Monday, August 24, 2009

Why I don't diet (much)

Yesterday I was starving all day. I thought I'd eaten well, or well enough. Healthy high-fibre snacks, plenty of veges, pulses and protein and not too much cheese. But then after my after work run, I had a look at my spreadsheet, and roughly totted up the calories, and saw that without having had dinner, I was already at around 1500 for the day. Eek!

Somehow it ceased to matter that I'd swum over 3000m in the morning, and that I'd been out for a quick 3 mile run in the evening. Even though I focus on "net" calories and rationally I knew I wasn't too far off my ideal, the thought of having eaten 1500 calories without having had dinner completely upended me and instead of leaving work on a high, full of happy running vibes, and virtuous "getting my 12 hours of training in this week" thoughts, I felt flat and blue, and my mind was occupied with thoughts of "you're useless", "you'll be fat forever", "you could've at least done 45 minutes!", "WHY OH WHY did you have a pre-run snack?".

Then, when I was working my way to the supermarket counter, I remembered the english muffin that had somehow gone unrecorded. The memory hit my stomach like a stone: "You mean, I've eaten 1620 calories without having my dinner?" I scurried through the supermarket and made my way home, bargaining calories with myself and making promises I couldn't keep.

I've felt like this before. I cried in the car with Phil one Monday, not long after I started my nutritionist approved plan last year. I'd worked a full day, gone to swimming from 7-8pm, and the thought of whatever my allocated portion of pasta was at the time filled me with gloom, and an overwhelming feeling of failure. It no longer mattered that the extra banana I'd had before swimming filled me with energy, and I'd kicked some serious butt over a tough hour long workout. Instead, all that mattered to me was the fact that I couldn't stick to my nutritionist's guideline day to the letter.

THIS is why I don't diet. Why I don't want to count calories. It does help to know that I'm overdoing things a little even when I'm feeling good about my eating, and to be reminded that healthy food still contains energy, but it doesn't help when I'm left doubting myself, and trusting an arbitrary number instead of trusting my body.

Don't worry, the story ends happily.

Last night I finished my supermarket shopping, bought lots of fresh veges and fruit, and went home to make the divine white bean stew I'd been planning. I munched on a piece of wholemeal tortilla with a teeny bit of cheese, and picked at some carrot stick so I didn't faint while the rosemary and basil flavours worked their way through the eggplants, peppers and zucchini in the stew. I poured a splash of the delicious pinot gris I've been drinking for the past week or so, into the stew, and another splash into an empty glass. And I sat down with a novel, a healthy, hearty stew, and a splash of tasty white wine, and I remembered that while I should strive to take care of myself and my body, given the choice between weighing 65 kg, being healthy, having energy for my workouts, enjoying the odd splash of pinot gris, and not fainting while I cook dinner because I've worked out after work and it's 9pm, and being 59 kg and having washboard abs, I would choose the former. Every time.


  1. Amen sister. I get too worked up sometimes in feeling negative about my body I forget all the crazy accomplishments I've been able to do this year - I did a half Ironman! I'm allowed to eat to fuel my body. I do think counting calories recently has helped me get back on the bandwagon, but I can't and won't do it forever. I'd kill me. I'd rather weight 5kg more and be happy!

  2. I feel the same way (again)! I could be three kilos lighter if I ate perfectly, but where's the fun in that? I'd miss the wine and cider ...

    Oh, and in response to your other question, 1327 on a two workout day? That's starvation material! 1050? Is your nutritionist insane?