Eat Well, Move More

{May 11, 2012}   Calories Schmalories

I don’t count calories.  What?!

Yes, you read correctly. I have not counted or tracked calories in years. Long ago, I gave up tracking and calculating the exact grams of carbs, sugars, fat, protein. Yes, I know it sounds like an oxymoron, especially coming from someone who will be blogging about weight loss, health, eating right, etc.

I do understand the concept of counting calories and the many theories of how calories play a part for weight gain, weight loss. Calories in (diet), calories out (exercise) as the simplest. The theory that our bodies metabolize different types of calories differently, and the recommended scientific ratios.  I’ve read the research and agree that what we put into our bodies to fuel and the energy we burn will affect our mass, our weight, our body shape.  Counting calories and understanding how calories work in relation to a healthy weight has its place. I simply have no desire or need to count calories and track every single morsel numerically. In school, I greatly disliked Mathematics. I am right-brained. Simply put:  I do not speak numbers.

Once upon a time, I obsessively counted calories, fat grams and sugars, and I would,  with much scrutiny,  calculate the exact amount of output (exercise) needed to expel the calories I had input.  This time in my life was a dark time, obsessive and unhealthy. This was a time in my life that I struggled with an eating disorder, which I will share with you another time.

A few years back, I was tasked with meticulously planning meals structured according to Phase One of the Atkins’ Diet.  Food choices were extremely limited, only certain number of grams of carbohydrates (including fiber) was allowed, etc.  Plan and preparing the meals was tedious and boring, and above all, frustrating. If I deviated just a little bit from the “prescribed” plan, well, let’s not go there. Let’s just say, that I was not the one partaking in the diet plan. I prepared the meals for someone else.  I found it extreme, incomplete, and far more complicated than necessary. It was certainly not satisfying, as I witnessed frequent binges and straying from the plan.  I was urged to join in following this plan, but instead, I chose another path.

I have been a (an on again/off again) Weight Watchers member.   Yes, there is tracking and counting involved in the WW plan, but I found it a simpler method. It satisfied the small part of me that tends to obsess; it gave me something to track.  There are fewer numbers to track, healthy goals, and far less complicated. At least, it was for me.  Most importantly, beyond the tracking points, WW taught me very valuable lessons that have made it possible for me to feel confident in eating without counting calories.

  • Writing it down and keeping a food journal made me more aware of what I am eating. This behavior encouraged me to more carefully think about what I put in my mouth.
  • Choices and options were plentiful, as were the consequences. If I chose foods that were more convenient (prepackaged, fast food, etc), then I ate less often and felt unsatisfied. If I chose “real” food, such as fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, than I could eat more frequently and feel more satisfied.
  • Moving my body “bought” extra points that I could choose to eat or not. Again, choices.
  • Thoughtful choices bring positive results and success.
  • Accountability is powerful. Support is imperative.
I haven’t attended WW meetings in several weeks, for budgetary reasons, but I have not left behind the tools. I still have them available to me, and refer to them often.  Am I tracking points right now? No. Why? Because at this new starting point, I’m keeping it simple.  I will most likely return to counting points and attending meetings, but for now, I am excited about this new freedom I have found.
I had a realization a couple of weeks ago, an epiphany. I have the tools I need to be successful in my desire to return to a healthy weight, to reach the jeans size that I will feel good in, and to improve my overall well-being. I know the difference between food that is “convenient” and food that is real and beneficial (Some would call this “clean eating”).  I know what is needed to move in the direction I want to head in.  If I eat real food and make an effort to move my body more, then I will reach those goals without overwhelming myself or stressing out about the numbers. And I can enjoy…
I have a found a new passion and enjoyment in photographing the food I cook. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with food most of my life.  I choose to embrace the “love” part of that relationship. I love food. I love to eat. I love to cook. I love to create dishes that appealing and colorful and tasty.  Seeing the pictures brings me joy and reminds me of my success with being able to make good choices in food. If I am eating well, I do not need to worry about the calories so much. In fact, when food is elegant and appetizing, I tend to eat less of it, because I savor each morsel. And I don’t like to mess up my creations so quickly.
So…I will choose to Eat Well…and enjoy it.

That doesn’t look like quite enough… Whee’s the meat??? Sorry…

Were you referring to the photograph of my dinner? The photo really doesn’t do it justice, but it was a very delicious and satisfying dinner. What you see there is a grilled chicken sandwich (about 3 oz. chicken breast) with sauteed onions and red peppers, and just a little mozzarella cheese and lettuce on a whole wheat sandwich thin. On the side sweet potato fries and steamed asparagus with garlic. For me…it was quite enough and very satisfying.

Not only did I not spot the chicken, I didn’t see a dastardly typo in my first comment to you, either. Your chicken dinner does look delicious and nutritious. And now I know there is some chicken lurking under the other goodies, it also looks filling!

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