Why I Broke Up with My Calorie Counter
Losing weight, getting into shape, and dieting are things that a lot of people are constantly talking about online. It’s hard to go on any form of social media and not be bombarded with everything from fat and thin shaming to body positivity. But social media and the expectations of other people were not the driving forces behind me deciding that I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to do it for me; I felt sluggish, short of breath, and tired all the time. I was noticing that more and more clothes fit tighter, and that even my favorite high tops were getting too snug around the ankle area. In short, I felt completely awful.
I’ve always been a little on the round side; just a little pudgy, but it worked for my body type. The excess weight, however, had me down in the dumps. Not having a scale at home, I was never quite sure how much I weighed. I was almost scared to get on a scale; I didn’t want to know how much I weighed, I didn’t want to see the number responsible for my larger pant size. However, I also felt like I needed to know.
So, roughly two years ago I stepped on a bathroom scale and then immediately stepped off. I was almost 160 pounds. I thought maybe the scale was wrong and went about my business. Then I came down with bronchitis with a touch of walking pneumonia and had to go to the doctor’s. I stepped on the scale when they were taking my vitals and felt my stomach sink when even it told me that I was edging closer to 160 pounds.
Now, the problem was a mixture of a touch of depression and a desk job. I’d gone from jobs where I was on my feet all day to sitting behind a desk and I hadn’t made the transition well. The depression came from a mixture of things, but it was also a factor in the weight gain. I dropped some of it off by walking more, getting myself out from my room when I was at home and dancing around. But I plateaued around 150 for a while. I quit my desk job and started looking after kids, and I lost a little more weight, hovering at 145 for a while. Then I started birth control.
Depo Provera, along with other types of birth control, has the side effect of making you gain weight. An a-typical side effect of the depo shot is losing weight. I was one of the seemingly few who have actually experienced weight loss since beginning depo. I’ve been hovering right around 130 (sometimes a pound or two less, sometimes a pound or two more) for 9 months now. I’ve had more energy and more will to get up and move around. I haven’t had increased appetite (except for right before my period) and I haven’t had a decrease, either. But I lost around 15 pounds and went from a size 10 in pants to a size 6.
So I’ve been doing light workouts, because I don’t want to lose weight fast. I want to do it gradually. And, for a little while, around 6 months into being on depo, I decided to track my calorie intake to help my light exercises take the pounds away. So I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app on my phone. I knew people who were using it, and I thought it would be a great tool for me. I thought that it’d be a little fun, too.
I don’t know why I had such a positive outlook on a calorie counter.
Counting calories was the worst decision I have made in a long time. Really and truly. My goal weight is between 120 and 125. I’ve been down in that range before, and that is when I felt like I had the most energy and felt my healthiest. I remember the feeling, and I want it back. So that’s my goal. I put this goal into the app, gave myself 9 months to reach that goal, and set it for my lightly active lifestyle.
According to this app, I was only allowed to intake 1,200 calories a day.
1,200 calories. a. day.
There are 105 calories in a medium sized banana. There are 90 calories in 16 ounces of sweet tea. There are roughly 102 calories in a cup of coffee with sugar and creamer/half & half. Look at this ridiculousness from a Google search on, “how many calories in,” for chicken breast:
1 unit? Unit? What? What is this?
It’s not just counting calories, it’s knowing the exact amount of every little thing you put into your body. And let me tell you, eating my normal small meals made me go over 1,200 calories so often it was pathetic. I don’t even eat breakfast and I still managed to exceed 1,200 calories. Even when I ate healthy and smart, with no snacking and no cheating, even if I cut out soda. There are 110 calories in 8 ounces of Simply Orange Juice, which is my second favorite kind of oj.
I was afraid to enjoy pizza, which is my favorite food on the face of this planet. The thought of picking up a slice of a meat lover’s pizza from Papa John’s filled me with absolute terror. I was afraid to enjoy a full 20 ounce Dr. Pepper in one day. What if I didn’t move around enough that day to work off those calories? What if I wanted a Jose Cuervo margarita at the end of the day? A damn Jose Cuervo margarita SHOT (1.5 ounces) is 52 calories, and I drink at least 12 ounces of margarita when I do it. That’s at least 8 shots. That’s 416 calories. 1 glass of Duplin Sweet Muscadine wine is 75 calories.
I was afraid to enjoy a glass of wine. I was afraid of drinks and food.
I was always tired because I wasn’t getting enough food, even on the weeks when the minions weren’t home. I felt awful and was irritable. I wanted to scream all the time. I smoked more, felt light headed all the time.
At first I thought these were side effects of my birth control, but I’d been on it for a 6 months before I started counting calories and the side effects only started after I started calorie counting. So I decided to take a break. Within two weeks I was feeling much better. Then, for science, I started back to calorie counting. Not even a week into it I began to feel like shit again. I began feeling the anxiety over food and drink again, too.
So I permanently deleted my MyFitnessPal account. I stopped stressing so much over calories and how many peas were on my plate at dinner time. I remain mindful of my snacking and food portions, and I try to drink more water than sweet tea, orange juice, and Dr. Pepper. I allow myself my glass of wine or 12 ounces of margarita without shame, and I eat my BigMac from McDonald’s whenever I really, really want it. I keep up with my moving around, I dance around the house for at least an hour every other night. I swim in the pool every chance I get. I chase the minions, play video games, and I get my depo shot every 3 months.
I am happier for breaking up with my calorie counter. I haven’t gained any of my weight back, and I am slowly coming closer and closer to my goal weight range. I’m regaining my energy and my patience. I am getting to where I want to do more physical activities again.
It’s nice and liberating to know that I’m not going to feel the dread of inputting the meal I just ate and then feeling ashamed at how close to my total calorie intake I got just from lunch. It’s nice to know that I’ll never look up how many calories are in my favorite fruits ever again. It’s nice to know that I am not tied down to something that made me feel ashamed.
If calorie counting is working for you, and if it’s making you feel better and happy, then keep doing it. But if it makes you feel anything like it made me feel, then I urge you to reconsider. Cardio is a great way to lose weight, and you can do it anywhere and at any time. Cardio will not make you feel ashamed like counting calories does. There are a ton of cardio exercises, and exercising releases endorphins into your system. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in your body, which makes you happy. Thus, cardio (well, exercise in general) can make you happy. Wouldn’t you rather lose weight because your method is making you happy rather than losing weight because your method makes you feel ashamed of yourself? I know I do.