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Old 05-11-2013, 10:26 AM   #1  
Crimson
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Question Calorie count after kind-of Intuitive Eating

Here's what happened:

I am doing some version of Intuitive Eating, with food journaling (only recorded the time of day, what I ate, and my hunger levels before and after eating) for about 2.5 months now. Weight-wise, I'm doing great, I have even surpassed my goal I had set initially. It's also of note that I'm a bulimic in recovery, sometimes going weeks without, sometimes having binges and purges more than once a day. I'm currently on day 4 of binge-free (something I'm very proud of!), but I don't have illusions - there will be setbacks again and again, and I'll just do the best I can do - eventually, the intervals between bouts will lengthen and maybe in a year or so I can call myself fully recovered. That's the dream at least I've given up the all-or-nothing mindset on this particular issue though, and I'm positive I will eventually conquer this, simply by being more patient and compassionate and more tuned in with myself. Intuitive Eating was part of that. What I cannot let go of though, is the need to control the outcome of the process, i.e. my weight. Which sounds contradictory (and it is) since it is exactly the abandoning of the illusory control of the outcome in favor of the process that constitutes the healing power of Intuitive Eating - at least, that is my understanding of it, and also something I've found true everywhere in life, so I don't think eating deserves an exceptional status here.

In any case, I've been exercising every day, for at least 30 minutes, usually a little longer than an hour, for almost 90 days too. I exercised before, but this consistency is new. It's fun, I love it, and I love how I managed to dissociate exercise from food to a large degree - I go even if I binged, even if I purged, even if I don't feel like it. Because I know I'll feel better afterwards, and I know I can also count more continuous days of exercise, which is a nice reward in and of itself.

This is the backdrop to what actually triggered this post: This morning, I made my usual breakfast: fat-free greek yogurt, an apple, almonds, lots of seeds and oat bran and rolled oats. I've been eating this or some variation (walnuts instead of almonds, some added blueberries, but nothing major) for more than 80% of the mornings since I started losing weight. It's just easy to prepare the day before for taking to work, keeps me full, is relatively healthy and provides a lot of fats that I don't necessarily get in many other places in my diet.

So, for no conceivable reason, apart from it being Saturday and me having time on my hands, I decided to count the calories in my breakfast. I did calorie counting for a long time, about 10-8 years ago when I was anorexic and before my bulimia set in, and then again when I lost weight last year (and regained), and then again when I started this time around. This time around (somehow I feel like I've matured a lot in the last year or two) I noticed quite quickly how detrimental calorie counting was for me - it made me anxious, I always wanted to eat as little calories as possible, I always fretted about not having weight correctly, I would eat little involved meals as there's water evaporation and how can I then weigh the ready-made soup and know exactly how many calories, etc pp. Detrimental, in one word. Not for me. So, I discovered the intuitive eating threads on this forum (I've been lurking for quite a while now), and it just seemed to make so much sense! So I decided to give it a go. I still tend to go too hungry for a little too long and too eat too little at a time, but at least the latter one is also a safeguard against binges and purges. I eat one serving, then wait at least 30 minutes before having another one. So, I'm not doing exactly IE at all, except for eating only when I'm hungry, and not eating when I'm not hungry (except for binge-purge cycles, naturally). So, back to this morning: I weighed every ingredient and counted the number of calories for my breakfast: 921. 921! That's about half my days need! I'm quite shocked. I put back half of the breakfast into the fridge and am halfway through eating the other half as I am writing this. I added up my calories for the last three binge-free days afterwards, and - lo and behold - I was consistently at about 2000-2300 calories. I haven't gained recently, if at all, I dropped a little too low for my liking (but then again, the eating-disordered part of my mind thinks that there's no such thing as a weight too low). I don't think I should be able to eat that many calories without ballooning! Surely, the exercise helps offset this consumption somewhat but I just feel like I cannot maintain this level without instantly gaining all the weight back. My calorie counting targets were always 1000-1200/day, so the numbers I'm getting empirically now - they just seem astronomical. I'm scared of them. Yet another number I'm scared of - the hold that they have over me is indeed quite ridiculous, if you think about it.

Now, if some other person were to post the above, and it was on me to reply, I would say "Sweetheart, don't fret it! You're at your goal weight, even lower, and you're exercising a lot, so you need a lot of calories. You've been eating this food consistently, and it hasn't hampered your weight loss, so it won't hamper your maintenance either. Just relax and keep doing what worked before you had this new piece of information." And that's exactly what I know to be true! Acceptance will unfold in its own time, as everything does, but, maybe, perhaps, there is another word of advice, another piece of the story, another one's adventures with this kind of thing happening, to be given or told here, by this precious community?
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Old 05-11-2013, 09:10 PM   #2  
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sounds like you really need those breakfast calories to me, and it's something to be proud of. The big difference now is that the regular exercise and increased muscle mass you have will have increased your metabolism, so you're probably burning calories faster at all times than you were when you were more sedentary. Nice work! Keep it up.
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Old 05-12-2013, 10:11 PM   #3  
Crimson
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Thanks for the insight, ange82much

That's actually a good way to look at it, that my body might NEED those calories. I'll see if I can go back to eating this breakfast (or the same amount of it) now that I know how many calories is has - I think I have a mental block with consuming so many calories at once (and even that early in the day) that I'll either have to accept for the moment being or consciously make an effort to challenge. It's strange how my mind works from time to time.

Thanks for your feedback
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