Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why I Don't Count Calories

Do you count calories? 

How about fat grams? 

 Do you obsessively weigh yourself? 

 Do you workout simply to hit a number so you lose weight?

 I recently took a little detour from my healthy lifestyle for the sake of calorie-counting. I was getting frustrated that I seemed to be maintaining and even gaining each month when I would step on the scale, so I decided I'd try to count calories for awhile.

 It was a good intention that led me down a very slippery, fast slope to the opposite of what I wanted to achieve.


Slowly over time, I started to notice things changing...

 ...guilt for eating too many calories
..."cheating" on unhealthy foods
...quantity vs quality of the food I was consuming
...hitting a number, instead of listening to my body
...exercising to hit a number, instead of for pleasure & physical/mental health
...feelings of depression because I was "failing"
...obsessing over every morsel that went in my mouth, instead of truly enjoying/tasting my food

These are just a few of the things that I started to notice when I started to track my calories.

 My old eating disorder mentality started to creep in. See, it wasn't about the food (my drug of choice), it was about the control. The self-control, or lack thereof.

It's a vicious cycle for me...I'm hitting numbers, so my focus shifts from the quality of food I'm eating to the quantity, despite my body telling me I'm genuinely hungry. Since I'm eating lesser quality of food than what my body needs, I'm always hungry & never satisfied because I'm not truly enjoying and tasting my food, I'm simply hitting numbers. When I fail to hit the numbers, the guilt sets in. I hit the gym to hit my number. Then the gym becomes less enjoyable. I don't want to be there. I don't want to try to hit these numbers. I don't want to keep failing.



See? It's a slippery slope.

The weight that I've lost was not lost by counting a single calorie. It wasn't lost by tracking a single amount of calories burned. In fact, it wasn't lost by tracking anything at all.

It was lost by listening to what my body needs, how it responds to different foods and how much it needs of each food.

It was lost by focusing on quality of food.

It was lost by taking my time eating, enjoying every moment of it from picking out the freshest, cleanest ingredients to preparing it to finally eating it.

It was lost by spending time in the gym doing things I truly enjoy: yoga, Zumba & running.

All of these things, done consistently, added up to not only my weight loss, but my mental health & my feelings of "winning" at being my best self. I will never trade those things for the sake of counting calories.

For me, counting calories = bondage.

For me, freedom comes from striving to be my best self, without numbers to try to measure up to!