No Wellness Wankery

57: Why counting calories or macros isn’t the secret to health

April 25, 2023 Lyndi Cohen
57: Why counting calories or macros isn’t the secret to health
No Wellness Wankery
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No Wellness Wankery
57: Why counting calories or macros isn’t the secret to health
Apr 25, 2023
Lyndi Cohen

Do you feel like you are doing all the "right" things but you can't seem to lose weight. You are counting calories or counting macros - never straying from the plan - and yet nothing seems to be happening.

If it feels like your body is fighting against you when you try to lose those last few kilograms, it’s because of your body IS fighting against you. 

This used to be Lyndi. When she was a dieter, she punished herself to try and look better in a bikini. She wasted time wondering why she was gaining weight even though her food consumption was perfectly calculated. 

It made everything harder… But not anymore.

Because through learning about intuitive eating, she discovered the real secret to health.

Just take a handful of almonds!

Don’t count them. In fact, you don’t need to count anything including macros, points and calories. It’s soul sucking and makes healthy eating painful. You can only count for so long before you feel deprived. 

You don’t want to spend the rest of your life counting… you just want to be able to eat and enjoy and be happy. 

Count the things you should be grateful for. Way more effective. 

📘Have you tried a bajillion diets, only to regain the weight (and more)? It’s likely that diet culture is keeping you stuck in this vicious cycle, full of empty promises and failed attempts. If you want to build real health, check out my best-selling book Your Weight is Not the Problem. Get the deets and access to a free audio sample HERE.

Want to feel more in control around food? Check out my Stop Struggling With Food Guide, currently on sale for 40% off.
You’ll also find 50 of my favourite recipes to get you inspired!

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy


If you don't already - come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at hello@lyndicohen.com

Show Notes Transcript

Do you feel like you are doing all the "right" things but you can't seem to lose weight. You are counting calories or counting macros - never straying from the plan - and yet nothing seems to be happening.

If it feels like your body is fighting against you when you try to lose those last few kilograms, it’s because of your body IS fighting against you. 

This used to be Lyndi. When she was a dieter, she punished herself to try and look better in a bikini. She wasted time wondering why she was gaining weight even though her food consumption was perfectly calculated. 

It made everything harder… But not anymore.

Because through learning about intuitive eating, she discovered the real secret to health.

Just take a handful of almonds!

Don’t count them. In fact, you don’t need to count anything including macros, points and calories. It’s soul sucking and makes healthy eating painful. You can only count for so long before you feel deprived. 

You don’t want to spend the rest of your life counting… you just want to be able to eat and enjoy and be happy. 

Count the things you should be grateful for. Way more effective. 

📘Have you tried a bajillion diets, only to regain the weight (and more)? It’s likely that diet culture is keeping you stuck in this vicious cycle, full of empty promises and failed attempts. If you want to build real health, check out my best-selling book Your Weight is Not the Problem. Get the deets and access to a free audio sample HERE.

Want to feel more in control around food? Check out my Stop Struggling With Food Guide, currently on sale for 40% off.
You’ll also find 50 of my favourite recipes to get you inspired!

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy


If you don't already - come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at hello@lyndicohen.com

00:00:00:05 - 00:00:24:09

Lyndi

Okay. I would like to tell you, your your weight is not the problem. It really isn't. I know you've been made to think your weight is a problem your entire life, but honestly, it's just been a red herring making you focus on diets that really suck and your weight is not. The problem is the title of my new book and I would really like you to read it if you've ever been made to feel like you need to worry about your weight that you're fixating on your weight is going to help you lose weight, which is nonsense.


00:00:24:16 - 00:00:43:16

Lyndi

This is the book you need to read. We tackle body image. We help you with practical strategies to feel normal, relaxed, and freedom around food, which are all fabulous things you also deserve. Please go to my website, Lyndi Cohen dot com and check out my new book. It's available from all great retailers. Please check it out.


00:00:44:19 - 00:00:55:11

Jenna

Hello. This is the No Wellness Way Angry podcast and I'm so lucky to have Lyndi join me each week where we chat about the wellness world and all the lingerie that is in it. My name is Jenna D’Apice and Lyndi.


00:00:55:15 - 00:01:17:09

Lyndi

Hello. Hello. Hello. Here I am. I'm excited to talk to you about today's podcast episode because I have personal experience in this and I'm sure you too, which is why you're listening to this whole problem of like, why aren't we losing weight? We think we're doing all the right things. We've got a calorie deficit, we're touting our macros, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, ticking boxes, following all the advice.


