Ok, time for some real honesty here. I didn’t start formally counting my calories on a day to day basis until this past July. I did, however, add up a day of eating from time to time to assess how many calories I was actually eating, and what those calories were composed of from a nutrition perspective. My hesitance to formally count calories was based upon my past experience doing this, where I had used formal counting to torture myself. Over the 3 1/2 years that I lost weight without using a daily calorie count, I became proactive in educating myself about what my body needed nutritionally, approximating portions by reading labels, and progressively adopted a more balanced diet over time that was low in fat, high in protein, and rich with vegetables and whole grains. I started a journal to keep track of my daily caloric intake because I had hit a plateau several-month-long plateau and I knew that if I wanted to become more fit, it was time to face the music and overcome my calorie counting fears.
When I first started counting calories, as I suspected I tortured myself a bit. I ate too few calories for my activity level, and felt drained, grumpy, and I did not seem to be helping my body change in a positive way. Then, a beautiful thing happened. I changed my perspective, and decided that this was a fun science experiment. This became my 4th grade baking soda/vinegar exploding volcano experiment! (Remember that? So fun!) In my experiment, I weighed myself nearly every day, and wrote it down. I measured everything and kept a running tally of my calories, and let myself go a bit higher on my caloric intake when I had a real craving or ate out at a favorite restaurant. Eventually, I also started keeping journaling my workout routines. My experiment revealed that the things I was overeating were sometimes healthy foods, but my portion sizes were a bit skewed without my trusty measuring cup. It also revealed that I sometimes got stuck in food and workout ruts, and having a written record to look back on helped me ensure that I was varying my meal plans and workout regimen. I discovered that I could eat about 2000 calories a day and lose 2 pants sizes over 6 months. I only lost about 12 lbs, but I started exceeding my personal fitness goals as I became leaner and more muscular.
At this point my goals revolve much more around my overall health and fitness, and less around the number on the scale, and I am extremely happy with the results of my experiment. The journaling ‘experiment ‘ is no longer an experiment, but just another part of my life. I have come to have a healthier and more honest relationship with the variation in my daily weight, and with foods that I once considered to be problematic. I now find that I assess much more honestly how much I want to eat something high in calories and low in nutrition, and can limit myself to a reasonably sized portion.
I chose to share this story, because it reminds me that for as far as I feel I’ve come away from a lifestyle that led me to poor health; old habits die hard and there is always room for personal growth in my life. I hope that as your continue on your journey to health, you discover an ability to truly honest be with yourself about your short-comings. In turn I hope that this leads you to a deeper level of happiness as you pursue and accomplish your goals.