My Take On The Numbers Game

by tessa8m on September 4, 2011

in Awesome Bloggers,Serious Stuff,Uncategorized

Good Morning!

I hope everyone is doing well this morning and enjoying your weekend thus far! I have had a low-key yet enjoyable weekend thus far… but things are going to get busy today! My residents are finally arriving so my staff and I are working and checking people in all day… hence the early post. I am psyched to meet everyone and get this year going!

I have a lot to say on this subject, so bear with me here. Things might get a bit confusing and repetitive, it’s just a bit challenging for me to get out everything I want to say. But let’s give it a go!

Although I did not attend the Healthy Living Summit this year (sad face), I still was able to read, hear, and learn about all of what was discussed at HLS. I give my thanks to all of the bloggers that were there because they provided wonderful and detailed recaps! I enjoyed all of these subjects because I could relate to each and every one of them on some kind of level. However, there was one discussion in particular that stood out to me, The Numbers Game, presented by Tina, Janetha, Beth and Lisa.

If you want to understand what exactly the “numbers game” is then check out Tina’s post because it is a wonderful take on what they presented. Basically numbers can be used for both personal positive and negative goals and they entail several different aspects and areas of our lives. What I was able to take away from this post is that I deal with numbers each and everyday, but for the last 3 or more years, numbers/figures/digits, have been effectively controlling my life and making things increasingly worse.

I have seen several other bloggers discuss how numbers in the form of what they see on the scale, calories, times for running, etc, have bogged them down and allowed them to become obsessed and caught up in endless frustrations. When I have read these posts, I have been quite aware that numbers are a huge part of my life as well, and are mainly seen as negative presence. It was not until moving back to school that the realization of how numbers played a part in my daily life, reared its ugly head.

When you move back to college and take pretty much your entire room with you + half of the kitchen, well unpacking is going to be a bit of a bitch…and it was. It took me about 4 days to unpack, decorate and settle everything into their respective places, but it was worth it because now it looks great! However, another unfortunate thing that can occur with too much stuff is forgetting numerous items that are often used. What I forgot is what allowed me to realize my own consuming patterns, thoughts and actions with numbers.

Some of the items I forgot- light bulbs, hairbrush, towel, a blanket (thank goodness it’s still warm out), my usual posters and wall decorations, dish soap, a few pairs of shoes and most “importantly” the stuff that I have clung onto and use constantly–> my scale, measuring cups and measuring spoons.

These forgotten items dawned on me the very first morning when I went to put my breakfast together consisting of yogurt, fruit, milled flax seed and cereal… I searched high and low for my measure cup but in vain. Oh goodness, how am I going to know how much I am putting in? I can’t eyeball a serving size, no way! Well I tried my best and probably gave myself less than my normal amount because I was “afraid…” Afraid of taking in too many calories in the morning without realizing, frightened of continuing this pattern all day long, petrified of gaining weight.

The milled flax seed was the next addition, and once again, my search for my measuring spoons was a futile one! Oh nooo! I forgot these too? I need to know how much a tablespoon is, I cannot go over the serving size number! Again, I did my best to eyeball it and most likely provided myself with a less than adequate amount.

And finally, this happened…. I forgot my scale at home. Although I now truly believe this was a Freudian slip and a blessing in disguise, that thought process was certainly not going through my irrational brain at the time. Alright confession time, up until forgetting my scale at home about two weeks ago, I have been weighing myself on occasion… I know, hypocrite over here, I suck. But I am confessing and letting you know that this pattern is rather difficult for me to break. I so understand how wrong, inaccurate, just plain terrible it sis for me, and yet I do it.

And here it is once again, the rational, logical side of my brain vs. the disordered, illogical and incorrect part. You all have provided me with so much support and clear evidence that the scale lies. Deep down I absolutely know this, but I continue to  myself most mornings, continue to get reassurance (or horror) from what I see on the screen, and continue to allow numbers to rule my life.

I am without my scale and measuring items for the first time in years, and it is terrifying. It is hard for me to trust myself without these tools- numbers and “answers” that they provide me with. The feelings that this “loss” are manifesting, is allowing me to comprehend that I allow numbers to rule my life. And how else do numbers rear their ugly heads as a negative aspect? Too many- “needing” to run a certain number of miles per week, how fast my runs need to be according to a clock, getting at least x amount of minutes of hard physical exercise,  the sizes of my clothes (jeans especially)…

For me, the number I see on the scale is the core of my relationship with numbers. Although I had an episode of disordered eating when I was 13, the true “beginning of the end,” did not occur until I was 18 on my very first day as a Weight Watchers member. I did not think of myself as being overweight, but believed I could stand to lose a few pounds. Also learning new methods of cooking and proper nutrition could be beneficial. Before joining this program, I had no idea what my weight was and was fine with it. When I stepped on that scale and the number was revealed to me, well I was perplexed...wait a second, that number is MY weight?! And so it began.

On the old point system for WW, I was assigned 24 daily points according to my height, weight and activity level. The program has changed a lot since then and I don’t think it’s necessary for me to go into much detail here. Basically I became obsessed with my daily allowance, sticking to it with 100% dedication and only consuming what I considered to be, healthy foods. I knew the point value of pretty much any food, and would always guess under what a meal really was if I didn’t know for sure. And guess what happened? WW started to work, I was losing at least 1.5 pounds (a normal amount) each and every week… these results continued to fuel the fire of my number and weight obsession.

