Calorie Counting is a Bummer, but (Un)fortunately it Works

16 Feb

We’re 1 week into my calorie counting experiment and right on schedule.  I felt pretty hungry during the first couple of days, even though I was eating up to 1700 calories.  After a couple of nights of attempting to sleep on a fairly empty stomach, and sleeping terribly as a result, I started to add a snack before bed even if it meant going over my daily calorie goal.  Sleep is probably THE most critical factor in my fibromyalgia flares.  Without sleep, I’m toast.  Anyway, after 5 days I couldn’t resist the urge to weigh myself, because my work pants got noticeably looser.  I had already lost 2 pounds.  I only meant to lose 1 pound during the first week, so I loosened up on my calorie restrictions, aiming closer to 2000.  I would rather lose weight slowly and NOT be hungry all of the time.  It makes a lot more sense to me. 🙂  This morning, I weighed 132lb which is just where I want to be.  By the end of this week, I would like to be at 131lb.

One problem with calorie counting is that you are often making an educated guess based on ingredients.  If one source says that an egg has 70 calories and another says it has 80, these slight variations can mean a lot over the course of a day.  Also, the definition of “moderately active” is a bit subjective.  It is my belief that these 2 inconsistencies are what lead to my hunger and subsequent rapid weight loss after those first few days.

Calorie counting feels a bit like being in a secret club.  After mentioning my current experiment, I had several people either tell me about their experiences with the process or come at me like moths to a flame.  What are you doing?  Could I do that too?  I really should do something to lose weight…  I even calculated calorie needs for 2 curious coworkers.  The universal language among American girls is that of body dissatisfaction.  Even the most intelligent, low-maintenance women in my life have made comments to me about what they would like to change about their appearance.  Often, rather than clinging to a stick model ideal, they yearn to be where they once were.  If a woman knows they can and have been at a lower weight, they strive to get back to that magical place: when I was in high school…; before I stopped playing softball…; before I got pregnant…; before gaining the freshman 15…  It looms over our everyday thoughts: one of these days, I’m gonna buckle down and lose this weight.  When one woman takes the initiative, others stare in awe and want to jump on the bandwagon.  There’s definitely a “we’re all in this together” vibe whenever a woman brings up her weight goals.

I am not in the market to be a public service announcement but rather view this trend from an observational perspective.  We’ve been exposed to propaganda since birth about how we should look.  Even though we may be smart enough to see that it’s propaganda, our desires are the same.  We want to look good.  Looking good often correlates with feeling good (in theory), and who doesn’t want that?  Many psychological manifestations show up in very different behaviors/compulsions but often stem from similar causes: the desire to be in control.  Controlling our diets is one  way of feeling powerful in a world in which we often feel powerless.  If I can’t change the world, at least I can change myself.  Weight loss is an intoxicating fantasy to work toward, a distraction from the everyday blahs.  When these concepts are taken to the extreme, an understanding of eating disorders is pretty straightforward.  Some people NEED to turn a light switch an even number of times and some NEED to see a specific number on a scale.  Finding a balance between control and obsession can be tricky for some, but it’s where healthy weight loss often lies.

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