Days that Don’t “Count”

I mentioned briefly on Friday that I don’t plan to count calories on this vacation. Why, one might ask, would I choose to do this – is this not a new lifestyle that I have chosen for myself? Won’t I fail if I don’t “stick with it?”

There are just certain days that I do not count. Basically, these are limited to extremely special occasions, such as major holiday and events. The following are examples:

  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • My Wedding Day

I don’t refrain from counting on these days just so that I can gorge myself with food – in fact, on my wedding day I almost PASSED OUT because I hadn’t eaten enough (I obviously do eat a lot on Thanksgiving and Christmas, though). I refrain because my calorie counting does distract me, as unobtrusive as the use of the MyFitnessPal app is, and the people I am celebrating with on those days deserve my undivided attention, without me constantly thinking about how many calories the cranberry sauce has. Since my vacation is a belated honeymoon, I think that Kris deserves my full attention. I also deserve to relax a little – that is what vacations are about. And honestly, these days are probably less than 10 days a year. In the grand scheme of things, let’s say eat something like 700 extra calories each of these days – I would gain TWO pounds of real weight. That’s it. Obviously, I sometimes gain more in water weight after such extravaganzas, but that always goes away after a day or two of being back on track.

Now, this is not to say that these are my only “cheat” days. Cheat days is a pretty loose term for me – I tend to think of my calories as a weekly budget – I might not be very hungry on a rest day, leaving me with 200-300 extra calories, but then on Saturday night, even if I’m not that hungry, I might sneak in an extra beer or two but still come in under my goal for the week. So Saturday might look like a cheat day with the extra calories, but because I balanced it out, I don’t consider it one. Instead, I consider it eating like a “normal” person, that has some days where they aren’t very hungry and some days where they indulge a little. I only really consider something a cheat day if I end up going over my calories for the week because of it. Some of these days are purposeful, and some are not. Note: I still count EVERYTHING on my cheat days. Examples of these:

  • Other people’s weddings
  • Major family cookouts (something like 4th of July)
  • Birthdays
  • Date nights (only when I’m not staying with Kris for weeks at a time)
  • Really really really sad days – these should probably fall into days that don’t count, but usually I’m so sad the routine is helpful (sorry I counted calories at your funeral, Granny, though I think you would have approved)

I try to be careful not to have too many of these days. When I was heavy, one of the reasons I would overeat is that I would declare everything a special occasion. Like, on a “normal” day I wouldn’t eat very much, but on “special” days, I could. The problem is that when every day is “special,” special days become normal days, and I overeat. This is why I still count calories on cheat days – I then know how much damage I actually did. This means, for example, that when Kris comes to visit for 4 days and I go over by 300 calories on average each day, and then I see a TEN pound gain on the scale, I know it is realistically more like a one pound gain at the most. Also, this allows me to be accountable – if I start to creep up in my happy range (125-130), I know it isn’t for inexplicable reasons, but because I’ve gone over by 500 calories each week every week for a month. This isn’t really that many calories, but it is enough to put me into a bloaty phase where my weight stays up a little and I know that if I don’t cut back, it might pop up above 130 for more than just a random day or two. Usually, because this is mostly bloaty water weight, a week or so of eating on track will put me back down to the middle or lower end of this range. As long as I count these days, it is a reminder that very few days are really special enough to warrant wanton eating, and I have done well with not resorting to old habits thus far.

Here is to hoping I don’t gain TOO much water weight on vacation, though!

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