As the number on the scale went down, my daily point allowance decreased simultaneously and eventually I was “allowed” 21 per day. Initially I used every single one of those 21 points… but then I lowered the number “secretly.” One day I would only have 19 points, and then 18, 17, 16… yeah you get it. Oh and I should mention that I wasn’t even in the WW program anymore, I was under the allotted weight to join. I was not counting calories during the time I was decreasing my points (without permission) but realize now that there were some days I was getting about 1,100 calories, and I thought that was TOO MUCH. Sheeshe.

It was only earlier this year in January after seeing Nancy Clarke and realizing how many calories I actually needed to live, was when I finally stopped with the points thing. I was at such a low weight for myself, unhappy beyond all reason, yet consumed with this BS point stuff. The only reason that I was able to let it go was because calorie counting took it’s place. It was at this point (again just earlier this year) that I needed to gain weight which was going to take even more food than I was okay with (gasp).

In one way or another, I had to know how much food I was eating. Yes a reluctant goal for me was to gain weight, but I didn’t want to put on too much too fast, so my new obsession with numbers was (and has) turned to calorie counting. It was and is absolutely, 100% necessary that I have clear understanding and knowledge of every morsel that is going into my mouth. Now I don’t think calorie counting is a bad thing at all, in fact it can be quite beneficial, but it’s not something that I should be putting so much effort into. Additionally, even though I knew I needed a much higher amount of calories than I was consuming to gain weight, I still carefully counted because losing control of how much weight I was putting on was just flippen not okay.

I still count calories, measure everything, weigh myself, log the number of hours I exercise, the number of miles I run, carefully look at the sizes of my clothes… because these digits help me to feel “safe.” I feel safe, secure and better knowing that I am still in control of how I look, h0w much I eat, exercise and so on, and the numbers are what provide me with (what I believe to be) the definite evidence. Yes, I know the scale is inaccurate for countless reasons, but I feel that I must see a certain range of my weight, or I will launch into crazy lady flip-out “I am fat” mode. Not good my friends.

However, what I have noticed as I have recovered a tremendous amount from all of this, is that numbers are simply not as important anymore… especially compared to how I used to feel about them. During my lowest mental and physical point last summer, I kept losing weight and was incredibly elated every time I saw what I wanted to… anything that was less than the number I saw yesterday. And if it went up at all, I would become disgruntled and frustrated, but fueled with a vengeance to just keep trying harder to make those numbers fall.

The more weight I lost, the more I clung onto the numbers in every aspect of my life. None of these numbers were ever low or high enough… they left me upset, irritated, unhealthy and depressed, yet continued to suck me in by promising me I will finally be happy once these digits changed… just the slightest bit more. I am fascinated by the mind (f***) games we play on ourselves. I was so strongly convinced that if I just lost 2, 3, 4, 5…10 more pounds, if I could go down just one more jean size, or run an extra 4 miles or so, I would finally be happy. Happiness is not what is at the end of a path such as this, there is only sickness, depression, a wasted life…

I still count calories, weigh myself, measure foods, log physical exercise, and so on… I mean I absolutely flipped out when I understood those items were not with me. But as the two weeks have gone on and I am still sans that stuff, well it’s getting better. I won’t lie and tell you that I am perfectly fine now without my usual “safe” tools, but as I said, it’s getting easier to not constantly measure things and feel the need to weigh myself- I am simply unable to!

Calorie counting continues to occur, but these days what seems to happen is I count the food I am eating and the exercise I am logging, but halfheartedly. For example, I no longer feel compelled to workout at least 90 minutes every.single.day, and now am fine with going in with a tough challenge planned, busting it out, feeling exhausted, and not concerned by how long it too… a longer amount of time is not the most beneficial way to work out, and won’t provide the results you are looking for. When it comes to calories, I usually add up breakfast, snack and then lunch, but lately I have kind of forgotten to add in what else I consumed for the day… I mean I have a general idea at least.

After two weeks, I still do not have my scale, measure stuff and all of that… and you know what and it’s been hard, but ffulfilling. I don’t need to use these sort of tools with their numbers, each time I eat something (baking and cooking aside of course). That dastardly number on the scale that I focus on with incredible concentration, is honestly just not as important. I am concerned with how much I weigh, and am petrified of putting too much before I realized what has happened… but just less so. I hope that makes sense.

A number is not who I am. I am so much stronger, healthier, fitter, and happier, I am re-discovering myself, the glowing person I used to be, and it’s awesome (for lack of a better term). The number on the scale is way higher than it’s been in a year, but that certainly does not mean my life is worse. I have gone back up in jean sizes, I eat more calories than ever before, done so many “scary” things that test those numbers and could potentially make me more miserable. But in fact, I am the happiest I have been in quite some time now, and numbers have nothing to do with this.

How are numbers a part of your life, good or bad?

Do you count calories or have some other way of tracking how much you have consumed?

If you don’t count at all, how do you do this?! Please inspire me.

I know this is a big question but in summary, what are your thoughts on The Numbers Game?

And completely random, how has your weekend been?

Thank you for reading this long-overdue post. I felt so compelled to finish it that it is currently 3:00 am here and I am still not asleep! Had to get this out :)

I hope you have a great rest of your weekend!

