Day 3 of the Positive Body Image Challenge: Forget About Calories

calorie counting

Before we get too far into today’s Positive Body Image Challenge, let’s recap what we did in days 1 and day 2 …

Day 1: Take the Better Body Image Pledge

Day 2: Take Your Power Back From the Scale

(If you’re just now seeing the challenge for the first day, feel free to start day 1 today!)

And day 3 is all about calories. Namely, throwing everything you *think* you know about them out the self-loving window.

Positive Body Image Challenge Day 3: Forget About Calorie-Counting and Calorie-Burning

We know that you’ve heard the message over and over again that it’s all about calories in and calories out, but over the years, science has shown that that’s just plain not true. Yes, calories can be an interesting number to look at and rather enlightening when it comes to making decisions of what to eat or what workouts to do, but they by no means tell the complete story. Our bodies operate with highly complex and complicated systems that we, honestly, just don’t quite fully understand. Not to mention that we’re each individual people — and no two of us are exactly alike. (This is why you and your best friend can eat the exact same things and do the exact same workouts and look different.) From genetic make-up to hormones to digestion to stress to the thoughts you’re having and the perceptions you have to how much muscle you have, a calorie is simply not a calorie. So, guys, it makes NO SENSE to obsess about them or track them endlessly.

Need more convincing on why a calorie is not a calorie? Read this post. And this post. And then read this account of how stopping calorie-counting can actually help you to truly be healthy (and happy).

What to Focus on Instead

So if you’re not counting calories eaten and burned, how do you make sure you’re making healthy choices? Good question. Here’s what we recommend — and how doing so can boost your body image.

1. Do workouts you love. If you always focus on doing workouts that burn a lot of calories, you become a slave to a number. And you will probably end up doing exercises you don’t actually enjoy — or overtraining. Meaning, that you’ll begin to develop a negative mental association with working out and possibly even get injured. On the flip side, if you actually choose workouts you like, you’ll not only want to do them (so relying on willpower to do them isn’t an issue) but also they won’t suck your life of joy. Which is, like, totally a good thing, huh?

2. Follow a hunger and fullness scale. Instead of counting calories, put your trust back in yourself and your body by tuning in to your hunger and fullness cues. Use and honor this hunger and fullness scale and over time your life will be transformed. (We know because it happened to us!)

3. Focus on a higher goal. Like we said in yesterday’s video, take your power back. Take it back from the number on the scale, from the number of calories burned or eaten … take it back and focus on something greater. Like you, being the best possible you that you can be because you are WORTHY of feeling great — not because you need to be anything other than what you are.

What’s your relationship like with calories? Tell us about it in the comments or on social (@FitBottomedGirl) with #FBGChallenge! Jenn

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  1. I have found that when I eat whole foods, I don’t really even need to worry about calories. It seems like it’s only when I eat too many processed foods that I have to worry about them.