00:01:17:09 - 00:01:21:19

Lyndi

And yet here we are in this frustrating situation of pain like nothing's happening.


00:01:21:19 - 00:01:33:24

Jenna

Now, things happening. And sometimes you're following a diet and everything's going so well and you're doing everything. And then like, Oh, I've hit a plateau. I'm just not doing losing any weight. Why aren't I still losing weight?


00:01:33:24 - 00:01:55:09

Lyndi

Oh, good question. Okay, good to start with. My little story here about this is something that I'm very familiar with during my dieting years. I would be so controlled and vigorous and then and then I swear I was sticking to the plan to a T, I was like I was way out. Everything was being so good, recording everything.


00:01:55:11 - 00:01:56:16

Jenna

And not straying.


00:01:56:16 - 00:02:13:01

Lyndi

A lot and not straying. I wasn't you know, I go through phases where I wasn't binge eating. I was truly sticking to it and I was being such a good girl. And that was the most devastating. When I'd hop on the scale and I'd be like nothing, or I gain weight and I was like, How did I gain weight?


00:02:13:01 - 00:02:35:22

Lyndi

I'm if anything, I'm, I'm, I'm eating less than what I'm being told. I need to eat. What is this nonsense? And there was nothing more demoralizing than that experience I found, and it brought me to tears countless times. People call this the weight loss plateau. They'll call it a whole bunch of things. Let's talk about it biologically. What is what is happening in our bodies is important to understand.


00:02:37:00 - 00:02:56:07

Lyndi

Okay. So firstly, our body doesn't really like a calorie deficit. That's the important thing to understand is it's our bodies job to keep us nourished, which means fed with enough energy and two current diet devices to tell you to calorie restrict slow burn burn more calories than you consume is traditional advice. Your body does not like this state.


00:02:56:11 - 00:02:59:09

Jenna

It's like we need more than you're giving us.


00:02:59:09 - 00:03:16:24

Lyndi

Yeah, your body's job is to keep you in homeostasis. This idea of balance, of being like, well, we like our temperature to be balanced. We like our mood to be balanced. We like our hormones to be within realm of balance, and we like our weight to stay balanced. Any big dips or changes, the body starts to think, Oh, this is a bit of a scary state.


00:03:16:24 - 00:03:28:05

Lyndi

We like things to stay the same, that it's safe to us. So when you start to go, I want to try and control what I eat and go on a calorie deficit. Your body can freak out a little bit and it's understandable.


00:03:28:07 - 00:03:29:05

Jenna

Why is that?


00:03:29:05 - 00:03:57:23

Lyndi

The metabolism is part of your matter, so there's a few changes that happen to metabolism. So for the first thing that happens is you have a basic basal metabolic rate. This is how much energy you burn simply by existing. You just lay on the couch the entire day did nothing. This is how much energy you would burn. And then what we're told is that to be like 800, 1800 calories, then we're told that we should stick to 1200 calories, which is like well below what you would just burn at rest.


00:03:57:24 - 00:04:04:04

Lyndi

Yeah. Okay. Now, the lower the less you weight, the lower your be able. Either case.


00:04:04:22 - 00:04:06:04

Jenna

BMR is that.


00:04:06:04 - 00:04:09:13

Lyndi

Basal metabolic rate so that's your basic like your baseline.


00:04:09:13 - 00:04:11:00

Jenna

What you need to do to survive.


00:04:11:00 - 00:04:24:23

Lyndi

Yep, exactly. What what I think is really interesting is the effects of dieting on this metabolism. So there was really, really interesting research from The Biggest Loser study. So of course, you're probably familiar with the TV show.


00:04:25:02 - 00:04:26:22

Jenna

They did a study on the participants.


00:04:26:22 - 00:04:56:01

Lyndi

They did. And then they looked at them. So they measured them before they started during the study. And then they looked at them afterwards and they looked at long term follow up as well, which I think is brilliant, which we don't really see in research. What they found is that basal metabolic rate, so they their rate of burning energy at rest was originally kind of whatever it was before and it dropped down as they went through the study, which is as you lose weight, it is normal, you have less mass, therefore you need less energy to maintain that mass.


00:04:56:01 - 00:05:19:15

Lyndi

Anyway, it did drop down. However, the metabolic rate dropped down far more than it should have based on how much weight they lost. So is totally disproportionate. What was very interesting, though, is once they lost all this, you know, extreme amount of weight, they then followed them after this, after the the show had long finished. And this rate, even though they gained weight again, this BMR did not return to the way it was before.


