I have been calorie counting for about the last year. In this time, I have lost 35 lbs, and have been maintaining this loss over the last several months. I am at the point in my journey where I feel that it is time to stop the counting. Stop the obsession. I feel that calorie count was a big help in me losing the weight, but now it is time for me to live without it. I can't do this for the rest of my life, and I don't want to.
The only issue here is that just the thought of me not counting anymore has made me very anxious. I stopped counting just the other day, and the first night I was so anxious that I didn't get any sleep. The more I think about this, the more I want to stop so I can prove to myself that I can. It's scarying the crap out of me though. I need some advice. Any tips and tricks from people who are maintaining their weight but are no longer counting?
First of all congrats for losing the weight you wanted and maintaining it! :) 2 months ago I too decided to stop counting calories. The first 1.5 month I felt exactly like you. Scared of eating over, scared of eating under. It was basically just quite scary and weird :D Then 2 weeks ago I decided to go cold turkey and just stop. I still count in my head now and then but boy, it's such a relief!
Maybe you should start by taking some days of now and then, the more days you can go the better. Though at some point I think that you just have to stop. I don't think that one will ever be ready (at least I know I wouldn't)
If you, like me, are scared of eating too much or too little, you just have to remember that after all this counting you know what a portion looks like, you know what you shouldn't eat too much of and you know what's healthy and filling. Use all that wonderful knowledge to stay healthy! You can do this, I'm rooting for you :)
So, how strict about counting have you been? If you've been weighing everything, then try just weighing the highest calorie foods, and estimate the others.
Else, if you don't weigh everything, but just estimate, then again -- stop counting the low calorie or small stuff, and just estimate things. If you can do that for a while and maintain your weight, then eventually you can just sort of keep track in your head.
You just need to prove to yourself you can do it. Weigh regularly -- once a week or once a month and if your weight starts creeping up, then cut back on a few things and get it back where you want -- rinse and repeat.
Thanks for all of the advice. I quite counting a couple days ago. I kinda keep up with it in my head a little, but I don't keep track of it here. When I was counting, I was weighing everything out, and I do mean everything. I was thinking about just taking some days of the week off, but I was afraid that if I just took some days off and some on that it might make the obsession worse. I think I would feel too afraid to eat on days that I wasn't counting, and then go back to my normal obsessing on days that I do count. I think I just have to do this cold turkey.
I've been doing a lot of research on the internet about intuitive eating. I think if I keep some of those principles in mind, then I will do ok. I'm just nervous about eating too much or not enough. I'm going to have to learn to trust my body. That just seems difficult to me because I've relied on counting for so long. Hopefully, I'm not the only one that feels this way...
I've never strictly counted calories (I've maintained a 20-lb weight loss for 8 years to put me at my recommended weight), but kind of keep track of what I've eaten throughout the day and week, not only the probable number of calories, but the general amount of fat, protein and carbs. That's something that's relatively easy to do, and doesn't cause too much brain damage.
I'm not so sure, with respect to myself, about intuitive eating, because if I relied only on myself, or rather on what my mind was telling me that my body wanted or needed, I think the results would be a bit incorrect.
And yes, it is scary to move from counting all the time being a mindful eater without counting. That transition is always difficult; I go through that every time I gain a few pounds, then cut back for a while to get back to target weight - once I reach it, it's a little difficult to transition back to more maintenance eating.
From the sounds of it, it would definitely do you good to stop counting. That level of anxiety about calories is a very bad sign.
