The Dark Side of Counting Calories

Counting Calories and Reading Labels
Counting Calories and Reading Labels

I’ve been spending a bit of time on Pinterest lately, and it’s no secret that it’s where a ton of women hang out. This has given me an opportunity not only to observe female social dynamics, but to get inside their heads a bit and understand how they relate to food. If you’ve spent any time over there, chances are you’ve come across your share of food pictures. My experience was that weight loss is a hot topic for women and while many of the dishes looked beautiful and inspired me to get into the kitchen and create, I noticed a theme of un-intended self sabotoge. “Literally NO Calories” and “Zero Calories” were popular headlines or stamps on the recipes.

Restricting or limiting caloric intake is actually the opposite of what you want to do if your goal is to lose weight and actually keep it off. If our bodies lack sufficient calories, what happens? Cravings, binge sessions on junk food, moodiness, deficiencies, weight gain and low libido. What most women including myself at one point never want to hear is that quick fix weight loss plans are never the answer, and will inevitably fail.

When I was 30lbs overweight, I just wanted the fat gone, but I was addicted to food. I would restrict my calories and starve my body resulting in major binge sessions so dieting wasn’t going so well. Not to mention the last thing I wanted to do was see myself in the gym mirrors every day. I would have much preferred to lose weight first and then go to the gym when I could bear my reflection. Not the greatest mindset to have.

After one year of suffering with my weight, chronic fatigue and a hormonal imbalance, I chose to adopt a raw food lifestyle and eliminate animal foods from my diet for more than 2 years. I chose to go about 99% raw for 90 days in order to get my life back on track, and it worked. This simple lifestyle change fuelled me up, my energy was back, and weight  loss happened easily. My body re-set and the 30lbs of extra weight shed off me over a 3 month period sans gym for the most part. Within a year I lost a total of 45lbs and my body took it’s natural form. If you think you can’t do this, trust me you can. You’re talking to the girl who ate 12 subway cookies in bed and snuck out of the house for late night pizza runs.

5 Unhealthy Weight Loss Practices that Aren’t Serving Your Highest Good

1. Calorie restriction or starving yourself (which is the same thing by the way) isn’t going to re-set your body or keep off the weight you lose while you’re doing this. When your body is deprived it stores fat because it doesn’t know when food is coming next. Feed your body, let it know that it’s ok to metabolize and utilise the nutrition you consume and go back to it’s normal size for your build. Less calories mean less energy, and more stress. Stress keeps you fat, happiness keeps you thin.

2. Reading the back of  packaged foods and checking out the fat, sugar, protein and carb content while not paying attention to the ingredients list. It’s important what the ingredients are. For example, if you’ve got a 0 calorie sweetener in place of sugar, you’ve got a chemical storm of neuro-toxins as well. You’d be much better off to eat a piece of fresh fruit with sugar, but also accompanied by anti-oxidants, fiber and other important nutrients.

3. Working out 7 days a week without taking time to rest. Your body does the most work on rest days, so rest!

4.  Depriving yourself all week of foods you “love” and then having a cheat day where you gorge on processed foods, unhealthy animal foods like chicken wings or pasteurized dairy and other junk. Try exploring why you’re using these foods as a crutch instead and get to the bottom of it once and for all. Do you really want to spend your entire life dependent on foods that put you at risk for cancer, diabetes, obesity and low energy? Imagine what it would be like to not even have those cravings in the first place, so you could always feel satisfied with your food choices instead of creating a list of all of the things you wish you could eat but have to wait for until your cheat day rolls around. (I totally did this, my list usually consisted of m&ms, burgers, french fries and cupcakes.)

5. Focusing on the external results of losing weight while ignoring the emotional and psychological aspect to weight loss. Without a mindset strategy and self exploration protocol, weight loss is going to be extremely difficult.

Now that we’ve explored the no no’s of a healthy weight loss strategy, you just might be wondering what the healthy weight loss tips are. Here’s a list of essential tips for you to keep close while you’re transforming your life.

5 Healthy Weight Loss Tips

1. Try a plant based, 50% raw diet free from animal foods for at least 30 days. You don’t have to go vegan forever, as its not always a optimal path for everyone, but I truly believe that giving yourself the opportunity to cleanse, and breaking from animal foods is a powerful and effective way to re-set the body. Start your morning off with 2 cups of water and have a big green smoothie when you wake up. I was 100% vegan when I went through my weight loss transformation, now I eat local and organic, grass fed animal foods including grass fed ghee as a fat source. Initially, my body truly needed a break from all animal foods, I am so glad I chose to honor my body and give it the time it needed.

2. Eat often, and don’t restrict your calories. If you do this you’re setting your body up to fail. Sustainable weight loss comes through re-setting your metabolism and re-training your body and brain to relate to food in a more empowering way.

3. Read the ingredients on a package, not the protein, fats, sugars and carbs. All of that means nothing if you’re eating chemicals and dyes. Weight loss products like crystal light or fat free jello contain harmful chemicals that trick your brain into thinking calories are coming, and when they don’t you end up on a binge. Of course this isn’t instantaneous so it’s pretty tough for you to put this together on your own, and that’s exactly why they get away with it in the first place. Take it from me – if you eat real food, your body will do what it’s supposed to.

4.  Read books, search online, take a raw food program or get a life coach that can support you in the emotional and psychological aspect of weight loss. A lot of people are holding on to their weight to protect them from facing something deeper within themselves. Going even halfway raw can cleanse the body on every level, so you have to be prepared to face yourself and rise up.

5. Don’t be afraid to eat fruit. Fruits are a great source of calories, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and also curb cravings. Most people report their cravings vanish when they eat more fruits and I can testify this is true for me as well. Smoothies are a fun way to do this. If you find you’re sensitive to sugars, try low sugar fruits like berries instead and add a fat source to your meal or smoothie.

Bonus Tip: Release all guilt. If you do happen to slip up here and there, let it go. Think positive thoughts and tell your brain and body to utilize the food you just ate to nourish you and provide you with energy. Spend a bit of time exploring your craving and choose something new next time. It helps to select something you will eat in place of that food before the craving actually occurs so you’re prepared.

Click here to learn about our 21 Day Raw Food Reset Cleanse! 

Sheleana Aiyana