I've had several comments and emails asking me why I chose 2000 calories as my calorie level this week... my first week of counting calories again. After all, I was eating about 900-1000 calories a day on Medifast AND was much more active, walking 9,000+ steps a day, and was barely losing at all... just a couple pounds a month. So why? Why, if I wanted to go off Medifast and calorie count, would I DOUBLE the amount of calories I am eating and expect to lose weight? Especially when I have this injury and am really almost completely sedentary, unable to walk without crutches, my only exercise being upper body weights and floor exercises? Why?
My first answer was that I picked 2000 because maybe the people who think I need *more* calories are right. Lots of folks have suggested that I need to "heal my metabolism" because something is obviously not working right. I mean, how can you eat so little and not have the weight flying off? I dunno, but I am not the only person this has happened to. There are lots of people who've stalled out on weight loss and only started losing again when they *increased* their calories. Sure, it's only anecdotal evidence, but I thought it might be worth a shot. Yet I am not comfortable eating 2500 or more calories as some suggest, so 2000 sounded like a good starting point to me... one where I probably wouldn't gain super rapidly but I could get plenty of nutrition in. I can adjust my calories up or down over time.
But there is another answer. Yes, that one is a real answer, but with so many people asking me about this, I stepped back and looked at my reasons again. I tried to openly feel my true feelings and ask myself:
Why 2000 calories? Why not 1500 or 1300? Why so high to start?
And that is where I found my other answer... just as true as the first, but more touchy-feely and less "fact" based, I guess.
I am coming off three years of mostly restrictive dieting. I am coming from a place of reactivity to food. I was having strong emotional reactions to silly things like an acorn squash, or cream, or a breadstick. I was also having some anxiety about the possibility of further restriction... of going back again to being unable to eat a raspberry or seeing a cookie as a NEVER NEVER AGAIN food. I think the whole thing was just messing with my head and emotions too much. Aside from not losing much weight even when eating only 900 calories a day, that is the reason I finally contacted Medifast and told them I needed to be done. I struggled with that for a long time, because they've been more than generous with the products and support. And there was this pull of "OMG, I can get this expensive plan for free, and I know it works (worked for me before), and I just HAVE to try again and get this to work!!" When my box of free meals arrived this month, I sat and looked at it and I knew... I just KNEW I could not keep taking it and trying over and over to make myself stay on it. I was sick and off plan, eating soup and drinking juice, and I just finally decided it was enough. It is done. I don't blame the plan at all. It works and has worked long term for a lot of people. People who don't regain the weight they lost. People I respect. But I had to accept that maybe I have some issues with food that are not going to be resolved by continuing to try to restrict for YEARS.
I needed to fix my mindset. I needed to calm down about food, not feel pressured or restricted or worried.
That is why I chose 2000 calories, and not 1500 or 1200. It is not about some magic number. It is the fact that to me, 2000 sounded very generous and non-restrictive and relatively easy to stick to. It sounded like a number I can handle, that lets me choose what I want to eat within reason, that gives me some wiggle room. And I wanted to have a successful first week back at calorie counting and staying within my guidelines.
I want to eat acorn squash and raspberries and not feel bad about it. I want to eat a bowl of oatmeal or have some beans in my chili and not have guilt over it. I want 2000 calories of good nutrition, but if it turns out to be 1700 calories of good nutrition and 300 calories of not-as-healthy indulgences, I am okay with that. I am re-learning to be moderate, and not extreme. That's a tough thing for a person who spent a decade eating upwards of 3500 calories a day with the occasional 12,000 calorie binge, and then spent 3 years at least *trying* to eat 900 calories a day. It's time for something in the middle... long term.
So that's where I'm at, and I'll weigh tomorrow and make some choices about what to do with my calorie level. But whatever I decide, it's not going to be extreme. It'll be moderate, and considerate of my health.
Friday Update and Reality Check
1 day ago