Balancing the Checkbook

A friend and I were discussing whether or not we’ll need to count Points (or calories, etc.) forever. It led to this short little analogy I wanted to share today.

I said to her, I don’t know if you’ll necessarily need to count forever … but to me it’s like a bank account. I hate balancing it, but it’s part of my life. Some people have lots of money in the bank and don’t need to worry about it … others need to  live paycheck to paycheck. In the proverbial sense, I need to live “paycheck to paycheck.

I very much think of food like money; if I don’t have an idea of what’s in my checking account, I’ll no doubt go on a “shopping spree.”

And while there’s a part of me that would love to be on the intuitive eating bandwagon, I know that living inside of parameters — even when I color outside the lines — is better for my mind, body and soul than throwing caution to the wind.

It’s very much a personality thing. For me, it doesn’t feel unnatural or uncomfortable to journal. To me, it feels very normal; it’s like tracking my finances — a necessary evil.

Of course, it doesn’t stop me anymore from eating beyond my allotted Points (hence, I’m not a size 6 any longer!) … but having some semblance of boundaries helps me, mentally.

I recognize that it’s not for everyone, and I fully admit that there was a time when all the Points and calories drove me mad. But now that I’m listening more to myself — which hasn’t helped my waistline 😉 — I think eventually I’ll find that happy medium.

Ultimately, I think we all know ourselves best and what works for Sue might not work for Sally. Likewise, what works for me, might not work for you. It’s not a “right/wrong” issue at all.

How about you? Does journaling make you more obsessive or help keep you in line?

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14 thoughts on “Balancing the Checkbook

  1. I actually used to think that if I gave up on my food diary, I’d suddenly blow up and would never find the right balance. But, once I gave in and threw caution to the wind, I found that I was actually happy, less obsessive and less focused on food than when I was filling in my food diary dutifully day in and day out. But, that’s just me. Some people – and you are one of them – feel better and more centered keeping a the diary “balanced” even if its a necessary evil, much like balancing the checkbook. I find eating intuitively works for me and I’ve not “blown up” like I feared. But honestly, I think this is a very personal decision, it’s not for everyone; nor is food journaling. To each his/her own I say! 🙂

  2. tracking my food DEFINITELY keeps me in line…I track my food and my exercise and even though I’m not really losing anything (I don’t have much to lose) I’m not gaining and I feel terrific.

  3. I have to be on a very strict routine. I’ve opened up a little bit, but I’ve also gone too far and discovered I’m better with boundaries. Like you, I’m hopeful that some day I’ll be better at the intuitive thing, but I day-to-day I just have to do what works for now.

  4. I will have to count the rest of my life and I’m okay with that. It doesn’t stop me from eating what I want but it soothes my OCD to write it all down and count. Even when I go over I’m still comforted with know by how much.

  5. Keeping track of meals and calories does not work for me. Seeing a normal day’s food overwhelms me. It makes me obsess and much more likely to binge. It’s emotionally the same as getting on the scale for me.

  6. Journaling keeps me in line and keeps me sane. I do it most days but not when on vacation or a holiday. I was the most obsessive with my eating when I was not journaling or tracking because I just assumed I was eating too much so I would restrict very severely.

  7. I think this is a perfect analogy!
    There is a very fine line for me between healthy/sane journaling and getting obsessive. I will definitely go on a “shopping spree” if I have no structure at all, so it’s important for me to have some forms of checking in with myself. I guess I’m trying to find the balance these days myself! 🙂

  8. What a thought-provoking entry!! For me, it’s a tough balance. I’m still working with an e.d. dietitian, and I’m on a meal plan. So, I do count certain things (exchanges) to make sure that I’m getting enough. I also count calories, though my RD would prefer that I don’t. I agree that I would eventually like to stop counting calories and move to exchanges only.

    On thing I CANNOT do, however, is write down my intake. For me, that is hugely triggering. So, I have to just verbally tell my RD my numbers, and she has to write it down. For me, having it on the page somehow makes it always look like too much (it’s not) and can trigger my e.d.

    It may be a LONG road and it may take quite some time, but I am determined to eventually get to a place where I can eat intuitively (with some structure, of course) and let my body settle where it wants.

  9. I know I posted about this recently, and I still do struggle. I hear from so many people that calorie counting (or counting points) is “bad” if done obsessively, but I have to agree with you. We HAVE to do what’s best for us. Do I want to be counting calories when I’m 65? Or even 40? No….but for right now, it’s what works. And I’ve come a long way – I don’t write it down, and I take ball park guesses if I go out to eat and get something with which I’m not familiar.

    I love the analogy…it’s very true! I have friends who definitely shop compulsively, and they aren’t able to go into Target the same way I could – they have to be strict about their budgets, because shopping is their temptation!

  10. i think my calorie counting defnitely keeps me in-line. i don’t want to lose or gain weight and don’t trust myself to just eat totally intuitively and trust that my weight is not going to go flying in one direction or another. i hope one day to drop it, but not in the forseeable future.

  11. It seems when I journal, I focus on the more negative things, rather than the positive things. It gets to be that I focus on the “number” rather than just having balance and eating healthy. It’s hard for me not to get obsessive about food either way, counting or not counting. Hopefully, I can get to the “balance” part of my eating lifestyle.

  12. I have found that using calorie counters like sparkpeople, only make my disordered eating worse. I am trying to eat intuitively and just write down what I eat. The number of calories stress me out and I don’t want to hit the number of what I should be eating. When I just journal it, I do much better. Speaking of which…I have been slacking off in the journaling department.

  13. I think this is a perfect analogy!I have to be on a very strict routine. I’ve opened up a little bit, but I’ve also gone too far and discovered I’m better with boundaries.

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