Archives for July 2010

Towards relaxed eating – part 1

I promised to explain why I do not or count calories or weigh myself, even though that should be an “obvious thing” to do.

Seven years ago I lost 28 pounds with Weight Watchers and reached my goal of size 6 (36). I succeeded in maintaining most of my weight loss for a few years, but when I got a demanding new job in 2006, I started putting on pounds again.

A year and a half ago I was tired of being overweight and unhappy with my shape, so I had another go at weight loss. I read a book written by a Finnish nutritional researcher (“Relaxed weight loss”) Patrik Borg. According to Borg, it should be possible to lose weight without counting calories, “simply” by following a healthy diet and paying attention to your body’s signals of hunger. Borg’s ideas appealed to me, so I decided to give them a try.

I started tracking my eating with a web-based program Borg helped design. The program helps users track quality of diet with a kind of traffic light system. There are four balls who each measure some aspect of your diet. One ball represents the amount of fruits and veggies, the second ball the amount and quality of fats and proteins in your diet, the third one the amount of “junk” and the fourth the amount of fibers. (The service also displays your daily calorie consumption, and the distribution of fats, carbs and proteins.)  The goal is of course to get all the balls green most of the time.

quality of nutrition traffic lights

I was definitely in for a surprise when I started to track my diet. I thought my diet was pretty clean (according to weight watchers standards I probably was), but I actually got too little calories, way too little fat (min 25%), and too little proteins (min 15%). I probably got too little fibers too, if I remember correctly.

Even more interesting is what happened when I made changes to my diet. After few weeks with the new diet, I suddenly noticed that I had had no urges to buy my daily dose of sweets, and I never felt any hunger pangs or cravings (quite different from the Weight Watchers diet). I could literally feel fat melt away and my clothes were getting looser, but numbers on the scale did not budge.


There was a snake in the paradise though. I had to make big changes to my eating habits to achieve the four green balls. I was practically thinking about my diet all the time. The second downside was that I was getting a bit obsessed with the balls, I felt guilty if my balls weren’t green all the time (and I was not the only one). Not good.

I was thrilled that my fat was melting away, but I did not and do not want eating to dominate my life. I want permanent weight loss AND a normal relationship to food and eating!

little girl eats water melon with gusto

This little girl has it right!

To make a long story short: I did not reach my goal weight then and today I’m still overweight.  I actually put on more weight, because I sprained my ankle and couldn’t exercise for a long time.  Later on, I got pretty badly depressed and started having problems with my left knee. No exercise, lots of sweets and pouting at home!


At the moment I’m a bit uncertain about what to do. I know that if I started tracking my diet again, I would lose fat much faster and might even reach my goal for the 101 Days of Summer Fitness Challenge. Also, the learning curve would not be that steep this time, because I have kept many of the changes I made to my eating habits 18 months ago. But I’m still afraid I start obsessing about the green balls.

If I start tracking again, this time my challenge will be to learn to keep my perfectionism in check!