July 16, 2013

Why We Should Stop Counting Calories.

Waylon recently wrote an article about healthy ways to lose weight and feel your best, and I feel that he hit the nail right on the head with all 10 of his tips.

I brought this article up for discussion with my husband while we were cooking dinner the other night (cooking was even on this aforementioned list).

I told him that I’d noticed several Facebook comments along the lines of I’m so surprised to hear you’ve struggled with weight.

On one hand, I think many people are shocked that men think about their weight too (if you know or love a man, this shouldn’t come as a surprise though), but the man in my life brought up an even better point—people are often amazed to hear these words from the mouth of someone within a generally healthy and ideal weight range.

One of the aspects of this article that I enjoyed the most was that Waylon asked for readers to leave their own tips in the comment section. Since, like I stated, he really hit all the biggies, there wasn’t anything else groundbreaking to mention.

However, it got me thinking about the one thing that has helped me the most along my own journey towards being my healthiest, fittest self—not counting calories.

I know, I know, this might garner some negative feedback.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that counting calories can help individuals relearn appropriate food portions—and I’m all for this. Yet, here’s the thing—if you count calories you will never learn to listen to your body.

It took me years to relearn my body’s hunger cues. Years.

It took being afraid to eat ice cream because I always ate too much, but then not being too terrified to try it again—because I knew that I could do it.

I knew that I could learn to eat ice cream from a big tub and not have to eat the whole thing—and I knew that I also didn’t need those wasteful and expensive little, tiny containers either.

I knew that I could figure out how many cashews I wanted without pouring them into measuring cups. (Although, to be fair, I did measure them out initially.)

I had a lot of strikes against me, my biggest offender being that I was anorexic.

In order to be anorexic you, by definition, need to not listen to your body’s hunger signals—it’s part of what makes anorexia a coping mechanism when you’re undergoing an out-of-control, stressful situation (because you feel in control).

But the thing is you’re not in control—at all.

So I had to learn how to listen to myself and figure out the differences between hunger and thirst or full and really full—and the frustrating thing is that no one can teach you how to do this.

I can’t write a blog for you on how to learn to listen to your body because you need to get in touch with yourself, with your own body, but don’t worry, that’s what makes this ultimately so healing and worthwhile.

And, at the end of the day, this is control—to be able to listen to yourself and not have a packaging label or weight in ounces tell you when you’ve had enough.

Be prepared to overeat at times or realize that you should have actually eaten more when you’re hungry again an hour later—but also be prepared for a huge sense of relief and release.

Because the second that you can stop counting calories and trust yourself—your own heart and your own intuition—well, you’ve just won something that no one can ever take away from you.

You’ve won the ability to be the real you—and the real you doesn’t need diets or fasts or binges or mind tricks or even FDA-approved portion control.

But our society doesn’t make listening to our bodies easy for us either.

We have to eat from this time to that, and we need to grab breakfast and be out the door by then—and we learn this type of scheduling pretty early on too.

I might get a lot of flack for this one, but I’ll be the first to admit that my daughter is allowed to eat when she wants to.

If she’s hungry at 4 p.m. I don’t make her wait because her daddy and I are going to sit down together at 7. After all, I’m trying to prevent her from having to relearn these internal signals in the first place.

So, yeah, you might need help at first—and that might even mean counting calories—but here’s what I think: if you sincerely want to feel your best and be your healthiest, then you need to stop with the numbers entirely.

Just give it a thought or, better yet, give it a try.

Sure, you might eat too much ice cream at first (or—cough, cough—for months). You might even think you can’t do it—but you can. I promise.

Our bodies are generally smarter and more well-equipped to operate than we allow them to be.

Food for thought.

Stop counting calories and start living.


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Ed: B. Bemel

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