The other day as I was finishing up a sweaty workout, I found myself laying on the sticky mat wondering how many calories I had burned.
This thought – the calorie thought– doesn’t happen all that frequently in my life anymore, but moments like these when calorie counts, numbers and metrics for weight do popup remind me that even though I’ve made strides to eliminate them, they still exist below the surface.
My brain unearths them, like a worm foraging below the ground. It swirls it around for a while before dropping it for a better, heartier thought. One that doesn’t see my body as an object to be measured.
But the reality is that even though I know better, the thoughts still exist. As much as I wish I could “unknow” the concept of calories, it’s almost impossible to remove this lesson from my mind. It’s one that will live with me forever and my only option, the better option, is to accept and let go.
I don’t have any regrets about my life or my experiences. Everything I’ve been through has made me who I am. And from these experiences has emerged someone who I hope can lead you by example. But there are still lessons, especially those surrounding health that I wish I hadn’t learned. Lessons that I wish I could erase from my memory.
I wish I could unknow what a calorie represented.
I wish I could unknow how many grams of fat we’re “supposed” to have per day.
I wish I could unknow the fastest way to burn calories.
I wish I could unknow which greens are “best” for you.
I wish I could unknow the carb count in bread.
I wish I could go back to the days when the decisions we made for our health were based solely on how things made us feel and not how they made us look.
But I can’t turn back time. Nor do I want to. All I can do is remember that these thoughts don’t have to control my actions. And they don’t have to control yours either.
That sweaty workout felt amazing. So did it really matter how many calories I burned? Of course not. What mattered most was that I didn’t allow the results of my workout to determine what came next. I didn’t indulge because I burned a ton of calories and I didn’t restrict because it didn’t. I just did what felt right as each next step presented itself. Even if the calorie thought crossed my mind.
My advice to you?
Take it day by day. Thought by thought. Listen. And then listen again. Sometimes our initial thoughts aren’t our best thoughts.
You can’t unknow it all, but you can choose what to listen to.
*huge thanks to Bettina Bogar (my actual photography hero!) for the images.
What do you wish you could “unknow” about health?
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candaceSeptember 3, 2016 at 11:36 pm
So needed to hear this today. I am just under a year out of the hospital/treatment for anorexia/exercise addiction – I am officially now weight stable at a “healthy weight” (according to my nutritionist). I struggle so hard and everyday feels impossible, I count calories in everything and can’t eat anything I don’t know the nutritional value of (I especially can’t eat out or eat home made foods from friends). I constantly think about how many calories I’m burning and never feel like I’m doing enough when it comes to exercise. This gives me hope that one day things can get better or easier or at least moments of peace from it all.
Two other specific pieces of advice I was given that I wish I could forget are: 1- Never drink your calories and 2- Eat less on rest days (ties into needing to exercise to earn food or restricting because I didn’t work out hard enough)
Davida @ The Healthy MavenSeptember 6, 2016 at 1:12 pm
Candace! I’m here to chat if you ever need someone who totally understands where you’re coming from. Just shoot me an email.
The real turning point for me was when I looked back on all of the supposed “healthy” choices I was making and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I was doing them. I claimed because they made me feel good or to live a long life but I knew I was just making myself feel shittier and the stress I was putting myself under was probably going to take years off my life. My decisions were just manipulations to try to control everything I felt was uncontrollable. I wrote this post a couple of years ago and it still feels really near and dear to my heart. I think it may resonate with you: https://www.thehealthymaven.com/2015/02/jeans-and-genes-on-how-i-learned-to-love-my-body.html
Sending you lots of well wishes and healing vibes! xoxo
DanielleSeptember 2, 2016 at 8:20 pm
It’s so interesting you bring this up! Because now that I think of it I haven’t thought of that in so, so long. I think part of it is because I just don’t really care anymore – and honestly with running so much, and eating enough to fuel marathon training I just find it pointless! Haha. I know what it feels like now to under-eat and in the past I actually tracked calories to see if I was eating enough to compensate for running. Sure, I’d like to have a flatter tummy… but usually that feeling doesn’t last for long.
Davida @ The Healthy MavenSeptember 6, 2016 at 12:58 pm
And I think we all have those days. It’s our experiences that help pull us out of them thankfully! You’re a huge inspiration to me on moving and challenging your body in a way that feels awesome, not some form of punishment. Thanks for being you and sharing your journey!
ShannonSeptember 2, 2016 at 7:44 pm
This is exactly what I needed to read. Today, I saw a new doctor who felt the need to tell me how to lose weight, after saying I was at a “healthy” BMI, not knowing I had an eating disorder only a few years ago. I’m choosing not to listen.
