number up each day.
For example, on November 1st I ate 1670 calories. Since this is 30 calories less than what I need to maintain weight, I'm at -30 calories for the month. On November 2nd, I ate 2020 calories, which is 320 calories more than my maintenance number of 1700 calories. So I added -30 + 320 = 290. I keep on doing this every day to see my progress. Once my numbers add up to -3500, I've lost a pound!
You'll also notice that I use different colors to show my progress. I used dark purple to show the days that I ate below my maintenance calories, and bright pink to show the days that I went over calories. This way, I can quickly scan and see in general how I'm doing every day!
Using this method, you'll know mathematically when you've lost one pound without even stepping on the scale, and you can watch as your waistline shrinks with those corresponding numbers you've written on the calendar.
This is actually incredibly helpful for women, because our weight varies so much based on our hormones and cycles, that the numbers of the scale can really fluctuate through no fault of our own! Water weight is a real thing.
Tracking your calories in such a stand-out, visual way, is an exciting and motivating way to lose weight. Try it out and see how it works for you!