For the past two weeks I have been counting calories. As someone with a history of an eating disorder this can be a dangerous thing. For this very reason, as a rule, I don’t count calories. But two weeks ago I realized I would not be returning to running as quickly as I expected and I began to doubt my body’s ability to get back to its pre-pregnancy weight without my normal activity level. I decided to “help” things along by starting to track what I ate and the calories I burned during exercise. I told myself I’d do it for a few days to “get an idea” of how many calories I was eating per day. A few days turned into a week, which turned into two weeks, which became a preoccupation. And from my experience, whenever my mind is preoccupied with something it leads to obsession, obsession to compulsion, compulsion to addiction.
I stopped tracking calories this weekend, but those two weeks of trying to “help” my body along were not without consequences. One of the first things that changed when I started counted calories was that I stopped eating intuitively. Instead of reaching for the food that I wanted to eat, I reached for the one with the least calories for the most volume. And because I wasn’t eating what I wanted, when I wanted I always had a constant “craving” feeling. At other times I would eat not because I was hungry but because I had xxx calories remaining to “use.” I was out of tune with my body, relying on the numbers, and not what my body needed.
And because I was “out of tune” with my body I actually gained weight, four extra pounds that weren’t there before. Even though I am free of the obsession and behavior of both anorexia and bulimia, there are times when the old way of thinking rears its ugly head. I suppose you could argue that if were more mature in my recovery I would not have started counting calories when the idea presented itself two weeks ago. But in some ways these past two weeks have been a good reminder that the old way of doing things-that old self that was so obsessed, unhappy: addicted-that self is not one I want to return to.
Have you struggled with postpartum weight loss? How did you deal with the negative emotions associated with the added weight?