FAQ: How I Calorie Counted

When I set out to lose weight- I literally knew nothing about nutrition or eating well. I longed for something measurable that I could track and apply to my life in order to get my weight down. And that’s when I discovered calorie counting.

It was exactly what I needed at that point in my life. It felt like something that I could do and that would produce results. After years of lackadaisically trying to eat better and feeling frustrated with my weight- I finally felt like I had a tool to drop some pounds. I used the book Chubster: A Hipster’s Guide to Losing Weight While Still Looking Cool, which I saw as like, the best thing to ever happen to me.

Calorie counting helped me learn about portion sizes and helped me see in black and white how much of what types of foods I was eating every single day. It was the first time I had ever done anything like a food diary. Before quantifying my food in this way, I never thought about food more than this is what I want so this is what I’m eating. Again, for someone starting at a point where I knew nothing about nutrition, discovering calorie counting felt like a blessing from above.

And you know what- it worked for me. I quickly became a believer that anyone could lose weight this way. In my mind a couple of years ago, it was the answer to the obesity epidemic and it was a simple equation that people needed to pay more attention to. Over the course of a year, I lost eighty pounds. It was quick- and it was dirty at times (meaning, there were many months were I was unconsciously undereating or undereating but not really realizing that I was doing that) but it happened. I was totally on board with it.

For anyone who knows me now, you know how much that mindset of mine has changed {I now am a strong believer in Liz Wolfe’s statement, ““On the list of things that matter about our food, calories are dead last.” But that’s a whole ‘nother story}.

As a numbers girl, it was easy to get obsessive about the stats. I counted every single little thing- every grape- every piece of sliced pepper- every lemon wedge- you get the picture. One “mistake” would send me into a tailspin and food being obsessive and stressful and terrifying for me. Calories in- calories out- calories in- calories out- calories in- calories out.

I had spent a year of losing weight and relying on those figures- it was so hard to step away from it even though I knew I needed to. Fears of gaining weight back or reversing all of the positive lifestyle changes I had made were prevalent and jolting. Calorie counting took over my life and it was bad. Really bad.

I had in fact, made a lot of positive changes in my life. I was eating less processed food, less sugar, more vegetables, more fruit, better quality protein, and less junk- but I just wasn’t eating enough of the good stuff. I needed more fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, etc.) and more healthy sources of carbs. But I didn’t know how to keep all the good stuff and just improve on what I was lacking.

I realized through a variety of sources that calories weren’t everything when it came to weight and being healthy. I could verbalize that thought and it made perfect sense in my rational mind, but it was nearly impossible for me to live it out myself. It took a year’s worth of work with a counselor and an R.D. to work through issues I developed from losing so much weight so quickly. With their help, I gained weight and learned how to eat in a more balanced, satisfying, and fulfilling way that fit my active lifestyle. Most importantly, though, I gained back my piece of mind. I gained back my positive relationship with food. I got my life back.

So, while in hindsight from my whole weight loss experience I am thankful for the awareness aspect in regard to what foods I’m putting into my body that calorie counting brought into my life, now that I know more about nutrition and am more focused on eating for health, my mindset on calorie counting has shifted big time. It’s taken a lot for me to get to this point, but I am so thankful to be where I am today.

I wish I could go back and lose weight in a healthier way- I wish I could go back and give myself all of the tools and information that I possess now about eating- but that’s obviously not happening. I really should have lost that weight over the course of a handful of years. BUT what can I say- I was young and stupid and just did what worked.

I’m much more proud of the weight loss maintenance I have attained since then and the healthy lifestyle I have cultivated for myself that I live out every day now.

Things couldn’t be more different now than they were then. I eat for health and the quality of what I’m eating is of prime importance to me. Eating nutrient dense, whole foods is what I strive for and what I have found works for me. I don’t prescribe to one particular diet, but instead have pulled what works for me from all the various different diets/lifestyles out there. I try and eat organic as much as possible, I eat grass-fed beef, I eat locally sourced eggs, I eat a lot of vegetables (like a lot), I eat plenty of coconut oil, I try to be mindful about dairy, I avoid processed foods as much as possible, I make most of my own food, and I eat a lot less sugar.

When I was calorie counting, it was easy to cut out major food groups for the sake of dropping calories (primarily breads and fats- even “good” ones). I’ve found that restricting myself from any food in my life backfires every time and results in misery and backfires. Thus, I don’t have any limitations on how I eat and just now try to eat in balance, moderation, and for my health. I don’t like the idea of strictly adhering to one way of eating. Everyone is different and you have to do what works for you.

Calories play some role in weight loss and what our bodies do with the food we eat- but they’re nowhere close to being the whole story. Nutrition and quality trump it all.

I could talk forever about calorie counting. Calories and calorie counting are complex and controversial things that are just now finally getting the updated research they need. I’m certainly not a doctor or scientist or anything that makes me qualified to explain all this to you- everything I’ve learned has been through information that I have absorbed by spending a lot of time researching and listening to those people who are qualified.

To understand better where my head is sort of at with calories, take the time to listen to this presentation by Jonathan Bailor, which relates to his book, The Calorie Myth: How to Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight, and Live Better.

Calorie counting may work for you. It may lead you to lose a ton of weight. But as someone who did it and is now on the other end- I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. There are so many more important lifestyle and diet changes to focus on that legitimately play a role in the health and wellness of your body.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s