Sunday, 13 April 2014

How I learnt to stop worrying and forget the calories in a ricecake

One of the first things you need to know about me is that I love statistics. I'm obsessed with music statistics (I listened to Arabella by the Arctic Monkeys 74 times on March 17th 2014, FYI) and can't look at a stranger's shoes or for that matter, my own hair without giving an out of 10 rating. So naturally, when I was very slightly overweight and told I should go on a diet, I threw myself right in to the world of calorie-counting.

The fitness blogging community is a dangerous place for any impressionable human being, and given that I was 21 at this time I dread to think what it must be like for 14 year old girls. It is very, very easy to get wrapped up in the world of counting exactly how much you eat at any time and it very much appealed to me as a life-long maths obsessive. Oh, so I just ate a banana and a Muller vanilla light? LET ME DO THAT MENTAL ARITHMETIC! 

When I joined Weight Watchers and began paying monthly for the privilege of making myself feel miserable, my numerically motivated brain went into overdrive. POINTS FOR CERTAIN DAYS? MORE FOR THROUGHOUT THE WEEK? This sounds like a brilliant excuse for an Excel spreadsheet if I have ever heard one! I don't know if many people get addicted enough to their diet that they create an intricate Excel workbook, but if there's one thing I can say about myself it's that through my life I've never missed an excuse to make a VLookup table. 

I speak in jest, but I was actually incredibly obsessed with planning every single piece of food I would possibly eat for at least two weeks in advance. Invited over to my ex boyfriend's parents house for dinner? HOW WILL I POSSIBLY KNOW THE NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION? Friends want to go for Wagamamas for dinner? THEY DON'T PUBLISH THEIR CALORIES ONLINE CAN'T WE JUST GO TO NANDO'S? You see what I mean. The thing is, I never ate any less than what I was supposed to on the Weight Watchers diet, which is actually perfectly healthy in the sense that it is engineered that you don't go below your body's food requirements, but the PLANNING and the COUNTING drove me up the wall. This is why I needed to start this whole blog as a coping mechanism and why I wrote posts like THIS following eating a Twix bar I hadn't accounted for. 

Two and a half years I spent on that diet and all I ever lost was half a stone and the respect of everyone I knew. I've spoken a couple of times before about my regret of this and how now my attitude to food is 'normal' and 'healthy' but I guess most of the people reading this blog, are reading it for the same reasons that I was reading your blogs. To gain motivation to count calories and get more tips on how to cut down. If, out of my past two or three blog posts, just one of you reads this and has a little bit of a think in whether what you're doing is the right thing, then writing it will be worth it. So here's a brief summary of how I got my head back in case you were looking for any practical advice -

1. Running
April 2014 marks a year since I started running and I still think it's one of the best decisions I ever made. Yes, me and my trainers have had our highs and lows, our ups and downs, I haven't gone any further than 7k still after a whole year, but I just Don't Care as running has Changed My Life. If you ever feel like there's too many thoughts in your head you might explode - if you ever crave solitude - if you ever want to feel proud of yourself - if you ever want an excuse to listen to the full Lorde album, RUN. Running helped me understand the concept that food is fuel, not a scientific experiment that needs constant monitoring. Just take a tip from me and don't do what I did this morning and wear leggings that are too big for you. SHAMBLES. 

2. Good People
Have a think about how the people in your life make you feel.
If any of them make you feel bad about yourself on a regular basis then they do not deserve to be in your life. It is as simple as that. They Do Not Deserve An Amazing Person Like Yourself In Their Midst. 
Good people don't attach shame to food. Good people never tell you you look fat in an outfit. Good people make you feel great about yourself, all the time, except when you're acting like an idiot, but they'll tell you in a nice way, and in the meantime compliment your hair.
There are a lot of Good People in the world that are lost in the maze that is calorie counting themselves. Don't try to save them as it isn't any of your business. However, if you ask them not to talk about it around you as you find it triggering, Good People will understand. Not-good people won't understand. You don't need them.

3. Don't be afraid
For nearly three years I didn't ever let myself get hungry because I was terrified of how much I might eat if I wasn't completely in control of my needs. Don't be scared to get hungry. Hungry is normal. Don't become obsessed with "and I must eat THIS meal at precisely 1.15, and this one at 7.30." It's hard, it's really hard, but try not to think about it and only eat when you feel hungry.

4. Eat what you want
Tonight I had a family-sized bag of Kettle Chips for dinner. I can hear the blogger in 2012 wailing and throwing herself down the stairs at this fact, but to quote Dappy, No Regrets. It's what I wanted to eat. I ate it. It was great. Not hungry anymore. Not sure what I'm going to have for breakfast tomorrow. MAYBE TOAST. MAYBE PORRIDGE. MAYBE EVEN COCO POPS. Let yourself breathe the spontaneity. 

I cannot tell you how much happier I am ever since I stopped trying to lose weight. I don't know how much I weigh but I DO know I now fit into jeans that I couldn't six months ago, and I'm also a happier, healthier person. To quote Dappy for the second time in this blog post, every time I look in the mirror I just don't even recognise myself.

Just to conclude:
Are you reading this and worrying about how many calories are in your lunch tomorrow? YES YOU?
Have you ever been upset as you ate something you felt like you shouldn't?
Has anyone ever made you feel like you want to lose weight to the point where you can't even remember what you think of your own appearance and if you think you look okay? 
Just screw them all and eat whatever you want to have for lunch tomorrow. If that's chia seeds, go ahead. But all I can say is you'd BETTER enjoy them.