Friday Flashbacks: Counting Calories

Good afternoon lovelies! Today I am excited to announce a new weekly feature on the blog: Friday Flashbacks. As I’ve mentioned time and time and again on this blog, while it may look like I have it “all together” health-wise that was not always the case. And for those who know me I am far from perfect; I’m a real girl.

But back in my late teenage years and early twenties I reallllyyy struggled with the scale, dieting, counting calories and everything in between. I have been there, there as in a place I never want to be again, a place many of you may have been (or may be now).

Friday Flashbacks will take you along with me back on a journey in time to peak at what my lifestyle/mindset was back then and how I’ve grown. I want you to know that I’ve gone through a lot to get to a place of self-love and that undoubtedly YOU CAN TOO.


The first time I started counting calories was sophomore year in college. College was one of the first times in my life that I truly felt pretty because I finally got down to my “ideal weight.” Only problem was I didn’t feel pretty inside; I was simply looking for outside validation from friends, frat boys and anyone that would give me the time of day. Every time someone told me I looked skinny or asked how much weight I lost, I felt a sense of accomplishment, sort of like the feeling you get when you’re younger and bring home a report card with straight As to your parents. I was proud.

During these times, food and calories completely consumed my life. I thought about food more than I thought about boys, and trust me that was a lot. From the moment I’d wake up, it’d be “What am I going to have for breakfast?” but not in a healthy, joyful excited way. Rather, I’d be freaking out over what kinds of food I’d allow myself to eat at breakfast, and the caloric total of each and every meal.

After one bite of my egg-beaters, I’d already be on to thinking about lunch, mentally adding up the calorie counts in my head. My mind was like a mental invisible calculator (a screwed up one), stressing me out, making me anxious and never giving me the right number.

“BAD BAD BAD,” I’d tell myself when the calories started creeping up. And then once they hit 1,000 that would be the end, and from then on I’d be highly cautious about eating anything else. Even if it was still early during the day or I was starving, 1,000 was my limit, period.

Sometimes, I’d sit in class, pretending to be taking notes, when really I was vigorously scribbling down everything I had eaten for the day, every last bite. Half cup egg beaters (60 calories), glass of water (0), half an apple (50), salad-no dressing (5), 4 carrots (20). It was stressful, annoying and terrifying all at the same time, but I had to do it and when I did I’d feel a sense of relief. OK, 600 down, 400 to go.

Some would call this a “food journal,” where people write their food intake down for the day to better see what they are really eating and to stay on track. Food journals are healthy…when done right. But my lists and mental notes were not healthy. It was a psycho obsession that I had to do or else.

One time I came home from a long day of classes to have “dinner.” The meal consisted of 5 mini rice cakes, a little scoop of peanut butter and a few carrots.

“What are you going to make for dinner tonight Rachey?” one of my roommates asked me.

“Um, oh, well this is my dinner,” I said.

“Are you serious? That’s like bird food, a snack at most!”

Embarrassed of my dinner (or lack there of), I piled on about 5 more mini rice cakes to my “platter.”

“SO THERE, TAKE THAT!” I thought to myself.

Looking back now, my “dinner,” attitude, and extreme restriction completely breaks my heart, mostly because I waisted several years of my life STRESSING and RESTRICTING rather than LIVING. In fact, I didn’t even know what it felt like to live, to relish in the moment, to simply be. I didn’t know what it was like to “go with the flow” and was envious of my friends who could eat whatever they wanted, work out when the mood struck and just be a twenty-something college student having FUN.

I apologize to everyone who had to watch me struggle, though I owe the biggest appology to myself for ever letting myself get to the point where I thought I had to eat like that to be thin, pretty and desired. Where I thought counting calories and eating bird food was the key to Skinnyville. Where I thought restriction would equal happiness.

While I am extremely grateful for “catching myself” a few years ago before I took things further, I only wish I had someone to talk to about these internal struggles, this never-ending battle I was facing. I wish I could have seen the beauty around me, that life is much more than food and weight and calories. Who knew there was so much more out there to soak in?

You often hear me say, “Counting your blessings is much more gratifying than counting calories” as this is something I want to ingrain into every young woman’s head. I truly believe this is the first step to breaking free of restriction. I know it’s easier said than done, but that’s why it’s important to speak up, to get support, to allow yourself to have emotions (the good, the bad and the ugly). You owe it to yourself. You are worth it.

