Home Challenge! Introducing… The Calorie Counting Challenge!

Introducing… The Calorie Counting Challenge!

by Erika Nicole Kendall

An adorable journal, but a painful entry.

After asking the Facebookers what kind of challenge we should host next, two things became abundantly clear:

First, y’all are dying for some information on how to exercise at home and looking for motivation to get it in regularly. For seconds, there’s a strong desire for accountability. I see y’all out there!

I’d love to toss out two challenges back to back: A food challenge, and then follow that up directly with a workout challenge. I’ll explain why.

In the interest of accountability, I’d like to offer up a calorie counting challenge first! Over the course of the next 12 days, from June 22th to July 3rd, resolve to write down every single thing you eat, and how much of it you take in. If you have time, write down the nutritional information (or take a photo of it with your cell phone – let’s face it, almost all of us have phones with cameras on ’em) or look it up once you get home.

What does this have to do with accountability? If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of my progress, it’s this: in order to hold yourself accountable for something, you have to know how far-reaching the problem is. For me, calorie counting helped me realize exactly how much I was taking in at each meal (something like 800 calories each meal!). I learned just how many calories I was scarfing down during my “snack times” (almost 400 calories!) I got to really understand how many calories I was drinking. (upwards of 300 calories a day? Good grief.)

If, on an average day, I was taking in 800 calories per meal at three meals a day, that’s 2400 calories a day. Add in the snacks, that’s 2800 calories. Include the juices, and I’m at 3100 calories of intake each day.


You cannot hold yourself accountable for what you do not see. What does this accountability have to do with exercise? Easy! You cannot burn off a bad diet. I don’t care what you say or do. You can eat more calories in 20 minutes than you can ever burn. Let me say that again. You can eat more calories in 20 minutes than you can ever burn. That means that all it takes is 20 minutes to ruin an absolutely amazing-sweaty-funky-nasty-gross-smelling-yet-I-feel-like-I-can-fly workout.

Knowing the goals you have in mind and knowing the limitations of exactly how many calories you can burn working out for an hour doing your favorite or most challenging workout… comparing those two against your daily calorie intake is an empowering message. It lets you see exactly what might be getting in your way, what you can “afford” to eat or give up, and where your excesses might be coming from.

You don’t have to change your eating habits to participate in this challenge. I know, I know, that sounds counterproductive.. but the goal is to see exactly how harmful and unhelpful our current habits are to our current goals, and how certain situations cause us to eat a little more than we might be used to. With any luck, it will compel us to make changes.

What will you need for this challenge? For starters, a notebook and some measuring cups!

You’ll need a dedicated notebook for keeping track of each day’s intake, and measuring cups to measure out your portions.

You’ll also need to make a promise: promise yourself that you will document EVERYTHING you put in your mouth – from the glass of water to that handful of sunflower seeds you got from your co-worker, to the $0.50 bag of doritos you ate on the commute to work, to the taste testing of your dinner, to the bite of your loved one’s donut, to the liquor you drank at happy hour, to the glass of wine you had with dinner, to the little spoonful of baby food you ate to show your little one how good her strained peas are (I remember those days… won’t be revisiting those ever again.) Every-single-thing.

This challenge promotes consciousness. Awareness. You have to know how “bad” it is in order to know how to make it better, and we’ll start that tomorrow with the calorie counting challenge!

Looking for resources on calorie counting on A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss? Check these out:

So… let’s hear it! Who’s in? If you’re going to blog your info, drop your blog link in the comments so that we can check you out and offer our support!

Edit: Are you on SparkPeople? Check out the BGG2WL SparkTeam!

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Curvy Jones June 21, 2010 - 10:15 AM

If anyone has an iPhone or iPod touch I highly recommend the free app Loseit! I never tracked anything before and my eyes opened — WIDE — when I started just tracking what I was eating in a day. It will also track your exercise and links to a web page where you can pull your daily reports. I look up everything anyway, and then enter it in by meal and snack. To me, it only lacks a separate component to track water, and it seems some values are off– no big, it’s easy to add a custom exercise or food.

This should be fun!

Christina June 21, 2010 - 10:52 AM

Is it ok if we just use an online tracker like S.park P.eople or D.aily P.late? I just recently joined a different challenge, but would like to join this one too, and i’ve been using both to track my intakes.

Erika June 21, 2010 - 11:33 AM

Absolutely! Let’s do it!

Evelyn June 21, 2010 - 11:01 AM

I’m in!

cjbrownsc June 21, 2010 - 11:15 AM

I’m in.
I don’t have a blog, but I’ll log everything into sparkpeople.com.

Shauna June 21, 2010 - 12:01 PM

I’m in!

J June 21, 2010 - 12:31 PM

I’ve been using daily plate so I’m certainly in AND I’m looking forward to the second challenge! Thinking of getting a blog… will post the link later.

J June 21, 2010 - 12:33 PM

By the way Erika, did you mean June 21st or 22nd instead of June 12th?

