Life


The Skinny on Counting Calories (and Why I Stopped Counting Them) Fitness / Life

Counting calories. So many people who are losing weight or getting fit count calories and/or macros. While calorie counting apps are incredibly useful, it is so easy to end up a hostage to counting calories. I know for me, personally, a lot of my day was spent figuring out what fit into my day and what didn’t. Another part of my day was spent worrying about whether or not my goal was set correctly. It is emotionally draining and mentally exhausting.

 

I lost a lot of weight counting calories. I won’t deny that. But then I gained a lot. And then I had trouble losing it again.

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I learned a lot about counting calories throughout the years.

  1. Calorie counting can be useful
    Calorie counting is a great tool to use when you are first starting your weight loss or fitness journey. Calorie counting for a month can really teach you a lot about what foods are worth snacking on and what foods are best left for “every-so-often” snacks. Calorie counting can open your eyes to how many calories are in some of your favorite foods and it can show you what you may need to moderate.
  2. Calorie counting can cause problems
    Calorie counting opens your eyes to how many calories are in food which can, for some, make eating more stressful than helpful. It also is very hard to do long term. Are you going to log into an app every day of your life? If you find yourself in a position like I was, spending a lot of time obsessing over what would fit and what wouldn’t fit, counting calories may not be the best thing for you long-term. Many people I know have become obsessed with counting calories. So much that a day they go “over” can ruin their day. Even if it’s only 50-100 calories over! That’s not a healthy way to live your life. The extra stress isn’t any less healthy for you than an extra couple of pounds.
  3. Calorie counting is confusing
    The more weight you lose, the more your calorie goals change. You may be told to eat more or less than you currently were. Either change can make weight loss confusing. Calories in vs. calories out, they say, but it is much easier said than done. Once you lose a certain amount of weight after eating at a certain deficit, your progress stalls and your calorie goals must chance and that can cause a lot of anxiety for people. I was progressing and now the scale isn’t moving or even creeping back up: I must be a failure. Not an uncommon thought. But you are NOT a failure.

 

 

 

That’s great, Carrie, but how did you STOP? Quitting calorie counting is hard. Especially when it is something you’ve done for a long time. In my case, I was quitting a 4 year habit. You think you’re going to end up where you started. You may feel like you’re not in control of anything anymore. It easy, but, let me tell you something: it was SO worth it! It may seem daunting at first, but here are the 4 things that really helped me stop counting calories.

  1. Delete (or modify) your app
    I relied heavily on a calorie counting app and, while I didn’t delete it, I use it for the community support and for the recipe builder (so I can share nutrition content with others). If you find that you can’t go into the app without logging, just delete it.
  2. Use common sense with your food choices
    Go back to the basics! The food pyramid is a great resource. Fill your plate mostly with veggies, then protein, then starch. If you can choose between and apple and chips, choose the apple. If you really want the chips, eat the chips but choose an apple for the rest of the week. It sounds super simple because it is! Eat nutritious food all the time and junk food in moderation.
  3. Eat mindfully
    This can take some practice after using calories to tell you when to stop, but rely on your body to tell you when you’re full and when you’re not. Before you snack, think about what you’re craving and think about why. Could you eat some carrots and be satiated? If not, you’re probably not really as hungry as you think. Make sure your snacking isn’t mindless.
  4. Enjoy yourself
    It is 100% ok to go out and enjoy yourself every once in awhile. You don’t always have to get salads or chicken when you go out to eat and you don’t have to only hit up the veggie trays at Superbowl parties. Every once in awhile, it’s ok to indulge and you shouldn’t feel bad about it!

See that picture at the top? I was counting calories in all of those photos, except for 2- the first one and the last one. The first one was before I decided to change my life and the last one was a month ago.  The photo in 2011- I weighed 115 pounds. I was following my calorie plan. But I quickly gained back a lot of that weight because it wasn’t sustainable for me. After I gained back weight in 2012, there doesn’t look like much of a difference in weight for the rest of the photos. Even when I stopped counting calories, I didn’t back track. You don’t have to be scared of what might happen if you stop counting calories.

What will happen, however, is you will feel less stressed and more confident about yourself. You don’t need to rely on an app to help you lose weight. You can use what you learned from those apps to help you live a healthy lifestyle, but you do not need to rely on them to continue that lifestyle. That part is something you can do on your own!

