Why Do I Count Calories?

I’m often reading the nutritional label on food and drink items before I consume, many of you who are on a health kick will do just the same, often I get remarks of being boring, being sad and not living life properly. Cheers guys, very necessary remarks from you.

But one of the oldest pieces of advice I’ve been told was to enjoy everything in moderation, and my diet and fitness follows that approach. The thing is when you decide to take on a fitness goal your approach to diet directly rubs noses with how you live your life.

During my time in health and fitness I have researched and used many methods to get various results be it fat loss, gaining muscle, getting stronger etc. When I was focused on strength building the training required high weight/low sets focusing on the compound lifts such as the bench press, deadlift, squat, military press. Then when I wanted to gain muscle size, the best approach was to mix up the rep count and focus on the muscle contraction over everything else. However, if one day I really didn’t feel like lifting weights, I would opt to take a run around the country side. If I had a circuit workout planned but my mates invited me to go play football I would choose that every time, it’s still a great workout and it’s mixing up the routine. If I just fancied going for a max on the deadlift and feel like superman then I would go for it chalked hands and all!

Moderation with your training generates incredible impact with reaching your goal, but as with too much of anything we all simply get bored, and from a fitness standpoint your body will get used to whatever you throw at it. Therefore, by mixing up the rep range, the weight, the number of sets, the tempo and activity itself you are keeping it fresh and giving the body new challenges. By Doing this I found it prevented training from feeling like a chore and just going through the motions.

Now dieting is where the fitness community is mostly devised, often it portrays how tribal we all are. If you look around, you will see there are many diets out there all preaching that they claim to be the best to follow. The reality is you can get results several ways, as the saying goes there’s more than one way to skin a cat! The trick is gathering up all the information available, assess it based on yourself and from those results you can make the choice for you.

As I mentioned before I find calorie counting to the best way for me, it fits in with my lifestyle seamlessly, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get results following other methods such as a low carbohydrate diet, Ketogenic (High Fat), high protein, vegan, paleo etc. What strikes me with all these diets is they have one thing in common… they are all tailored to an extreme! It’s very all or nothing and I find that keeps you boxed in and will make you want to find a way out. There is no leeway with following such guidelines and I don’t need that, but hey if you like to know exactly what you can and can’t have and much prefer to follow something with clear boundaries then brilliant keep going!

Calorie counting suits me because I can have everything in moderation. I know my calorie limit, so I can manoeuvre around activities and daily situations with ease. We’ve all been at work, staying strong on our healthy eating, when someone brings in a tin of biscuits or a co-worker has baked a cake and is kind enough to share. I can have a piece, hell have two, and still not beat myself up about cheating on my diet, simply equate that little snack in to your daily calorie allowance. It all comes down to meal timing with this approach.

I enjoy going out to eat at restaurants, it gives me something to look forward to, so when me and the better half go out for a meal Saturday night most restaurants won’t have the calories down to the exact number so I will opt to miss out on breakfast and take in a light lunch to incorporate the surf and turf from the local steakhouse in to my diet. Another technique I use is to simply fast up until the meal so I can have the freedom of the menu without going over my calorie limit.

See there’s no stress involved, ok not eating all day can at times be stressful especially when people know and try to entice you so just don’t tell the bastards, but I never really have cravings. This is because I knew I could have them at any time, I just had to be sure to fit it within my daily caloric goal!

Now of course you must use your own common sense, it is not wise nor fun to wait every day and use up your calories on a giant pizza to yourself or a couple of big macs, but you have that option to help you enjoy yourself so don’t abuse it. You can still live a life and stay on track with your goals.

This is where the term moderation comes in, be it food or going out to the pub too much of anything gets tedious. I’ve also found when you abstain from your favourite meals they actually taste much better, it comes with a side order of food well earned. You should definitely be eating healthy foods such as your chicken, rice, oats, vegetables, fish, healthy fats etc. but you simply don’t have to do this each and every day until you’re at the finish line. You have to enjoy the journey and we all know it’s no fun going out and ordering the soup and a tuna salad when everyone else is tucking in to meaty burgers and fries enjoying themselves.

Nothing good comes without sacrifice, without moderation we wouldn’t be able to appreciate. There’s a reason why you get a buzz from saving up and getting that new phone or that new pair of shoes. There’s a reason that pizza tastes better when you have it occasionally. Incorporating this approach to eating allows me to not feel the guilt of cheating on a diet, which in turn allows me to not miss out on enjoying everything life has to offer, after all you’re only here one time so try and do as much as you can!

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