I love My Fitness Pal. It's a free online calorie counter and journal with an available phone app. It's amazing that when I use it, I'm more mindful of what and how much I eat — and I do lose weight. When I don't use it, disaster ensues. That's not to say it's the only way I, or anyone else, could lose weight, but it makes it a whole lot easier.

The food database is filled with restaurant and grocery store choices and you can plug your homemade meals in as well. You'll never be in the dark about what you're consuming. To top that off, with each entry it tracks your water consumption as well as sodium, carbohydrates, sugar, fat, protein, cholesterol and even iron. This is helpful for folks with issues such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or anemia.

Since I began writing this column, I've had mixed feelings about counting calories — and I've written about it.

On one hand, it can be tedious, and it could take away from the joy of eating. But on another hand, it is necessary for those who have a tough time with weight loss. I guess I'm one who needs to have myself in check through such tool.

But the calorie counter is just that — a tool. Yes, it tracks what you're eating, but it can't tell you if you're eating healthily.

There's a right way to count calories and there's a wrong way to count calories. The wrong way is staying within your calorie goal for the day but eating only junk food. That's because 500 calories worth of candy and 500 calories worth of broccoli won't act the same in your body.

And be careful of suggested calorie limits. Listen to your body and consult with a professional to make sure you're getting enough calories. While drastically reducing your calorie intake, regardless of what you eat, will result in weight loss, studies have shown that it's likely to come back with a vengeance.

So, as always, I advocate for healthy choices while counting calories. As for starting this new routine, you'll quickly get over the monotony of recording what you eat.


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