00:05:20:00 - 00:05:41:18

Lyndi

So now they were burning far less energy simply by existing because they'd been on the diet. And this is what dieting does. Does each fail to diet attempts? Our metabolic rate gets reduced and some research shows that it never really resumes to the way that it was before. And this might why it might help us explain why I am eating the same thing I did last time.


00:05:41:18 - 00:05:52:09

Lyndi

I lost weight on the side. And it's not working this time. It's because your metabolism is completely shifted, because your body gets really good at picking up when you're going to throw it into this famine kind of situation.


00:05:52:17 - 00:05:54:00

Jenna

Wow. That's really interesting.


00:05:54:00 - 00:06:13:08

Lyndi

Protective. Your body doesn't want you to starve. Can we acknowledge that? Yes. And so no amount of willpower is going to be able to fix the situation. And I think it's one one of the big challenges as well. Do you want to say to me, what's been dieting for 20, 30 years? What's happened to my metabolism now? And I'd say it's it's probably a lot worse off than when you started.


00:06:13:15 - 00:06:24:03

Lyndi

And people go what's you know, as your metabolism changes, as you get older. And that's certainly true. But each failed diet attempts is also contributing to a big impact on your metabolism that I think is completely underestimated.


00:06:24:13 - 00:06:31:20

Jenna

So this means that no matter even if you are eating in a calorie deficit and doing all of these things, nothing is going to shift.


00:06:32:07 - 00:06:50:04

Lyndi

Well, it's why it's making it a whole lot harder. Right. Okay. So you've kind of got this hormonal response. Yeah, it's hormonal metabolic response that is is is stacked up against you that's making it really hard then. Yes. And we talk about the podcast very often is how much more palatable and exciting these foods that you've eliminated are.


00:06:50:13 - 00:07:10:20

Lyndi

And so when okay, so, so the other thing that they found from The Biggest Loser study is they looked at the ghrelin levels. Ghrelin is your hunger hormone. So ghrelin levels, when ghrelin goes up, it tells your body that you're hungry. Now, what that found is participants after the study, they had much higher ghrelin levels than before. So now they were hungry out than they ever were before.


00:07:10:20 - 00:07:18:09

Lyndi

But not only that, their leptin levels leptin a satiety, a whole mean that says you know what, we've had enough food, we're good, we're satisfied. That went down.


00:07:18:15 - 00:07:23:05

Jenna

So their hunger hormones going up, their satisfaction hormones gone down, and they're.


00:07:23:05 - 00:07:23:24

Lyndi

Just this.


00:07:24:08 - 00:07:25:01

Jenna

Tribalism has.


00:07:25:01 - 00:07:39:11

Lyndi

Slowed lust. Now they have a preoccupation with all the foods that they're not allowed to have. And when they do have them, there is a disco in their brain because the rewards it sends is light up telling them what a brilliant thing this is. You can see how that.


00:07:39:11 - 00:07:47:16

Jenna

Is a melting pot. You haven't even mentioned the exercise. They do. It's just pure punishment. There is a melting pot of things in there.


00:07:47:17 - 00:08:07:11

Lyndi

Yeah. So you can start to see how you can be doing all the right things, quote unquote, and that your body has a whole bunch of protective mechanisms to help you prevent you from going out of the state of homeostasis. And we need to stop working against our body, which is what we try and do when we go on a diet, we go, I'll just try harder.


00:08:07:11 - 00:08:30:21

Lyndi

I can override my body. I can I can control this. You can't if you've ever had it been, you might have that experience of going. Do you feel out of control around food you like? I don't feel like I'm in control. The reason is because you're not. Yeah, your body is kind of like this conscious. You in this is unconscious you and once your body stops trusting that conscious you is going to feed it enough.


00:08:31:02 - 00:08:52:19

Lyndi

It's like your body takes over. We take over. We didn't trust you. You don't got this. You do not got this. I'm going to make sure that you no longer control food. I have a vested interest in keeping you safe and fed. Therefore, I'm going to kind of switch off your brain for a moment, throw you into a haze in a very tactical way, because keeping you alive is my job.


00:08:53:09 - 00:09:07:15

Lyndi

So that is that it kind of explains why when you go into a binge state, you are kind of completely out of control because you're not your body is protecting you. Can we start to see that for what it is? Is that actually this isn't a sign of your poor willpower. This is your body's way of protecting you and keeping you safe.


