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December – Calorie Counting Challenge

Welcome to our Monthly Challenges

Did you know you subconsciously work harder when there’s an end date to your goals?

The shorter time frame keeps you actively putting effort in, particularly when it’s the end of the month.

Your Goal in December is: Count Your Calories Every Day!


The Challenge

For this month the aim is to record how many calories you eat every day for the month of December.

There are two popular ways to do this: with a computer spreadsheet or a mobile phone app

If you’re choosing an app I recommend Calorie Counter – MyFitnessPal while those in spreadsheets are best off using Microsoft Excel or a Google Spreadsheet.

Tracking your macro-nutrients (Protein, Carbohydrate and Fat) are beyond the scope of this challenge but if you’re happy to do so then that’s an added bonus.

Calorie Counter – MyFitnessPal mobile phone app

Health Benefits

The average person will gain around 2lbs (~1kg) over the festive period, despite some claims that it’s as much as five times that! This equates to around 7000 extra calories across the two weeks. By tracking from the start of December I’m hoping you will get a feel for what your baseline consumption is like, and how that changes with the introduction of sweets, chocolates, mince pies and alcohol. Weight gain involves complex mechanisms but at the simplest level, eating more than your body needs will result in weight gain. If you imagine someone needing 2,000 calories per day, their Xmas period might look something like this…

In this example the blue represents what your body needs each day, meaning red is a calorie surplus, which totals 7,100 extra calories. The extra calories might look something like:

  • 17th- Work Xmas party. Perhaps consuming a few drinks.
  • 18th-21st. Maybe there’s mini chocolates or mince pies in the office or at home.
  • 24th. A few drinks on Xmas eve.
  • 25th. Xmas dinner, also a few sweets from presents.
  • 26th. Boxing Day drinks, also leftovers.
  • 27th-30th. Working your way through the remaining mince pies and other festive treats.
  • 31st. New Years Eve drinks. Nothing reckless, just a few beers or glasses of wine and some snacks.

Come January 1st everyone is planning to lose their holiday weight by joining the gym. Why not get a head start, and control the damage done in December so there’s less work to be done the following year? A lot of people will actually start December the following year weighing the same if not more than they did the previous year.

Tips

  • Thankfully these days the majority of store bought foods will come with a nutritional label, detailing the calorie content of the food. In this case the only thing to remember is serving size.
  • Restaurants often have calories either on the menu itself or available online.
  • At home it’s a great help to use kitchen scales to weigh your food for accurate tracking.
  • If you are in a situation where you have to estimate the calories, find an equivalent product that has the information. Using the MyFitnessPal app you should find similar foods. Look at three or four to make sure the calories all make sense, as these are user-entered values and can be wrong.
  • Don’t stress! The holidays are to be enjoyed, and being aware of your calories is often enough to help you make more sensible decisions that limit weight gain.
  • Don’t starve yourself! The solution to going over by 1000 calories on a Tuesday is not to go under by 1000 calories on a Wednesday. While you may find yourself naturally less hungry, particularly that morning, the foods you over-consumed were likely low in vitamins and minerals so the answer is not to deny yourself healthier foods the following day.