WIAW-The calorie counting question

by Chelcie on February 1, 2012

Helllo and happy WIAW

Check it out over at Peas and Crayons!

So I am kind of hesitant to talk about topics surrounding “calorie counting” and “caloric intake” on my blog because it is such a controversial topic. However I talked a little bit about disordered eating in this post and how for a while I restricted my caloric intake to 1200 calories a day. I lost about 12 pounds restricting my intake this much, which I am fully aware is too low of a number, especially when I was exercising on top of everything else

However, I feel as though I’ve been stuck in the “calorie counting” trap for a while now and I’m finding it really difficult to get out of it. Its sad that I pretty much could tell you the caloric value of any type of food because I memorized so many, and I find myself adding up calories using the calculator on my phone pretty much every day to make sure I don’t go over a certain number

What is that number you ask? I couldn’t really tell you exactly..usually a range between 1300-1500, but I can guarantee you many days (especially weekends) I go WAY over that number just by alcohol consumption alone (note: i’m not an alcoholic, I just attend a party school:) )..but what I’m trying to get at is that I don’t really know what number I should target for, or if I should just quit calorie counting all together and focus on eating balanced, healthy meals.

So just for example, lets go through my day of eats yesterday and add up the calories

I woke up at 7:30 yesterday morning randomly STARVING (maybe because I didn’t eat enough calories the day before? not sure..) so I decided to wake up and make myself breakfast

1 chobani greek yogurt, 1/2 sliced banana, a sprinkle of granola, and 1 tbsp PB2: So 140 + 35 + 60 + 25= 260 calories

I contemplated working out a little while later, but instead I went back to bed until 11:) Yes pretty pathetic I’m aware lol

At 11 I had a little snack, 1/2 handful of cocoa dusted almonds

so around 80 calories

then around 1 I had brunch with my friends, and this was my plate!

I had 1 more small pancake, and 2 more egg white fritatta muffins. So 120 (two small pancakes), 170 (scone), 120 (3 mini fritattas), 30 (fruit) total: 440 calories

And for dessert I had 1 magic bar and 1 little biscotti so apx 240 calories

A little while later I completed this circuit 1 time through, and this circuit 2 times through..if I were to guess I would say I burned around 150 calories..so we’ll count that as -150 calories

I had another small handful of cocoa almonds (apx 100 calories) and 2 baby clemenintes (apx 50 calories) + 150 calories

Right after my workout I went to dance practice for my sorority, where I danced my butt off for 2 hours..I don’t know how many calories I burned exactly but I would say at LEAST 400 calories..I was dripping sweat..cute I know..so -400 calories

Dinner was a big salad and soup

Spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, green pepper, non-fat cottage cheese and balsamic vinegar. delishhh I was so hungry when I got home!

For the butternut squash soup I used this recipe

So the soup was around 80 calories and the salad was around 200: So the total being 280..this is getting annoying right?! I know

For a nighttime snack while watching Glee (btw OMG BEST EPISODE YET!!) I had a individual bag of popcorn and a clementine

So that’s about 120 calories

So my grand total for the day: 1,570 (subtracting the calories I burned while working out) =1020 calories

Now 1,020 calories seems low right? But the fact that I consumed 1,570 calories still gives me anxiety because 1200 calories is so instilled in my brain that its still hard to break the desire to restrict my intake to that number..but obviously as you see my average daily eats normally do not fall below 1500 calories

That being said I know I have come a long way from how I use to be, because I let myself enjoy treats and dinners out at restaurants more than I use to (note magic bar and biscotti consumed today! which are considered “extra calories” that use to be off limits for me!)

But I know I still have a lot to work on because I feel as though I worry too much about how much or little I am consuming on a daily basis. Whenever I am eating breakfast I always have thoughts in my head ..(so in 3 hours I can have a snack, but since my breakfast was 300 calories my snack can only be 100 calories, which means my lunch can be no more than 300 calories, which leaves room for 500 more calories until I reach 1200 for the day..)

I know this may sound crazy to all of you, and as I’m typing this out it makes me sound like a crazy person..but a lot of the times I don’t listen to the voice in my head because I realize how crazy and paranoid I’m being

Most of the time on my blog I like to share more positive rather than negative topics, but I feel as though people reading can relate to where I’m coming from

I feel as though some of it might be because I’m not 100% happy with my appearance..but I don’t feel as though I’ll ever be because I’m way too hard on myself

I know this is a long post and if your still reading I appreciate it..writing these types of posts is therapeutic in a way because it sheds light on an area of my life that could still use improvement

I want to stop worrying so much, and just focus on living a healthy lifestyle!