 

 

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{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren @ What Lauren Likes September 4, 2011 at 7:38 am

I do not count calories anymore, I used to write them down and it just got too annoying and NOT worth it to remember it all. I would just not look at the label sometimes, and just pour something or eat it. Slowly I started not to care about numbers, but more about the quality of the food going into my body :)

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2 Sarah - Feeeding Brain and Body September 4, 2011 at 8:10 am

I just wrote a huge long comment and then when I went to post it something funky happened and it got erased :( So I will try to remember everything I wrote the first time:

Your always so honest in your posts Tessa! I can relate, I would have been totally thrown off if I had been without my measuring cups. I didn’t use them for a long time, but then I found I always underestimated and was left hungry. As for counting calories, I admit to it. The first time in my life when I did it though it was really negative. I stopped for a long time, but then found I would loose weight without meaning to. I find that keeping track of how much I’ve had really helps me to make sure I’m improving my health for now. Although I would really like to work on intuitive eating so that I can improve my health without having to keep track :)
Sarah – Feeeding Brain and Body recently posted..Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

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3 tessa8m September 5, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Oh gosh I am so sorry your comment got erased! That happened to me the other day on someone elses blog and wanted to cry!
Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to write something again. Keeping track of calories can be a beneficial thing, and I want to look at it with a more positive view

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4 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries September 4, 2011 at 8:56 am

I used to be obsessed with numbers. I still use them to measure out food sometimes, or measure how long of a run I’m doing, or I’ll even count my calories on occasion just to see where I’m at. I feel like I’ve gotten to a point where it’s not an obsession anymore though, but more of a “staying on track”/on occasion thing. It definitely didn’t come overnight. Lots of baby steps have gotten me there.
Ashley @ My Food ‘N’ Fitness Diaries recently posted..Short But Sweet Camping Trip

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5 Haley Q September 4, 2011 at 9:09 am

I think as time keeps moving forward, you’re going to be able to let go of the numbers for (mostly) good. Especially the scale one…the only reason I haven’t weighed myself in so long is simply because I haven’t done it in so long I just don’t care. I feel healthy, I don’t feel like I’ve actually gained weight (although my mind can tell me differently), so why make it worse for myself by stepping on the scale? It’s obviously not that easy just to let go and not care, but it IS possible.
When it comes to counting calories, I’m still tempted to do it alot. Especially if I felt like I “ate too much” or whatever. But since you posted about eating intuitively, that’s been my goal. To eat when I’m hungry-whether or not it’s at the “right” time-and to listen to what my body wants. Since then I gave up counting calories and just focusing on feeding my body to maintain my health! Life has been so much more enjoyable since I stopped (for the most part) those awful habits, so when I’m tempted to go back to them, I think of how far I’ve come and how much greater everything is :)
Haley Q recently posted..Not enough time to eat? What?!

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6 tessa8m September 5, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I love your attitude with the scale… I believe I am slowly getting to that point where I am not going to care anymore. I have actually gained weight, but I must keep reminding myself that is not just “fat” and really is muscle, fluids, etc!
Eating intuitively is a continuous process and I am planning on trekking along with this. It can be so hard, but I know these changes are going to be worth it in the end!

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7 Laura @ LauraLikesDesign September 4, 2011 at 9:23 am

Ugh, that is a game I am all too familiar with. The numbers were spinning in my head when I laid down in night…only to be woken up at a certain time to workout for XX minutes. I’d then come home and eat XX calories, while planning out my second workout for the day. Everything was calculated to a tee. I bought the same items at the grocery store each week. I avoided social events like the plague because they cut into my workout schedule and there might be things I could not eat. I convinced myself I loved salads for each meal. I told others I didn’t like cookies, treats, crackers, and my once-favorite: chips and salsa.

My total calorie allowance for the day and my pants size went down as the number of workouts went up. Next thing I knew, they didn’t make pants in my size anymore. A lot of my shirts and shorts came from the little girl’s department because juniors/women’s sizes didn’t fit me. I’m twenty three and I was one size larger than my 9 year old cousin. Whoa…that is warped.

Everyone told me “Oh, it must be so easy for you to shop–you’re so tiny!” And secretly I loved hearing that. Yes, I was tiny. I was winning this numbers game. But in the end, almost every shopping trip ended in tears. No jeans fit me, clothes sagged everywhere. I couldn’t shop at fun stores that my friends could.

And I was miserable. Every day. All I did was workout, go to work, head back to the gym, and toss and turn all night. Every single day.

I’m 6 months into treatment and I can’t say it has been easy. There have been days I’ve wanted to throw it out the window and go back to my old ways. However, the longer I stick with it, the more I realize, life is happier on the other side. There are no numbers. Food tastes good. Clothes fit even after you eat a McDonald’s ice cream cone at 9:45pm the night before. I don’t have to workout every day. My body will regulate what I eat. It’s okay to eat bread. Etc.

I never thought I’d reach this point. Seriously. Ever since I was 12, my body has been diminishing in unhealthy ways. I was losing weight that was not mine to lose. I was pushing my limits, starving my body, and not taking care of myself. It took outside help for me to finally see the damage I have done.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but I can totally relate to what you have felt in the past and are working through. It takes time and I’ve found that by focusing on how much happier I am now, is easier than wanting to go back.
Laura @ LauraLikesDesign recently posted..Five Four Three Two One, Go!

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8 tessa8m September 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Laura,
I of course remember when we were first communicating through private email several months ago, and from what you wrote here, I can tell how much better you are. I also notice that you are much more lively in your blog posts and seem to be doing so much with your life! That is so awesome, and I am incredibly glad you are powering through thoughts and actions that seem same and good for you, but have quite the opposite effect… a life that is not worth living.
Let’s keep this amazing work we are doing up and I truly believe that one day (in the near future) we are both going to lead a fulfilling, happy and much more care-free life

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9 sarah@spinach and spice September 4, 2011 at 9:53 am

