I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile but I’ve really struggled putting words on
paper blog. It’s not that I’m embarrassed in any way (anymore), it’s just trying to figure out exactly what to say to explain how far I’ve come in the past 2 years.
For almost 4 years, I kept 5-subject notebooks to keep track of almost every single morsel of food that crossed my lips. In those notebooks lies thousands of calories meticulously added up and analyzed, workouts planned and executed, and pounds of weight I’ve put on and taken off. They were the source of many tears, pent up anger, and underlying fears.
If you haven’t realized, I am a very Type A person. I obsess over very little things and want to have control over every single aspect of my life. Obviously, it’s pretty hard to control everything that happens, but one thing that I could control was food.
I actually started counting calories in college. When I was put in a boot for a stress fracture and could no longer run, counting calories became my way of overcoming my fear of gaining weight. I had always been an athlete and when I went to college, I took up running, so I never really had to worry about my weight. Take away that activity and I was scared. Scared that I’d become an out of shape couch potato just because I couldn’t run. So, I bought a $10 desktop program for my computer and my calorie counting began.
I became obsessed with it. I looked up the calories on every single thing that I ate. I started worrying about going out to eat or going to gatherings with friends and family out of fear that I wouldn’t know exactly how many calories I ate and would thus get fat. If I ate something that was high calorie (something that I deemed “bad” for me), all bets were off and I gorged myself. There were nights I would spend in the bathroom crying because I had eaten so much and wanted to puke because I was over my “calorie limit” but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. At one point, I had overindulged on cookies and was so distraught over it, I went to the rec center and did the elliptical for an hour to burn off those calories.
Thankfully, that was the extreme point of my calorie counting obsession. I actually stopped counting calories after college – until I gained almost 10 pounds in the few months after Matt and I got married. That fear that I was trying to avoid had become a reality and I knew that the only way I was going to get that weight off was to start counting calories again. That’s when the notebooks started. I recorded my workouts, my meals, and my weight every single day. I would spend my nights on the couch planning out the next day, making sure that I was under my calorie goal, and measuring and counting every single thing I made for the next day.
I looked forward to writing in my notebooks every single night. It was relaxing for me. But, I still had the same issues I had in college – worrying about “bad” foods, overindulging when I knew I was going over my calories anyway, and just plain obsessing about every single thing I put in my mouth.
I knew I seriously had a problem when I was still counting calories while I was pregnant with MacKenna. Especially when I was dealing with food aversions and only wanted French fries and bagels with cream cheese. It wasn’t until we went on vacation that summer that I took a week off counting calories, ate everything I wanted and still felt great about myself that I was finally able to give it up.
I started eating what I wanted. I started actually listening to my body: what it craved, how foods made my body feel, when I was starting to feel full. Pregnancy was LIFECHANGING for me in regard to how I eat. It made me not only appreciate my body more, but it made me appreciate food more. I no longer needed to eat a salad every single day. I no longer needed to avoid eating French fries when we went out to restaurants. I no longer worried about one day of overeating. I knew I needed to eat what I craved and eat ENOUGH food to provide my baby the nutrients she needed to grow and develop in the womb.
(Sidenote: I know I am probably crazy thinking this, but I feel like my counting calories at the beginning of my pregnancy is why she was so small when she was born. I know it’s not true because Matt’s family has the tiny genes, but I can’t help still thinking that.)
I’ve only tried counting calories maybe once or twice since having MacKenna – just to help lose some of that baby weight – and quickly realized just how time consuming and simply annoying it was for me. There is no way I’d have the amount of time to sit with my notebooks every night like I used to (I’m sure Matt is happy I’m no longer doing that too) now that I have a little one to chase after all the time.
I don’t have any “bad” foods anymore. I will happily eat ice cream every single night to satisfy that craving. I don’t nearly overeat as much as I used to since I am able to actually listen to my body for when I am starting to feel full. I feel a complete and total freedom from the control that food had over me. I’m still a human calorie calculator – ask me any food and I can probably tell you how many calories is in it – but I don’t care nearly as much as I used to. Overall, I am so much healthier physically and mentally and am so much happier in general now that my life isn’t controlled by what I put in my mouth.
What are your feelings on counting calories? Do you or have you ever counted calories?