At some point in every single person's life, they are going to stare into a mirror and dislike what they see. For some it may be their hair, others their nose, but for many it is the bolster that their head head rests on- their body. Some learn to make positive life changes- a change in eating habits or an increase in exercise, while others fall into the trap of excessive dieting and the obsession of calorie counting...I am one of those people. 


• Roughly 25 million men and 43 million women are dieting to lose weight. Another 21 million men and 26 million women are dieting to maintain their weight. In total, these stats show us that nearly 116 million adults are dieting at any given time- this represents about 55% of the total adult population.

• By the ages of 11 and 13, 50% of girls see themselves as overweight. According to Time magazine, 80% of all children have been on some type of diet by the time they've reached 4th grade. By the time a girl reaches adolescence, 35-57% of them have engaged in crash dieting, fasting/restricted eating (Anorexia nervosa), self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives (these three symptoms are common for people suffering from Bulimia nervosa). 

• 86% of people with eating disorders report onset of an eating disorder by the age of 20, yet only 1 in 10 people with an eating disorder will receive treatment. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness: without treatment, up to 20% of people with serious eating disorders die. With treatment, the mortality rate falls to 2-3%. 

Where Calorie Counting Comes in: 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Counting Calories as "to keep track of the number of calories in the food one eats so that one won't eat too much".

Sounds pretty harmless, right? Well, to be honest, it's not and I can say that because I come with experience. What a naive 13 year old thought would be smart, has turned into this 19 year olds unhealthy obsession. 

With the exception of finally being a ~teenager~, being 13 kinda sucks- middle school and the big bad world of puberty (duunnn duuunnn duuuunnnn...just think Jaws theme song). As the inevitable puberty began, I anxiously awaited to wake up one morning and look in the mirror and see a "grown-up" girls body. I waited and waited and waited, but nothing was really happening (I did get my first zit though), so I decided to take matters into my own hands: calorie counting.

I purchased The CalorieKing Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter and began writing down every single thing that entered my body- every liquid and solid. The longer I counted, the more it consumed my mind and the more I obsessed over my body: I began measuring my foods, weighing myself everyday, working out 2-3 times a day and cutting out meals. I didn't see the harm in my habits and I thought I was doing a pretty good job in hiding it, but then my parents sat me down and told me what they saw through their eyes.

tea, coffee
Isabel Miltenberg

The Not-So Pretty Truth:

We need to consume a certain number of calories daily to be able to carry out basic daily functions such as thinking, moving, proper organ function...basically, a person needs to consume a certain amount of calories to simply survive. For women, the general minimum is 1,200 calories per day, but this number depends on the age, size, and activity of said female. Cutting below this bare minimum can not only cause serious risk to ones physical health, but also to ones mental health. Without the proper amounts of vitamins and nutrients, you will find that your hair will grow slower, your fingernails may become brittle and your skin will become dry.

As for toll excessive calorie counting takes on your mental health: impaired judgment, irrational behavior(s), obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks, depression, body dysmorphic disorder (a disorder in which the individual sees something in the mirror that does not exist – EX: someone perceiving to be overweight and in need of further dieting), anorexia, etc. 


It's been 4 years since I counted my first calorie...and yup, I still count. Although, I have learned to control some of my habits, I still struggle daily to eat things when I don't know how many calories they have. As I lay in bed before I fall asleep at night, I still go through the foods that I ate during the day and think about what I probably shouldn't have eaten or if I drank enough water or silently yell at myself for skipping out on spin class.

Real talk: I'm not perfect and I'm almost positive no one is (with the exception of Beyoncé, ofc). As much as it sucks to hear, our bodies are our bodies for a reason...some things are just not meant to be/meant to change (this statement is applicable to many different things- you're welcome). How many of you guys have had a family member or friend tell you "you're beautiful just the way you are."? No doubt whatsoever, you all have. Like most of you, I agree, that line is overused, cliché, and at times, hard to believe...but to be honest (and a little bit corny),  it's probably time to start acknowledging the accuratecy in that statement. If you want to make a lifestyle change, start off small: pick up an apple instead of the 3rd cookie, go for a walk around your block (the next episode of Shameless can wait 30 minutes), look in the mirror and say one thing you like about yourself...just start off small! And remember, make the change for yourself, not for anyone else.

P.S. Someone once said "You only live once, eat the second piece of cake"...just do it, you can burn the calories off once you're in heaven or hell or wherever you think you're going.