Do you make time to count your blessings each day? Are you stuck on calorie counting? I’m here for you! Please feel free to email me or schedule a FREE 15-minute “BODY LOVE” Nourishment session to learn more about my health coaching programs & to see if we’d work well together. My programs are designed to help women like me live to their fullest potential, break free of diet-obsessed living, and learn to use REAL food & self-care as n.o.u.i.s.h.m.e.n.t.

16 Responses to “Friday Flashbacks: Counting Calories”

  1. Danielle Says:

    This is such a great post and I can totally relate. College was a tough time for me as well and getting past that obsession with calorie counting has set me free from so much stress and worry!

  2. Rachel @Healthy Chicks Says:

    @Danielle Thank you Danielle. I feel like you and I have gone through similar struggles…While these times were undoubtedly tough on us, It is now our gift to share this & help other women too 🙂

  3. jobo Says:

    I love your mantra at the end about counting your blessings!! While I do think calorie counting can be a good exercise in portion control and sizes and determining between hunger, habits, or mindlessness/mindfulness, I can also equally see how it can become a fixation and make you completely unhappy. I am at a point where I am at such a happy place with food and eating and the whole logging thing, but it has taken a long time to get there. Great post, great viewpoint, so motivating and REAL and I love this new feature!

  4. Rachel @Healthy Chicks Says:

    @jobo Thanks for reading Jo! I totally agree with you that counting calories and food logging may work for some (especially with portion control or when you’re just starting off) but when you become obsessed and unhealthy about it is when it poses potential issues (as it did for me)! So happy you’re in such a great place right now 🙂

  5. Elizabeth Jarrard Says:

    Great post!! calories are such a waste of time! once you tune into your inner intuitive eater you don’t have to stress like this. though the transition can be tough, congratulations!

  6. Marvelous in My Monday Says:

    […] Healthy Chicks~ Friday Flashbacks: Counting Calories […]

  7. Rachel @Healthy Chicks Says:

    @Elizabeth Thanks lady! Intuitive eating is such a wonderful place, but totally agree with you that it can be a tough transition!

  8. Morgan Says:

    I think I just read my own Biography. I am a Senior in college right now and I started the whole “calorie counting” during Sophomore year as well. The problem is I AM STILL RESTRICTING AND COUNTING and NOT GETTING ANY BETTER!!! Is there some advice you can give me??? My biggest hurdle as of yet as been moving from 3 hours of CARDIO to more WEIGHTS!!! I have a huge passion now for WEIGHTS and I have no idea how I spent 3 hours in the gym running. Do not get me wrong, I still spend 3 hours in the gym with weights (which isn’t that healthy either), I still go on 7 mile runs, but this is now where near what I use to do!!!

  9. Rachel @Healthy Chicks Says:

    @Morgan Thanks for stopping by my blog, and welcome. I want to thank you for opening up & being so honest! I know how frustrating counting calories & restriction can be!

    I’d love to connect with you and offer some words of wisdom. Expect an email in your inbox soon 🙂

  10. Lauren (@PoweredbyPB) Says:

    I was totally in the same situation, calorie counting dominated myself for several years, and it was just so freaking stressful and took over so much of my life. I eventually went from logging it all online, to just counting in my head and I never ever thought that I would be able to stop. I started doing it when I was restricting my diet really badly as a way on controlling my intake even further, even when I returned to a healthy weight I continued to count, justifying it on the basis of needing to know to check I was getting in enough calories for my activity level. Every time I tried to stop doing it, I found it so difficult because I knew the calorie count of everything so my brain would be constantly ticking away and adding up the numbers. I am happy to say that since I made it one of my resolutions of this year to stop doing it I have successfully let it go. In fact the other day I logged a day of eating online just to check I was getting the minimum rdas in terms of vitamins/minerals and I couldn’t believe how time consuming and stressful it was and how I had done it for so many years!

  11. Rachel @Healthy Chicks Says:

    @Lauren Your comment makes me smile so big 🙂 I’m so happy to see that, while you struggled for many years, you were finally able to escape and see the light and most importantly start LIVING YOUR LIFE without this consuming you!!! So so proud!

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  13. Julianne Says:

    I love this. This is what I used to be, and why I quit. It’s a little hard getting back on my feet and finding my way from here, though.

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This entry was posted on Friday, February 22nd, 2013 at 11:56 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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