Friday, July 20, 2012

The Counting Game

Happy Friday! Today is a pretty chill day over here, I'm about to get a work out in with Bray and then we're going to make some banana nut muffins for this weekend. Someone donated a bunch of bananas to us at work, so I have about 12 bananas that I don't want to waste!

On a different note, I just read a post written by Katie, the wonderful owner of Her post "To count calories or not.. that is the question" was incredible, she had some great insight and I loved reading her understanding of this questionable matter. In high school, my love of fitness & food went too far, and I was constantly counting every single sliver of food I ate - I limited myself to no more than 1200 calories a day, sometimes only about 1000. This grew into an obsession that lasted for about 5 years. I wasn't taking in nearly enough calories for how much I was working out, and it hurt me more than it helped me. I felt more insecure, had less energy, and my body held on to every bit of food I allowed myself to eat rather than turn it into energy.

Last year, I started to be more lenient on how many calories I took in, but I still kept track due to the mental obsession I had. It gets so exhausting trying to keep track of everything you eat, food seriously ruled my day and would sometimes determine my mood if I ate well or "cheated." So many girls struggle with this, something as simple as counting calories. Up until this summer, I still tracked my calories on a daily basis. Katie summed up why keeping a running total of calories isn't healthy, and can really do the reverse of what you're wanting to accomplish. Now, don't get me wrong, but counting calories in the beginning of a weight loss / fitness journey is a different story. People embarking on a new health lifestyle should get comfortable with reading labels and being conscious of how many calories they are in-taking, but after a month or two of doing so it's time to listen to your body.

Here's Katie's reasoning:

So, although I am aware of what I am eating, I don’t keep a running total of calories for the day on paper, or in general. Here are a few reasons why I don’t count calories:
1. Eating with friends and family can get tricky if you are always counting calories. In general, if you don’t know what was put in the food, this can lead to anxiety… Or even a ‘bingeing’ mentality, when you throw all ‘care’ out the window because you don’t know what to write down. Instead, when I am at a get-together, I try to pick the healthiest choices that I see and make it my goal to focus more on enjoying the people I’m with rather than on the food…(after all that is really what life is all about isn’t it!?!)  And if I do pick a dessert, or something that I know isn’t so healthy, then I stick to one portion, and really spend time enjoying each bite (or I share it)!
2. If you count calories, you can actually over eat! Here’s what I mean… If you count calories, then chances are you will feel like you need to finish every single bite, even if you are truly full, in an effort to track the calories properly! This is a bit crazy if you think about it, because God really did put a ‘full’ signal inside each one of us for a reason! When I was first learning to pay attention to my body, I would take a few bites, put my fork down, and really pay attention to how I felt. Then, when I felt like my stomach was satisfied, I stopped, and saved the rest for later. Sure, it was tough to do this at first, and it does take practice (and prayer) in the beginning, but eventually you will be so in tune with your body, you won’t even have to think twice about it!
3. It can lead to bingeing. For me personally, counting calories led to binges when I let myself have ‘a day off’ of counting. This was most likely because I felt like I had to use my ‘freedom’ to it’s fullest  by eating whatever came across my path. Again, this is not entirely logical if you think about it, because there will always be another chance to eat any certain type of food again. However, on the days that I wasn’t counting calories, I felt as though I had to eat everything like it was my last chance to eat, knowing that the very next day I was going to be back to ‘tracking’.

Every point she made was definitely me in a nutshell for the past few years. Mentally, all of this can work you over and is honestly exhausting. Since starting Crossfit, I haven't felt the need to count calories at all. I know that I am working out enough to coincide with my caloric intake. I want to be healthier, I want to get stronger, and I want to treat my body the best that I can. Not allowing myself more than 1200 calories isn't the way to do it. In August, Crossfit is kicking of their Paleo challenge and I am super excited about it. It is a 30 day challenge to eat only whole foods (absolutely nothing processed), and it will be based on a point system. You calculate points from doing a fitness test at the beginning and end, eating healthy whole foods, drinking more water, etc - not how much weight or inches you lose. 

For anyone out there counting calories that truly does not need to, I encourage you to give it up for one week. Yes, just one week. Listen to your body - eat until you're satisfied, not stuffed. Your body will naturally send you cues to eat, and when to stop eating at a meal. Trust me, you will feel SO much better and such a feeling of freedom if you just give it up. I've had to take little steps - not counting for a few days, then a week, and so on. It's not one "end all" and I realize that. Let's do this together and live healthier happier lives!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. {Romans 12: 1-2}


  1. This was great! It's so easy to get consumed by calorie counting, and to stress about body image. I'm still so mad I missed that talk with our small group but it's ok, someone needs to fill me in soon! I miss you :)

  2. I sadly missed that talk too, I'm not happy about it! But I guess we weren't there for a reason right? I sure do miss you though, I'd love to see you this week!!