Oh girl, I feel you on this one!
ED’s are so much about control. When we can control the number onthe scale or the number of calories that go in our body, it feels so much better. The hardest part for me is letting go of the control factor.. whether it be letting others prepare meals for me, not being able to have “safe” foods at every given moment, not knowing the number of calories I’m consuming at a meal (like when eating out). It’s such a difficult thing to let go. Though I was never a scale user (I actually only got a scale when i was trying to gain weight), the counting of calories realllly got to me. 600-800 calories became a normal day for me.. and looking back I have no idea how I did it. That is definitely not enough for a person to function, let alone live a fulfilling life. Every number was written down on small sheets of paper every day, and I tried to hide these in drawers, in notebooks, any place my family wouldn’t see. I was cleaning my room one day when I found just how terrible the papers had gotten.. .they were everywhere! Every morsel was recorded on the paper with overestimated calorie counts. That was one of the things that initially made me realize that what I was doing was NOT normal in any sense! I couldn’t have friends over anymore because my room was filled with diet books and calorie counting papers, though i was under 80 pounds. Sometimes, it takes situations like these to get our head on straight again!
Like you recently responded to one of my comments, sometimes being forced out of an addictive behavior is best. You didn’t have scale, therefore you were forced to not rely on its controlling numbers to get through your day. Nature has a funny way of helping us out every now and then :) Congrats on the baby step, you’re that much closer to crushing ED for good :D
sarah@spinach and spice recently posted..Breakfast Flops and Cereal Swaps

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10 tessa8m September 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Oh my goodness I used to write on tiny pieces of paper too, but I used them to record WW points! Obviously I had access to journals, and actual paper and such, but for some reason, I enjoyed writing things down in “secret.” Gosh, so glad that is over.
We are both well on our way to crushing this bad boy once and for all :)

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11 Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner September 4, 2011 at 9:55 am

Numbers are such a double edged sword. They are so helpful in many ways (getting enough protein? Calories to fuel a long run?) but can be so devastating when you focus on them to extremes. I lost about 30 pounds in a healthy way, but I counted every calorie, weighed myself every morning, and obsessed about it. I admit, I still weight myself more than I should. BUT–after months of trying, I’m happy not to count calories. It’s hard not to when you’re in the habit of it, but it makes me so much happier just to eat when I’m hungry.
And to answer your question from my blog–I can only run that long on the treadmill because there is a TV in front of it! For those 20 miles I watch 4 or 5 different shows to entertain me!
Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner recently posted..20 Miles and Make-Up Dilemmas

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12 tessa8m September 5, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Thank you for stopping by Vanessa!
Even with a television, I am in awe of you being able to perform and run that long on a treadmill! And not just a treadmill… I have never even come close to 18 miles, you go girl :)

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13 Lindsay@bikingbeforebed September 4, 2011 at 9:57 am

I have had periods of my life when I have been obsessed with “the numbers.” But at some point I realized that I wasn’t living…. I was so obsessive I was missing out on life! Now I have a general knowledge of what I put in my body and I aim to do some type of physical activity every day. I still weigh myself. But I don’t let the numbers control me. That was such a brave post to write and I really appreciate it because it puts into words how many girls (and guys) have felt at some point in their life.
Lindsay@bikingbeforebed recently posted..Stormy Saturday

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14 tessa8m September 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Thank you Lindsay, I hope I can help anyone with this… counting past an obsessive amount is obviously no way to live like you said!

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15 Maria@La_Piattini September 4, 2011 at 10:05 am

I know it’s hard to break away from numbers- I too am attached to the scale, my Garmin, measuring utensils, and logging workout times. But I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Every once in a while I try to take a step back and analyze why I’m using these items. If I notice I’m using the scale because I’m secretly loving how the number shown keeps decreasing, then to me it’s a problem. If I’m using it as a weekly tool to see where I’m at, then I think it’s ok. There are two sides to everything and when it comes to disordered eating/mindsets one side can be quite dangerous. My advice would be to simply take a look at why you need those items and go from there.
The numbers game can become an obsession- which it did for me too when I was on Weight Watchers. My every thought was eerily consumed with points values, calories, and points. My mind was a very scary place. Now that it’s been about a year and 1/2 since I broke away from it, I can never imagine going back because I remember how incredibly disturbing it was to me.
Maria@La_Piattini recently posted..Birthday and Family Fun

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16 Jennie - jenandberries September 4, 2011 at 10:41 am

First of all I want to say that you are amazing for being so brave and writing all this down so honestly. I used to count calories and the hardest thing I have done is to somehow give it up. Although I always ate a decent amount, I totally understand what you mean about the fear of not being ‘in control’ anymore. Woohoo for ditching the crummy measuring spoons! That’s exactly what I did to give it up. You also have to think ‘do I want to spend my life this way?’ I remember a friend once bought me a huge ice cream out of the blue when I was going through the counting stage and my first thought was omg how many calories are in this then?! aaaaah! But then I talked to myself (not out loud :p) and asked what am I afraid of? What’s more important? Enjoying life and food and appreciating my friend’s good will or knowing a bunch of silly numbers? It takes time but you will get there Tessa! The fact that you are happiest now shows how you are actually more in control of your life when you stop obsessing so much. You are GAINING control of life by not obsessing.
Oh my weekends been a blast, birthday cake filled haha :) and counting the calories in that would take the fun out of a birthday!! Have a lush week!
Jennie – jenandberries recently posted..September 1st Firsts

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17 Alexis September 4, 2011 at 11:23 am

Girl I know exactly where you’re coming from. I’m so not ready to give up the scale yet but I have discovered I’m becoming less and less obsessed with feeling the need to see the number everyday. It’s a long process. I do feel days whre I’m confident and don’t give a crap what that scale says and other days I just need the reassurance…
I’m so proud of you for realizing you’re better than the number!! We all are. It says nothing about how far we’ve come and what we have accomplished. Keep it up girl!
Alexis recently posted..Cereal Sunday – Kashi Cinnamon and Honey

