Why I Don’t Count Calories

By on March 18, 2016

I don’t count calories. This is mainly because I’m lazy, but it’s also because I don’t see the point. Your body doesn’t understand an arbitrary numerical value that you select as an acceptable amount to feed your body, nor is there a magic number that is going to make your body say, “I don’t need these five extra pounds.”

CountCalories

The basic principle of weight loss is energy expenditure vs. energy intake.  You can technically lose weight on a diet of only McDonalds if you burn more energy than you are taking in. However, that type of diet is not sustainable, nor will it help your overall health in the long run. For people that have no prior knowledge about health and nutrition, counting calories at the beginning of their own fitness journey can definitely be helpful. It makes people aware of exactly how much they are consuming, as one of the main obstacles to living healthier is that many people have warped perceptions of what a proper portion looks like. That being said, I think being aware of the nutritional content of the foods you eat is of a higher priority than exact calorie counting. Counting calories also has the potential to cause way more harm than good because it can easily foster a negative relationship with food as well as promote obsessive behavior.

In my opinion, there is a ballpark number of daily calories that is unique to every individual, and this range is based on various factors such as height, weight, activity level, etc. However, your body is not a bank or a computer. Regardless of activity level, sometimes your body needs more or less energy. This can be due to variance in stress levels, or even hormones. Some days I’m not incredibly hungry, and some days I can’t seem to eat enough in order to feel full and satisfied. I think the most important thing is to listen to your body, and then everything will balance out. You shouldn’t over-stuff yourself to reach an arbitrarily selected goal number of calories. It won’t hinder your athletic goals if you don’t eat enough for one day. Contrarily, if you hit your caloric goal for the day, I don’t think you should ignore your body’s hunger cues.

By all means, count calories if it works for you. I know enough about nutrition that I know how much energy my body needs to run most efficiently, so I don’t feel the need to. For many, tracking calories may be a helpful tool to merely steer them in the right direction until they settle in to a healthier lifestyle. Just remember, your body is an intricate and intelligent system. Just as your body sends pain signals to your brain when you are hurt, your body also sends messages like hunger pangs for a specific purpose- you’re probably hungry!

About Alexandra Pullen

Alexandra Pullen was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and was raised in Chicago, Illinois, where she began her initial ballet training at a local community center. Pullen studied at Dance Center Evanston, Evanston School of Ballet, and Chicago Ballet Arts, and the Ruth Page School of Dance, where she joined their company, the Civic Ballet of Chicago. She trained on scholarship at the Joffrey Academy of Ballet in Chicago under Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev. She toured with the Joffrey Trainees to perform as Clara in The Nutcracker Suite. She studied on scholarship at summer programs of the San Francisco Ballet School, School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. In 2012, Pullen competed in the Youth America Grand Prix Chicago Semi-Finals and received a gold medal in the classical category and a silver medal in the contemporary category. She was a Finalist in New York City. In September 2012, Pullen was awarded the Shoot for Change Scholarship to attend the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre, and joined ABT Studio Company two weeks later. Pullen joined ABT as an apprentice 2013 and was promoted to the corps de ballet in 2014. With ABT, Pullen's rep included Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Swan Lake, Coppelia, Ashton's The Dream, Manon, Cinderella, Gaite Parisienne, Les Sylphide, La Bayadere, and Twyla Tharp's Bach Partita. She toured ABT to destinations such as Abu Dhabi, Australia, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis. This is her second season with Colorado Ballet.

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