I also had a hard time stopping calorie counting - partly because I was scared of gaining back all the weight I'd lost, and partly because I'm just a big nerd and I think food/nutrition logs are neat! But it was taking up too much of my time and requiring more commitment than was really appropriate, so I decided to stop. Now I just try to focus on balance and portion sizes. I have a few general guidelines that I follow to minimize "calorie creep," mainly treating vegetables as my staple foods (eg. a meal will be a protein and a giant salad, rather than protein and a starch), designating sugary/starchy/fatty foods as accompaniments rather than staples, and trying to pair calorie-dense foods with something low-calorie to balance them out (eg. rather than eating toast with a calorie-dense topping such as nut butter or cheese, I'll have toast topped with lower-cal roasted veggies or chunky tomato sauce, or else I'll pair the calorie-dense topping with apple slices or veggies instead of toast). I still weigh myself a couple times a week and make allowances for fluctuations, but if I see a definite upward trend I just try to eat a higher ratio of veggies for a while by eating veggies as snacks instead of fruits, eating the leanest proteins I can (canned tuna, shrimp, and protein supplements), and subbing vegetables for my starches (eg. subbing tomato-vegetable sauce for toast with my poached eggs in the morning; subbing green beans or spaghetti squash for pasta; using fresh herbs and lemon juice instead of dressing on salads; subbing pumpkin puree or a hot bowl of vegetable soup for oatmeal). Oh, and I'll sub unsweetened almond milk for regular milk when I'm trying to keep the cals down, too. I haven't counted in a few months now and I've maintained just fine.
I do a lot of the tips that you have given. Making sure you're plate is filled with vegetables instead of just starches. I always eat my food on a salad plate to rather than a dinner plate. I'm wanting to keep up with all of the healthy things I've learned over the last year, but I just want to change my focus from counting all the time. Since I've stopped logging my calories on the site a few days ago, I still find myself calculating my calories in my head now. Is that cheating?
It's natural to still count in your head. Think of it like a bad habit. It's what you do with that information that counts. Sure add it up or whatever, just don't USE or ACT on that information. Eventually, you will see that adding it up is useless bc what would be the point of it?
Well after a little over a week, I've managed to lose a pound. I guess I shuold bump up my calories so I can keep maintaining, but that idea kind scares me. We'll see how it goes. Now that Im not counting, I feel like I'm able to enjoy my eating a lot more. I missed that, and I didn't even realize that the counting was taking that away,
I'm really glad you've stopped counting. I think there's also a point where you're eating the same foods that you used to count so you instinctively know how many you're eating anyways.
I really abide by intuitive eating - listening to your body's hunger cues and when you're full and hungry and eating by that, NOT by a set of numbers that say how much you should be able to eat... I think there is something inherently wrong with that!
I'm happy for you, keep it up!
Maybe start slow?
My current strategy: When I was losing weight, I usually logged most of my meals before I ate them. Now I take let's say 2-3 days a week (I pick the busiest days) where I try to not think about food at all and just eat when hungry, but I still log (estimate) in the evening to see how much I ate. So far, so good. :D
First mistake I made though was confusing intuitive eating with impulsive eating. Example: (I suck @ explaining :D ) roomie left an open bag of cookies in the kitchen. I wanted to eat the cookies, because you know, "Now I'm maintaining and learning intuitive eating and if I want cookies I can have cookies, yadda yadda." Another roomie came in, saw the bag and was like "Oh, cookies! .... Meh. Later. I'm not hungry." And I realized I wasn't hungry either, put the bag down and since then I'm trying to develop that 'meh' attitude towards food.
On the days I still count calories beforehand, I only weight calorie dense foods.
[Maintenance is awesome. ^^]
I too know 100% what you're going through - I'm going through the same exact process right now. I lost 40 lbs through calorie counting, and even though I've been maintaining for a year or so now I'm still latched on to calorie counting. I stopped for awhile and counted in my head but actually just this past week I began tracking on here again -__- idk why - my excuse to myself is that it "Makes me more 'sane.." but really, it makes me feel more anxious, if you will. I had a crazy stressful week so I guess I had the urge to track again because it's the one thing that I feel I have absolute control over. But I can't stop. I'm planning to not track on here tomorrow and see if I can actually do it...
This sounds exactly like me! I've been counting for almost a year and a half and I know its time to stop I have passed my goal weight and am still losing weight I know I cant count forever so today is my last day of counting and I'm stopping completely tomorrow!