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18 Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! September 4, 2011 at 11:45 am

I hate caring about numbers. But it always slips back in. I admit to counting calories, but I rarely make adjustments, I just feel awful and guilty. Once I started losing weight I became obsessed. Everything had to be serving size, and there was a limit to the number of certain foods I was allowed each day. Recently I’ve stopped counting, but the weight has come back, and it does not feel good. I hated dealing with numbers all the time, I want to just ‘be’. But both are really hard to deal with in their own way. It’s all about balance, and I think we’re one step closer every day.
Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! recently posted..The Sandwich Post

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19 Emily@RunningPerspective September 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm

girl i TOTALLY GET where you are coming from
totally have been there when numbers RULED MY LIFE. its tough and i get it but honestly forgetting that scale is probably the best thing that could have ever happened. its all about setting yourself free from the constraints of inanimate, meaningless things like the scale, or even numbers in general
you are amazing girl dont ever forget it!
Emily@RunningPerspective recently posted..doing it up right

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20 CJ @ http://healthy-happy-whole.com/ September 4, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Omg Tessa once again I swear we are the same person bc as I was writing my posts for the week one includes my relationship
With kitchen utensils and measuring spoons!!!! You are always very brave in what you share and are not a hypocrite at all! We all have bumps in recovery and these are just some things you will keep working on. Your disorder did not happen overnight and neither will the jounrbey to get rid of it!!! Xoxo
CJ @ http://healthy-happy-whole.com/ recently posted..Getting Creative In The Kitchen

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21 Lenna September 4, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Wow! What an amazing, deep-thoughtful and introspective post. And at 3 a.m. Really girl, you are amazing! I see how you are still struggling a bit with those obsessive thoughts that ED often leaves in one´s mind. But you are working on it, working really hard, and even though you still step on the scale to get a feeling of security, you are making such a progress in many other areas!
I think that our society makes it pretty easy to become obsessed with numbers – weight, heights, distance, calories, length of legs or or the number on your bank account…numbers seems to be such an important subjects that it is hard to avoid them and not to jump on the bandwagoon and start obsessing too. I personally don´t own a scale, never weight myself, never count calories. I know I tend to be a perfectionist and I tend to become obsessive about things when I give them too much of freedom, so I try to stay away from this. I try to eat as much as I need and as much as is still pleasant for me – those feeling are my “calorie counter”.
Have a great new week, I know you´ll do great :)
Lenna recently posted..Let the trumpets sound! We have already met 100 times!

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22 TheCookieBoss September 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I always pay attention to my weight (which a lot of people do, right?). I’m lucky that my weight rarely changes. But I think I could stop checking it so often.
TheCookieBoss recently posted..Several Food Groups in a Cookie

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23 Baking N Books September 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Like someone said above, sometimes the only way to stop something is to just do it. Being forced out of it. Yeah, you may hate it and your uncomfortable and frustrated – and scared and anxious at the the beginning. But, that’s life. You deal with it. You evolve. You move on.

I almost WISH I had these issues now. I used to be kind of like that. But not it’s the opposite and with no self-control. I really really caution anybody and am sad to see when people get obsessed with numbers and restrict. Because I can guarantee you – no what you think or how strict and perfect you are – it will come back to haunt you. Maybe years from now. But eventually…it will swing the other way and your much for susceptible to binging, etc.

Well-written post.
Baking N Books recently posted..Kicking Someone Who’s Already Down

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24 Lindsay@ In Sweetness and In Health September 4, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Tessa, fabulous post! I do think it was a blessing in disguise for you to forget those things. I’m sure it was incredibly difficult at first, but I think that you will continue to need them less and less! I have counted calories before and tried to measure out food, but I just become too obsessive, and am able to stop before it gets to a tipping point.
Lindsay@ In Sweetness and In Health recently posted..I’m Never Going to Look Like a Celebrity

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25 tessa8m September 4, 2011 at 5:59 pm

That’s awesome you were able to stop it before becoming too obsessed! That is what I am now planning to do… just keep on forgetting these items and I assume the obsession will ebb away

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26 Alexandra September 4, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Goodness gracious I love this and you!!! I can tell you put so much heart in this post, so well written, I’m speechless :) I can relate so much with feeling safety with the numbers game. I count cals now to make sure I get enough fuel, and it feels like such a different mentality compared to my ED counting. Much less pressure that’s for sure.
One good number game for me is counting weeks, months or years I’ve been recovered! :D
Alexandra recently posted..Sunday Survey Smackdown

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27 Jordan September 4, 2011 at 6:44 pm

numbers can be SO powerful…in good and bad ways!! i totally agree with you on this post. i think i obsess over calories, the number on the scale, my running times, etc too much sometimes and it just leads to me feeling constantly unfulfilled.
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28 Brittany @ A Spoonful of Peanut Butter September 4, 2011 at 7:49 pm

ooh the dreaded numbers. They’re beneficial and terrible at the same time. I love this post because it’s so honest. Numbers are a big part of my life and thats how I feel in control. Without the numbers, I don’t feel in control and it bugs me. I, like you, measure out everything. I calculate the calories in everything and still struggle with nutrition over numbers. For example, today I was making some “protein”bars (I’m probably going to post about this tomorrow) and the fact that I had to add in 1/2 cup of peanut butter, sunflower seeds, oats, protein powder…I have to admit that I freaked out a bit. I saw the calorie count increase and I thought “omg…can I eat this? This is just way too many calories. NO. Don’t eat this”. I DID end up eating it though, because I had to tell myself that not everything revolves around those damn numbers. The bars I made are nutritious, healthy, and full of clean ingredients that are good for my body.
I would LOVE to get away from counting calories and instead listening to my body. Numbers help me make sure I eat enough, but sometimes I think the numbers are too high (uhm 1300 is high? the logical part of me says NO its actually low.). Oof- numbers. I’m not a fan of them.
Tessa- I love you. You inspire me every day. :)
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29 Tara September 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm

