I was definitely a calorie counter. It started early. My mom and stepfather used to go on a diet from time-to-time called the rotation diet or something like that. It was a 3-4 week program and you would eat a prescribed number of calories from week to week. Most of what I remember is 1. That there was A LOT of orange roughy eaten over those years and 2. That I thought eating 900 calories a day was healthy. Sure, they lost weight but they typically gained it back too because there was no way to maintain it over the long haul. Eventually I grew out of thinking ultra-low calorie intake was okay but I did continue to count calories. Whichever way you look at it, food became a numbers game. When I gained a ridiculous amount of weight because of my untreated hypothyroidism I joined weight watchers. While I wasn’t counting calories I was counting points. Or we’re told to make sure that you eat a certain percentage of carbs, fat and protein/day. Listen, I like numbers. I’m a bit OCD and counting things can be a favorite pastime of mine but I can’t even picture what 15% of my daily intake would, could or should look like.
After the birth of my first child, I still counted. I wasn’t obsessed with it but I counted and tracked how many calories I ate and how many I burned. And I was so good at counting that I could do it in my head. The weight came off but something else happened too. I learned that counting is not that way to go about it. And I reminded myself that being obsessed with counting calories isn’t healthy. What made me come to this realization? Looking at my daughter and thinking I never what her to count calories. I never want her to feel uncomfortable in her own skin whether she’s thin or round.
So I liberated myself. It’s not always easy. Sometimes I catch myself adding up the number of calories or grams of fat I ate that day. I mean, sure you can lose weight that way but it doesn’t mean that you’re making healthy choices to facilitate long-term health. If you want to feel good in your body, have less visits to doctors and maintain a higher level of health (and by the way be a good role model for your kids) follow these simple rules:
1. A calorie is NOT a calorie. What I mean is that all calories are not created equal. The fiber in the fruit helps your body break down the sugar much more efficiently than drinking a glass of juice.
2. Eats lots and lots of vegetables. I don’t care if you eat 2000 calories worth of vegetables/day just eat them. Eat them at breakfast, lunch and dinner. And, no I’m not suggesting that you don’t eat meat. I eat meat, I just eat a lot more vegetables alongside my meat.
3. Eat whole foods. Reduce, limit, cut out as much processed food as you possibly can. It will eliminate the fillers that interfere with good health and weight loss.
I know that we’ve been trained to track calories. It seems like an easy enough solution to getting rid of excess weight. But ask yourself this, did you maintain your long-term health goals by counting calories? Probably not. The focus has to be less of a numbers game and more about eating whole foods.