Well, if this isn’t a million-dollar question, I don’t know what is! Should you be focused on calorie counting or not?
A LITTLE BACKGROUND
For those of you that don’t know me very well, I used to compete in bikini competitions. No, not the Miss Hawaiian Tropic although, I wish I was tall enough to do that! I’m talking about the world of body building!
I have always had such a curiosity of the field of body building. I also wanted a new challenge in my life, and boy was this a challenge! This was the first time I ever counted calories or macros. I set an appointment with our dietitian, Kari, at the time to help me come up with a plan.
I think Kari was fearful of the lack of knowledge I had when it came to keeping track of my meals, but with her help and guidance I became a pro! I could tell you how many proteins, carbs, and fats were in pretty much anything. It consumed my world! Yes, I became the leanest I have ever been in my life, and as a result, I won first place in my category for novice! (Insert LARGE samurai sword as my trophy – lol!)
I was overjoyed that all of my hard work had paid off! After the side effects of the win started to wear off and I came back to reality that life wasn’t a competition that handed out trophies, I realized that my outlook of food had changed. See, what you don’t know is after you’re super lean you then have to start reverse dieting. A.K.A. watch yourself slowly gain weight. Emphasis on slowly!
As I gradually went through this process, I found my mental image of myself changing. The abs started to disappear, and the legs that once gave me a thigh gap started to fill back into my typical, pre-competition physic. I found that I was constantly making excuses for why I didn’t look the same. My husband literally told me that I was acting crazy, and I truly believe that I had body dysmorphia.
Now please understand, I’m not saying that everyone experiences this same thing if you compete in the body building industry. I am only speaking from my own personal experience. What I am saying is that I had a very heightened awareness of every food I consumed. For me, this was not good for my mental health. I found myself judging others for eating too much fat or telling them they need to eat more like me.
FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
This is exactly the personal trainer that I never wanted to be! Do I believe that if you count calories you will become a terrible person? Absolutely not! I do believe that there are other ways to account for food without counting and weighing and measuring everything you eat to be healthy and reach your goals.
Short term, you may really enjoy tracking your foods, but long term, it’s just not realistic. I strongly believe in balance. One of my favorite foods in life is PIZZA and vino (not a food, I know, but it gives me life!). My husband and I constantly go out to eat on the weekends. We love to try new and different foods and restaurants. We allow ourselves to be “human” and enjoy the finer things that life has to offer.
When I was tracking all of my foods, eating out and a social life was nonexistent! I would literally avoid social settings unless I could take my portable cooler with me. It was exhausting!!!!
So, a few take a ways from all of this life talk: decide what works for you. I wish I could tell you that you should or shouldn’t count calories, but I think it’s a personal decision. Counting calories doesn’t have to be as extreme as my situation. It can be a more causal way to see what your overall consumption is and where you need to be to reach your goals.
The only advice I have to give is be happy! Be happy with yourself mentally and physically! There isn’t one body type that says…wow she’s healthy! It’s in the eyes of the beholder. If you really feel good about yourself, then everyone else will see it, too!
Till next time 🙂