My life used to be ruled by numbers. How many calories I burned, how many miles I ran, how much time I spent at the gym, the number on the scale, the calories I’d consumed, how many grams of peanut butter were on my banana… it was sick. I ditched the kitchen scale (except for baking) in January along with calorie counting. Basically what I did for the calorie counting was I told myself not to think about it all day, and at the end of the day if I really felt it was necessary I could tally up the calories. If I started to think about it I cut the thoughts off. It was really hard at first! Then i just stopped and it was great for a while, but I lost weight (track started up at the same time and I wasn’t used to eating for high milage!) so I had to start again. Now I just add up at the end of the day, and if I ate more — so be it! My body wanted it. I’m still alive. I’m not gonna gain a pound over night. I think you should go for it!! I wanted to do it for a long time before I actually did and believe me, you’ll learn to think about other things and feel so much more free!!
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30 Ashley @ AlmostVegGirlie September 4, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Ugh, I hate the numbers game, especially calorie counting and clothing sizes. I’ve been counting calories since the day my ED started and it’s really getting old, but I feel compelled to do it so I won’t go out of control and gain too much weight. I also measure out my food so I know I’d freak if I didn’t have my measuring spoons. I love that you’re learning to live without them, though.
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31 Kiah September 4, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I’ve been following those HLS posts too (there’s also a really interesting one Lisa posted about the blogging lifestyle). My thoughts on the Numbers Game are similar to Lisa’s–the more I pay attention to the specifics, the less I can enjoy eating/exercising. That’s not to say I’m immune to them, but I try to stay away. Knowing my competitive personality, I can see becoming obsessive about it. I do wonder, if I’m ever advising someone professionally in the future, what kind of person I might tell to “count calories” or weigh themselves…I would be very nervous to start a negative snowball effect. etc. etc. :-) This was a very long comment.
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32 tessa8m September 5, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Ooo I will have to check out that post by her as well! I am sooo going next year, I will not miss the wonderful event again :)

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33 Lindsay@LivingLindsay September 4, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Numbers – so good yet so stressful. Ugh. I have actually been much less “obsessed” with the numbers on the scale lately and have stopped weighing myself as much as I used to. It has really helped me to relax a bit because I’ll see that my weight really doesn’t change, even if I weigh myself every two weeks. I don’t count calories – never have. For me, if I eat more one day, I eat less the next. I’ve learned to trust my body and just eat intuitively. It doesn’t always work out that way, but I try!!
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34 Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun September 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm

I love how openly you share about all of this. You are so inspiring, Tessa. I hope you know that. and I’m so glad to hear you are feeling better and happier right now. You deserve that!
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35 Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles September 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I admire you for getting along without your safe items for so long!! While my relationship with food is much better than it used to be, I still count calories fairly obsessively. I don’t do it on the weekends because I’m sure my boyfriend would think I was nuts, but when I’m not with him (all week long) I definitely do. I feel “safe” this way. I think a lot about if I ever get married or live with my boyfriend (which won’t happen for a long time), or even if we lived close enough to see each other more than on the weekends, how I would handle not knowing everything that goes into my body. I only weigh myself once in awhile, but calories are definitely something I always count. I wish I were better about being lenient and less precise, but I feel good when I know what I’m eating!
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36 Sara K September 5, 2011 at 12:50 am

Oh how numbers have driven me CRAZY from all the obsessing in the past. I admit that even when I first got out of treatment I bought a scale in college and secretly weighed myself; which of course didn’t make me happy- and then one day a friend borrowed my scale to weigh her baggage and i never got it back…a total blessing and since then I have no clue how much I weigh (and frankly don’t want to or need to know…it’s not worth the potential obsession that would come by finding out i’m more or less than i think i am).
As for calories- i don’t count calories anymore; it’s far too exhausting, plus most of the food I eat is rather difficult to calorically compartmentalize since most of the food i eat is either from dining out (at non-chain places…so there are no ‘calorie counts’ posted online), home-made, or full of too many random things to possibly calculate. Something that helps me as well is buying food without nutrition facts- many bakery breads don’t have any as opposed to slice breads, cheeses, produce, meat, etc…of course I can usually ballpark it if I REALLY wanted to- but i don’t; it takes too much mental energy and going by my hunger has worked pretty well for me :)
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37 Julia September 5, 2011 at 8:51 am

Numbers…they can be such a bitch. For a while-they seemed to control everything, from the grams of yogurt I ate to what the scale read. The sad part is that I would WANT to get healthier and gain weight, but I was still attached to the same number on the scale- even though it was too low. Being at school forces me to get away from my food scale and even my digital scale since I don’t bring it here, but I’m still working towards finding that healthy relationship with numbers
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38 Meredith @ Food, Shoes, and Booze September 5, 2011 at 9:33 am

Really great post.. again! I definitely think it’s a blessing that you forgot those items. Over time, hopefully you won’t even think about them anymore!

