Thinky Thoughts: Counting Calories – CICO

There was an article published in the LA Times today – Counting calories won’t reduce obesity. So why are we requiring restaurants to post them? – which really, really pissed me off. It’s worth noting up front, quite a bit of what is written in this article is utter bullshit, starting with the first sentence of the title. And though I do agree that lowering the amount of carbs we eat is a good idea, doing so does not mean that CICO isn’t still the primary driving force.

Counting calories absolutely works. The proof is here on this blog – log that shit daily and burn more than you are eating. THAT’S HOW IT WORKS! Yes there are other things that can affect it (particularly various medical conditions), but on the whole that’s the way it is. In most cases, anyone who says differently is probably trying to sell you something.

The reason people gain stuff back is because they stop being careful and go back to their old eating habits. If you struggle with obesity, keeping at an ideal weight is not a “get there and you are done” thing… it’s a life-long commitment. Think of it as a chronic medical condition, you feel better on the right meds, but if you stop taking those meds then your condition flares back up. Same with obesity, if you start eating more calories than you are burning, then your weight will go back up. Most of us just don’t have the discipline to maintain in the long term, because, let’s face it – IT’S HARD (and good food is oh so yummy). That’s why it’s important to continue to eat things that you like from time to time, so that you don’t feel deprived.

Also “starvation mode” is a myth, unless you are severely restricting your daily calories (like below 1200) for a sustained amount of time. Which is very unhealthy and no one should be doing it anyways. In general, it’s normal for our metabolism to slow as we lose weight – this is because as our bodies get smaller, we need less energy to fuel them. It’s why it was a lot easier for me to lose the first 100 pounds than it has been loosing the second. But that’s ok, that’s the way it works. And really, slow and steady wins the race… except, it’s really not a race. Because there is no finish line. There are goals, sure, but even if we get to our “ideal” weight, if we want to stay there we have to find a way to maintain it. So we make adjustments and then keep on keeping on.

Something else I found interesting about the following quoted section…

Why should the Food and Drug Administration impose a regulation to shave 38 calories off a Chipotle order? The justification from the start, as articulated in a blog post by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, is that saving even a few dozen calories a day would add up over the course of a year. “Based on that sort of reduction,” he wrote, “you could end up consuming 10,000 to 20,000 fewer calories making you three to five pounds slimmer.”

If the average person gains 1-2 pounds a year (based on 2016 CDC statistics), and shaving that 38 calories means that they could lose a couple pounds each year – we’d break even (or maybe even still lose a pound), instead of having to watch our weight steadily creep up each year. For all those people who wake up 10 years later wondering why they weigh 20+ pounds more than they did when they were in high school, this could really make a difference.

Having calorie counts at restaurants is a relatively new thing. I mean, it’s been around in some capacity for a while, but not as wide-spread as it is now required to be. So people are still getting use to it, and so, aren’t really used to being able to see what they are eating. I think as time goes by this will change and as more people realize just how many calories they are putting in their bodies, they will start to make better choices. Especially as they watch their weight slowly/quickly going up and look for ways to do something about it.



In The Beginning…

So for years I’ve seen images of the stereotypical “fat person”, the one that sits down to eat, and consumes entire pizzas, cakes, twinkies, etc… I’d always sort of shake my head, because I wasn’t like that, so I didn’t quite understand how come I looked like they did.

As someone who has studied a variety of Natural Health and Wellness topics, including nutrition, I’m well aware of what sorts of foods to stay away from, and I definitely don’t keep a lot of junk in the house as a rule. Yet I still manage to pack on the pounds over the years.

Over the last 2 days I’ve been trying to track what I’ve been eating, and it’s clear so far that in and of itself it’s not so much what I’m eating – the truth is I can go most of the day without eating anything (which really isn’t good either). However when I do eat, I tend to eat a lot more of it than I should. The good news is that it’s not stuff that is inherently bad for you, but even Honey Nut Cheerios when you eat the equivalent of 3 bowls worth at a time, probably isn’t the best thing to do.

Still that was only about 550 calories of my daily “recommended” 2000, but I’m pretty sure I killed the entire rest of it when I ate a huge pile of tuna casserole. Which again, isn’t inherently unhealthy – I tend to make it from scratch, so I know what all’s in it. But eating ginormous portions, does not equal weight loss. So obviously, I need to work on eating more often, so that I’m not starving by the time I actually see food, and making sure that I cut down on my portion sizes.

Even so, I think I still managed to only go over my daily limit by about 300-400 calories, so that wouldn’t be so bad, if I’d actually managed to get any exercise in. However “thing I need to work on # 2” is getting off my ass. It’s a vicious circle really, because right now I’m always exhausted, but if I exercised regularly, I’d probably feel a lot better, and have more energy to exercise. Just need to get it going.

Today (as long as I don’t eat anything else tonight), I actually came in under my limit by about 40 calories. Even considering that I had a small caramel frappe from McDonald’s (yes… it’s a weakness, I know).  Still no real exercise though. I keep thinking that there will be a day/time, when I’ve not got a million other things to do, but clearly that’s not ever going to happen.

Think my next goal will be to find some motivation!