Before I get into this topic today, I want to start out by saying, I am not an expert in this area nor do I claim to be. I know this is a subject that can be triggering for some and my only intent here is to provide encouragement and insight into my story and view on this topic. If this is an area that you struggle in, I encourage you to seek out professional counsel. I think you are a 10/10 and deserve to love yourself as deeply as the love and purpose for you is.
A calorie is a unit of measurement – but not a measurement of weight or length. A calorie is a unit of energy.
Growing up I was always an active and athletic kid. I played soccer for many years and have 3 brothers that all showed me the ropes in throwing a perfect spiral. I think that it is interesting that we all one day come to a sudden realization that we need to be aware of our bodies. I honestly never thought about my body or weight until I got into high school, up until that point I can’t even remember ever being concerned about what I ate. When I was a junior in high school I woke up one morning though and was absolutely shocked when I looked in the mirror. It was like an overnight transformation had taken place and I was suddenly in a different person’s body. I had this immediate heartbreak that was as real as losing something and knowing you would never see it again. I was sad at what I saw even though no one told me it was bad or not good enough.
I never struggled with a eating disorder but rather disordered thinking when it came to food. I was obsessed. Calculated math was a constant in my mind trying to determine if I ate this piece of cheese how many squats would I need to do in order to balance it out. I remember the summer going into my senior year was the worst, I was miserably consumed with restricting food, then bingeing, then restricting because I felt guilty – it was a crippling cycle. Fast forward to just up to less than a year ago (almost 9 years post high school) I still was obsessed with food. Food in my mind was an enemy – it was there to keep me alive physically but tore me down emotionally. It didn’t matter the amount of working out I did, the reminders to “fuel your body” was all white noise.
It’s funny though that reading the definition above clearly states that a calorie has nothing to do with weight but strictly relates to energy. I remember last Christmas sneaking away to my parent‘s bathroom in order to enter my food into my food tracker app, it was shameful. I remember thinking how would I feel if my sister who was only 10 at the time was sneaking off alone to shame herself for enjoying time with family while having a meal. I looked in the mirror and it was like an immediate transformation, I had found what it was I had lost those years ago in high school, and decided to let the heartbreak go.
One of my goals for 2020 was to resolve my fear and obsession with food. I had to take three intentional steps to sit with my feelings and understand where and why they were inside me.
- I stopped looking at labels. I always glanced at food labels due to having some light food sensitivity but noticed that I was no longer looking at ingredients on the labels, but rather only the nutritional content. I made a conscious effort to avoid labels at all cost and when this gave me anxiety I would sit with that anxiety and listen to why it was there, allow it to feel heard, but ultimately asked it to leave as it was only hindering me and not protecting me. I reminded myself that a number nor a nutritional food label defines me.
- I stopped with the hours of working out. I love fitness, I love the rush, I love the sweat and candidly I loved the “calories burned” at the end. I decided that I was going to purposefully stop working out. If there were days that I felt the need to work out only because I ate something bad the day before I wouldn’t do it. I had to stop associating working out as a punishment. Having the ability to move your body should be a celebration. It was healthier for me to take a day off then continue to wire my brain to think that exercise was purely a way to burn calories.
- Lastly, I reminded myself that I was valued by more than what I looked like. Some of the greatest people in my life are not great because of their appearance, but because they love well. I was so consumed with trying to perfect something that I was not even considered with when I looked at people. I want to be remembered for showing kindness, loving people, encouraging others to be true to themselves and being a light.
You are defined by so much more than what you or this world tries to tell you. You are not a nutrition label, you are not 60 minutes of cardio a day and you were made in the likeness of a God that loves you unconditionally – that is who you are. I encourage you to remind yourself of these things daily, until they are so ingrained in you that you are brave and strong enough to eat a cheeseburger without guilt or eat a salad without obligation.
I hope you have found encouragement in this. You are loved.
3 responses to “Why I Stopped Counting Calories”
This is beautiful and so are you!
Indeed! We people have created a mess regarding dietary habits.
To me, having a belly doesn’t make you unfit or sort of.
And uhh, last para 5th line was so good.
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