Counting calories leads to budgeting time, energy, wallet


Over the years, I’ve gotten pretty good at turning down cake. Not just cake, but dessert in general, and other temptations that pop up throughout the day.

Around the holidays, one of my co-workers brought in homemade chocolate cupcakes for our department. She walked around the room and placed flawlessly frosted confections on each of our desks. I smiled and thanked her. Although it looked delicious, I already knew I didn’t want it.

“You have to eat it,” my boss joked. “EAT IT, Leigh.”

At the end of the day — after our holiday, covered-dish luncheon — I placed the cupcake on the leftover table next to store-bought cupcakes. Turns out I wasn’t that sneaky. My boss noticed the next day and, in good fun, busted my chops.

Call me crazy, but I didn’t plan on eating a cupcake that day. I think about my diet as a budget. I know that I can eat a certain number of calories per day to maintain my weight. Usually, I want to get as much nutritional value from those allotted calories as possible.


If I eat cake, then I know that’s anywhere from 300 to 500 calories spent on a food that’s not going to provide me with adequate energy.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Calories in versus calories out.” That mantra has worked for me. It’s helped me to change the way I think about food, especially during times when society typically indulges — parties, holidays and other events. Sure, it’d be nice to eat decadent desserts whenever I want, but if I do, I’m going to gain weight, and I’m not going to have as much energy.

Every now and then, I might have one too many glasses of wine and binge on three servings of ice cream and a bowl of Doritos. But it’s rare, and I’m human.

It took years for me to get to this point — a place where I know how certain foods affect my body. I recently realized that, after a lot of hard work, I got it down. Eating well and exercise will always be a priority.

However, I realized other areas of my life could use some budgeting, as well. For example, my time, energy and bank account.

I often say yes to things without determining if I have time to pick up an extra task — which usually leads me to scramble to get everything done. In an effort to please, I throw myself into a frenzy.

At that point, I feel stressed and anxious, two emotions that deplete energy and can lead to depression. I’ve been working on managing this, and I feel exponentially better than I did before.

I’ve never had a problem with overspending, but I’ve never been much of a meticulous saver, either. Earlier this month, I jotted down my monthly expenses, created a budget, and estimated how much I hope to save each month. As a result, I’m more mindful about what I buy and have avoided impulse trips to Target or the grocery store. Budgeting money is actually kind of challenging and fun. And I’m guessing I can save a little more now that I’m aware.

I learned to budget my diet because I had to. My weight fluctuated as a child and young adult, and I didn’t want to live that way.

Through doing that, I learned that I can be more efficient in other areas of life, better use my resources and, ultimately, live and feel better.

In a day, there’s only so much I can eat, spend and do. Sometimes, there’s just not room for dessert.

Food journals

Keeping a food journal or counting calories can be an effective way to lose or maintain weight.

Interested in tracking? Check out these free websites.

  • www.myfitnesspal.com

  • www.sparkpeople.com

  • nutritiondata.self.com


    Leigh Zaleski is a multiplatform features reporter at York Daily Record/Sunday News. Email her at lzaleski@ydr.com.<p>

  • Leigh Zaleski

    I'm a health features reporter for the York Daily Record/Sunday News and healthy living blogger for No Sweat, York. Contact me with story ideas at lzaleski@ydr.com, 717-771-2101 or @leighzaleski on Twitter.

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    1. January 15, 2014

      […] Calorie counting leads to budgeting time, energy and wallet […]

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