I feel as though I should preface this post. I don’t mean to offend anyone; these are just my thoughts on calorie counting, why it’s not working for me, and why I won’t be doing it anymore. If you enjoy it or it works for you, I envy you very much.
I’ve been thinking long and hard about calorie counting and have briefly read some articles on people who have lost weight without having to count a single calorie. I know you can lose weight without counting calories. I can honestly say, when I originally dropped 30lbs I didn’t count a damn calorie. Not one. I’d say 80% of the time I was good. I won’t lie, I did treat myself, but I ate less of the bad stuff. I felt differently about food for once in my life. I didn’t use it to console or reward myself. I was finally in the frame of mind to use it as fuel. I trusted myself.
I’ve been half-ass calorie counting the past few months and I think I’ve finally decided it’s time to stop. The only things I plan to log from now are exercises for my own records. Before you think that’s the dumbest decision ever, hear me out…
My reasoning behind not counting calories is based on the experiences I’ve had in the past and things I am experiencing now. Calorie counting isn’t a fun task for anyone but it causes me unnecessary stress. Like a lot of stress. I’m the type, if I go in; I go all the way in. In which case, I need to know every single calorie that passes my lips. Calorie counting discourages me from making anything from scratch because I’d have to input every single ingredient into that damn calculator. How do I determine what is serving? I’m inherently lazy (and crippled by anything math related) so some times I’d opt for something from a box that has a barcode that I could easily scan into Myfitnesspal.
I’d have good days and even a few good days in a row at times. Then like clockwork, I’d have several days of binging where I’d eat all of those calories back plus more. I’d eat food I wouldn’t normally crave or want on a somewhat regular basis like McDonalds. A prime example of this is last week. I had a couple good days early in the week and then came Friday. I logged every bit of what I ate that day; I went ~2000 calories over what I was supposed to. I began to wonder if this was worth it. It sure didn’t feel worth it after all those extra calories I just ate.
Another thing about my calorie counting experience, I was meeting my calorie goal on those good days but was I really eating the right things? I actually measured out salad in a measuring cup. Salad is good for me, why am I treating it like it isn’t? I’d feel bad about eating an avocado because a whole avocado is ~200 calories – by the way, how can anyone eat just ½ an avocado? Instead of eating the avocado, I’d substitute it for baked chips or some sort of low calorie/low fat item. Those baked chips and other items I’d eat in place of an avocado wouldn’t keep me full and then I’d eat something else. In the end, I should’ve just eaten the damn avocado. Not to mention, when you trade lower calories and/or fat you get extra sugar and lots of other things. Why did I sacrifice that avocado that is perfectly good for me? All of this to meet some sort of dumb quota at the end of the day.
Calorie counting makes me think about food all the time. When I’m eating, I don’t actually enjoy what I’m eating. Instead, I think about how much this meal is and what I will need to sacrifice later in the day. This does not seem like a healthy way to treat myself or my body. When I think of the opportunity costs, I’d rather it take me forever to get down to where I need to be and be happy and have less stress than always feeling as though I’m restricting myself. Restricting myself results in me binging. I know this.
I think about the short-term and my time is limited. I work. I currently go to school full-time; 4 days a week with a two hour commute round trip. This is my first time full-time in a long time so I have the added stress of an extra class along with the stress of keeping a certain GPA for the business school. I have homework that is expected of me outside of class along with other responsibilities. Which makes me wonder, how do people with kids manage??
I need peace somewhere in my life and one of the places I find that is going to the gym. I go to the gym because I never regret it when I’m done. I truly believe you’ll only succeed with a lifestyle change when you enjoy what you’re doing and not doing it because you have to. Counting calories is not something I enjoy, and I know how I am and it’s always going to be this battle.
In the long-term, even if I were to “suck it up”, I don’t want to be counting calories 10, 20, 30 years from now. That doesn’t seem sustainable. You only live once. When I say, “you only live once”, I don’t mean I’m going to go out and eat fast food for every meal. I mean that life is too short not to enjoy it every now and then.
I need to get back mentally to that place where I was at one time. Back to where I was eating well a good portion of the time and treating myself as needed. I need to trust myself with food again and not be pressured to hit some sort of quota, which may or may not be an accurate depiction of how healthy I’m being.
As I said at the start of this post, I don’t want anyone to feel offended. I was a bit on the fence about posting this because I know some will think I’m stupid. Maybe you disagree with me and that’s ok. I’m not condoning anything anyone else is doing, calorie counting works for some but I know it doesn’t work for me.
Photo via Pexels.