00:09:07:20 - 00:09:11:18

Lyndi

And instead of being angry with your body, can you say, Thanks, buddy? You've got me.


00:09:11:22 - 00:09:17:15

Jenna

You've got me. Is it also to do with the fact that your body could be really comfortable at the weight that it is?


00:09:17:17 - 00:09:30:04

Lyndi

Absolutely. So. So one of the questions that often get asked is, listen, I do the healthy things. I exercise, I try to eat healthily and then I look at my body and it still doesn't look the way I want it to.


00:09:30:13 - 00:09:41:13

Jenna

Because that's a very different thing. Your body being healthy, doing its best thing for you, letting you live a vibrant life is very different to the body that you are comparing to a Photoshop version on Instagram.


00:09:41:13 - 00:10:01:14

Lyndi

Yeah, you know, like I think fundamentally let's think about all the influential health, health people in our lives that Jane Fonda, who we know came out many years later saying, I had a really bad eating disorder. You know, someone like Audrey Hepburn, we have all these different, you know, health people now kind of coming out saying, yes, I did have an eating disorder.


00:10:01:14 - 00:10:19:01

Lyndi

So firstly, the people who we aspire to look like, many of which have come forward and said I did have an eating disorder, then there the models, the people who we know have won a genetic lottery. So we're going to go I want to subscribe to your app that's going to tell me how you stay healthy. What I really want is to look like you, but not without realizing that.


00:10:19:01 - 00:10:21:00

Lyndi

Actually, that's just mostly genetics.


00:10:21:00 - 00:10:23:17

Jenna

And the fact it's their full time job to now look like that.


00:10:23:21 - 00:10:40:16

Lyndi

Exactly. And so we look at these people, whether on the front cover of a magazine and they've been Photoshopped and we know that they've been on a very specific diet, trained intensively for 12 weeks or whatever it is to look like that. And then we go, This is what I should look like. The fitness influencers that we look up to.


00:10:40:16 - 00:11:01:05

Lyndi

I've been to many events with them where I can just see them pushing food around their plate, feeling uncomfortable to eat the food. And they're the ones who tally up in our social media feeds going, Eat this gluten free dairy, free everything. And and we go, That's health. So what I'm saying is our definition of what a healthy body looks like is quite distorted.


00:11:01:12 - 00:11:20:13

Lyndi

And this idea that we need to hit us and body fat percentages is dead wrong. This idea of BMI is wrong, and part of this is accepting that your weight might not be what you think it should be. So my question to you is, can you do the healthy things because you like yourself and then can you forgive your body when it doesn't look the way that you wish you would?


00:11:22:02 - 00:11:42:13

Lyndi

I also want to add this idea about not eating enough, because I talk about this in huge detail in my book Your weight is not the problem because I see this as a is a serious problem with diet is is the fundamentally you are not eating enough during the day. This either leads to you losing control around food or it means that your body is reaching this starvation point where your metabolism is going.


00:11:42:13 - 00:11:50:13

Lyndi

We are going to slow right down to protect you. And what we need to do is make sure you're eating enough food and is probably more than you think.


00:11:50:13 - 00:11:51:24

Jenna

It's more than you think it is.


00:11:51:24 - 00:12:10:14

Lyndi

Yes. And it includes carbohydrates. And yes, you can have an entire sandwich. No, that isn't crazy. Yes, you can eat rice with things. Yes, pasta is allowed. Cereals are included. You need to finish a meal and you need to feel satisfied. There should be a deep sense of satisfaction after having a meal. You should no longer be thinking about what else you'd like to have to eat.


00:12:10:14 - 00:12:16:02

Lyndi

You shouldn't have to use willpower to try and go. No, we. You know the meals done now.


00:12:16:14 - 00:12:17:15

Jenna

You haven't eaten enough.


00:12:17:15 - 00:12:34:11

Lyndi

When you've eaten enough, your body goes, you know, we're good, we feel safe, we feel comfortable, we trust there is more food. And this is the phrase I talk about often. Any time I want more food, I can have more food. You need to truly believe that, because if you don't believe that your body is going to stay over to stay in this seven responses starvation mode.


00:12:34:11 - 00:12:54:23

Lyndi

The survival switch has been flicked off. Yeah. And we're going to do everything we can to make sure that we do not undercut it. So if you're wondering why I'm not losing weight in a calorie deficit, realize there are many things stacked against you. One, calorie deficit is not a smart approach. It hasn't been. It is. Very few people can actually maintain a calorie deficit with willpower.


