I saw a post on Instagram today that got me thinking. The author of the post had decided to stop counting calories. And I was excited to see this!
So often when I told people I was trying to lose weight (the myriad of unsuccessful attempts), I would get the standard ‘calories in, calories out’ response the majority of the time. A lot of ads on TV, in magazines and the internet suggested this was the way to lose weight too.
So I downloaded MyFitnessPal app, a calorie counter and started using it daily. I chose the username Katietron777 (add me if you want) and recorded my weight, height, age and goal. It told me I should aim to eat 1200 calories a day. That’s not a lot. The average active woman in her late 20s (I was back then!) is ‘supposed’ to eat around 2000 calories a day, so I wasn’t being given a lot of room to move. The app works like a food diary so if something went in my mouth, I found it in the database and recorded it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks. It also has a barcode scanner which is handy too.
I managed, but I was always hungry. I wasn’t exercising much because I didn’t want to but when I did according to the app I was ‘allowed’ to eat more. Over time I started to get used to not eating much so I stuck at it. I still didn’t like it and I wasn’t losing any weight. All I had done, was cut down my portion sizes. I was still eating junk food, just less of it. Don’t get me wrong, I ate healthy foods as well, but my ratios were way off and I wasn’t getting results. I think I knew I wasn’t eating right, because I didn’t want people to know what I was eating. MyFitnessPal gives you the option of having a public food diary that people can view, or a private one that only the account holder can see. Obviously I chose private.
Then I heard about clean eating. Clean eating is basically keeping it simple. Keeping packaged and processed foods to a minimum and mostly eating whole and fresh foods. Fresh meats including fish, vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds and oils such as extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil were all in, sugary canned and packaged foods were now considered treats.
So I gave it a go. I kept using MyFitnessPal and logging all my foods, but I wasn’t counting calories anymore. Most days I went over my calorie goal. For a while this bugged me, but I was losing weight. Not only that, I felt better. I started exercising more regularly and with more effort, which made me hungrier, so I ate more and I still lost weight.
A couple of times a week I would have a ‘cheat meal’. Anything goes, take out, potato chips, cakes, pizza, anything was allowed but it had gone back to being a treat. For a while there, these were foods I was eating every day but after I started clean eating I didn’t want them everyday anymore. It was a good feeling and also, cheaper! Sure my grocery bill was a little higher, but my takeout bill was cut drastically.
I ate this way from October last year until Christmas and I lost 10kgs. Over my Christmas break I continued to log my food diary on MyFitnessPal but I ate a lot of convenience foods. I was on holiday, I figured it was OK. And it was fine, but my weight started creeping back. Even though I was still exercising and because of what I was eating I chose to be under my calorie goal, my body didn’t like the regularity I was eating these foods in. I didn’t feel as energized or happy. But I was on holiday.
In the space of two weeks I gained back four kgs and my clothes started feeling tighter again. I was eating less, but the reality is, not all calories are created equal and they do different things to different people. I went back to my clean eating after I went back to work and it wasn’t long after that that I started my elimination diet which is ultimately how I lost most of the 26 kgs I’ve shed.
I eat a lot. Seriously, a lot. I eat every couple of hours and I don’t worry about portion sizes because I’m eating 100% clean at the moment. I still use MyFitnessPal, mostly out of habit, but I usually go way over my calorie goal and I don’t care. It is great as a food and exercise diary and it also keeps track of how much protein, fats, carbs and some vitamins that I’m eating, which is handy because we need to eat these every day. It also shares daily articles with recipes, exercise and healthy tips. I’ve made my diary public so that anyone can see it, which also keeps me on track so I don’t have to be embarrassed by what I’m eating.
I’m not saying that calorie counting doesn’t work, but it didn’t for me. Eating healthy and exercising is what worked for me. Everyone is different, for example Zombie eats as much or as little of whatever he feels like eating most days and he feels fine and has always been skinny, but this doesn’t work for me, so I eat clean. And I like eating this way. I get to eat as much as I want and I feel great. I know I’m onto a winner.
Smiles and Sunshine