Some say that if you just eat healthy, calories don’t matter. But the only people I’ve ever heard say this are skinny people. No disrespect, thin friends. But it doesn’t appear you understand the struggle. Calories are an issue for some of us.
“Just stop when you’re full,” they say. “Just eat half the cookie,” they say. Apparently, my tummy’s signal isn’t doing its job as a deterrent. Or perhaps my mouth is telling it to look away and mind its own business.
If you are one who eats 1/3 of her lasagna and declares, “I just can’t eat another bite!” Push that plate over here, lightweight…
So, zip it, lean and lithe ones. Here’s the scoop on calories for the rest of us.
Calories matter when we eat too many of them
Calories have always mattered for me because I want to eat more than my body needs. I always have and I still do, yes, even though I eat very healthy.
Come to mama, organic almond butter…
But, I’d like to share a secret with my calorie challenged sisters. Calories are not the enemy. They are the steering wheel of your weight loss journey.
This overlooked and underrated “secret” to long term success can be a game changer for you. I’ll explain…
God Gave You a Budget
When I have $100 to spend on a gift certificate, I shop the sale racks to get the biggest bang for my 100 bucks. I do the best I can within my limit. If my total comes in high – I either pay the extra or put something back.
Losing weight is like that. The budget? Your metabolism. Who gave you your metabolism? God. It is what it is. It keeps you alive. Be thankful.
When you eat more than your calorie budget (metabolic limit) – your body stores the extra calories as fat. If you come in under, your body will use up your stored fat calories as energy.
This is how God made us. Everything God made is good. So we might as well work with it, and thank Him for it!
Generally, our appetites will coax us to exceed our God-given budget. Except the skinny people. I don’t know why. They aren’t my people.
So, in keeping with our shopping metaphor, calories are like money. We “buy” food with calories. That means we can choose to make the most of our calorie budget. I love having the flexibility to change things around and still stay within my calorie budget.
I like deciding what to eat. Sometimes I eat the same thing every day. Sometimes I mix it up. I can say, yes, I’ll have that steel cut oatmeal for 200, or no, I’m not spending 350 calories on that avocado.
What’s Your Allowance?
Learning how much you have to work with is easy. The girls in my groups know I am a huge fan of MyFitnessPal. It’s such a great tool. The free version is awesome. The ones who use it consistently see the most progress over the longest time. They are also the ones who get right back on track the fastest after the occasional stumble.
If you haven’t downloaded this app on your phone, I urge you to do so with all the girlish enthusiasm I can muster. Here’s a guide you’ll find helpful.
MyFitnessPal has helped me and countless others take control of their health and weight loss. When I started using it in 2011 and it helped me to lose the last few pounds to reach my goal – nothing else had gotten me all the way there. Currently, I have a 4 year long streak of daily logging. During these 1530+ days, I’ve stayed within 3 pounds of my goal weight. Think about that – after my 35+ years of yo-yo dieting – my weight has stayed within 3 pounds of my goal for 4 years. Without it? I’d be up and down like the stock market.
The app is a great way to get the upper hand on your weight. It’s helped me keep my appetite under control so that it doesn’t run my life like it used to. When I don’t control it, it controls me. When worry and concern about my weight dominate my life, it undermines my walk with the Lord. Yes, I still needed to address my relationship with food (and I did) but I also needed a practical tool to help me manage day by day.
I hope you’ll give it a try. After a few minutes of setup, you’ll set your calorie budget and your weight loss goals and be on your way. Once you know your budget, what do you do next? Shop!
Calorie Deals: Are there Good Calories and Bad Calories?
How does one get the best bang for the calorie buck? We should begin by clarifying one thing: Calories are neither good nor bad. Foods can be good or bad choices, all depending on your goals and preferences. It’s important to remember, a calorie is just a unit of measure, like a gallon. Imagine a gallon of each of the following:
- Radioactive Waste
- The Blood of an Englishman
Each one is a gallon. One of them is typically safe to drink. The rest will make you varying degrees of sick. Are some gallons good and others bad? The point is – the contents in the gallon make each one different.
A calorie is a calorie. The types of food we choose do make a difference. So, you can optimize what you get for your calorie budget.
When shopping for an outfit, you optimize within your budget. Piece by piece you assemble the combination of shoes, slacks, blouse, jewelry, jacket, and scarf to achieve the look you desired. I’d aim for comfortable, slimming, low maintenance, and on sale. I probably wouldn’t actually buy a scarf.
With food choices, you can also assemble your “outfit” to attain what’s most important to you. My assembly would include getting the most nutrients, to feel satisfied, to minimize cravings, and to keep it simple because I don’t enjoy cooking. I’m also a volume girl. I’d opt for more of something that tastes good enough over less of something that tastes great.
What is important to you? Health? Taste? Quantity? Quality? Convenience?
Your budget may be limited, but it gives you freedom and flexibility to choose for yourself.
What’s the alternative? Either flying blind or living in other peoples’ boxes, aka dieting. In either alternative, when you stop losing weight, or start gaining it back, you are left not knowing what to do, except perhaps, to try another diet. And we all know where those lead.
Which is more appealing to you? Steering, not steering, or letting someone else steer? The choice with the most freedom and flexibility also happens to be the one that works the best.
Think about it. MyFitnessPal could become your weight loss BFF.
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