Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Calorie Counting

I'm on a rant roll!

You guys know I love Fitness Blender.  I really do.  To have workouts this comprehensive and professionally done provided to people FOR FREE is truly admirable and shows that they care about people and not profit.  Their workouts have changed my life and really have made me feel joy at doing physical activity.  I never dread going up and doing my workouts, in fact I'm always excited to see if today's the day that I can lift heavier on certain motions or do jump squats instead of regular squats, etc.  Hitting those milestones has brought a lot of pride and self confidence into my life that I didn't really have before.  My body has changed in ways that I never dreamed or expected, and they've changed the way I've viewed fitness and activity and how it fits into my life.  I'm very thankful they exist.

You guys sense the "but" coming, don't you?

The one subject that I pretty heavily disagree with them on is eating, not so much the nutrition aspect, but their pretty heavy disapproval of calorie counting.  Kelli released a video a few months back on her journey to health, and when she was younger suffered from disordered eating.  She fell into obsessive and dangerous habits with calorie counting, and basically now uses intuitive eating instead.  She frequently makes negative comments on calorie counting in any recipe or nutrition post they share, and the subtext seems to be that ANY form of calorie counting is disordered eating.  It really makes me uncomfortable and frankly pisses me off a bit, but I just kind of ignore it and do my thing that I know works.  Kelli's experience is hers, and mine is mine, both are valid.  Then I saw this exchange under a recipe post yesterday that set me off:


Here's a counter perspective to those that demonize calorie counting.  Calorie counting has quite literally saved my life and trying to eat strictly with intuitive eating leads to bad things for me.  There are some of us who simply don't register "full" during meals, and I am one of them.  I speed eat every meal as though it's my last despite years of trying to break that habit, which causes me to overeat if I'm free ranging so to speak.  (Not to mention that left to my own devices I always "intuitively" need 3 cupcakes and 3 burgers a week, you know what I mean?)  Using calorie counting and portioning has removed this battle from my daily life and has actually trained me to recognize when I'm full.  I used to have a lot of shame, stress and anxiety around food that I have managed to eliminate by using calorie counting instead of a vague "eat healthfully" eating style.  It took a once mysterious and complicated issue and made it very simple, and tracking my food encompasses about 3 minutes of my life per day.  It's honestly a huge weight off of my mind and spirit and makes me regret that I didn't have this come to Jesus with myself years ago.  It really is simple and a lot like budgeting.  I've got so much a day to "spend" and I make smart choices based on what I have in my calorie bank.  Do I sometimes pull from "savings" for a  a treat I really want?  You bet your ass I do, and I don't feel bad about it, I just course correct a little the next day.  I'm also at the point where in some instances, I can trust myself to rely on intuition.  If I'm sitting on the couch at night after dinner and my stomach is rumbling with genuine hunger, it lets me know that I likely underestimated my calories burned for the day after a tougher workout, so I get up and get a banana, nuts or some popcorn and have a little something extra.  No biggie.  For me personally, calorie counting has given me freedom rather than restriction.

Calorie counting is a tool and just like any tool, it can be abused by the person using it.  This goes for about a million things including exercise, medication, the internet, so on and so forth.  I do understand that people with eating disorders or people who get obsessive should likely NOT use calorie counting.  Totally valid.  I just really am a bit irked that some people twist it to where any form of calorie counting is somehow an eating disorder, and that "normal" people don't calorie count.  It is unfortunate if calorie counting causes you to be obsessive or have a bad relationship with food, but just as I wouldn't make the blanket statement that intuitive eating always leads to overeating for everyone, I think it's unfair and slightly irresponsible to imply that calorie counting is an unhealthy behavior that will lead to an eating disorder for others.

The thing that makes me sad is that Kelli and I are on the same side ultimately.  Food shouldn't be a battle and life should be balanced.  A majority of your diet should be a mix of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, heart healthy fats and grains, but you should also allow for those simple pleasures such as a really nice dessert, beer, cheese or whatever your thing is.  Holidays, vacations and special events shouldn't be about stress or guilt and what you should or shouldn't eat.  That's exactly the life I (and many others!) am able to lead via calorie counting, and it would be nice if there weren't scare tactics surrounding it!


  1. Great post!!! I am one that had to calorie count for the same reasons you do. But that's me and what makes the world so interesting and fun is that everyone is different!!!!!!

    1. Totally! I think intuitive eating is great if you can reach a point where you can trust yourself and what your body is asking for, but can be pretty tricky for a beginner. I also throw a side eye to intuitive eating because it usually goes hand in hand with people squawking about the "starvation mode" myth, but if people can do it as intended, good on ya. We've all got to do what works best for us! I have found that as the months go one, calorie counting has actually helped me be more intuitive and be able to trust certain signals and patterns for my body. It doesn't have to be this crazy, negative, punishing thing!