Calorie Counting Journey Part 3: How I STOPPED Calorie Counting
So, the reason I wanted to start blogging originally was to give back. Discovering health and fitness blogs where people tracked what they ate via “blog Diaries” helped me to learn how to live a normal life. Sound weird? It is. I counted calories for over two years of my life and did not know any other way of monitoring how I ate. I’ve written about how calorie counting was helpful for weight loss initially, how calorie counting began work against me, but what I haven’t written about was how I stopped calorie counting. I meant to write about it sooner, but I had a lot of thoughts swimming in my head that I didn’t feel I could clearly get out. Why? Mostly because stopping calorie counting was much harder than starting. It required just the right situation and a lot of trial and error.
The Jump Start
The jump start I needed came in the form of a trip to Michigan two summers ago with Paul’s family. After a full week of indulging in vacation foods and hardly exercising (during which time I gave up attempts to count calories), I came back to step on the scale and find that I hadn’t gained ANY weight. The perfect opportunity, I figured if I could do it for one week then I could try another. I estimated my meals and snacks but didn’t record anything or keep a journal. However, I did keep a fitness journal and a weight log going. I continued to weigh myself daily and use that as feedback for how I was doing. I took it day by day at first, not thinking I’d be able to maintain my weight in the long run without calorie counting. At first, I lost a couple of pounds, but then my weight stabilized. One week passed, then another, then another and soon I’d made it to a month.
– A supportive environment. I was living with a good friend that was about my same size, I was able to judge appropriate portions off what she ate, and we supported each other A LOT. We usually ate the same thing, cooked our meals together, packed our lunches together, ate our meals together, worked out together, everything. So much so that we typically gained and lost weight at the same time. We also had our cheat days like “Fat Thursdays” which always included an intense workout and frozen yogurt.
– Meal planning. I still planned my meals and estimated calories (at the time I planned breakfast, lunch, and dinner schedule) ensuring variety and an emphasis on whole foods.
– Focus on fitness. I planned and logged my workouts and began to focus on fitness gains. The biggest gains I saw were when I started strength training, my sweet tooth quieted down a bit, and I got leaner/toner.
– Intuitive eating. I began to pay attention to factors outside of eating itself. Most importantly, instead of just eating what I had planned to eat because it was on my schedule and under my calorie allotment, I began to ask myself if I was hungry? If I was hungry, how hungry was I? I re-taught myself that food is fuel and has a purpose outside of taste.
- Eat Until 80% Full (Hara Hachi Bu) (Intuitive Eating Series Part 3)
- Limit Distractions While Eating (Intuitive Eating Series Part 2)
- Gauging Your Hunger Cues (Intuitive Eating Series Part 1)
– Accepting fluctuations. I learned to take weight changes as a learning curve and not a death sentence. I didn’t learn it overnight, but the longer I maintained my weight without calorie counting the easier it got.
– I read daily health and fitness blogs. This one sounds crazy, but it’s true. I discovered health and fitness related blogs that tracked one to all of their meals a day. Those girls looked impressive, I began to realize if they could eat almond butter and not “get fat,” then so could I. If they could have dessert every once and a while and not “get fat,” so could I. From then on it became monkey see monkey do. I followed my favorite blogs religiously and began to do their workouts, and I ate what they ate. Soon it got easier and easier to maintain my weight without thinking about it.
I probably didn’t truly stop calorie counting to the point where I had no idea how many calories I eat on a daily basis until close to the end of last summer when I started blogging. You can tell because in one of my very first posts (fun fitness survey) I still had a pretty good idea of my calorie intake. However, at that time I had moved away from my beloved roomie and was doing my dietetic internship. I ate lunch at the hospital every day, so I had less control over what I ate and less of ability to continuously estimate in my head what I ate. Being forced to eat out every day also forced me to let go of some control and further enhanced my intuitive eating skills (see above.) It still amazes me that I don’t think calorie count anymore and that I can maintain my weight (especially recently during my injury where I haven’t worked out hardly at all). Don’t get me wrong; it isn’t always easy… I have my slip ups. Times where I get on the scale and I’m up a little bit, but now I’ve learned just to eat really clean and cut back a little the next few days till I’m where I want to be. I’ve learned to look at outside factors like stress, sleep, and water intake. Most importantly, I’ve learned to take care of my “whole self” better and accept that life is never static, it can and will always change.
- Calorie Counting Journey Part 1: Weight Loss
- Calorie Counting Journey Part 2: Signs It’s Working Against You
- Why 1200 Is Not The Right Number <— one of my most popular posts
- What Is The Best Weight Loss Program < —- read this before going on another diet!