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Reader’s Request: Calories Shmalories

January 5, 2011

Last night my boyfriend told me he eats oatmeal for breakfast now and wants to try Yoga. God loves me.

Speaking of yoga, today was a Bikram morning! I unknowingly positioned myself right under one of the heaters…bad call. I was SOAKED! But it was a good class. I’m definitely not as flexible now that I”m running more, but hopefully the deep stretches are helping.



This long cardigan has been causing me problems. I feel like it’s just really juvenile and hard to make cute or classy in any way. I decided to throw a polo underneath it instead of just a tshirt to try to make it a little better. Did it work?


For my oatmeal it was back to my Justin’s packets, although I’m considering leaving the Sunflower Seed Butter jar at work so I don’t have to keep spending money on individual packets. I bought them because I didn’t trust myself with a jar of nut butter around, but I think the saltiness of the Sunflower Seed Butter will prevent me from wanting any mid-day spoonfuls.

The Calorie Question:

In response to my Ask Me Anything post, I received a question about how many calories I eat each day and how many I burn through exercise. Given Emily’s recent discussion on Calorie Counting, I thought it was a good time to address this issue.

I don’t know how many calories I eat each day. I don’t have a set number that I don’t want to go over, and I don’t know the exact numbers in each meal I eat. That being said, I have educated myself on the nutritional aspects of most foods and so am able to get a rough estimate of my meals and daily totals. I don’t measure out 1 TBSP of peanut butter in my oats or 1 cup of veggies for dinner, but can guestimate my portions somewhat accurately.

I think that on a normal work day I probably have a 300-350 calorie breakfast,  ~400 calorie lunch, ~200 calorie snack, and ~500-600 calorie dinner and dessert. That would add up to around 1500-1600 calories each day, but between random snacks and meal variations  I probably get somewhere between 1500 and 2000 calories each day. But on days that I have extra treats or on weekends, all bets are off! And on days that I have long runs, I definitely eat more.

Like Emily, I try to think of my meals more in nutritional components while keeping a rough calorie estimate in the back of my head as a guide. I used to be more strict and anxious about calories during my initial recovery, but it drove me crazy and I like my current method a lot better. I just try to make sure I’m getting enough greens, protein, complex carbs, and some healthy fats throughout the day. This is where understanding the nutritional components of your foods is extremely important and something that I personally think all people should be aware of.


In the same way, I don’ t know how many calories I burn when exercising. I always just hit “quickstart” on cardio machines and so I know the numbers they put out aren’t accurate. Based on my height and weight I probably burn ~90 calories for every mile I run, but on cross training days I have no clue. And I don’t really care to know because I don’t want to start exercising just to burn calories! I like being able to focus on helping my heart and gaining strength and endurance instead. However, it is helpful to know a rough count on days when I do a lot of running because I need to make sure I’m taking in enough calories to make up for it!

I know that my method isn’t right for everyone. Some people like to keep better track of their intake and output, and as long as it doesn’t become obsessive or harmful that is perfectly fine. I think Emily’s post made a very good point about calorie counting: unless you are trying to lose weight, it has become associated with disordered eating and labelled “bad”. But knowing what you are putting into your body shouldn’t be viewed in a negative light. On the contrary, if we are to maintain good health and nutrition it is extremely important!

Food For Thought:

  • Do you know what you are putting into your body? Have you made a point to educate yourself?
  • Has your relationship with food and or calorie counting changed over time? For the better?
  • Do you think it is “bad” to count calories? Is there a better method to use?



10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2011 11:11 am

    I count calories (well points from Weight Watchers. It is easier for me). I tried to do it on my own and guesstimate. I gained 20 pounds. For me, I need the structure. Maybe one day I won’t, but for now I do!

  2. Lauren permalink
    January 5, 2011 2:41 pm

    Hey Clare! Calorie counting seems like a waste of time…I think it’s more important to watch portion sizes and eat natural foods.

    Maybe you could do a post about why you got into blogging and yoga?

    I bought the garmin!! I’ve done two halts and I think it will be beneficial for more serious training.

  3. Olympe permalink
    January 5, 2011 4:12 pm

    Really cute outfit!
    I like to count my calories but I am not obsessive about it. It is more about tracking the food I eat than the calories.

  4. January 5, 2011 4:43 pm

    I counted points on WW for a year and half while I was getting to a goal weight and maintaining it, learning lessons of portion size and some basic good health guidelines. Then I switched to calories as I started to increase my workout frequency and intensity, I needed more of an understanding of all components that made my body feel good and fueled or not (sodium, protien, etc).

    Those things taught me a lot and now I am focusing on what is good for me, tastes good, and listening to my body so I have backed off from both and am still maintaining my weight.

  5. January 5, 2011 5:20 pm

    My boyfriend eats oatmeal….with nutella. I pick my battles. I’ll never get yoga though, lucky!

    I don’t count calories. That was a definite dangerous obsession in the past and I have no intention of getting back into it, but from doing that I’m aware of a lot of the calories and nutrients in things. I just aim to eat healthy and balanced all day and check the scale once a week to make sure I’m on track.

    That being said for people losing weight, I think food diaries are a really good tool to see what you are actually consuming because I think some people have no idea. Education on nutrients, portion size, and calories is important as a lifestyle change. It can be dangerous, but not always, so if it works for someone, more power to them! I wish it had worked better for me.

  6. briana permalink
    January 5, 2011 6:14 pm

    Hi Clare, I am just like you and have never counted calories I think its a very annoying way to live, but I think I eat healthy and over the last couple years have learned that honoring my body works best for me. I usually go by how my clothes fit and how I feel it seems to work!

  7. January 5, 2011 6:49 pm

    i have no idea how many cals i eat a day! i think 1500-1600? i just eat what i want haha 🙂

    love the fit! and i love the argyle socks sticking out of your boots 🙂 ultra cute

  8. January 5, 2011 7:07 pm

    Thanks for answering that question!
    I love that perspective! I honsetly sopmetimes eat even more when I count calories, its weird. Anyhow, the reason its so hard for me to stop is BC I gained like five pounds these past few months that I’m trying to get to go away!
    But I know I need to stop counting calories!

  9. January 5, 2011 9:24 pm

    heya! i don’t count when i eat either, and try to eat greens, whole grains and protein in every meal. i have been doing what i call “grain of the week” where i make a big pot of one of the following and eat it all week: brown rice, millet, amaranth, whole wheat cous cous, barley, and quinoa. protein can include seitan, tofu, beans, eggs, tempeh, or quorn. i figure i keep the cals low by eating as much as i want of the greens and keeping the grains and proteins reasonable.

    i do count when i work out though thanks to my which is so amazing i can’t even describe.

  10. January 7, 2011 9:01 pm

    im the same way. I counted calories for so long that i could probably tell you how much all my meals were if i cared to know. I also remebered starving after every meal when i counted calories because god forbid i go OVER. so now i dont count AT ALL and im much happier about that, meals are SO much more satisfying 🙂

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