Tuesday, September 13, 2016


today i started 40 clear days.  meaning no alcohol or mood changers of any type. i've never tried to go any expanded amount of time without being able to relax with a glass of wine.  i have friends that do "dry july," which i've never consider doing, since that's my birthday month.  i have friends who have done cleanses, which i just never really felt called to do.  and luckily i never get sick, so i'm never forced to go on breaks while on antibiotics.

but last week i decided i wanted to do 40 clear days.  kind of spontaneously actually.  i texted my bff and told her and she immediately signed up. ("signed up" means she said "ok, i'll do it too!") over the course of the next few days before i started, a few other friends committed to their own variations of the theme.

and then, last night, right before i started, i added a challenge: a challenge that is way scarier than going to dinner or bars with my friends and watching them drink; way more horrifying than feeling left out of a social situation; much more terrifying than fomo.  i decided that i'd try to stop counting my calories for the next 40 days.

counting calories is something i've been doing some version of for 25 years.  i don't write everything i eat down anymore, and i don't keep track of each day's input and output now, but i still keep a running tally in my head every day.  i know that my usual breakfast has 450 calories.  i know i usually run 6 miles a day.  i know i usually have -250 going into lunch.  i check my daily mileage tracker regularly to see if i get to count extra calories as "burned."  i try to fit extra activity in where i can and automatically subtract it off my total consumed for the day.  ...the math is constant.

harlem street food, exhibit 1.
and it's also exhausting.  my brain gets quite consumed by this activity.  when i'm bored in a meeting, i recalculate for the day.  when i'm eating, i'm actually calculating calories. i can't concentrate on conversation at the dinner table until i've figured out the calorie count.

so i decided to experiment with letting it go--since i was getting clear.

today: i had my usual breakfast.  so i knew how many calories there were without having to do any work.  i ran an hour, and i knew how many calories i burned, so i didn't have to do the math.  it wasn't working.

so for lunch, i skipped usual options and went rogue.  i went to a cart on the street and bought a falafel pita: something that would've taken me several attempts and re-attempts until i decided which calorie total was closest to the truth.

while i was eating it, my brain actually tried to start adding things up.  SEVERAL TIMES.  so i pulled up an article and focused really hard on reading it while i was eating.  and then went right to the next task and kept yelling at myself: DO NOT THINK ABOUT HOW MANY CALORIES WERE IN THAT WRAP.

very occasionally, cat is calm.
i had a few more meetings.  i prepped for evening teaching.  i went to yoga.  i rushed back to teach and grabbed a snack en route.  i knew there were 250 calories in what i was eating, but i didn't know what to add it to.  i didn't know what my total was for the day. it hurt my brain not to think about it, but i pushed it away as i rushed into the classroom. 

i ate dinner watching tv. i kept quieting my mind.  but writing this is still quite an effort in non-addition.

however, it's 1am and i don't know my daily total.  i don't know if i'm "over" or "under" for the day.  the mental energy to not add, subtract, and re-calculate all day was almost equal to the amount of energy i would have expended doing so. i assume it will be easier tomorrow.

and, if it isn't, i'll just scratch cat behind the ears and think about  how much a glass of wine would help me forget about counting calories.


  1. So proud of you! It will take time to adjust but hopefully you'll get to a place where it's a relief to let go of counting. But until then, it totally makes sense that your brain feels turned upside down. Hang in there lovey!

  2. Could never do that. Kudos to you. I think I've been calculating and recalculating for 38 years. I think I'm a train, stuck on the tracks

    1. i think if i can do it, so can you. my little trick yesterday and today has been eating foods i didn't automatically know the calorie count in and then forbidding myself from calculating it. 36 hours in, and it's already getting easier...