Stop counting calories and instead focus on the big picture!
In my weight loss journey, I had followed all those diets telling me what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat. The only thing I knew was to read and follow what it told me to do. To weigh and measure my food and make sure I am only getting the exact calories that was given to me so that I could lose weight. Guess what, all those diets and all that counting calories did work to lose the weight but then I got tired of it. I stopped counting and then I really had no idea how much I should eat because I was ruled by the numbers, not by what my body needed.
What I realized is that if I wanted to lose the weight and keep it off for good, I had to stop putting my energy into following the numbers and really learn how to listen to my body. This was something very foreign to me.
Being on those diets, counting calories and following those strict meal plans only had taught me to ignore what my body was telling me. I had no idea what the physical hunger cues were. I had no idea when I was physically hungry or full because I never allowed myself to truly feel it. Why did I need to do that when the diet told me all I thought I needed to know? When I first started this process, I had no idea what I was truly feeling. There were so many times I would say to myself that “there must be something wrong with me, all I feel is hungry”. What I know now is that this is normal, what else did I expect when I had spent so much time not listening to my body? I had been dissociated from it because of being told what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat.
The first step I took was to make small changes to just one meal. Stop the calorie counting, weighing and measuring my food. With this meal I was allowing myself to eat but I had to be present, meaning I had to taste each and every bite with no distractions going on. I had to sit and feel what it was like to eat those few bites, to stop and feel if and when I was satisfied with this amount. I had to stop, walk away for 10 mins to let my food hit my stomach to see if that was enough to keep me satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, this was not easy at first. There were times when my brain would be telling me “you can’t stop, it tastes so good”, or “you can’t waste that food”. That is just the emotional sensation in your brain telling you that you should eat. What surprised me was how often my emotional brain ruled my hunger and my eating habits
All of this takes practice. This first part was only stopping the overeating. On the other end is where you have to allow yourself to get hungry. Again, I never really allowed myself to get hungry, although I thought I did. How could I have when I was eating all the time and how did I really know what true hunger felt like? There were times that I had let myself get really hungry, and I then let that give myself permission to eat anything because OMG, I was starving. Well guess what, that is not an emergency and we will not die from starvation by missing a meal. Our body has plenty of fat storage going on when we have weight to lose. What I had to do was find my sweet spot where I knew that this is physical hunger and yes, it is time to eat.
So are you willing to be uncomfortable in learning what your body is needing and wanting because that is what it takes? It will take time, patience and practice just like if you were learning to play the piano. It is up to you, it is your choice to make, so what is it going to be? Are you going to keep on counting those calories, knowing that when you stop you will gain it all back, or are you going to learn how to eat the way you should eat for the rest of your life?