Weighing In On Calorie Counting

Be warned: many a pun “aweight.”*

*That’s Pun #1 for those at home keeping count or playing the soon-to-be-patented “Kate’s Punny” drinking game with shots of chocolate sauce. 

After a 24-hour experiment, I learned how far I’m willing to run when it comes to trimming down the tummy fat.

With the summer bearing down on us, I’m doing the same last-minute tone-and-tighten scramble many others do before trading in parkas for swimsuits. To take my usual health regime to a whole new level, however, I decided to stretch my muscles a little when it comes to counting calories. The lesson of this excursion: sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

A little background:

My roommate Bethany has been using an online network, My Fitness Pal, to chart her daily calorie intake, and it has WORKED. I can attest. She’s looking wicked sexy these days.

Like, Christina-Hendricks-As-Joan-Holloway sexy.

I commend her SO much for it. This girl rocks workouts, eats healthy and is a true inspiration. Her hard work keeps paying off, and she has come so far from when we hunkered down to crappy mall food that first time we met at Stratford Square Mall.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working out five to six times every week since 2010 and have definitely curbed some of my less-healthful eating habits. I don’t know exactly how much weight I’ve dropped, but there are definitely inches missing from my waist. It feels good, especially when trying on clothes and needing a smaller size or when running a mile under nine minutes.

But I wasn’t really willing to stretch much farther than I already did in my daily yoga practice. Until yesterday, that is. I decided to try my hand at calorie counting. I learned that yes, there are certain boundaries I can’t crack as easily as I can the flambeed sugar crust on a creme brulee.

For those who have seen The Matrix, I’m like Cypher, the bald creepy guy who kills half the crew because he decides he should have taken the blue pill that grants innocence over the red pill that grants enlightenment. For those of you who haven’t seen The Matrix, I didn’t really spoil anything, since one frame of this guy tips you off to the fact he’s a bad dude.

It’s not just you. The 1999 glasses, choker and pleather jacket makes my skin crawl, too.

After one day — one SINGLE DAY! — of this new intelligence mapping out how many calories I consume versus how many I work off versus how many I’m allowed to eat in a day, I can’t take it anymore. I hate eating an orange, looking up its calorie content and finding out that it probably counted as 64 calories. That means one orange equals 5% of my caloric intake allotted for a day. If I were to just eat oranges, I could (only?) eat 18.75 to get make my calorie goal. For a girl who doesn’t like math, I was exercising the arithmetic muscles in my head too much. And MFP doesn’t have a calorie-burn equivalent for “Doing Math.”

My friend Shaina wrote this great blog post two summers ago called “Calories Are Meant to Be Consumed, Not Counted.” Since Shaina is one of the “voices of reason” that like to crop up in the back of my head every so often, it was hard to ignore the memory of that post, even if it was from August 2010.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m conscious of how much I eat in a day and almost overly conscious of my bad habit for grazing like a wildebeest when it comes to snacks and chocolate. No offense meant to wildebeest.

“Really, wildebeest! I didn’t mean it!”

For me, however, the numbers get in the way of enjoying myself. Slapping a number on food becomes a punishment for eating. I give all the more credit to people like Bethany who keep up with — and, in her case, take joy from and succeed by — calorie counting. You are definitely stronger people than I am!

So as I sit here, having just finished a bowl of soup (139 calories) and half a serving of Trader Joe’s gorgonzola crackers (70 calories), I think, “Why am I ruining a perfectly delicious lunch by counting these?”

Simple answer is that I don’t have one. So I’ll continue on my number-oblivious eating habits, have more “processed-sugar-free” days and succumb to fewer “Mashed potatoes AND mac and cheese? Sign me up!” dinners. As for MFP, I’ll leave it to the pros who really push hard and make this whole calorie-monitoring-thingy count. I’m not going to let my own personal failure weigh on my conscious.*

*That calls for another shot of chocolate sauce. Just remember that one tablespoon of Hershey’s is 50 calories. If you even care.

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4 Comments

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  1. Love this, and thanks for the shout-out! I think you’re attitude is really refreshing, and I’m glad we agree that eating shouldn’t be a punishment.

  2. Awesome post. Your wildebeest caption made me laugh. And as a user of many a bad pun, may I say well done. :)

  3. Thanks for having so much faith in me. Truth be told tough, YOU were one of my biggest inspirations in getting healthy. I would see you eat your beloved salads and head off everyday to some Tiger X class, and think, “I wish I was that dedicated. I wish I had the Everson legs.” Even though MFP doesn’t seem to be working for you, I am still in awe of your healthy decisions you make everyday, and I can’t imagine going through this journey without you. Your constant support mean more to me than I can ever express.

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