I grew up in a household where dessert was an everyday event, and my grandfather’s Italian American heritage meant pasta was on the menu every other day. My health and wellness journey began as I got a little older and decided that I wanted to get physically healthier as a means of feeling more confident. I started exercising, making healthier food choices and cooking weight loss down to the most basic scientific concept: calories in versus calories out.

The act of counting calories tends to get a bad rap. Some may say that it is too rigid, too time consuming, inaccurate and in some cases even unhealthy. For each their own, really. Especially when it comes to weight loss. But counting calories has helped me lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way over and over again throughout my life. I used this habit as a young woman and then again before my wedding (which I had bought a dress for a year before) and at the latest in the months after giving birth to my son. I have lost a significant amount of weight postpartum and I am very proud.

Perhaps what I love most about counting calories is that it (in a way) is guaranteed to work when done correctly. It’s science! And the science is pretty cool. I like how it presents weight loss in its simplest form. For me, it is motivating to think of weight loss as simply choosing to eat fewer calories than I burn. In the past, as I have tried other weight loss methods, things can start to feel too confusing, overwhelming and gimmicky. Counting calories is pretty cut and dry.

I have also found that counting calories allows me to really hold myself accountable. If I track everything I eat, I’m much more likely to remove the crispy snack I automatically arrived at after a stressful conversation. First, I will not have to take the time to put the food in my digital calorie log. For another, it allows me to pause and ask myself if I am actually hungry. If the answer is no – and let’s be honest, it usually is – I have the extra incentive to put that snack behind closed cupboard doors. When I work out a limited number of calories a day, I’m much less likely to waste them on things that do not fill me or just are not worth it. (How many less than star sweets have we all eaten in the office break room?)

For me, it is motivating to think of weight loss as simply choosing to eat fewer calories than I burn.

With so many digital options available, it is also very easy to count calories. Personally, I like to use my Fitbit app, but in the past I was also a fan of MyFitnessPal. I’ve been at this long enough that I have a pretty good idea of ​​how many calories are in many of the foods I eat. Having this knowledge is honestly very empowering and helps me make healthy decisions outside of simple calories. Banana and peanut butter? Healthy balanced and fat in the best way. Store-bought cupcake? Without any nutritional value and probably dry and not so tasty.

Like I said before, weight loss is so incredibly personal. What works for one person may be completely wrong for another. But on my own journey, I have found that counting calories is definitely the most effective method of losing weight (specifically fat). I have used this method to lose a healthy pound a week until I reached my goal on many different occasions. If you have been afraid of counting calories in the past but want to start your weight loss, I highly recommend that you give it a shot. You may find it just as empowering as me – and if not, it’s OK.