Counting calories is a wonderful tool for identifying what your bottom line needs are and to give you a sense of what reasonable portioning looks like. When you are constantly counting calories, however, you may stifle your progress by thinking 'food' all the time.
When you focus your attention on something, it tends to grow and/or lead you in its direction. When you funnel your energy into another direction, the item or issue at hand tends to wither and lose importance. Our focus dictates our result, in life and in sports.
Think of the old saying "Keep your eye on the ball."
In the equestrian world, we 'look' first toward where we're going. By subtly shifting our focus on a jumping course or in a show ring, our mount and our body language naturally affect the outcome of arriving at the spot you've been 'spotting'.
Many times, a rider looks at the base of the jump and finds themselves crashing into the jump rather than going over it. Even the horse is so cued in to your focus that they will halt, believing you didn't actually want to go over the hurdle, but would prefer to stop at your focal point.
Focusing too hard on food all day long will likely result in the similar sort of crash. You will feel more deprived, more shamed by your longings and more likely to cave into a crave.
Understanding what the right amount feels like is a good jumping off point. Sadly, it often leads to the trap of constantly thinking after the next bit of calories you are 'allowed' to consume. Too often, we sabotage our efforts by pining after our next allocation of calories, never learning to tune into our natural hunger cues.
Bombarded by constant images of more, bigger, better food alongside beauty ideals that shame our desire for said food, we are trapped in a cycle of having food in our faces while trying to avoid the feelings this evokes. Add to this challenge the constant quest to check every single item for caloric content, and you could be devoting far too much time to your nutritional goals and your physical aspirations.
Rather than focusing so much energy into counting calories, it can be far more valuable to tune into your natural sense of hunger and enough via breath exercises designed to tap into a conscious sense of your subtler energies. When you are settled and calm, your food decisions come from a place of actual need rather than emotive rationale and/or crash and crave cycles.
Once you have a sense of what it means to eat in moderation, you need to take your diet beyond the diet and into sensual eating. Sensual eating involves taking pleasure in everything that goes into your mouth as an act of self-love and self-care.
Your vital body, when functioning at its peak will not ask you for highly processed, sugary manufactured items. It will crave those things closest to nature, easiest to assimilate into what the body needs to survive and thrive rather than what your triggers tell you to take in quickly to save time.
Try to slow down and allow your body to experience the joy of being nourished. Try to avoid the judgment imposed by constant counting and numbers on a scale or a calorie chart.
You will never be able to breathe, relax and settle into a sensually abundant space that trusts you can give yourself enough -- plenty even. You can stop eating when you are nourished rather than gorging. You can go longer between meals if you happen to 'slip up' and eat more calories at one sitting than you needed.
The benefit of calorie confusion in weight loss and maintenance cannot be over stated.
Your body comes from a line of evolving bodies that learned to adjust according to feast and famine. Your body is incredibly adaptive. Your body will adjust to a constant stream of exercise or calories. If it can intuit what's coming up next, it will do its best to store some for a potential famine. This is the reason interval and cross training work so well. This is the reason that mixing up the amount of food and calorie you take in works more efficiently than a magic number of calories per day.
An average of the calories taken in over a week or month is far more effective, allowing for adjustments to hunger and need, allowing for your natural rhythms to dictate how and when you eat.
On a constant quest to count calories as a means to control, we deny our body's ability to alert us to what it really needs. Cravings are born of depravity. Depravity is born of a severed sense of sensual connection to your body and being.
So, stop counting calories and tune in to the subtle cues your body is trying to tell you. Your body never wants you to overeat. It lets you know this by making you feel uncomfortably full. It lets you know this by making you stow away more fat than is efficient, making it harder to move about. It saps energy levels and demands attention.
When you mistake the body's cry for help and acknowledgment for hunger, you compound the problem. When you learn to listen, you will free yourself from the need to constantly count and free more energy to do the things that really matter to you!
Follow Danielle Cavallucci on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cavallucci