I have never counted calories and I grew up in a house with no scale. The only time I weighed myself was at my grandparents house just because I was curious. I was (and still am) very lucky. I feel no need to count calories, as I eat healthy foods and I don’t eat an excessive amount. There are days where I do eat more than usual and I think “wow I ate a lot today” and then I move on. Sometimes after those days, I feel more motivated to go to the gym the next day, but that’s the most that I do. I never realized how lucky I was to be so carefree with calories/weight until I started reading blogs where people are recovering from EDs – I actually have a post written about it for Friday! I love reading all of the progress that you and other bloggers have made, and the support that the blogworld gives you is wonderful :) I hope it becomes easier!
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39 Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance September 5, 2011 at 9:58 am

I used to count calories religiously and weigh myself on a daily basis, until I realized how unhealthy it was making me become! Now I’m a firm believer in eating what my body asks for, and loving every minute of it.

Oh, and I threw away my scale :)
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40 tessa8m September 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I need to throw mine away as well, it seems to call out to me everytime I am in the same room with it haha

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41 Lisa ♥ Healthful Sense September 5, 2011 at 10:23 am

I’m all for forgetting the scale. Numbers can make you crazy!! When it comes down to it… it really is all about how you feel mentally, physically and emotionally. I know it’s easy to say and harder to do! Love how open you are about this <3
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42 Errign September 5, 2011 at 10:44 am

Hey lady!

First of all, bummer to your measuring cup & spoons being left at home, because I actually use mine a ton for baking and stuff. I think it’s great though that forgetting all of your safe tools has been teaching you a bit about letting go of the numbers.

Numbers are part of everyone’s lives in different ways – whether it’s time of time, calories consumed, minutes exercise or hours spent sleeping, but the trick is to not let those numbers overtake you. I generally don’t count, but have gone through phases in the past of counting or tracking my general food intake and I tend to stop when I realize it’s becoming too much of a routine, or I’m basing my decisions on whatever else I’ve consumed. The Numbers Game itself is a sad thing, that we all based our worth on our weight, calories, minutes of exercise or size of clothes, but I think that realizing that we are doing it makes us stronger, more confident and able to break out of the cycle. When the numbers game comes up, I always think
“it’s your body – you can do anything you want with it, including love it. Choose that, just for now”
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43 Allie September 5, 2011 at 11:32 am

I would LOVE to able to throw numbers out the door! This is a fabulous post–really makes me think about how easy it is to get overwhelmed by minutes, amounts and more. A job doesn’t help–I’m constantly counting down the hours until lunch, then the hours until I go home–why not just enjoy the minutes I have, and not rush through it? Oh, as with everything–easier said than done, but awareness of what could be improved is never a bad thing. I’m not sure I specifically count calories, but I definitely keep calorie count in mind when eating. Who invented calorie labels?? I would love to punch them in the face. Quality ingredients and food being real food is so much more important, yet rarely becomes the focus.
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44 tessa8m September 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Hhaaha I would love to punch them in the head sometimes too… but perhaps they can be beneficial! I just want to try and stop seeing calories and food as the enemy and then I can approach these possibly useful tools in a much better way

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45 Allie September 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Okay, your idea might be more productive than my punching :D
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46 Danielle Spellman @Squirrel Snackin' September 5, 2011 at 11:52 am

Two years ago, I used to weight myself every day. Now, I haven’t weighed myself in 2 months. Now that I work out more and have more muscle, the scale has gone up and I figured why obsess about it and weigh myself every day. I stick with how I feel and how my clothes are fitting and keep moving along. As far as calorie counting, I don’t do that anymore either. I have an idea of what I eat, but I refuse to count calories like I used to. I am so much happier without those things! :)
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47 tessa8m September 5, 2011 at 12:23 pm

My weight has gone up too and I know a lot of it has to do with muscle gain. I am sick of believing that it is “fat” when I know it’s not!

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48 Laura September 5, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Perfect timing for this post! As I arrived here at uni U realized I didnt bring measuring cups/spoons/anything, and some dishes in the cafe are already portioned for you. I cant see the calorie fat numbers. It was a huge change but I kind of jumped into it and realized its okay that Im not having exactly 1/3 cup oats or 1 exact tbs. of nut butter. Though the thoughts constantly creep p’ how many clas is that?, etc.” It is so much more freeing to let them go and just not worry about it so much. As long as I am getting enough in to gain healtth and get my life back!
Great post, I can tell you put a lot into it. So happy to hear you are at a happy place :)

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49 tessa8m September 5, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I am glad you are at a better place as well! Yeah it’s a bit of a shock when we can’t rely on such things anymore, but a mental break as well!

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50 Living, Learning, Eating September 5, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I hope you don’t get your un-’safe tools’ back! How are numbers and ‘proper serving sizes’ supposed to tell you when you’ve had enough? Just eat and when you are full, you have had enough. Whether it is one cup of cereal later or four cups of cereal later – just listen to your body. It might be wonky at first, because it needs to make up for the abuse it has suffered, but it will even out. After all, do you want to waste your energy, attention, and daylight hours on counting numbers, or would you rather put that towards more productive ends? You can do it! :)

And you *definitely* don’t need to work out 90 minutes a day, and I’m glad you see that. In fact, you don’t even need to work out *at all* every day (and shouldn’t – rest is important). If you like working out, do it within reason. If you don’t like it, or are just doing it to stay skinny, don’t do it! You can be perfectly healthy living an active lifestyle without working out (just walk/bike places instead). Good luck this year! :)
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51 AJohnson September 5, 2011 at 1:45 pm

the numbers game was definitely something I was a slave too during my relationship with ED. I counted calories with such viligence, right down to the amount of calories I ate with gum and mints. It was horrible. I began to have panic attacks when I couldn’t figure out the exact number of calories in something. My parents began to let my measure everything out because if I didn’t, I simply would not eat it. I know you mentioned this, but I also did the whole check out the website for menu before going out to eat and then would calculate my meal. Since being back in school, on my own, this has sadly been something that had a crept back in. It is horrible and scary… a bad road to travel when you have been where we are. The only way I can stop is I refuse to allow myself to measure out at least one meal a day and then work up to the three. It seems a lot less scary this way. But being healthy and being in this place is so much more important than winning the numbers game. I consistently have to remind myself that the scale, measuring cups, and other devices are ED’s torture tools. Butthead.

