Have you ever listened to a podcast, and questioned the advice being shared? I have. I recently listened to a fitness podcaster speak with a woman in her 30s who was recently diagnosed with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. They discussed her lifestyle, her family situation, and her homemade meal schedule. Along the way, the podcaster asked some good questions, and the woman identified her goals. But then, at the very end, everything fell apart for me. The podcaster asked his guest to determine how fast she wanted to lose weight based on choosing one of three daily calorie ranges. What??!! No, I totally disagree. Lady Moxy members never count calories. Here’s why you should stop counting calories, too.
Six Reasons to Stop Counting Calories
1) Negative Impact on Body Positivity
First, let’s start with a definition of body positivity. It’s the assertion that men and women deserve to have a positive body image, regardless of how society views the body, and how the body is portrayed in popular culture. It’s the acceptance of all bodies, all shapes, all sizes. It’s the recognition that judgments are made based on race, gender, sexual preference, and disability.
Counting calories is all about how you look on the outside. It preys on the need to look perfect, to reach a societal ideal that’s flawed. Counting calories wreaks havoc on body positivity. It ignores acceptance of who we are inside. It interferes with our self-worth. The number on the scale should not dictate our mood or make us anxious.
2) Doesn’t Address Triggers
Counting calories doesn’t deal with the underlying triggers that cause weight gain. These triggers vary by person, and cannot be ignored.
Your general health, food environment, stress level, ability to get restorative sleep each night, ability to exercise – these are all factors that have an impact on eating behaviors.
3) Focuses on Restriction and Deprivation
When you count calories, you automatically focus on restricting what you eat, and depriving yourself of foods that you enjoy. Over time, that’s downright destructive.
Eating is no longer fun; it becomes a chore. You’re carefully monitoring everything that’s going into your mouth. You’re a slave to your diet. That’s not a good way to live.
Instead, there’s a concept called intuitive eating. It’s totally freeing and the exact opposite of restrictive. It leaves the diet and weight loss mentality behind, and allows you to be much more in tune with your body with regard to health, hunger signals, when you eat, and what you eat.
4) Disregards a Focus on Healthy Eating
You can definitely set a low-calorie goal, count your calories, and lose weight. Hell, you can drink celery juice three times a day and lose weight. Will this mean you’re healthy? I think not.
Rather, the focus needs to be on eating healthful foods to lose weight without counting calories. This means engaging in new habits such as buying real food, minimizing sugar-laden and processed products, making more homemade meals, and learning how to read food labels.
As a short rant, I’m going to focus on Weight Watchers (WW) for a moment. They are the epitome of why you shouldn’t count calories.
First, WW encourages frequent in-person and/or virtual weigh-ins which subtly reinforce the concept of dieting and counting calories. To punctuate the point, their website devotes a full page to bathroom scales!
Second, in addition to scales, Weight Watchers offers an unhealthful array of packaged foods that meet their criteria for being “smart” foods to eat. This is their attempt to address the challenges of a restrictive diet. In reality, it encourages their membership to continue eating junk food. Unfortunately, their packaged food and drink offerings are anything but smart. Maybe smart for their bottom line, but not smart for their members’ health.
To be clear, WW doesn’t actually mention calories or diet, but their version of wellness means weight loss, dieting, and restricting calories. Heck, their former name is Weight Watchers, simply known now as WW.
Here’s a better version of wellness: make good health the goal by eating a wonderful array of whole foods, and savoring the taste of what goes in your mouth.
5) Makes You Feel Bad or Guilty if You Fail
Counting calories is a cumbersome, time-consuming task that can spiral downward quickly if you fail to meet the predesignated daily calorie range. Who needs that self-imposed guilt if you don’t meet your objective? Do you really need to feel bad about yourself? Isn’t counting calories something that should have been ignored in the first place?
Focusing on a positive association with food is key. Listening to your body and it’s needs. Making simple homemade dishes with fresh ingredients. Enjoying meals with others.
6) Not Sustainable or Permanent
Finally, one of the most obvious reasons why you should stop counting calories is because this is not a sustainable behavior. It’s time-consuming. It’s annoying. It’s restrictive. And it interferes with having a positive relationship with food.
A good alternative to calorie counting is to learn about portion size. That way you can eyeball appropriate portions, both at-home and in restaurants, without worrying about counting calories. (Seems like a good topic for a different post.)
Conclusion – Lady Moxy Habits-Based Coaching Solution
When I work with new clients, I join them exactly where they are in their food journey.
I don’t judge – my private portal is a safe place.
Clients decide what they want to change, and I guide them daily.
No calorie counting. No points. No food logging. Clients simply take a photo of their meals and snacks, and upload them to the app. It’s super simple.
Best of all, new habits form that become the foundation of behavior that supports optimal health.
On the Lady Moxy Services page, prospective clients have four choices: the Sugar Buster Plan, the Brain Booster Plan, the One-Week Eat Healthy Challenge, and the Two-Week Eat Healthy Challenge.
Regardless of the plan chosen, all of them stir up healthy change that’s sustainable and uplifting.