00:12:55:20 - 00:13:09:21

Lyndi

You've tried calorie deficit diets before. They haven't really worked. They're probably getting less and less effective this time. It's time to try a new approach and it's time to stop expressing your body to look a certain way. And I know that's a hard pill to swallow.


00:13:10:03 - 00:13:21:22

Jenna

It's a really hard pill to swallow. And it's not about loving your body. And because it's so hard to love your body in a world that tells you it's not right, but just accepting and forgiving that it is the way it is.


00:13:22:07 - 00:13:37:04

Lyndi

You and I were talking about this before, this idea that you're saying that you're come to terms that, you know, this is your healthy weight and how that makes you feel and that you kind of what we're talking about, this idea that even at your lowest weight, you always felt like you could lose weight.


00:13:37:05 - 00:13:57:23

Jenna

Yeah, the feeling that is something I've always noticed in every single aspect of my dieting journey, no matter what. I've weighed in like a 25 kilograms spectrum. I've never felt any different, I've never felt well. I feel a lot better now, but across that spectrum, never felt like I was the right weight or that I didn't need to lose more weight or nothing.


00:13:57:23 - 00:14:00:12

Jenna

None of those feelings of not being good enough changed.


00:14:00:21 - 00:14:23:03

Lyndi

So losing weight doesn't lead you to feel like you don't need to lose any more weight. No, that's an important thing to realize, that we live in this world that's telling us that thin as thinner is always better. And so that feeling is maybe something that we need to learn to have a different response to as opposed to listening to it instead of sacrificing our life, our headspace, instead of slowing our metabolism.


00:14:23:03 - 00:14:42:06

Lyndi

So with more failed diet attempts, what if it's time to absolutely just stop doing this calorie deficit thing that isn't working for you? That's why you're listening to this podcast. You know, it's not working and so to try a new approach, we hope you do do that. We hope you do do that. This podcast is a resource for you to help you learn more about that.


00:14:42:06 - 00:15:01:02

Lyndi

You can always listen. You can always read my book. Your weight is not the problem. It's such a nice way for you to kind of get up to speed with this idea of intuitive eating, of how to stop dieting and all that stuff, and of course, if you want to be healthy without dieting bullshit, there's my Back to Basics app, which is just a really nice way for you to, like, get those regular prompts to help you eat.


00:15:01:02 - 00:15:18:06

Lyndi

More intuitively, it helps give you a sense of What the hell should I be eating? Because it's tricky. And how do you do it without like getting bogged down in calorie deficit and macro counting nonsense? I will show you. Thank you for listening to today's episode. It's been so lovely having you on the No Wellness Wankery podcast with myself and Jenna.


00:15:18:06 - 00:15:22:06

Lyndi

Please give us a rating wherever you listen to your podcast and please tell your.


00:15:22:06 - 00:15:31:24

Jenna

Friends and we'll chat to you next time. Hey everyone.


00:15:31:24 - 00:15:50:01

Lyndi

And before we get started in the podcast episode, I just want to tell you a little bit about how I might be able to help you if you want to get a healthy relationship with food because oh my goodness, there's a whole lot of stuff that's working against us all the time. Hello, diet, culture. So if you ever wanted a little bit more personalized support, check out my program.


00:15:50:01 - 00:16:05:16

Lyndi

Keep it real. Especially if you're struggling with binge eating. If you feel like every Monday you're starting from scratch, if you feel like you know what you should be eating, but you just can't stick to it if you feel like you want to eat healthier. But honestly, it just feels like you're out of control through your face planting into the fragile pantry.


00:16:05:23 - 00:16:22:24

Lyndi

I can help you. So you binge eating and I really do. I do get it. So check out Keep It Real. Use the code podcast to get 20% off if you if you get it via the the website. And also I've also got my app called Back to basics. Back to basics is an app to help you be healthy without dieting and will help you work on your body.


00:16:22:24 - 00:16:44:17

Lyndi

Image gives you a whole bunch of hundreds of recipes that are super quick and easy to make so you can just be healthy without having to get obsessed with that at all, without it taking over your life, because that's the way it should be. Plus, you get mindset support for me inside the app. You also get a whole bunch of workouts that you can do at home, or you can still just do your normal workouts.


00:16:44:17 - 00:16:55:20

Lyndi

But check out back to basics. You can get it for free for seven days. Check out Back to Basics on my website, use the code again podcast, get 20% off and I'd love to see in there. I'd love to see in there.