Saturday, June 9, 2012

Contemplating Calories

I saw my dietician J yesterday morning before work and even though I've been pretty much almost following the meal plan and drinking Boost every day, I STILL lost weight. Huh? I wish I tell you I was devastated that all my hard work didn't lead to any gain, but...not so much. It's not like I was overjoyed either, mostly just confused. J and I went through my meal plan and tweaked some stuff, so maybe we'll see some gainage next week. Hopefully. Gaining is good. Right?

J actually had me drink a Boost in her office because, to use her words, it would make her "feel better" about sending me on my way. I think she was trying to capitalize on my tentative new motivation, since I've declined all offers to toss back a supplement with her or R in the past. So I think she sensed that I might actually agree to it this time, which I did, and I survived. Then she gave me another bottle for later, since I had mentioned that I was out of them at home. Hey, if I keep this up, I could save some serious money. Recovery is expensive!

In my appointment, we also talked about how I'm still having some trouble with social eating. Restaurants definitely, that's a given, but even eating my own food with others isn't easy. For example, I've been bringing my lunch to work and eating with two other girls for the past couple weeks, but I still find it super awkward and uncomfortable. The situation is a little tricky for a couple of reasons: A) both girls are overweight, B) I get self-conscious about eating the exact same lunch every day, and C) When I bring my full J-approved lunch, I can't finish it in the time the other girls take to eat their lunches. I suppose I could condense my lunch by making a more calorie-laden sandwich or drinking juice instead of water, but that seems impossible for some reason. Lately I've been munching discreetly on the rest of my lunch later at my desk, but that messes with my head too, for some inexplicable reason.

On a happier note, some friends and I had lunch in a new coffee/sandwich place today - my second such outing in as many Saturdays, aren't you proud? I'm having some icky guilt and panicky feelings about not knowing the calorie count of my sandwich, but I keep telling myself that it wasn't excessive, I'm not overly full, and I'm trying to gain anyway. Duh. Why is this so hard to wrap my mind around?

Speaking of calories, I'm having a little internal debate with myself lately - namely, how to deal with the counting issue. I've written before about my calorie-counting obsession, which is still pretty much as powerful as ever. Lots of times I find myself willing to up my intake and try new foods, but I get caught up in how to tally them and fit them into my personally-prescribed quota. Obviously I've upped my calories over the past week or so, but not by a ton, and I'm still very much mired in this twisted desire to make everything add up neatly. Also, consuming more than certain calorie levels is literally beyond my imaginative capabilities at this point, so I'm always careful to make sure that my daily intake stays within an acceptable range.

Although J never says the c-word with me, I have a pretty good estimate of her meal plan's calorie content. I've been wondering if I should just start insisting on some transparency both ways - her telling me exactly how many calories she wants to eat, and me telling her exactly how many I am eating. (To be clear: I am always 100% truthful with her about my food intake, we just don't discuss calories explicitly.) Honestly, I'm going to be counting calories anyway. That is one area of recovery in which I've made zero progress whatsoever, and I don't see it changing anytime soon. Maybe it would be better to just have that out in the open and learn to deal with a higher number. It might also help J and I communicate more effectively on weeks like this one - when I feel like I'm doing well, but still lose weight.

So that's my dilemma. I'm torn about whether to just embrace the calorie-counting as a tool to gauge how my body and metabolism are functioning, or if I should really be working harder to kick the habit altogether.


  1. I had a few hard conversations with my RD about this also. She also never mandated me a calorie number, but knew I tracked it myself anyway. And she realized that counting/quantifying/collecting data is pretty much so ingrained in me for everything (I log my odometer reading every time I fill my car with gas, it's pervasive) and recommended I try to use the cal counting as a tool but not a torture, if that makes sense. BUT everyone is different and I'm certainly not at all, in any way, saying it's not worth it to try to stop counting. I still have that as a goal at some point. I guess my point here is just that I know it's really hard, and that the main focus really should be you learning to get yourself enough to be healthy and non-obsessed, and what that feels like. Maybe there are certain things you can do to start loosening up. Having a few foods where you're confident enough about serving size to not measure can help start loosening up on knowing intake down to the last exact calorie, for example.

    I have also found that just eating foods with the calories on the label makes me worry about it a lot more. Not saying at all that you should go off your Boost or anything (way to go with compliance, awesome!), but just suggesting that maybe when you've transitioned from that to more home-prepared foods than packaged it will be easy to not have the numbers so clearcut. Just brainstorming.

    Hang in there chica, you are doing this and you're awesome for it.

  2. That's difficult to judge. I guess it comes down to whether you think you can use calorie counting as a positive tool or whether it will always be too negative to use well in that way. I think if I kept counting calories instead of trying to kick the habit then I would always try to push them lower and lower and it would eventually stop me eating things I wanted. However that's just me and I see how it could be a really positive thing for you to use! I hope you find a solution which works for you and drink up the boost :) you are doing well and through time you will see your hard work pay off!

  3. Congrats on the food spontaneity at the coffee/sandwich place and for keeping up with the Boost! Sounds like those are going great!

    The calorie counting is a tough one, and I certainly don't want to give advice (since I'm not a trained professional or anything, lol), but I can say that when I use it for a tool, it's helpful for me. I think if I tried to stop calorie counting at this stage of the game, I would come up woefully short of what my dietish wants for me. He and I actually do talk specific numbers and it's helpful for me to see it in black-and-white for several reasons: when I have to increase the mealplan, we can work together around what I'm comfortable with and I can add a little extra here or there to fulfill the increase, and it doesn't feel so overwhelming. Also, it helps us to both track my compliance if things start to get rocky. That being said, it's also something I'd like to eliminate in the future--I don't want to calorie-count forever; that just sounds painful. I'm not sure if that's helpful in any way, it's definitely a tough issue and I think the underlying factor will be the motivation around whichever way you decide. If it can be a helpful tool for the time being while you're working on WR, then it might be positive. But if it's keeping you entrenched in ED thoughts, it might be better to work on eliminating it. Just my thoughts. Take care! :)