Today I want to share an email I received from a reader two years ago.  A little “THROWBACK THURSDAY” if you will.  I get asked this SAME question a couple of times a month so I think that the topic is worth a re-post.  The original post was written two years ago (and I’ve grown even more happy with my body since then!).

CALORIE COUNTING.  To count or not to count?  Is it healthy or obsessive?  How do I stop when I’ve met my weightloss goal?  So many questions and the answer really depends on the PERSON.  Here’s the exact email I received:

I have really found it quite refreshing and I wish I could get to the point that you’re at now. I realize that it would be impossible for you to succinctly explain how you got to where you are but I would love to know what you eat or how you exercise to look so amazing, all without having to get on the scale in the morning or track what you’re eating.  Lately, I changed my diet and was at a calorie deficit and saw some weight loss but more noticeably body fat % loss.  But now I’m scared to remove myself from this calorie deficit because I don’t want to gain the weight back.  I would also love it if I didn’t feel like I had to track my calories or get on the scale every morning to make sure that I was maintaining my weight.  I am exercising 4-5 times a week with small group classes that include TRX/Kettlebells and Proformer work or a fusion of the two. I have gotten stronger, so I know the classes are working.

I guess the overall theme of this email is – how do you do it?

I’ll share my response below.  Please note that it’s more of an “idea” response and not a “do steps 1 through 5” response if that makes sense.  Over the past 10 or so years, I’ve gone from anorexic to bulimic to calorie restrictive to “weird food girl” to where I am now.  It’s taken time and a lot of prayer and refocused thinking.  I can say that without a doubt my outlook on health/food/exercise is leaps and bounds better. I just had to stop thinking so much.

First, thanks for reading and for reaching out! I still find it hard to believe that people read about my little old life and it makes me smile a little bit.  So thank you.

To answer your question, it has taken me YEARS to find out the right balance for my body, MY being the operative word. I experimented with so many ways of eating and exercising – Atkins, Zone, only running, only strength training, low calorie, low fat.  You name it- I tried it.

When it came to counting calories, I think a light switched when I got pregnant with my son, Henry.

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I was no longer focusing on ME, but rather this child that I had to nourish.  My body was growing and I was happy about that.  I was hungry – I had to eat.  I KNEW I shouldn’t step on that scale because the number had little to do with how able I was or how healthy he was.  So I started CARING LESS.  Putting less time into thinking about food and exercise.  I made healthy choices because I liked the taste of healthy food, but I also started to just eat whatever was given to me – BEING THANKFUL FOR FOOD.  Small portions but it didn’t matter if it was a cheeseburger or a salad.  I just ate and nourished my body.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that a big turning point came when I started THINKING LESS about what I was/wasn’t allowed to eat.  And I just ate when I was hungry.  The body is so incredibly smart.  I get hungry every 2-3 hours and I eat something pretty healthy.  I’m not counting macros or calories.  When we get our brains involved too much, obsession comes in and it can become an idol in our lives.  I don’t want that anymore.  I just want to BE.  Without all the food and exercise rules.

Getting there…

I’ll be praying for you and this battle.  Know that it will take time to stop counting – it becomes a comfort for us.  I pray that you’ll find that same comfort in knowing that your thoughts aren’t consumed with something so trivial.  There are SO many more important things to think about.

Reach out anytime!

lindsay

———-

QUESTION:  Do you count calories?  If so, is it healthy for you personally?  Any applicable tips for someone looking to STOP counting?

splendid…lindsay

  1. Jody - Fit at 57 says:

    I always find these discussions so interesting! I started way back when with portion control & knowing my calories & nutritional make up of foods… over time I did not have to log anymore but I still keep an eye on that & it works for me – I have a lot of experience with it & it helped me lose & maintain. :)

  2. Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries says:

    So glad you shared this! I’ve had a VERY similar road and just like yourself, it clicked for me when I got pregnant with Hunter. I stopped thinking about it all so much and just listened to my body. From there, I slowly was able to trust my body and eat when I was hungry and stop when I was full…all without the guilt and obsessive calorie counting. Sooo happy to be in a healthier place physically and mentally!

  3. Stephanie K says:

    I think that may have been my question from years ago ;) I have to say that Lindsay was right and it really comes down to your mindset. There was a book I read for a class in my RD program that really resonated with me because we not only had to read it but keep a journal about each chapter for the professor. Doing that exercise and treating myself and my body with more grace has really helped me. If anyone is interested in the book, I’m not affiliated with it in anyway. I just liked it. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1250004047/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1250004047&linkCode=as2&tag=linslis0c-20&linkId=ZJPEIJBJ7M3VNUZ3

  4. Emily says:

    Boy. It’s such a numbers game, that I’ve become so used to that it’s hard to give it up. I am learning to be more intuitive, but it’s hard. I do ‘mentally’ count calories, but it’s not helpful for me, nor is it something that I would say helps me.

  5. Amanda @ Slimplify Life says:

    Great post! I used to count every calorie and then completely stopped when I started focusing on more intuitive eating, and listening to my hunger cues rather than my calorie counter. I feel so much healthier and more free (if that makes sense?!) but I also know everyone has to find their own mojo!

  6. sarah@creatingbettertomorrow says:

    UHHHH…I stopped, then I started, then I stopped, then I started. I just tracked for the past two weeks because I just am not happy with where I am and want to GAIN WEIGHT. so I tracked but I can already tell IT IS NOT GOOD FOR ME AND MY MENTAL GAME. So after reading this I vow to stop!! But look forward to hearing more from other readers on how they stopped.

    I just think I don’t know what true hunger cues are still after years of crazy messed up eating!

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