Calories in and calories out is when you track the calories you eat, then track the calories you burn, hoping to burn more than you consume. It comes down to a science and it sounds simple right?! But if it were that simple why isn’t everyone on these reality weight loss shows losing the exact same amount every week? Why do some people smash it while some people fail?
Yes, we need to eat less food in general but we need to eat nutrition. Not all calories are created equal. We have to be aware of the quality of our food plus if we are really paying attention and tracking everything, it leads again to obsession and guilt. Two things we want to get rid of.
What happens when we create this cycle of guilt?
We might eat something that is high in calories. Then we either try to burn it off by doing more exercise that day or we accept it and think we will eat less tomorrow. Not to mention that we might feel guilty for doing it in the first place. Like a naughty child caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
Then if we weigh ourselves and our weight didn’t go down like the science says it should – or worse it went up, we feel like we have failed. Then we either repeat the cycle the next week and try even harder, or we give up.
This will never work in the long run. We want to live without guilt. Without shame. Naturally thin people don’t feel guilty over what they eat. They don’t count the calories. They eat what they want. If they have a really big meal one day, they might cut back a bit on what they eat the next day, not because of the calories but because of how they feel.
When you overindulge one night, chances are you are still feeling really full the next day, especially if it is a food you are not use to eating. You might even feel a little sick. So the next day you are simply not as hungry.
With this in mind, it is not going to take as much food to…Say it… “fill me up”. BAM! You got it. Nothing to do with calorie counting. We need to allow our bodies to digest all that food and if we are not feeling well from overindulging, we want to get back to feeling better quickly. We want to experience our “normal” feeling of wellness again. We do that by eating nutritious foods in qualities that fill us up to comfortable level.
One of the biggest problems I had with the calories in/calories out method before, was that when I started a DIEt and exercise program, I would cut back on what I was eating and I would begin exercising. Instead of feeling good, I would feel so hungry. My body was use to getting a lot of food with very little energy used so when I started exercising it made me hungrier. My body wanted to keep me at my normal. So I was not only cutting back on what I was feeding it, I was also making it use all this energy for exercise and it was like WTF?! I would be so hungry it was impossible to sustain a DIEt like this for any long period of time.
What did I do to overcome this? I chose to focus on my eating. With the first lot of weight I dropped, all I did was change my beliefs firstly and then the way I ate. I would drop some weight, set a new ‘normal’ and then repeat the process again as I have talked about before. I did it without really adding in any exercise.
Later on I started being a little more active in my everyday life but there was no real exercise routine. Once I was use to eating less and I had a handle on it, I added in some exercise. This way if I felt hungry due to putting in more effort, I listened to my body and fed it a little more, as it was building muscle for me. My body and I started working in harmony instead of me trying to force it to do something it was not ready for.
As with everything in this series of posts, what works for you will be different than what works for me. You may want to begin exercising and then change up what you eat, or try it the other way around. There is no one right way to do it, just YOUR way. The way that feels right to you that gets you to your new ‘normal’.
Now, occasionally having a quick look at the calorie content of a food is not a bad thing either.
Sometimes what happens is we think we are eating “healthy” food only to find out that it is not really going to get us what we want.
I remember I had a thing for these little packs of almonds and yogurt covered sultanas. I mean they were not a bad choice right?!
Well they came with two problems…
One, I couldn’t just eat one pack of them, I had to eat all six. As a former food addict sometimes these things still happen. I get something I really like and I HAVE TO eat it until it is gone – because it is just so nice. I am very aware of this and when this happens I try to avoid buying that product unless I want to eat the whole thing.
Two, after consuming more than a few of these six packs, I decided to look at their nutritional value. OK, I admit it, sometimes I avoid looking because just for a while I want to fool myself into being alright with it all, but eventually I looked.
I put in the information into my FitBit app and found out that these tiny six packs of almonds and yogurt covered sultanas added up to a whopping 1000 calories! I was honestly shocked. That was a lot! Faced with this knowledge, those little gems suddenly became something that if I REALLY wanted them I would have them, but because I couldn’t resist them and the calories and sugar count were so high, it was not going to be a regular item on my shopping list anymore.
Like most things when it comes to what you eat or the activity you do or even the size you think you should be, what is use to measure your results are just tools and not absolutes.
Use them as tools.
The scale is a tool that can be very misleading.
The BMI scale was designed as a rough guide not an absolute.
The nutritional chart of your food is a guide, not something to obsess about.
The daily recommendation of what you should eat and how active you should be is just that, a recommendation.
I don’t know about you but I personally want to spend more of my life doing things that I enjoy, rather than obsessing over all the numbers and tools – only to wind up feeling inadequate. A failure.
Tools can be a place to start but ultimately, you have to find what is right for you and for your health.
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