Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Letting Go of Calories Part 2

I know, it's been over a week since I wrote Part 1, and you were probably thinking I wouldn't get a Part 2 up. Well fear not my friends!

The main reason I didn't write this at the same time as Part 1, or even within a couple of days, is I wanted to write it when I was really in the mode. I want everything I write to be completely honest, and sometimes I just don't feel like recovery talk (especially when I'm trapped inside for 5 snow days), and sometimes I just don't know how to organize my thoughts without boring you to death.

Cuz we know that I like to get wordy.

Soooo where did I leave off? What I call "Phase 4" of recovery. To be honest, of all of my different "phases" in recovery, this has been almost the most difficult to navigate/figure out, because every decision or change I make begins with me. (I'm sure you can tell through a lot of my previous blog posts). I can no longer rely on a nutritionist or therapist to help me make decisions or figure things out. Heck, I haven't seen either in months.

This is where letting go of calories kicks in.

If you haven't already noticed, I never get into specific numbers (of weight/cals/etc). I don't think that specific numbers are important, I don't think they serve much of a purpose (as every body is different), and I don't think it's fair to you or I to share specifics. It's all too easy to fall into the comparison trap, even if it's unintentional. Just thought I'd share that. 

As I said in my first post, calories are a huge, huge crutch for me. I think that it's this way with a lot of girls/teens/women, eating disorder or not, losing weight or gaining weight, or just simply trying to get healthier. What I really want to elaborate here is that I do not "consciously" count calories. But yeah, I have paid attention to them more than necessary.

I feel like there's such a fine line between needing to make sure you're getting enough, because calories are important in that sense, and using them as an excuse to "hold yourself back." During cross country, it was definitely the latter for me. I was totally out of my comfort zone, aware that I needed to eat more, but scared to. I was happy and free, and there was a part of me that knew if I fully listened to my body, I just might kick my ED to the curb.

And that was somehow terrifying to me. As freeing as it is, sometimes full recovery is scary. It means you've let go of what you felt like you were controlling for so long. It means making a jump towards something that you don't necessarily understand, and you don't know what's going to happen.

A few months ago, I told myself that I would make that jump. It was really scary because yeah, I was (and still am) in the healthy weight range, I was eating enough to maintain my weight, but I know that I was not at my happy weight. Reading all of my blogs is such a great help - I always feel so inspired and reassured that health is of the utmost importance, not numbers.

But sometimes HLB reading is a Catch-22, because while they are always inspiring, you cannot fall into the comparison trap, which is what I began doing. I do not need the same type of fuel as someone participating in Crossfit, and I do not need to feel guilty for not completing the same mileage as someone training for a race. It's just silly to compare yourself in these types of aspects.

SO. While I did use blogs as inspiration, I decided that listening to my body and mine alone is what really needed to be done. And for me, that did not include counting calories/running 30 miles a week/eating vegan or paleo or whatever.

So.....I stopped. That's really the only way I can explain what I did. I just stopped. I'm not saying it was easy - sometimes I find myself getting a little anxious and have to talk my way through it, and of course some days are better than others. But I have learned SO MUCH.

First - I have a huge appetite. I'm not sure if it just seems this way because I'm fueling more efficiently, maybe I kick-started my metabolism, maybe it's cuz my workouts lately have been legit. Whatever the reason, when I don't pay attention to how many calories I can "allow" myself, I just eat more. And I have realized - that's okay! It bothered me at first (I felt like a I was eating too frequently/more than anyone in my family), but that's just what my body likes - lots of nutritious and delicious foods. And I honestly think that if everyone truly listened to their bodies, it would be like this - our bodies need lots of fuel!!

Second - Gaining weight isn't so bad. Yes, yes I have been gaining weight, slowly but surely. And none of my "fears" came true - I got even hungrier, ate even more, gained some weight, and gained energy/strength/health. It was inevitable, it needed to happen, and I'm more at peace with gaining weight. It actually motivates me to work out more, gives me more energy, keeps me in a better mood, and helps me enjoy rest days! Not to mention I'd like an a$$ (just being honest!!).

Third - I enjoy food more! It's no secret that I absolutely love food, and getting rid of the stupid calorie fears make food that much better. It helps me savor the food, rather than being anxious. It lets me eat a {small} box of Valentine's Day chocolates before bed and not worry about the super healthy breakfast I have to have the next morning.

