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Stop Counting Calories for Beach Body Confidence

22/07/2015 11:01 BST | Updated 21/07/2016 10:59 BST

It's that time of year when the world goes "Beach Body Crazy".

Hard to not feel a certain pull of beach body worthiness when society is so image obsessed.

Feeling good beachside is very different from a desire to look like a Photoshoped model beachside and just to be clear, there is no such thing as a beach body...your body is your body, all year round.

Feeling good inside and out is a 365 option not just two short summer weeks.

For decades we have been told that when it comes to weight loss you need to count calories. Put less in than you use up and you lose weight. It's the perfect equation... except that it isn't! Playing the calorie counting game doesn't work in the long term and even in the short term it may do more harm that good.

Why Counting Calories Doesn't Work

Firstly,

All calories are not created equal.

For example you have budgeted about 250 calories for a daily snack. What to have? How about a chocolate bar? A Kitkat has only 230 calories. Or a boiled egg and half an avocado at 270?

The chocolate will give you a real rush, blood sugar and insulin levels will be flying for about 30 mins then you crash and burn.

The egg and avocado, while not as attractive from a calorie perspective of is full of good fats and proteins so energy is slowly absorbed, avoiding those blood sugar and insulin spikes. You literally feel fuller longer and you have the vitamin, mineral and antioxidant boost. It's also much less likely to have you chewing your arm off on the journey home from work or craving carbs for supper.

You May Be Tempted to Eat "Fake Food"

The saviour of many calorie counting diet plans are artificial sweeteners and processed foods.

But look at the ingredients list. Does it read like a chemical experiment? With lots of unpronounceable words? You are consuming chemicals, which fool your brain into thinking you're eating real food. You might consume fewer calories but you have consumed a whole lot more "stuff" that messes up your metabolism and endocrine system.

Hormones Regulate Metabolism, Not Calories.

We tend to think of metabolism as a furnace that gets switched on or off depending on what you eat and how much you exercise. But it's much more than that.

It's actually hormonal reactions in your brain, gut and even fat cells that tell the body what to do with the energy you have consumed. Burn it as energy, store it as fat or use it to build muscle.

When you eat fake or very low calorie food you aren't giving your hormones much to work with and so your metabolism gets sent into free fall.

When You Calorie Count You Stop Listening to Your Body.

Dieted recently? Days of having a calorie intake goal splitting them into manageable portions through the day.

Sit down to dinner with your calorie counted portion and towards the end of the meal you start to feel full. But still have all those calories left on the plate, shame to waste them...so full or not... most people keep eating and clear the plate.

When you eat to feeling full that means exactly that, your stomach is full. Which means that you are every so slightly stretching your stomach. So the next time you eat, you find that you need just a little bit more to gain the same feeling of fullness, then the same thing happens the day after and the day after...

You Can Become Obsessive About Food

Viewing foods only in terms of their calorific value encourages disordered thinking about food.

You can so easily become obsessed about hitting the lowest number of calories per day or working out to burn off as many calories as possible...leaving yourself under nourished and over exerted.

What you fail to see is the real nutritional value of the food.

What's the Alternative?

Eat Clean Whole Foods...cut back on the starchy foods and increase the lean proteins and lots of green. Green is Good!

Only Eat When You Are Truly Hungry... Don't eat when you're bored, stressed, upset. Learn to listen to your body.

Never Skip Meals, ...You will probably eat about 4 times a day, about every 4 or so hours, this is about how long it takes for your body to use up the energy you have given it along with some of your fat stores.

Keep Hydrated...don't confuse hunger with thirst. Stay hydrated, your skin, hair, eyes and waistline will love you for it.

Move More Every Day...there is no getting away from it. You need to move. Aim for about 30 mins of activity every day to control your blood sugar levels.

Get Your Rest....sleep helps to reset those important hormones meaning your energy levels and hunger levels are better balanced during the days.

Relax... your body is already beach ready.

When you make the decision to nourish your body and mind with real whole foods, enjoy moving your body and feeling how strong it is, then you will find real confidence all year round.