The other half of the big first step is MyFitnessPal or MFP. It’s a site to keep track of your calories and it includes user generated content. If you find an obscure type of sausage at your local deli, go ahead and add it to the site. If you know the label of something but don’t quite feel like filling everything in, you can always ‘quick add calories’ to just put in a number to keep track.
Don’t fall into the trap of just ‘quick add calories’ though, it may be you’re getting too much salt, fat, or carbohydrates, so try to honestly complete your menu for each day.
The site was how I realized how easy it is to add calories to a meal or snack even accidentally. Things like cream, sugar, and oil are used in every day foods and are usually used in such a way that it’s easy to slip in a little ‘excess’.
If you consider the constant tracking a hassle or it’s hard to motivate yourself to do it, I would recommend at least forcing yourself to do it for a month or two, until you’ve essentially memorized the impact of all your most common foods. It’s not something I consider a long term solution, more like an eye opener! It was a huge one for me.