Erika June 21, 2010 - 12:38 PM

I sure did mean the 22nd! Thanks for the catch! 🙂

Ralonda June 21, 2010 - 12:48 PM

I use livestrong.com. It helps with tracking water, food, exercise and other things. You can set it to sync w/ your facebook; also, you can contact and compare your goals and achievements with others in a community.

Amber June 21, 2010 - 1:05 PM

I’m in! I will check to see which online tool I will use to track my info. Woo hoo…so exciting!

Tina Fite June 21, 2010 - 1:58 PM

I use sparkpeople.com to track nutrition and fitness too Christina and cjbrownsc. I also do a blog on there every Tuesday too. I look forward to seeing you both on SP Christina and cjbrownsc!!!

Tina Fite June 21, 2010 - 1:59 PM

Oh yeah, I forgot to say, I’M IN!!! LOL!!!

Ashley D June 21, 2010 - 2:21 PM

Immmmm ready!!! A little scared to SEE the truth! But ready…nonetheless.

Terri Williams June 21, 2010 - 2:36 PM

I’m in!! Just registered at Livestrong.com. I have a question. I have a crazy sweet tooth. I have been eating clean for about two weeks. I have given up sodas and am strictly on tea and water but lately my sweet tooth has been kicking in. I have been able to eat a greek yougurt or some fruit and that helps but do you have any other suggestions???

Christina June 21, 2010 - 2:58 PM

Im in! Thanks for making the SparkPeople team Erika!

Ashley D June 21, 2010 - 3:07 PM

There is a Sparkpeople Team! What is it under…im on there as well!!!!!

BrittanyLove June 21, 2010 - 3:15 PM

I just found this site…do you have to be a memember for a certain amount of time before you can do the challeneges?

Erika June 21, 2010 - 3:16 PM

Not at all! Everyone is welcome!

Karen June 21, 2010 - 6:34 PM

I’m in. Sparkpeople has a mobile app for blackberry users if it’ll make it easier for some people. You can track everything, including water. I’ll be blogging mine so check out the site!

Rita June 21, 2010 - 8:26 PM

I’m in…I’m gonna stick to the notebook…funny this challenge comes after i spent the last half hour rationalizing ordering a pizza even tho i skipped my workout due to headach …my theory is the headache makes me not want to cook…I know, I know…womp womp womp

Tracy June 21, 2010 - 9:52 PM

I’m in!

Denise June 21, 2010 - 11:57 PM

I’m in as well! I have been writing down what I eat but I haven’t been counting it up. I have the LoseIt app and I love it but I need to get back into the swing of things. I will be put some of my updates on my blog. The link is above.

Sonja June 22, 2010 - 9:39 AM

I am in…scared as heck b/c it is so hard for me to stick to any weightloss program but it is time for a change!! I am in and I am going to look for an app to help me out! Wish me luck.

KAPSpecial June 23, 2010 - 10:40 AM

Just discovered this site yesterday. I’ve started and stopped lifestyle changes a zillion times. I want this time to be different. I turn 30 later this year and I want be my best self in my 30s and beyond. Thanks for taking the time to create this blog, becuase I could use some non-preachy support on my lifestyle change journey. I accept the food journal challenge and will use SparkPeople. Thanks again.

Santresa June 23, 2010 - 11:16 AM

I just saw this today but I want to participate in this challenge. I really need to control of my eating habits and my weight. I feel myself spirling out of control weight wise and it’s not a good feeling. I have a goal and I’m determined to reach it. I truly believe that evaluating everything I consume on a daily basis will be the best way to get started.

I have a blog that I’m going to use to update my food intake every night.

Wow…here goes nothing!

pixelfish June 23, 2010 - 8:51 PM

Not on Sparkpeople, but I have been doing my calorie counting (and weight tracking) at the Daily Plate (Livestrong bought ’em). They have a lot of food pre-entered with all the calories and whatnot, and little verified tags for food that has been checked by the site. They had nifty little graphs and pie charts for things like fat and carbs and protein and sodium so you can gauge your overall intake. I found it helpful because then I could identify food intake and weight patterns and not freak out when I went up a little one day….

Santresa June 24, 2010 - 9:37 AM

I updated my first day of calories on my blog and all I have to say is OMG!!!! HELP!!!

Kait July 15, 2010 - 10:45 AM

I love this challenge. I used livestrong.com last summer and it helped me get back on track after a nasty GI infection and the wonderful BRAT diet. Whenever I feel like I am falling off the bandwagon I return to calorie counting so that I can REALLY see what I am doing. I love that livestrong shows things in so many formats (graphically, daily lists, weekly lists, lists by meal, etc) so that I can realize my specific problem areas/foods and get to fixing them!

Chantal June 5, 2011 - 3:27 PM

I am so inspired by everything I have read so far!! I’ve been looking for a challenge to loose weight with a group (of black women) seems like I finally found it. Give thanks!

I’m in!

ceej June 13, 2015 - 6:46 PM

How exciting! I’m doing WW but I will be following this challenge! Thanks, Soror!

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