So I’m going to keep yelling at the silly voice in my head, and keep slowly increasing my caloric intake at a pace that I’m comfortable with

And eventually I WILL stop counting calories

<3Chelcie

Question for ya: Have you ever restricted your food intake too much? Did you ever or do you count calories? Advice for breaking the calorie counting habit would be greatly appreciated:)

Note: I am not saying calorie counting is bad, just for me its become a little too obsessive. Its time to focus on healthy living!

And I will hit the publish button rightttttt now.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie @ Naturally Sweet Recipes February 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm

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Such yummy eats!! I never count calories, but I have said no to something because it was late or it was too much of something I’d already had for the day. I think there should just be balance and like you said- love your body and treat it well!

GOtheXtraMile February 1, 2012 at 4:29 pm

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I do not count calories now, but I used to be a calorie counting machine. I actually counted “points” because my mom was doing weight watchers so I got hooked on that. I knew the points to every single little thing and I would make sure I was getting a certain number of points a day. Luckily I decided screw this I don’t want to do this anymore so I stopped. I started to focus more on calories but I never really counted them all together, you know? I knew that meals should be around a certain number of calories and snacks another, but I never actually counted all the calories as one. Now, I never count calories. I still know how many calories are in some foods just because I’ve known for a while. I tried counting before because I thought I wasn’t eating enough, IT WAS SO ANNOYING. I did figure out though that I wasn’t eating enough to fuel my workouts. So it can either be very helpful, or the complete opposite. I just can’t anymore, I don’t have the patience! Lol

Chelcie's Food Files February 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm

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I completely agree with you..it gets to the point where its just way too annoying and gets in the way of being able to enjoy food and special occasions! This is why I have definietly started to count back and I don’t really count calories to the exact amount anymore, I just pretty much approximate on most days because I still have a little anxiety around it..but I’m working on focusing on fueling my body and treating it well! thank you for your comment I really appreciate it:)

Mom!! February 1, 2012 at 4:56 pm

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Hey sweetheart,
Your blog was very reflective today and I hope that you don’t over obsess about the whole calorie thing. 1500 a day is a good balance and 1200 a day is way too low. Remember when we went to France and indulged out the ying yang? Remember that when we got home we were back to normal within a few days? Its all about your metabolism so don’t be too hard on yourself. As long as you exercise you will be just fine! You should be very proud of yourself for your healthy eating habits! Love you Mom

Chelcie's Food Files February 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm

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thanks for the comment mom love you!!

Fit on the Rocks February 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm

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Calories are always tough. When I was first losing weight and not really exercising, I stuck around 1300-1500, and lost my first 8-10lbs that way. Now that I’m really active, I probably eat closer to 2000. Lately, I don’t track calories unless I’ve noticed a big spike in weight and want to see where I’m eating at, but I go based off of how I feel. Some days (ie the day after a long run), I’m a raging food monster, so I probably eat like 2500 haha. I think a lot of days balance each other out due to changing activity levels and such.

Chelcie's Food Files February 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm

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I completely agree with you! On days that I’m more active I definitely eat more calories and listen to my body..If my body is telling me I’m hungry its because I’ve been really active that day and need extra calories to make up for the activity! So now I definitely listen to my body!

Rach @ Lessons by Rach February 1, 2012 at 8:57 pm

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I have been going through a very similar thing as you in trying to stop counting calories. I have been over-restricting for years, and I track my calories on an app on my phone. Although I know that the number I have as a goal in my head is too low, I can’t break the habit of recording everything I ate and aiming for that magic number. Recently, I have been intentionally upping my calories (even though it makes me anxious and uncomfortable), but I am still tracking my calories. It’s like a comforting habit I have formed. So, I’m with you on wanting to stop. Even when I don’t do it on my phone, I can add everything in my head because I have it all memorized anyways. I think it is a problem that a lot of people deal with when trying to get away from some unhealthy habits. We just have to remember to listen to our bodies even when we feel like what it is asking for doesn’t fit with our numbers.

Chelcie's Food Files February 2, 2012 at 12:01 am

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exactly! I have gotten a lot better at listening to my body..if its hungry I’ll feed it! It didn’t use to always be that way so I know I’m moving in the right direction! thank you so much for your comment:) its nice to know I’m not alone in my thoughts:)

IHeartVegetables February 1, 2012 at 9:55 pm

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It’s actually really NICE (in a weird way) to know that I’m not the only person who does the “Oh I had a 300 calorie breakfast, so I Can only have a 100 calorie snack” thing all. the. time.