Davida @ The Healthy MavenSeptember 6, 2016 at 12:56 pm
Don’t listen Shannon! I was at the Doctor last week and was complaining of extreme exhaustion…she told me I was just getting old. WTF?! Not to demonize all medical professionals, but no one is an expert on you but you. Don’t let this throw you off. Here if you ever need to talk. Just shoot me an email!
[email protected]September 2, 2016 at 6:44 pm
YES! Wonderful article, wonderful points made. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and slap the old me that was constantly worried about calories in vs. calories out. What I can do now is be thankful for what I have learned and it just makes me never want to return to that old life.
Davida @ The Healthy MavenSeptember 6, 2016 at 12:55 pm
A to the MEN. I can’t change what’s happening but I can use it to fuel better decisions in the future! I feel ya on the slapping part though 😉
Leah M | love me, feed meSeptember 2, 2016 at 12:23 pm
So. Much. Yes. This is something I think about often, there are so many things I wish I could unknow. Thank you for this and the nice little reminder <3
Davida @ The Healthy MavenSeptember 6, 2016 at 12:54 pm
Thanks for being so supportive Leah! Always nice to know you’re not alone.
Megan @ Skinny FitaliciousSeptember 2, 2016 at 11:56 am
So much truth here! Our bodies are wired to tell us what they need and when they need it. We just need to be open to listening to it.
Davida @ The Healthy MavenSeptember 6, 2016 at 12:54 pm
exactly! It’s so sad when we lose trust in our body’s ability to tell us what to do, but I think it’s something we all experience at some point. As long as we make our way back we’ll be better in the end!
JillSeptember 2, 2016 at 11:47 am
I hear ya! As a dietitian, I know a lot about food and nutrition and sometimes I miss the days of eating at a buffet or restaurant where I wouldn’t stop and be like “I wonder what’s in this…” Simpler times! LOL
Davida @ The Healthy MavenSeptember 6, 2016 at 12:50 pm
Right?! I can’t imagine how much knowledge you have having studied this!
Kelsey YokiSeptember 2, 2016 at 10:56 am
Hard to even find a place to begin, but the biggest unknow is regimented workouts. Yes, I know you need to be consistent to have a healthy habit of exercising. But I know from this break I’m taking I wish I could unknow the guilt, the guilt that comes up from not getting a workout in. Thankfully, after our monthly 6:30am breakfast after the 5:20am class is done, I couldn’t have found myself surrounded by the most supportive people. And that’s what it comes down to.
Davida @ The Healthy MavenSeptember 6, 2016 at 12:52 pm
Workout guilt has and probably always will be my greatest struggle. I know I sound like a broken record, but moving from a place of love really does help me move in a way that’s intuitive and not pressure-filled. And also in ways I find way more fun!
Beverley @ Born to SweatSeptember 2, 2016 at 9:05 am
For some reason the ‘greens’ one really resonated with me. I liked it better back in the day when I could just have lettuce in a salad, and not have to worry that spinach or kale would have been the more ‘nutritious’ option. a girl just wants to have a salad with ranch dressing somedays. is that too much to ask?
Davida @ The Healthy MavenSeptember 6, 2016 at 12:49 pm
RIGHT?! Like when did romaine get demonized?! Like as if eating it makes you unhealthy? So fucked. Really grinds my gears sagdfksdfgsdf
GraceSeptember 2, 2016 at 8:56 am
Love this!! So very well said.
I just recently grabbed a hold of that concept, to take it day by day. I refuse to let what I used to believe was healthy, take over my mind again. Since I stopped doing, every single one of the things you listed above about “lessons that I wish I could erase from my memory” (as mine were the exact same)…I feel incredible & am so much happier and in love with life!
Davida @ The Healthy MavenSeptember 6, 2016 at 12:48 pm
I so love hearing this Grace! It’s one of those things where until you experience it, you can’t really understand it. I’m thrilled you’ve been able to find this peace too. Lots of love!
LauraSeptember 2, 2016 at 8:55 am
Yes, yes and yes! I wish more people could follow this advice. It is so much better for your mental, emotion AND physical health to listen to your body, love yourself and treat yourself right than to count calories or worry about needing another workout to look a certain way. Thanks for the thoughts Davida, Happy Friday!
Davida @ The Healthy MavenSeptember 6, 2016 at 12:47 pm
Thank you, lovely! It’s such a simple concept yet we’re fed the notion that our health can be measured in numbers. So happy to have people like you dispelling this myth!
Ashley @ Fit Mitten KitchenSeptember 2, 2016 at 8:13 am
Gahhh so much here. I agree that we can choose what we listen to, as long as we’re conscious of that idea. It definitely takes practice but it helps <3
Davida @ The Healthy MavenSeptember 6, 2016 at 12:46 pm
So much practice. I’m still not even close even though I’ve been at it for years!