I’ve mentioned before on the blog how I’ve never been a fan of my belly. Way back when (I can say that now since I’ve been out of high school for four years now, right? 😉 ), I dieted. I lost weight in my early high school years, and while I was able to maintain that weight loss, it set me up for self-criticism.
I was new to the health game. I listened to the advice I got online and in books without really thinking twice. I thought I needed to eat 1,500 calories or less because that’s what all the big name mags and websites told me. I followed the likes of the Special K Diet, the Flat Belly Diet, and random magazine diets. In the process, I learned that I needed to count calories to keep the weight from coming back.
Sounds like a great mindset for a 17-year-old to have, huh?
Back then, I was eating and exercising to look good, not necessarily for my health. I had the wrong idea, as so many young women do. As I absorbed more and more information, my attitude changed from “look good” to “look, feel, and be good.” I realized that I could combat health problems later in life by eating well. Still, for a few years, the “look good” attitude was always nagging at me. You know what it was saying? Calorie count. Calorie count. You’ll be thin. It’s the only way!
Calorie counting led me down an obsessive road. I think it’s extremely sad that I was only a teenager, and I thought it was necessary to control what I was eating so thoroughly. That mindset combined with the dieting led me to eat certain foods because I knew how many calories they were, and I could track them without writing it down. Granted, I would eat other things, too, but I would feel stressed because I didn’t know if I was over that oh-so-low prescribed limit.
Not surprisingly, healthy living blogs helped me come to my senses, specifically those written by RDs. I discovered that my body actually needed more calories than I was eating (I believe those years of calorie counting led to metabolic damage), and perhaps that was why I had random cravings for carbs. Carbs weren’t the devil, they were just what my body needed. My body was craving extra calories, and in the past year and a half or so, I truly started to listen.
I don’t count calories anymore, in the strict sense. I probably never will again. I know what it does to my head – not good things. I’m one of the people out there who can easily fall down that rabbit hole. That’s not to say I don’t ballpark how much I’m eating. I think that’s a habit ingrained in me, but now I use it to know when I’m not eating enough rather than when I eat too much. Even though french fries still stress me out sometimes (hey, I’m human), I feel much freer about eating thanks to dropping the calorie counting.
As much as I love to talk about food and health, there can be a point when it becomes a fixation rather than an interest. I’ll be the first to tell you I still flirt with that line. But thanks to letting go of my calorie counting and restriction, I’m slowly learning how to simply eat for nourishment (okay, okay, and sometimes for fun).
Thanks, Amanda, for hosting.
**As a final note, I want to say that I know that calorie counting can be a good thing for weight loss. I’ve seen tons of success stories and people who can treat calorie counting separately from restriction. It just wasn’t the right thing for me.
Questions of the Day:
>> What are your thoughts about calorie counting?
>> Have you ever calorie counted?