 


Breakfast at Goose Feathers and Superbowl Sunday! Life

This weekend was a lot of fun! I was really busy Saturday and Sunday, but I had a really good time.

Friday night, my husband and I went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner. We go to dinner every Friday night and usually it’s my weekly treat meal. I usually get the Sirloin salad, but I got chicken critters with a side of fries and a side salad this time. There was SO much food leftover. The leftovers fed both Mike and I the next day!

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Saturday we went to the gym. I worked arms and did some cardio on the arc trainer. I’m really trying to change up my workouts so my body doesn’t get complacent. I did dumbbell curls, military presses, tricep extension, lateral raises- all kinds of arm exercises. One of my favorite supersets of the day was a tricep and bicep SS on the cable machine with the rope attachment.

3 sets
Exercise 1: Overhead Tricep Extension with Rope Attachment- 10 reps
Exercise 2: Bicep Hammer Curl with Rope Attachment- 10 reps

Rest

On Saturday night, we went to a friends house to watch the UFC fights. We were supposed to go to Buffalo Wild Wings, but we ended up skipping that because the wait was going to be forever and they have this rule that your whole party has to be there before you’re seated. I get where they’re coming from, but it sucks if you’re a party of 5 and your 5th is running behind. Kind of ridiculous to me.

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On Sunday, we met up with my sister for breakfast. My sister lives in the Atlanta area but she was in Savannah for a conference for school. We picked her up from the hotel and went to a local cafe called Goose Feathers. Let me tell you: if you’re ever in Savannah, you need to go to Goose Feathers for breakfast! It’s delicious, cheap, and wholesome. They have a ton of gluten free options as well. Both of my sisters avoid gluten. One of them has Celiac and I’m glad I found a place I can bring her when she comes to visit. They even ask if your gluten free products need to be prepared completely separately, which is uncommon and really awesome for those who need that.

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At Goose Feathers, I got the eggs benedict which was served on a croissant. I also tried some of Mike’s breakfast burrito. I am really not a breakfast burrito fan, but this one was awesome. The eggs were seasoned well and they didn’t skimp on the meat.

Overall, I really liked this restaurant and we will definitely be going back! They also serve lunch so I want to try one of their sandwiches one day.

Sunday night was the Superbowl! We went to our friends’ house and watched the game there.

This was definitely not the healthiest of weekends, but I tried to balance out all the rich food with some healthy choices and exercise. All that said, it’s definitely ok to indulge every once in awhile as long as you get back on track the next day- which is what I’m doing today!

Tonight I’m making turkey meatballs with a ranch yogurt sauce- it tastes like gyros! I’ll share the recipe later. You won’t believe that it’s good for you!

Carrie Signature


Inspiration or Self-Deprecation // is Fitspo helpful or hurtful? Life

I will preface this post by saying that I am speaking to the majority of fitness goers, not the athletes that make a living or aim to make a living through aesthetics.

 

 

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

-Teddy Roosevelt

 

Fitspo.

It’s a word that most people who are a part of the fitness industry- whether provider or consumer- recognize. When you think of “fitspo,” what is the first thing that comes to your head?

  • Maybe a girl with 6-pack abs wearing only spandex shorts, and a sports bra?
  • Maybe a ripped and vascular guy in tighter than normal swim trunks?
  • Maybe you think of a bikini competitor.

Whatever it is you think of, you know what fitspo is. It’s fitness inspiration! Something, usually a photo of someone who is in amazing shape, to keep you motivated and on track when you feel like you’re slipping. Now, let me ask this: when you see your “fitspo,” have you ever just thought, “ Wow, good for them. They look great?” Or does the conversation usually go more like, “Wow, they look awesome. I wish I looked like that.”

 

More often than not, inspiration is followed closely by us putting ourselves down. So often, we look at pictures of people who are in incredible shape and compare ourselves to them, swearing that we’ll stick to this program or eat a specific way so we can look like the people we admire. The reality of that, however, is that we often are setting ourselves up for failure.

 

I know. Super blunt and probably disagreeable, but hear me out.

I love Jamie Eason. She is one of my “fitspos.” She is incredibly kind and she looks phenomenal. I would love to look like Jamie Eason, but I have realized that I will never look like her. Why?  There are a few reasons.

