A Day “Without” Calories

I learned, this summer, that by eating the right things and moving as much as I needed to for recovery, I have actually become healthier than I was when I was preaching “health” and parading my six-pack (and osteopenia) around the gym.

Here’s what a typical day looked like for me these part few months* (and, granted, I’m still working on the sleep and adrenal fatigue portion of the equation, especially now that I have things like late-night rehearsals to go to and friends who give me a reason to stay up late. And I’m still learning about how to go low enough carb and high enough fat to feel balanced, so I’m sure that there are still many tweaks I could be making–but I’m not that worried about it right now).

  • Wake up at 6:30 am (8 hours after going to bed). Skip the gym because my ankle is on fire. Take a guilt free shower, make my bed, and go downstairs with Frida. No extra stress, just waking up and getting on with my day. Got enough sleep, so I’m feeling okay. 
  • Have cup of organic coffee with coconut butter mixed in. No idea how many tea- or tablespoons…just enough to be delicious. I don’t need the coffee to wake up, I just like the way it tastes. This will be the only cup I have all day. 
  • Breakfast of bone broth with wakame and a side of bacon, or else two eggs (hard boiled or scrambled with ghee) with bacon and raw sauerkraut. Supplemented with fermented cod liver oil/butter oil blend, raw maca root powder, vitamin C, Celedrin, MSM/glucosamine chondroitin. Getting in my share of bone building vitamins and minerals as well as probiotics. Also, the maca, a phytoestrogen, is helping me rebalance my depleted female hormones. (More on the maca in a coming post…) 
  • Head to Starbucks to work on freelance projects or else get some quality blogging done. Drink orange blossom tea and kombucha. More probiotics. And if you haven’t tried Starbucks orange blossom tea, you’re missing out.
  • Lunch around 1 or 2. Roasted garlic, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and carrots with some kind of fish–usually tuna or salmon–and olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top. Or a coconut milk and macadamia nut smoothie with spinach, broccoli, and a couple of strawberries (and cinnamon and cocoa powder for good measure!). A high fat, moderate protein lunch keeps me full all afternoon. 
  • Energy is high and no need for snacking. Green tea and writing, followed by a walk with my dog or a short trip to the gym for rehab exercises if I’m feeling up to it. I’ve been working up to walking for about 40 minutes a day. I spend the majority of the day on my butt writing, so this walk is great for strengthening my leg and getting my cardiovascular system back into shape. And now I’m returning to the gym three days a week to do rehab and strengthening exercises for my legs.
  • Dinner around 6:30. Ground beef (20% fat–until I can find a good grass fed higher fat source around here) and chicken liver burgers with kelp noodles and a mushroom and tomato salad, or some variation of meat and salad thereof, sometimes dressed with homemade cashew, basil, and kale pesto. Supplement with vitamin C, food-based Magnesium, more Celedrin & MSM. Again, enough fat to keep me satiated, enough protein for satiety and muscle building, enough green, non-starchy vegetables to keep me healthy and rolling in nutrients. Supplements serve the same purpose as those at breakfast. 
  • Dessert, if I’m feeling it. Coconut butter with maca root, cinnamon, and cocoa, or a couple of squares of Alter Eco 85% chocolate (organic, fair trade, and NO SOY LECITHIN). I don’t have to eat dessert. But if I want it, it’s there, and I eat it without guilt, without weighing/measuring, without binging until I feel sick. When I start to feel any of the negative dessert-related thoughts, I remind myself that there’s always tomorrow, and the food will be there then, too. 
  • Usually asleep by 10:30 pm. Best case scenario. I’m usually in bed by 8, but I have a bad habit of staying up late on my computer. I’ve at least taken steps to install f.lux, which dims and warms the light emitted by the computer in order to minimize the melatonin-depleting effects of the blue, artificial light. 

And I know that it’s not perfect, but it’s perfect for me, right now, today. I’m not doing nutritional ketosis or measuring my calories. All I know is that I can eat until I’m full and I’m not desperately spending my day searching for snacks, pounding coffee, and trying to stay awake through sugar crashes during four hour stretches of writing. And the best part is, if I go out to meet a friend for lunch or dinner, I don’t feel tied to any meal plan or predetermined number of allowable calories or macros. And there are no “wrong things” to eat. I avoid the stuff that makes me feel awful (grains, starches, legumes, dairy), and by default I eat only the stuff that makes me feel well.

Now that I’m back at work and in rehearsal, I’m getting much less sleep, but I know that it’s a short-term stressor. And the experience of being in a musical is worth the month of raised cortisol levels and unbalanced melatonin.

I’d love to hear about what you are all doing, and how it’s been working for you. What steps have you taken to healing your relationship with food, both mentally and physically?

– K.

*I started writing this post in the middle of October. This was before the insanity of work/rehearsals/freelance projects/dating/etc. happened. I still try to stick to this as closely as I can–so bed times and wake times and sometimes snacks and workouts are different from what I’ve written here. But the cool thing is: that’s life. I know what works, and I can tweak based on what my temporal and physical limitations are for that day.

4 Comments

  1. Just stumbled across your blog from Benbruno.com. I loved the calories in > calories out post. Very educational and familiar. I am recovering from ED as well (binge eating) and am still finding my balance. I think the inner voices of addiction will always be with me but they aren’t yelling like before. They whisper but I am good at ignoring them. Also enjoyed reading your day w/o calories- especially how the foods will benefit you. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Reply
    • And thank YOU for sharing as well! I honestly believe that the best way to quiet the voices of addiction is to speak out and speak louder! Congratulations on beginning your own journey to recovery–and know that you are not alone. Stay in touch!

      Reply
  2. I would really love to hear more about what you started writing out on calories in/calories out as well as this post. I’ve been struggling with low thyroid for a couple years now, though, I suspect it went undiagnosed for a year. So, these past three years have been a challenging journey from being in optimum health in 2009 to my rock bottom and very slowly working back. I’ve been trying to learn all I can and learn what works for me. But, I cannot emphasize what a slow process it has been and that I’m still nowhere close to my optimum. It always helps to talk to people who have both experienced something simliar and/or who are actively engaged in healthily improving their own health!

    Reply
    • It’s funny–I hadn’t actually intended to write about it, but it was something that kept coming up in nearly every conversation I’d had with friends, family, and acquaintances. I’ve also been seeing a lot about it in the Paleo community, and so when I ended up sidelined from the gym by my ankle injury, I had a chance to test it out for myself. It was REALLY difficult to stop counting calories–I still have moments during which I’m tempted to think in terms of how many calories I’m “allowed” since I ate X and only exercised Y, but the less I do it, the easier it gets.

      It’s been especially hard the last couple of weeks because I’m in a musical and unable to do any exercise at all (outside of occasionally carrying set pieces) because of my schedule. But I haven’t stopped eating or started restricting. I’m just trying to be mindful and eat only when I’m hungry. It’s not easy, but I’m getting there.

      I know it’s rough, but I’m really glad you reached out. Just know that there will always be people out there willing to support you on your journey to health and wellness–and I’m happy to be one of them. Keep plugging away. Health (both physical and mental) doesn’t happen overnight. I’m still fighting, but I refuse to give up the struggle! Keep me updated on your journey! :)

      Reply

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