I’ve been counting calories for so long that I don’t know how to STOP. It’s not that it’s like, a total obsession, its just that I KNOW the calorie counts for everything, so it’s hard to not add them up, you know? It’s weird! I think I’ve done better, and I’ve definitely upped my calorie intake (and actually LOST a few pounds, I think because I’m speeding up my metabolism and I’m able to work out harder because I have more energy!) but it’s really really hard to imagine eating 2,000 calories, (planned, I’m sure I do it unplanned on some nights when the bf talks me into a milkshake, haha) and even on days when I’ go running, I get scared that I’m not burning enough calories to eat enough fuel.

Man, we sound crazy ;)

But in the end I think it’s about the attitude. I might get a little too type A about my calorie counting, but I’ve definitely come a long way in terms of relaxing! And tonight, I’m going to have a potluck with 3 of my girlfriends and you better believe I’m going to have dessert ;)

Chelcie's Food Files February 2, 2012 at 12:00 am

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first of all..thank you so much for taking the time to write this comment you seriously rock! I think you are so right, it really is all about the attitude and being able to adapt to situations in a positive way rather then a negative way (like having desserts etc), I’m so happy that you can relate to where I’m coming from..and as I slowly increase my caloric intake I notice that I have a lot more energy in my work outs! thank you again for the comment it means a lot:)

Kristin Fretz February 2, 2012 at 2:18 am

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i never became obsessive with counting calories growing up, but i was NEVER satisfied with the way my body looked. No matter how many times people told me i was pretty or looked great, I was still staring at certain parts of me that I could never accept. This past summer, I finally said out loud to some of my home friends how I was feeling, and they comforted me in saying that they felt the exact same way about themselves. However, they helped me to realize that we have to be realistic, understand, and accept the fact that we are growing up! We are aging (lol, but really) and it is physically impossible to get our bodies to look the way they did when we were toothpicks in high school without being unhealthy about it. I know it’s sooo much easier said than done, and I know its one of those things that is always on your mind. But I have had several eye opening experiences that have led to me to finally be happy with how i look and to embrace it rather than compare it to my past pictures or to my toothpick looking friends. The negative thoughts and ideas you have are all in your head, and I hope that you can start to think about all of the bigger and more important things in life than the curves we have or the muscles on our legs! Besides, guys like girls with meat on their bones…its hot. Love you Chelc :)

Chelcie's Food Files February 2, 2012 at 2:54 am

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you are seriously the best and I love you so much!

Tt in nyc February 3, 2012 at 4:27 am

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Here is a number for you…. 3,500 calories above and BEYOND your body’s needs equals one pound of weight. That is 35 TB of nut butter. Or 35 baked sweet potatoes. Or a few bottles of wine. Those 200 or so calories you fret about over an “extra” snack? not gonna matter. Think about it. All the time. Not. Gonna. Make. A. Difference.

Allison (Allison's Delicious Life) February 7, 2012 at 1:42 am

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Great post! Very honest and relatable. I go through phases where I count and don’t count. Whenever I add them up at the end of the day, I always realize that I go way over my “goal”…but it’s not like I’m gaining weight or anything! I probably have the wrong goal in mind, so I kind of just give up and don’t worry about it. I try to eat healthy as often as possible, so I don’t think I need to count unless I put on a bunch of weight or something.

Chelcie's Food Files February 7, 2012 at 2:54 am

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I am I’m the same boat you are in! At the end of the day I always worry if I’ve “lost track” so I’ll try and add it up but honestly it just gets too tiring! I am really tryin my best to focus on listening to my body over everything else!

Chelsea February 9, 2012 at 12:36 am

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I love this post because it lets me know that I’m not the only who does this! I’ve been struggling with this for a while and have even gone to see someone about my disordered eating. It’s definitely hard to get over! While I’m still not over my disordered eating (I just can’t help but still add things on my phone) I have increased my calorie consumption. Thank you so much for basically letting me know I’m not one of the only normal girls in college who does this!

Chelcie's Food Files February 9, 2012 at 3:21 am

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I am the same way as you! I still pretty much every day count calories on my phone (okay every day its really hard for me not to still) but that doesn’t mean I don’t let myself eat more calories because I do..I know I will break the habit eventually..but I feel that as long as I’m allowing myself to consume more calories that counting for now is okay

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