I am no stranger to weight loss from a calorie deficit. I am also no stranger to gaining it back.
I remember the moment that I decided to lose weight. I saw a photo of myself that my (now ex) husband had taken, where I was sitting at the table with the kids at a restaurant eating. I couldn’t believe my huge stomach roll that stood out for everyone to see like some alien. My self esteem plummeted and I knew that I had to do something.
Note: This picture appears to have fallen off the face of the Earth… I don’t know how that happened!
I started reading a lot about the dangers of processed foods and how to cook with whole foods. I used a calorie counter to track everything that I ate, and I worked out regularly in my living room to HIIT video’s. By the time that I started my divorce in 2014, my weight was down 35lbs. I was pretty proud of my appearance, fitness and progress.
It’s hard to explain what happened after that. Stress happened? I was a newly single parent and I was flat broke. I struggled to afford every little thing and sometimes wondered if I would make it. My ex-husband decided to move across the country to be with a woman that he met online and my kiddo started having depression. I bounced to a few different businesses but never felt truly happy. I struggled to keep up with my exercise regimen or any self-care, and I started to eat more for comfort.
On the flip side, I can say that during this time I also experienced some of the happiest memories that I had in years. I got a boyfriend and we were in the exciting honeymoon phase of our relationship. However, I also worried that having expectations would lead to disappointments, and the happiness I felt would fall apart. I didn’t feel deserving of that.
So, I gained back 20lbs.
I have tried for the last year to lose that weight again but always fell off the calorie counting or fitness wagon. I have kept off 5lbs since my initial sobriety but it is such a grueling, frustrating, snails-pace that I don’t even feel like it’s worth counting.
1200 calories a day sucks.
Eating less food helps you lose weight- Shocking, I know! I have had success with calorie counting and so have many other people. So, I am not going to sit here and tell you that the amount of food you eat doesn’t matter. It does. However, the real controversial question that more people are asking is: Are calories the only thing that matters?
If you go to any message board for weight loss right now, you will find a ton of people that are all saying the same thing:
- I feel hungry eating my calorie deficit
- I am not losing weight or hit a plateau
- I feel tired, irritable or have low energy and not motivated to work out
These people are all told the same thing over and over.
- If you’re hungry, drink water. You could also eat more fiber. It’s okay and doesn’t hurt you to be hungry so stop whining and get used to it.
- If you aren’t losing weight, eat EVEN LESS. Or you can exercise a bunch more and eat the same you’re eating now. You decide.
- If you’re tired or have low energy it’s either your fault for being lazy or a nutritional deficiency, but nobody can agree on what foods encompass a healthy diet.
If you say that calorie counting isn’t working in any way, you are typically told that you miscalculated or that it’s your fault for not having the willpower to make it work.
I don’t know why so many people are so quick to discredit how food quality plays an important factor in weight loss, especially given the many studies that say just that. I guess the problem is that we can never agree which foods we should be eating, and so the whole idea is thrown out the window. The fact is, we know that foods affect our bodies in different ways and go through different metabolic pathways. Not only that, but the foods we eat can directly affect the hormones that regulate when and how much we eat.
know-it-alls wonderful people jump up to say, “THERMODYNAMICS!”, let it be known that I KNOW. This is an unbreakable law of physics and isn’t even debatable. My point is, saying that weight gain is caused by excess calories might be true, but it’s meaningless. It’s the same as saying that highway traffic is at a standstill because more people are staying than they are going. It really doesn’t tell you a single thing about what caused it. Saying that it’s “laziness” or “lack of willpower” that is causing the increased calorie intake totally disregards the complex physiological processes that control our behavior and how the foods we eat can directly affect these processes.
This is something that I have been reflecting on a lot today since I have had such a hard time adhering to any deficit. There are a lot of anecdotal experiences out there from people that gave more attention to macro’s or food quality than calories, but of course this is always quickly dismissed. It’s been harder to take it with a grain of salt when the other side is a community of people that are constantly hungry and yo-yo dieting.
For now, I don’t know if I am going to land on any specific diet, but I am definitely focusing less on calorie counting and more on improving my fitness.