Calories - Ain't Nobody Got Time For That!
When I first started on this wild fitness journey (way back in 2006), I was madly devoted to logging my calories. Food wasn't really food; food was a numbers game. I measured every morsel and counted every calorie.
Now, don't get me wrong. In the beginning, logging what I ate was a huge part of my early success with weight loss. There are tons of great online sites and communities for this. Through the years, I've tried places like Spark People, My Fitness Pal, and Fitocracy. In one way or another, each helped me be accountable for my nutrition choices.
But if you're anything like me, this can be a slippery slope. It wasn't long before the numbers were more important than the food I was putting in my body. I lost the joy in discovering new foods, because I had my tried and true recipes that would hit the calorie count I felt was most beneficial for my fitness goals. Although I was eating clean, I wasn't eating a well-rounded variety of foods.
Simply counting calories doesn't necessarily equal building a healthy body.
Last year I worked with a trainer that transformed my mindset on nutrition. Although I begged for a nutrition plan from the start, he refused to give me a set calorie goal or plan to follow. Instead, we focused on changing my mindset about food. And every time I argued that I needed to know the right portions, I needed to have more information, he calmed my fears and turned my focus to listening to my body.
We started with a few simple guidelines, loosely paraphrased here:
- Drink more water. And then drink some more.
- Eat lots of different veggies and lean meat
- Stop eating when you feel about 80% full (wow -- this was hard to learn, but so effective!)
I went from obsessively counting my calories to purposefully choosing a variety of healthy foods throughout the day. In baby steps, I came to realize how many delicious foods I was missing out on. I shed my calorie counting addiction and stepped into a place where I ate food I enjoyed and fueled my body simultaneously.
Suddenly, I was free. I lost weight, built muscle, and haven't counted a calorie since. The thing is, when you're eating a variety of clean, healthy foods and moving your body daily, it's hard to screw things up. While counting calories may be a great way to understand what's really in that food you're eating, you can also pave the path to the body you desire by dropping that calorie counter and listening to what your body needs and making it a priority to choose a variety of whole, natural foods every day.