hope this helps you. stay strong and away from those devices this is such a huge step for you and I can only imagine how difficult it was at first and can still be
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52 Ragnhild September 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm

You totally ROCk for managing without your cups and weight! I guess thats what ibtuitive eating is all abough, huh? Eating when your hungry an stoping when you are full, without worrying about numbers! Well, its easyer said than done :S

Luckily for me, I stopped caloi counting when I got on a Atkins/low carb kick a few years back. While thats not healthy either, Im glad that I understod that calories doesnt always matter. Un-luckily for me, I have all these other food fears and issues, but Im working my way out of it.
Keep up den good work dear, Im so proud of you!!
<3
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53 tessa8m September 5, 2011 at 3:43 pm

That’s good to hear that calories don’t plague you!! At least that is one less thing to deal with :) You keep up the good work too Ragnhild!

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54 Brittany September 5, 2011 at 3:11 pm

back in high school i dabbled on the edge of an eating disorder and by the grace of God went the other way before it got too bad. I gained weight in all forms of unhealthyness and was miserable. It has taken me years to sort through the damage those few years in high school and subsequent weight gain after them… but I have learned that the scale was something that had the power to either make or break my day.
I don’t know if I started weighing myself if I would spinster back into restrictions… but it isn’t a real risk I am willing to take. I count calories now to ensure that I am not going crazy calorie wise either low, or high. <- and that is what helps me to stay away from the scale. I know what I am putting into my body so I don't have to worry entirely what the scale would say. I put good food in, and I know that my body is happy. I eat the chocolate cake that I enjoyed and know the next day I should strive to eat a few more veggies and get my sweets from fruit.
The calorie counting gives me the same balance I suppose as the scale did- without altering my mood for days at a time.

kinda a long bit of rambling.
but that is how i gave up the scale.
not entirley of course- i haven't forbidden myself either.
i just simply don't usually weigh myself.
i'd rather have other things make or break my day…
like new shoes… or a cute boy ;)
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55 tessa8m September 5, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Hi Brittany,
Thank you for stopping by and your sharing your story! You are certainly not rambling at all, and I appreciate hearing your views and opinions on this. I would rather have other things make or break my day as well, and that is something that is helping to turn this whole mess around :)

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56 Liz @ iheartvegetables September 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm

I’ve definitely gone through obsessive periods, like when I had my bodybugg so I could count exactly how many calories I was burning and make sure I was eating less than that. But it eventually started to drive me crazy. I wouldn’t want to go eat anywhere that I couldn’t look up the nutritional information. It was ridiculous! Now I’ve relaxed a lot more, and I know that I’m happier this way :)
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57 Sarah September 5, 2011 at 7:45 pm

It’s so easy to fall into counting/measuring/weighing and then completely focus in on hitting targets for calories/weight/etc. I fell victim in college my senior year and have quit counting calories/weighing myself since then to avoid falling back into the trap. I even feel a little panicky/obsessive when I write down my eats – so I’m working on focusing on getting in more fruits and veg than anything else, and listening to my body’s cravings. Usually it can tell me what I need. Some days are hard though, definitely a give and take.

And, my weekend has been 95% good, 5% drama…which is a total win!
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58 Allison @ PickyEatingRD September 5, 2011 at 9:04 pm

I absolutely love how open and honest you are with every post. Continue to remember “A number does not define who I am” because let’s face it, IT DOESN’T! =)
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59 Paige @ Running Around Normal September 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm

So glad you are happier now:) Sounds like you’ve made eons of progress.
I don’t count calories at all, really. And there was a time in my life when I was obsessed. I like it better this way:)

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60 Nikki September 5, 2011 at 9:17 pm

I unfortunately am so hung up on the scale… I can’t help but weigh myself constantly and get depressed or elated at the numbers I see. Blah. My weekend was amazing, though! I hope you enjoy meeting your new residents!
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61 Brittany September 6, 2011 at 12:46 am

At the beginning of this year for a few months I limited myself to 1000 calories a day. I kept track of EVERYTHING I ate and didn’t dare go over that 1000 calorie mark. I also weighed myself nearly every day in hopes that the minimal calorie intake would help lower my weight. Obviously this was not healthy mentally or physically so I fortunately snapped out of this 1000calorie phase and have tried to really listen to my hunger cues and base what I eat off of that. The scale is still not my friend, and just today I told myself I need to take a break from that wretched thing.
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62 Isabelle September 6, 2011 at 6:02 am

Now I couldn’t be bothered to count calories its just too stressful. Ill grab something to eat if I’m hungry. Like today as I was prepping lunch I was feeling peckish and just started eating some walnuts out of the packet….before I never used to do this. I’m happier with how I look now as opposed to the way I looked before when I was constantly measuring and counting every little thing I put in my body. (I used to count Goji Berries!)

You continue to make progress with leaps and bounds :)
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63 Mary September 6, 2011 at 9:42 pm

I admire you so much for being so honest with all your struggles. Mine started off with Weight Watchers, kinda like yours but its been almost 8 years later& although I’m still struggling with body image, calories, overexercising, I don’t use Weight Watchers as the guide. Currently I am in my second year of college& have been struggling more than ever. But I just wanted to let you know that I admire you for your honesty. Thank you :)

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