Hey there! 2018 already?!? Sheesh.
I am getting ready to start a new program with Beachbody called 80 Day Obsession. It is led by Autumn Calabrese – one of my favorite trainers. I am super excited to have been accepted into her test group, and, a couple other Coaches and I are running a group with almost 30 ladies who are ready to get their health in focus and in check!
With that said, I have been looking through the meal plans and program materials, and I have some bones to pick. This is going to happen through a series of blog posts because I don’t want to lose the focus of my point with you guys. Settle in!
Are you obsessed with calorie counting like most others when trying to get healthy? Let me share with you why I stopped calorie counting and I think you should, too.
When I first began this journey to health 5 years ago, I was entering my foods and calories into an app like my life depended on it. It was exhausting! Shortly after, the 21 Day Fix program released, and alongside it, The Portion Fix, which utilizes color-coded containers to teach you correct food portions. This was awesome!! I learned so much about how to eyeball a serving size and what amounts would truly fill me up. I had been eating way too much for way too long. The containers really helped me get that in check. Then I became obsessed with counting my containers each day. Guess what? That was just as exhausting.
I eventually decided to start counting macros – that is, fat to carb to protein ratios. This is where things really started to change for me. You see, while I was doing this, I noticed that when I ate an extra blue – a healthy fat container – and cut out a purple/fruit container, my body finally started to change. I was no longer getting that bloat so badly that made me look 4 months pregnant every day and the love handles were slowly melting. I had no idea why this was at the time, but I knew it was working.
At that point, I added in 3 healthy fat containers a day and eliminated the yellow/carbohydrate container and the purple/fruit containers completely. I was curious as to what was going to happen. Like you, I was raised to be afraid of fats. But, it was winter and I just thought, whatever, if I gain a few I will switch it back up. To my amazement, the pounds began to disappear. My muscles started to show up. And for some reason, my brain fog was better, too.
I was listening to a lot of podcasts, reading books like crazy because I was a homeschool teacher at the time, and had enrolled back into school to become a Certified Nutrition Counselor. What I was hearing and reading was all this info about eating more high fat, having just a moderate amount of protein, and keeping the carbs low. I said to myself, “WHOA! That’s what I have been doing and it is working for a reason!”
Back to the tracker I went, calculating 70% fats/20% protein/10% carbs like my life depended on it. Yep, I lost weight. You better believe it. I lost about 15 pounds. The problem was, I still spent too much time on the numbers and not enough time on just eating and being alive. It was silly. And it dawned on me, I have stopped listening to my own body. Our great-grandparents didn’t track what they ate. They ate. I am a human. I am smart. I can be intuitive and I can figure out what I need as the time comes. Thinking about food in terms of following a list and a timed schedule can lead to disordered thinking. I think we all agree that disordered thinking can lead to a multitude of terrible issues.
As it turns out, the voice in my head that tells me if I am hungry or not, is right. BUT, I had to learn to feed it the proper nutrition for it to give me the right signals. I will be talking about that in the next blog post. Forcing myself to eat a certain number of calories or to eat a certain number of meals per day was not logical. Once I started to eat when hungry, and not eat when not hungry, everything fell into its place. I am no longer stressed about food. I no longer feeling the guilt from eating out of boredom, being tired, or cravings from feeding crap to my body and inducing an insulin response. (By the way, insulin lies to you! More on that later…)
So what to do next??
Well, if you are new to a program or even just starting off on getting yourself healthy, by all means, the Portion Fix is a great place to start. Also, consulting a Nutritional Counselor that can help you eliminate inflammatory foods is a great idea. (That’s me, by the way!) Find Portion Fix here!
If you have been in this game for a while, and you are stressed about your eating and foods for any reason, give yourself a break. Start listening to your signals. Are you hungry or thirsty? Are you bored? Emotional? Have you eaten too many carbs and not enough healthy fat?
I used to classify myself as a “clean eater.” While I guess that is still true, putting a name on it limits me on what I “can” and “can’t” eat. Guess what I want to eat the most of? And now, people ask me all the time if I am eating “Keto” or “Paleo.” While I do follow some of those philosophies, I don’t limit myself and I don’t follow their guidelines specifically. Instead, I listen to what my body is saying it needs, and I eat that. And yes, that is mainly a high healthy fat/moderate protein/low carbohydrate (from veggies) diet. Some days I eat 2400 calories. Some days I eat 900. Some days I am right “on target” at 1500. Who cares!? It all levels out and I am now in the healthiest shape of my life.
I want to encourage you to count calories (and even macros) very loosely. It is fine when you are a beginner. In fact, I recommend it. But do not allow yourself the thoughts that you need to do it forever. Do it for a few weeks and then ease up on yourself!! Will I ever track again? Maybe. If the time comes that I feel I need to SEE what I am eating on paper (or the phone – ha!), then yeah, I probably will track for 4 or 5 days, get myself realigned, and discontinue it again. I never want for you or myself to be stuck on tracking to the inth degree again.
Side note: Did you know that the calorie and nutritional counts on our food lables can be wrong up to 20% either way? The FDA allows this. So, are you really eating what you are tracking anyway? Who knows.
Listen, food is here to fuel us. We feel like it has control over us because we have given it control. Be gentle with yourself and you will get your control back.
Contact me here or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help in this area. I am more than willing to talk your ear off about it.
Love and Health,