Today’s topic is a bit uncomfortable, a touch taboo, and one I typically tend to avoid talking about at all costs. I think there is a stigma in the healthy living world that if you count calories you are obsessive, but if you don’t then you will gain weight.
It seems as if every article I read in fitness, health and women’s magazines talks about getting that bikini body by losing those last 10 pounds, typically with a prescribed calorie count suggested. Trust me, I love those women’s health magazines as much as the next girl, and in fact it is my dream to write for a glossy magazine and has been ever since I was a little girl. However, it is also these magazines that introduced me to calorie counting and might encourage some women into believing that whittling down to a certain size may be the key to feeling happy and free. For a rational adult, this advice may be taken with a grain of salt, but for impressionable teenagers and young women, these articles can hit right where it hurts.
This my friends is how it begins, a pound here and a pound there, seemingly innocent beginnings, but it can turn into something not so pretty. To some, a piece of cake is simply that, a piece of cake; a delicious dessert served on special occasions typically while celebrating a person or event. To a calorie counter though, that simple piece of cake may be seen as a 500 calorie monstrosity that can either be eaten and followed by a 5 mile run, or avoided and not eaten at all.
I have fallen into the calorie counting trap in the past, and I am sure the majority of women you know have tried it at least once as well. We have all been there and whether you take it to an extreme or not, the fact is that everybody is different and although 1,500 calories may be perfect for one, it may not be enough for someone else. The same way counting calories for some may be a boring old chore; counting calories for someone else can become an unhealthy obsession that can quickly take over one’s life.
Here is the thing; I don’t count calories anymore, plain and simple. It is not fun for me and it’s not a game, and I find that I am much happier and more carefree when a number on a page or the number on a scale does not make or break my day. Have I put on weight since I made this choice? I am honestly not sure since my clothes still fit, even some being looser than when I was calorie counting, but if I did put on weight then it is something that obviously needed to happen. My body and mind simply required the nutrients and the weight that perhaps came along with it. When I was calorie counting I was grumpy, on edge, cold, hungry, and oh yes, wasn’t getting the proper nutrients I needed as a woman and my body began fighting back. It’s funny that if you actually listen closely, your body tells you what it needs to be healthy, but somewhere along the line we let the outside world try to advise us instead.
Now this doesn’t mean I eat anything and everything that is put in front of me. A while back I made the decision to focus on nutrients and whole foods instead of calories. So although I may be eating more leafy greens and other lower calorie whole foods, the calorie count is balanced out with the whole grains, lean meats, dairy and plenty of healthy fats I include as well. Oh, and it turns out there is still room for a slice of chocolate cake or two, and even a few cinnamon rolls in my life as well.
Let me tell you right now ladies, if you don’t take anything else from this whole post, just remember that healthy fats are your friends! No, I am not saying go order a large fry or eat a slice of cheesecake every single day. Moderation is still the key even when you’re not counting calories. Greasy, saturated fats are not the best choice, although they absolutely have their place in a healthy diet. I am talking about healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oils, peanut butter, almonds, avocados, walnuts, and any kind of other monounsaturated fats that can be found at your local grocery.
When I was calorie counting I avoided these types of foods at all costs because they could easily take up a majority of my calories for the day. This means that I focused on a low-fat diet and didn’t have a bite of peanut butter for literally years. Depressing! Now, I basically go through a jar a week because after years of fat deprivation, my body absolutely craves it and needs it to survive and thrive. I also cook my eggs in coconut oil, slather real butter on my toast, top everything with avocado, and eat full-fat ice cream when the cravings strike.
This along with learning how-to handle stress, listening to my body when it needs rest, and incorporating strength training with my cardio are all reasons why my body is now working properly and doing what it is supposed to do! My metabolism is better than it has been in a long time, I look forward to strength training and enjoy HIIT workouts so much more than day-after-day of steady state cardio, and I am no longer simply ignoring my hunger pangs. I love myself from the inside-out now that I am truly giving my body and mind what it needs to live. I feel a peace inside my heart that I haven’t felt in a long, long time that has resulted in more confidence and self-love than I could ever imagine.
I am absolutely not slapping your hand if you’re a calorie counter, because remember, what works for one may not work for someone else. However, I have been feeling a subtle nudge to share my experience with all of you in case I can help even one person release the calorie counting obsession and find what is believed to be true freedom!
If you ever have any questions or need advice, please feel free to email me at email@example.com , I am happy to chat or to simply listen to you! Remember though, I am not a Registered Dietician or a nutrition expert, but I am happy to share my own story and experiences!
I noticed a verse while reading Girlfriend in God that really spoke to me…
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…”
1 Thessalonians 2:8
That is what I try to do on this blog; live my life with all of you! Although my topics are typically light-hearted and fun, it is important to dig a little deeper sometimes to remind you all that I am only human and am still learning along the way as well!
- Calorie Counting: Yes or no? What do you think, is it an obsession or a necessity for losing weight?
- What is a bit of nutrition advice that you have found works for you?
- Do you eat a lot of healthy fats as well? What type of nutrient does your body seem to crave?
- If you were a calorie counter in the past, how did you manage to ditch the numbers game?