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Enough is enough
Why I went back to calorie counting
Earlier this year I broke up with calorie counting, for good I thought. Yet here we are in November, and we’re giving it another go.
Now, for most relationships getting back together is not a good idea, and calorie counting and I have certainly had our ups and downs over the years. Alas, when all is said and done, it is the only method that has ever helped me lose a substantial amount of weight. And I only regained weight again when I stopped doing it. The problem has never been the calorie counting, it’s the stopping.
Calorie counting, if done sensibly, is just a tool that helps me be mindful about my portion sizes, which in turn helps me eat less and lose weight. Because the only way to lose weight is to consume less than we expend – aka creating the good old calorie deficit. It doesn’t matter how you do this, as long as it’s healthy, and out of everything I have tried calorie counting seems to be my golden ticket.
The problem with calorie counting is that it’s a diet culture product and having grown up in the 70s and 80s I am the first person to acknowledge the damage the diet industry has caused over the decades. As a teenager I was a perfectly normal size but I always thought I was fat and ought to be on a diet. This was the start of my ‘last-supper’ cycles where I would eat as much as I could before my next diet. Only, that next diet never lasted long and I was mostly just last-suppering all the time. Add to that my trauma-induced emotional eating and the challenges from having ADHD (which I didn’t know about at the time) and you have the perfect storm that, over time, led to significant weight gains. Moving to America didn’t help, either, and between the huge portions and a more sedentary lifestyle I became properly obese. And now I am 60 and the weight is seriously impacting my health. It’s no longer about body image, it’s about quality of life.
I had not planned to go back to calorie counting, I really thought I was done with it. But then I saw my doctor and he said in no uncertain terms that he was worried about me and would I consider taking medication for weight loss? He knows that I hate taking meds and he is also not the kind of doctor that blames everything on weight, he’s been very supportive over the years in letting me make healthy lifestyle changes on my own terms. Alas, I always end up at back at square one and we have finally reached a health cross-road where I need to get serious about my weight. So he prescribed Ozempic and I would have taken it because I know quite a few people who are doing well on it. Alas, my insurance rejected it. So now we’re trying for Wegovy but apparently that’s on backorder. That was my sign.
A week ago, on November 5th, I woke up and I knew that this was the day when I would take back control of the things I can control. I re-started my LoseIt app, where I have lifetime membership, and began logging my food. The app has made a lot of improvements since I last used it and they even have a really good online course to help with the mental mindset work. I have never been super rigid with my calorie counting and my ‘allowance’ has never been crazy low. It just gives me enough structure to not constantly overeat, and it gives me enough pause when I am not hungry but want to eat emotionally.
Here is the thing: calorie counting - when I look at it as my tool and not my master - gives me a sense of certainty that makes me feel calm. It takes away a lot of the head chatter when it comes to eating. It gives me hope that I can improve my health. I didn’t know how much I needed all of this.
Getting back on track in November is very unusual for me, I have never actually done calorie counting through the winter. In the past, events like Thanksgiving or Christmas, or planning a move (which we used to do pretty much every year) always threw me off my routines. But we are not moving and I like the idea of navigating the holidays with more mindfulness around my eating. I am not waiting until January 1st to start. Instead I am creating a toolbox for myself to help me through the inevitable tough times when I want to stop. I may write another post about this.
The bottom line is: I need and want to lose a good amount of weight. Enough to ease the pressure on my arthritic joints, enough to revert my weight-related sleep apnea, enough to get off my blood pressure meds, enough to qualify for the ankle surgery that I’ve dodged for the last ten years.
What does all of this mean for Autumn Diaries, will this become a pure weight loss blog again? I tried writing about other topics but ultimately weight loss is what I always come back to. It’s a topic that I don’t just breathe and live every day, it’s something I also feel quite passionate about because I have never found that place online where I felt truly heard and seen. There is such a discord between the narratives of the diet industry, the anti-diet movements, and the deep need for trauma healing and support for emotional eating. That’s what I’ve always loved writing about (since 2005!) and it’s what I am reclaiming on this blog.
Does this mean a name change, too? Wouldn’t be the first time! I am not sure yet, I do love Autumn Diaries. So we will see. Either way, if you’re interested in the topics of obesity, ADHD, emotional eating, trauma and weight loss - especially for older women - I would love for you to keep coming along.
Have a lovely week ahead,