First, genetics. Some people may disagree, but some people are not built to look like Jamie Eason.. I am not blessed with genetics that tighten loose skin after weight gain. I store fat in my lower stomach- a trait that runs in my family. I do not have the same genetics as Jamie Eason and it would be silly of me to think that I can override that. This is not used as a cop-out or an excuse. You can still work hard and improve yourself, but be realistic and remember that some people are literally built to be shredded.

Second, intentions. She looks good for a living. It is Jamie Eason’s job as a fitness model and competitor to look a certain way. Bikini and bodybuilding competitors look the way they do because they have to look a certain way for their shows- often to win money or gain sponsorship (again, a way of providing for themselves). This is done through a specific diet and an intense exercise regimen that is literally her job. I have no intentions of making fitness modeling my job and I have no desire to compete in a stage competition. This means I don’t need to eat or exercise the way models and competitors do. Can I take tips from them? Absolutely! Lean meats, more veggies, more intense workouts. But should I belittle myself because I don’t look like someone who is expected to look good in order to have an income? Hell no. That makes no sense. Again, having different intentions shouldn’t be used to be lazy, but it’s important to remember when you’re feeling like a failure because you did a Body Building program and still don’t look like IFBB Pro Jessica James.

 

Lastly, for those of you who are fitspired (I don’t know if that’s a thing, I just made that up) by actors, it is abnormal to have constant access to things that make bulking and cutting “easy.”

Example: Christian Bale. Have you ever seen the Machinist? Well, he looked like this:

Then 5 months later, he filmed Batman Begins and looked like this:

 

He “dropped to a weight of 120lbs for The Machinist in 2004, before bulking up to 220lbs in five months for Batman Begins.” (source)

 

Ignore the fact that this probably wasn’t the safest thing for a minute and think about how much help Christian Bale had. He most likely had nutritionists preparing everything for him. Trainers hired specifically to help him gain weight and mass. Science was done for him and he just had to follow directions. When there’s no guesswork involved, it’s a little easier to manage (note: easier,  NOT easy). Combine that with the fact that he was going to be paid $9 million+ (source)  for the part, all of a sudden things aren’t looking so tough.

This doesn’t just happen for major role changes either. Victoria’s Secret Angels, fitness photoshoots- more often then not, those celebrities are prepared by a team of people. I won’t even mention Photoshop and retouching. Unless you have access to that kind of help and unless there’s $9 million on the line, why put yourself through that pressure if you don’t have to?

 

 

So why bring it up?

 

I have seen so many people that I know or follow on social media sites that crumble under the pressure of looking like fitspo. I know so many competitors that have a lot of trouble in off-season because they feel like they need to look stage-ready year round (something that is extremely difficult to do in a healthy, sustainable way). I know so many friends who have looked up to fitspiration and ended up backtracking because they are so focused on looking like so-and-so that they forget who they are and they forget what their goals are.

 

This cycle needs to stop!

 

Fitspo can be so good. But you have to make sure you’re using it to build yourself up, not bring yourself down.

 

How can you do that?

 

First: know what your main goal is, and try to keep it something that isn’t aesthetic.

 

Example:

No: “I’m going to eat clean so I have abs”
Yes: “I’m going to eat clean so I can improve my health.”

No: “I’m lifting weights to gain mass/become leaner”
Yes: “I’m lifting weights so I can be stronger.”

 

 

Aesthetics will follow dedication, but make health your goal.

 

Second: Make sure your goals are realistic. If you have 10 pounds to lose, don’t expect it to be gone in a month. It didn’t come on overnight so it won’t come off overnight either. Set goals that set you up for success in the future. A 1200 calorie a day diet will work wonders for weight loss, but what happens when you meet your goal? I can tell you from personal experience that the faster you lose it, the faster it comes back. Aim for .5 pounds lost per week. Maintenance will be easier. If you work full time, attend classes, and have a family, make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for failure by vowing to eat clean 100% of the time and exercising 6 days a week. Some people may be able to do that, but for the vast majority, that’s not reasonable or necessary.

 

Finally, make sure you find inspiration in yourself. You can be your own worst critic but you can also be your biggest inspiration. Did you run further than yesterday? Did you lift heavier than last time? Did you buy a smaller pant size? Use those times as inspiration. YOU did those things.

Fitspo can be a great thing. Just make sure to remember that those people are NOT you and comparing yourself to others will do nothing but cause you to devalue yourself. What is important is the progress you are making.

 

You don’t need Fitspo to tell you that.

 

Carrie Signature

 

What do you think? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comment’s section. Please keep it respectable.



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