I was counting my calories until about 3 years ago, and was at my maintenance weight. I stopped counting, and got fat. Now, I developed severe arthritis on my hip so it limited my physical activity and I was in pain 24/7 even with Ibuprofen and occasional Cortisone shots. I had hip replacement surgery 6 months ago. Two things happened in relation to that. One, I got weighed pre-surgery and I was over 200 pounds for the first time in my life, that was a shocker. I used to weigh myself regularly in the past, but had quit. Second thing that happened is that I was no longer in pain, and along with physical therapy I was able to walk distances without extreme pain. I made a conscious decision to lose the weight on August 28, 2015.
I weigh 181 now, very close to my maintenance weight however it is not the type of weight I was at before. I will lose another 8-9 pounds and then bulk up to gain those 6-7 pounds back in muscle. This next phase will be much tougher for me than food as I was never a snacker, and I never cared for desert much. Maybe once a month I'd share a desert with a girlfriend.
Adjusting my schedule and willpower to go to the gym will be my challenge. Now, I just do my physical therapy exercises, and body weight training (push-ups, squats, abs (2 min plank and crunches) at home.
Yes, along with the exercise goes calorie counting FOR ME. It is not as much of an admin detail as you think, as it does not take more than a few minutes total each day on app.
Even when one does not eat junk it is very easy to overeat without realizing it if one does not watch calories. I had a craving for lamb chops for the last few days, so I made a plan. I had 3 eggs for breakfast in order to tide me over longer. I fixed SousVide lamb chops, and liberally dosed it with herbed butter (melted butter, minced garlic, onion powder) before searing it for 25 seconds each side on a hot cast iron skillet. Roasted some potatoes on the side.
It was yummy. It was also a 921 calorie meal. However, it was also lunch and dinner. I ended the day with 1217 calories. If I wasn't counting calories I would have had it for lunch AND dinner. Now, another approach would have been to have two lamb chops instead of the four (5oz total instead of 10oz) I had and have more vegetables to fill me up. I am getting there, that is the approach I take when I eat out. I did that last week, had the 6-8oz tenderloins instead of the 16-20 oz ribeye steaks.
Each person has to have their own journey. At the basics it is calories in vs calories out. Until a behavior change makes calories in less or equal to calories out one needs all the tools one can utilize effectively.