I know that a lot of people out there are really into the fitness scene and go on diets. If it’s truly a sensible, putting-on-muscle sort of diet, then fine. If it’s a diet to improve health and fitness, also ok. But there is a danger that these things can become too obsessive, too driven, and that problems arise. It doesn’t take a genius to work that out.
Now I’m lucky in that I’ve never had an eating disorder and that I’ve always been slim. In fact, I’ve written a post about how I sometimes feel because I’m slim, and how it affects my life and self-confidence. This is a different thing entirely.
I’ve seen a lot of apps recently on health and fitness. One helps you count sets, another monitors heart rate… Most do those things plus more. Some are even able to track your run and show you what the best route to take would be for your personal fitness goal. These are all fine. What worries me is the ones that have calorie counters in.
I understand fully that those who must lose weight for medical reasons would find them useful, and I know that pro athletes and body builders must eat a certain amount of calories per day to build and keep muscle. I’m just worried because counting them is dangerous.
J mentions them occasionally but in a sensible way- he’s linking them to things like protein intake and what to eat on certain days of his workout routine. I do get worried and uneasy every time anyone brings them up,though,because I nearly lost one friend to an eating disorder. I don’t specifically recall her obsessing over calories, but I do remember her staring at the backs of sandwiches, reading the labels. I know that online it’s so easy to key in your age and weight and get some sort of calorie-calculator up and running.
Scientists have discovered, or so I’ve read, that eating disorders are actually passed down genetically. Certain factors influence whether it will develop or not, but it is there and has the potential to wreck your life. That’s a really scary thought.
There’s an eating disorder, a severe one, in my family. My aunt has one. It’s ruined her, and it’s sad, because she used to be a nice person. She is obsessed with control and can’t see anyone else’s point of view. Because there is that link there, I worry that if pushed too far, I could go the same way.
I actually caught myself wanting to download one of these apps the other day, to see if I was eating the right amount. I slapped that thought away pretty fast, once I realised what I’d been thinking. I’ve had a couple of brushes with eating-disordered behaviour in my time battling my mental health issues, and I’ve not liked how easy it felt to deny myself food and drink. When I self-destruct, I go all out. There are some of my older, more despairing blog posts on here where I hadn’t eaten. Of course, when I was feeling a little better, I hated myself for it, making the cycle worse. Now I know I have to be mindful of how I eat when I’m depressed.
It scared me though. I’m not going to download one because I’m a little worried about how I reacted when I thought about downloading something to track calories- excited. Not good.
The worst thing about the calorie myth is that they are actually a measure of HEAT. They’re not a measure of protein or fat or carbohydrate. They are actually not useful for measuring what you’re eating. They do bugger all but tell you how much energy you’d be able to burn if you ate it!
A calorie has no nutritional value. It does not contribute to your vitamin intake. Google calories and skip past all the diet bullshit. You’ll see what I mean.
Besides, bear this in mind: Currently, whilst typing this, 25% of my energy intake today is being spent on getting my neurons to fire and take messages to everywhere in my body and think up a sassy comeback and laugh and type. Those neurons are hungry little devils. They require a huge amount of energy to function.
What I’m trying to say is that a lot of the time, things that are supposed to make our lives easier actually are worse for us than we know. The easiest way to find out anything? Get online and research! Find an old science textbook if you still have one.
Just don’t buy into the hype.