I mentioned in my last post (or a recent post) that the nutritionist I had seen, while I was jumping through bariatric hoops, wanted me to adhere to a 1500 calorie a day diet. One thing I’ve noticed with ALMOST everyone I’ve worked with is the need to count calories or something like them.
I have a secret for you – if you have multiple hundreds of pounds to lose, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO COUNT CALORIES!!! No, I’m not kidding – I have utilized a food journal to help me get as far as I have, but there is nothing about calories in it at all.
That means that I LOST OVER 200 POUNDS IN 2 YEARS WITHOUT COUNTING CALORIES AT ALL! I didn’t have to count calories, or Weight Watcher’s Points, or almost anything else. I remember working with the gym owner/trainer that I’ve mentioned a few times, and when I told him I wasn’t good at counting calories, he came up with something else for me to count. He pointed out, rather emphatically: “Well, you’re gonna have to count SOMETHING!”
No, apparently, I wasn’t gonna have to after all. Of course, when my weight hits a certain point, I may have to start counting them, but it’s going to be a lot simpler and easier when the time comes. I’m far more confident and capable now that I’m at this point in my journey.
So, what do you count? Well, it’s a pretty good idea to count food groups. It’s funny, as moronic as her retort was, that nutritionist who referred me to the food pyramid was bringing up a good point. I didn’t quite understand the whole nutrition matrix. The pyramid, which had been changed to Choose My Plate (eye roll please!), which wasn’t much simpler, but I figured that if I made up meals for a while that consisted of 1 food from each group, I couldn’t be doing myself wrong.
It worked out well and helped me face something that I really did need to address – serving sizes. This is one of those areas that just baffled me as a ridiculously fat person. Whatever a proper serving size was, it was probably smaller than what I was eating. That’s the best I had. Weight Watchers tried to teach us, pointing out that some foods have serving sizes that are about the size of a tennis ball, or a CD. According to WW, a serving size of pasta should fit in your hand. This makes manicotti no fun, but the smaller the pasta is, the more of it you get to eat!
However, if you have little concept of what the proper serving size is, this can be very frustrating. I know whenever I concentrated on eating proper servings, I’d stress over the details, trying to get it right. When I tackled the food groups, I did one of the healthiest things regarding servings that I’ve ever done: I said “screw it”. I didn’t worry about the serving sizes. If I had an apple, that’s a serving of fruit! However much I felt like eating of a type of food was a serving.
Of course, if you compare how much I eat of any type of food now, to how much I ate of that type then, you’ll see that the servings have become much smaller. That’s what happens when you lose weight, you eat less. But that SOUNDS backwards doesn’t it? Aren’t you supposed to start eating less, and THEN you lose weight?
I don’t know, that’s what I’ve always heard, but it never worked for me. What worked for me was writing down what I ate and making the effort to include as much of the food groups in my meals as I could. This meant if I wanted eggs in the morning, fine – that’s falls under protein/meat. I need fruit, a vegetable, a bread and a dairy. That could be an avocado, some cucumber slices, toast slices and some cheese melted over the eggs. That sounds like a lot, but put the eggs on the toast and the cheese on the eggs, and suddenly you have a nice sammich!
The interesting thing is that I often have trouble remembering what the food groups are. Seems like there’s always one or two that trip me up. Meat, vegetable and fruit are easy enough to remember. Bread and dairy take longer. I have them written down in my journal for quick reference.
So, what happens when I get to that point when knowing how many calories I’m eating will make a difference? There are a great number of calorie counting books out there. It’s quite an industry. In fact, I have one such book, with a picture of this goofy looking guy on the cover, looks like George Carlin making a funny face, with a silly crown on his head, calls himself the Calorie King. Ok. Sure.
So, if you’ve got hundreds of pounds to lose, don’t let calorie counting slow you down. The more precise you try to be, the less effective your efforts are. You don’t need to know how many calories you’re eating each day, just what foods you’re eating and roughly how much of them you ate.