Pros and Cons. Finding A Balance.
Recently I have been reading about intuitive eating as well as getting an audio book from the library about it. I have learned a lot so far but I am having some issues with how the program lumps Calorie counting in the same category as fad dieters. These are some thoughts I have been having lately after practicing the Intuitive Eating program...
Counting calories taught me self control and portion control as well. I thought of calories as money. Knowing I can spend it on whatever I want but still had to keep the calories in a budget. Counting Calories was a really good tool for helping me to gain the accountability that I needed. It gave me structure but also made me understand moderation. I lost 100 lbs doing it. I didn't understand what a portion should look like. I didn't even understand that I was eating enough for like 2 or 3 people! After about 2 years of calorie counting I feel that I have learned so much about self control and meal planning. I am trying to just be intuitive and mindful. I'm trying to not count my calories and trust myself. I have kept off the weight for 2 years now! Anyone who is obese or in dire need of weight loss for health reasons I would immediately suggest some form of calorie counting. I like the caloriecount.com website because it tells you all of your nutrition stats as well (protein, carbs, vitamins) It helps to see where you can make improvements to eat more things to up your nutrition grade. There are some cons to calorie counting though. When I start to have unrealistic expectations then I start to obsess over calorie counting and weighing myself. That's when it becomes unhealthy. I think it is healthy to calorie count if you try to have realistic expectations and remind yourself what your goals and priorities are.
I feel like I have a better sense of self awareness now and self control. I'm not sure If I will never go back to calorie counting or not. I want to give Intuitive eating a try. So far I don't agree fully with the nutritionists who made the Intuitive Eating program. I don't fully agree with their techniques and I am under the impression that they themselves have never had an eating disorder. When they say it should be a goal to have a cookie be emotionally the same as a piece of lettuce, I disagree. No matter how much I practice being intuitive or mindful a cookie will never be emotional the same as lettuce! It's just ridiculous to even suggest that. We cannot have complete control of all our emotions but we can control what we do with those emotions. I notice that even if I emotionally eat sometimes that practicing mindful eating helps me get less distracted and really enjoy my food. If I want a cupcake I'm going to eat it! When I really take the time to be mindful of the flavors, texture, and appearance of the food I eat I notice I tend to stop eating because I am satisfied. I am trying to not eat while distracted anymore. When I eat while talking or watching a movie I tend to not even enjoy the food or notice how much I just ate. I think what really works for me is when I have a mixture of mindfulness and accountability. When I see people on youtube who are trying intuitive eating and throwing out their scales or grouping calorie counters in the same group as fad dieters I think that they are completely taking away structure and accountability. The program seems to completely disregard the benefits of "restriction" and self control when setting goals. Self control and restriction can be good things. Structure and accountability are really needed if you have really poor self control. It helps if I remind myself of the consequences of eating certain unhealthy foods. It bothers me how they lump calorie counting into "dieting. I thought that intuitive eating was going to be my solution to my emotional eating. Then I realized that I will most likely never stop having emotions toward food. I'm not a robot! There are parts of the book that I like but some parts I disagree with. Like how they talk about how guilt should not be associated with food. I don't think that you should beat yourself up all day for eat unhealthy foods. But I also think that it is unrealistic to talk as if guilt is a bad thing. Guilt is an emotion that can let us know if we have done something wrong. To allow guilt to eat away at us is pointless. Rather, guilt is there to be used as a catalyst for improvement and becoming a better person. If we can counteract guilt with compassion and realistic expectations then we can then be more mindful and learn from our mistakes. I think that we need a little guilt in order to learn and grow. I know I can eat those fun foods but I have to at the same time keep myself accountable. I am only half way through the Intuitive Eating audio book + Cds but I am learning to take everything being said with a grain of salt. I have to use my critical thinking to understand why I disagree with some of the program. It doesn't mean I can't learn from the program. Already it is helping me be more mindful but I am having an issue with the fact that there is not enough structure in it. I still get a little confused between real hunger and emotional hunger. I don't think that will ever go away. The more mindful I become though the better I get at self control. I have to find a balance. No extremes either way.
If you would like a more detailed example of the pros and cons of calorie counting and Intuitive Eating check out this blog post I found. This making good choices blog does a really good job of understanding and using critical thinking about the subject.
Why have I been able to keep off the weight and break the statistics?I have been thinking about all the statistics I have seen on the internet of how people who lose a significant amount of weight tend to regain it plus more ( over 90%). I have noticed this in the blogging world as well. People who go back to their old ways (eating disorder) because of stress factors or major emotional life events. I don't think they are bad but I do think that they have lost control again or are still really struggling for many reasons. Believe me I've been there. I still have some control issues but I think that there are some reasons that I have been able to lose the weight and keep it off (maintain). I know I still have that disordered thinking in me but I feel like I am starting to control it instead of it controlling me.
These are some tips that I have learned on my journey...
- ---It was something I wanted to do for myself and my health
- ---I realized that I have to take responsibility for my life and where I am right now
- ---I started to see obstacles in my life as an opportunity to grow
- ---No more complaining or excuses! There is such a thing as complainy pants disease and its contagious!
- ---I meal plan and plan ahead for my workouts on the calender
- ---I used calorie count and the scale as a tool to keep me accountable
- ---There is not magical pill or substitute for hard work and self control
- ---I wanted to be a good healthy example in my family
- ---I try to surround myself with positive people
- ---I try to stay as moderate as possible with my goals
- ---I learned portion control
- ---I kept myself accountable by creating a blog and relating to other healthy lifestyle change bloggers
- ---I try to have realistic expectations and use critical thinking (no fad diets and no fad magazines)
- ---I set small attainable goals
- ---I remind myself of those goals daily/weekly
- ---I do not want to become a stick thin model (air brushed eww!)
- ---I started to embrace my natural beauty
- ---I eat foods that I like and do exercises that I enjoy like biking or running
- ---I try to keep things interesting with food and keep trying new recipes
- ---I am learning how to eat mindfully
- ---I learned how certain foods effect my energy and mood levels
- ---I learned which foods I like that keep me feeling energized and full
- ---I educate myself about nutrition
- ---Fun foods are allowed in moderation
- ---Moderation Moderation Moderation! The less black and white thinking the better!
- ---I try to keep a balance with nutrition, exercise, and a positive body image.
- ---Be consistent and don't put too much on your plate at once
- ---I try to remind myself daily of things in my life that I am grateful for so I don't take anything for granted
- ---Trying new things builds my confidence and self esteem
I still get down sometimes and get back on the bandwagon of a negative mindset with unrealistic expectations. But when I have a weekly or daily practice to remind myself of my goals like with blogging or keeping a private journal then it helps to keep me accountable to learn from my mistakes. Guilt and shame still play a role in my life. I don't think that guilt is bad though. I think if I deal with my guilt and use it to do self reflection and learn from my mistakes then I can overcome it. I just need to remind myself to keep finding opportunity for growth. The less I worry about things that are not in my control the happier and more productive I become. It's really pointless and a waste of time to worry about things that I cannot control or influence because that energy can be going toward something more productive like self improvement and learning.