This past weekend, I didn’t count calories. I didn’t count carbs. I didn’t stress about how much or how little I was eating.
It was glorious.
Saturday was definitely a hungry day. You see, I played soccer Friday night (well, Saturday morning, technically, as the game started at 11:48PM). Saturday morning I spent time out in the heat, pulling up overgrown, wilting cucumber and watermelon vines, pulling weeds, and planting a fall garden. Saturday afternoon was another soccer game. I was active, and my body told me it needed food, and so I gave it a lot of food.
It was happy, and Sunday, which was a slower paced day (bowling, grocery shopping, and cooking – the usual), I was much less hungry. I didn’t finish my lunch and took a doggie bag. I only ate a modest amount of dinner and was satisfied.
I did that novel thing called listening to my body.
It wasn’t until Sunday night that I retroactively tallied up my calories, just to see where I landed. Turns out, I ate close to my TEE (total energy expenditure) both days.
You see, this is revolutionary to me. I’ve been dieting and restricting for so long, I’d lost touch with satiety signals. I didn’t trust them. Years of limiting calories and demonizing foods caused me to truly believe that left to my own devices, I’d fall face-first into a limitless supply of cakes and fried foods and never stop eating. Because whenever I “failed” or “slipped up” at whatever diet I was on, that was what would happen. I believed I was addicted to sugar or food or whatever, or else I believed I didn’t have a strong will.
I was just hungry.
Sure, when I first began my Eating the Food process, I ate what seemed like limitless amounts of certain things. I ate Chocolate Chex at night. I ate jelly beans. I enjoyed chips and candy. This went on for a few weeks. But eventually, the draw to those foods and eating so much of them leveled off. They were no longer “forbidden”, and I was no longer feeling like I was starving, so they were just food. Food I could have any time if I so chose. And eventually, I chose to let them be, for the most part. Case in point: right now there are both potato chips and ice cream in my house. I haven’t had the chips in weeks; and while I did have some ice cream Sunday night, I haven’t really thought about it since then. These foods would be gone in a flash, if I “allowed” myself to have them in the past (not that I really ever did). They no longer have power over me. Sure, if I crave sweets, I’ll have some. I also crave greens, and when I do, I have those too. I’m starting to listen to my body.
I’ve held on to counting calories, however, through this process. Why? Well, now it’s to ensure I eat ENOUGH. Since I was so used to eating a lesser amount, it took me a while to really get a feel for how much a proper amount of food was to nourish my body. I’m becoming less and less concerned about this being an everyday practice as times goes on, though. This weekend’s experience has taught me that obviously, my body knows what it needs. You see, apparently my body is pretty smart. If I’m listening, it tells me what it wants. If I trust it, I can work WITH it, not fight it.
And that synergy, my friends, is both beautiful and freeing.
Now, what shall I do with all that mental energy that was previously devoted to obsessing over calories? I think I might start by relaxing. And then listening to some good tunes. Then I’ll see where that leads me.