Fourth - WIAW and Instagram can be very deceiving. Obviously, I love taking pictures of my food. My Instagram is practically dedicated to it. But you guys don't see every bite I put into my mouth! It would drive me crazy to show you every single snack I eat, if I go back for seconds, or if I add more to my plate after I take a picture (which I do all of these things frequently). I share pictures of my food because I want you to enjoy it as much as I do, not because I want you to see how much I eat.

Fifth - I feel better than ever.

I don't want  to give any impression that this journey has been perfect. It has been FAR from it. So far. I haven't been working my way up to this for weeks or months, I've been working for years, from the moment I left inpatient almost 3 summers ago.

I mean, it's only even been a few months since I quit calorie-counting cold turkey. But this is my lifestyle change. This is not a temporary change until I get to my healthiest weight or sort out my last health issue. This is how I am going to live my life. Fueling efficiently, enjoying nutritious food (and the occasional treat), working and resting hard, and finding my healthy balance. And it has been so incredibly worth it - words cannot even describe.

So let go of the calories, friends. Let go of the comparisons. Let go of your anxieties, and put your trust in the Lord, in yourself, and your family and friends. It. Will. Be. Awesome.


  1. I seriously can't even begin to say how much I love this and YOU!
    1) You are incredibly articulate in your writing, and I think you've hit a ton of important points in this post.
    2) I can relate to so much of this. Just…YES to everything.
    3) I'm sometimes feel like I'm still in recovery too when I fall back into "compensating" by making one meal super healthy/low calorie to make up for another indulgent meal.
    4) Food rocks.
    5) Sometimes a girl wants cake. And sometimes a girl wants "the cake." ;)

    1. Aww thank you SO much Alison!!!! I'm so happy that you were able to relate to so much! That's really, really gratifying after writing about a more serious subject. You're awesome! :)
      Hahahaha food does rock, and YES - sometimes a girl does want "the cake." I laughed out loud when I read that, haha!
      Have a great day!

  2. You are always such a motivation. I am hoping I can learn to trust exchanges not calories like you do. and then not even exchanges maybe. from seeing u those three years ago to.now...you make me see recovery is possible. the fight is worth it. and that I don't need inpatient to do it.

    1. Thank you, Jess. You CAN learn. You CAN let go of numbers. If you work hard and put your full faith and heart towards recovery (and I know that's freaking scary!!), it is 100% possible. The fight is so worth it, and I know that you have an incredible spirit and strength - you can do this, because you're strong, and you're worth it! I love you girl!

  3. You were right to wait until you were in the mode to write this. It's PERFECT. Seriously, your writing is absolutely spot on! I really want to share my recovery story but I want to make sure I'm really honest and don't miss anything. I agree with every single thing you said. Especially letting go of that last step - I'm working on that! It's crazy to think that we can be 100% recovered, but it's possible! Love ya girly!

    1. Thank you so much Leigha!!! I'm so happy you liked this post. That's very touching to me lol. :)

      Yes, my advice would be take all the time you need to write your recovery story. It's a hard thing to put into words! I But I can't wait to read it, I know it will be spectacular!

      I know, the last step is always the hardest, in any challenge. But it's soooo worth it and I know we can do it! You rock, girl!

  4. Oh Jessica I love this so much. You are such an inspiration to me. I just had a week without calorie counting and it was super scary. I went back to it. I guess I'm still not eating quite enough. You give me so much motivation. I just want to get over this forever! I know the thoughts will never 100% go away but I'm getting there. What you wrote- I feel like there's such a fine line between needing to make sure you're getting enough, because calories are important in that sense, and using them as an excuse to "hold yourself back."- is so relatable to me right now.

    Thank you for sharing all of this. You are such a strong and beautiful person, Jessica!! (:

    1. Thank YOU for reading it!

      I'm so proud that you were able to go even a week without calorie-counting - that shows that you are 100% capable to doing it! And it is also 100% okay to mess up - everyone does, and recovery is never clean, pretty, neat, or perfect. As I said, I've been on this journey for quite a while and I still slip up, but the difference is that I'm able to bounce back.

      I am so praying that you get over that calorie crutch! The best advice I have to offer - and I know this is so vague/doesn't seem helpful, is to just...not count! It is really really uncomfortable at first, but I promise you it gets soooo much easier. Or perhaps thinking of food in terms of "exchanges" (ie: carb, protein, fat) rather than calories as a first step. That helped me earlier in recovery.

      YOU are strong and beautiful! You are awesome chica!!!