I started counting calories again today.
Even the phrase ‘counting calories’ tends to elicit an extreme response from the general public, especially people who are not particularly health-conscious (no pressure, no judgement, just saying.) I remember in college I was sitting with a friend explaining how my old Wingstop order (ten piece boneless combo half Louisiana dry-rub and half Atomic with bleu cheese dressing and a root beer, mind you) had over 2,000 calories, which is more calories than one needs in an entire day.
The friend in question did say “Oh, wow…” but when I mentioned how I was counting my calories to actually understand in real time what I was consuming, she just shook her head and said, “You don’t have to do that.”
I understand the reaction of my friend. When you hear “counting calories” it tends to sound threatening and rather extreme because there are very few ways in which we can see health consciousness in the public sphere that isn’t warped in a fun house mirror to extreme extents. Sure, fashion and gossip magazines discuss dieting ALWAYS, but it is never in ways that equate to normalcy of life with an extra kick of awareness. And on the more extreme spectrum is hearing ‘counting calories’ and assuming one is taking caloric intake to the limit and obsessing over numbers so deeply it becomes a disorder.
When I say ‘counting calories,’ I simply mean paying attention to serving sizes. Measuring out cheese or cereal in a cup to make sure I’m not overdoing it. Guestimating that my toast this morning was 110 calories a slice and huh, my mini-pizza and granola bar breakfast was about 600 calories, which a good breakfast size, right on!
I do want to lose some weight. I lost 30 pounds in the past 10 months (give or take a few lbs) by counting–per my nutritionist life partner, to lose 2 pounds a week you eat 1,700-1,750 calories. I can’t explain the science of it, but it works. Don’t count fruits or vegetables, those are plentiful (I do count avocados, though. They’re pretty rich). I guess what I’m trying to express is that it’s difficult to discuss wanting to lose some weight that I do need to lose without sounding obsessive just by using a term.
New Orleans allows me a lot of leisure in the kinds of foods I can eat and drink on a regular basis. If I want to take care of myself in the long haul and invest in my body, I have to do it on my terms without feeling judged for doing so. Through counting I truly feel empowered and understand how much I am eating and what I am eating that is particularly rich or excessive. Plus, I truly don’t feel limited–I still eat spaghetti and chips but also eat hella oranges and kale smoothies too.
SO, if you hear any scrutiny in your circle about counting, just call it ‘paying attention,’ because that’s all it really is.