An Adventure with Calorie Restriction (Part 1)

Because of the culture I live in, I’m going to start by saying…

I am opposed to body-shaming, sizeism, and moral healthism. Those issues concern the way people treat other people based on their bodies and lifestyle choices. When it comes to how individuals relate to THEIR OWN bodies (as opposed to how they treat other people based on other people’s bodies), I try to be neutral. Whether people decide for themselves to try to lose weight, gain weight, embrace fat positivity, embrace healthism other than moral healthism, or not give a damn about any of this, I try to avoid making judgements. In this blog post series, I discuss some of my decisions and experiences. I am NOT advocating that anyone reading this relate to their own body weight in any particular way.

As you may know, I went on a nine-day hike in September 2019 (I wrote a little about it in this blog post). About a week after the hike, I weighed myself on a whim. I hadn’t weighed myself in years. At first, I simply did not believe the number. Then it sank in that, yeah, that number might be real, and when I weighed myself later on a different scale, I got a similar result. I was especially surprised because I had just finished a nine-day hike with limited food supply, I must have had calorie deficits on that hike, so did that mean that before the hike my weight was even higher?

First, I was surprised that I weighed so much more than I thought I did. Then I felt bad about it. Then I felt bad about feeling bad about it. If I was feeling bad about weighing more than I expected, did that mean I had internalized fatphobia, and that I was really prejudiced against fat people in spite of my ideals?

But before I continue, I’ll give you my backstory…


For much (most?) of my life, I’ve been accustomed to eating a lot more than 2000 calories per day. I wasn’t counting calories, but I didn’t need a calorie counter to know that it was well about 2000. People who watch me eat tend to be impressed by the portion sizes I choose. If they chose to comment on it, it was often followed up by a comment like ‘yet you are so thin.’ Now, I tend to find this last comment a little odd, because I don’t think of myself as being a ‘thin’ person. If anything, I see myself as being a ‘middleweight’ person who is neither thin nor fat. I suspect that there is some attempt to save face is involved, that words like ‘thin’ are used to walk back comments about my portion sizes so that I wouldn’t be offended. My typical response is to politely disregard these comments.

I suppose I must have been fat-shamed at some point in my life, but off the top of my head, I can’t recall any specific incident. Given the way people, especially young women, tend to be treated in every place where I have lived, this means I am very lucky. It’s the kind of luck I wish I could share with everyone, but all I can do is refrain from fat-shaming people myself (if there is anything I am going to tell you, the reader, to do in this blog post series, it’s to tell you to not body-shame people). I know that enduring a lot of fat-shaming can really mess with one’s thoughts and feelings, and because I am one of the lucky ones who has been spared, I don’t entirely understand the effects, I just understand that it is bad, and that the world would be a better place if people didn’t fat-shame other people.

For years, I wondered what it would be like to actually only eat 2000 calories or less per day.

In a very old blog post, I discussed my experience with unintentionally losing weight in Taiwan, how it scared me. I speculated in that post that I would regain weight when I moved back to the United States. That is exactly what happened, but it did not scare me because it was what I expected. Also, my uncle lost a significant amount of weight after spending just six weeks in Taiwan, even though he wasn’t trying to lose weight either. And generally, people in Taiwan tend to weigh less than people in the United States. I strongly suspect that this is due to environmental factors, not genetics or conscious choices, though I don’t know what those environmental factors would be.

When I started hiking in Taiwan, I noticed that hiking for many hours in a day (more than six) suppresses my appetite. I found this surprising at first – surely hiking would make me hungrier, not less hungry?

As I said in this blog post:

while I was hiking the PCT in Washington, I ate to live, I did not live to eat. A lot of hikers obsess about food on the trail. Me? I was obsessed with water, and to a lesser extent finding good campsites. Food was an afterthought. Eating was a chore I did because I knew if I did not eat, I would not have enough energy. Also, eating snacks was a good excuse to take a break, and would also lighten my pack, which were more compelling reasons to eat food than my own appetite.

When I’m on a multi-day hike and approaching a resupply place, I sometimes fantasize about getting cold drinks, and maybe even fresh fruit, but not about food other than fruit. If I could give myself adequate nutrition during my hike just by snapping my fingers, I’d do that and skip all of the tedious eating (and the weight of the food).

However, after I’ve ended a multi-day hiking trip, my appetite returns with a vengeance, especially if I haven’t eaten much during the hike. For example, when I hiked between Walker Pass and Tehachapi Pass in October 2018, I deliberately undersupplied myself with food so that I would be able to carry more water. Since I was planning to end my hike at Tehachapi Pass, I thought that undernourishing myself for four days would be okay. I never felt much hunger during that hike, even though I was going at about 20 miles (32 km) / day and eating no more than 2000 calories per day. However, as I was on the bus departing Tehachapi Pass I felt my stomach wake up, and when I arrived in Bakersfield, I went straight to a grocery store, loaded up on food that was ready to eat or almost-ready-to-eat, returned to the train station, boarded the train, and then spent much of the train ride eating food. It’s actually one of my fondest memories of the whole trip, just sitting on the train, watching the fields/orchards go by as I just ate, ate, ate.


Now, back to the time I weighed myself in early October 2019.

I eventually came to the conclusion that it is okay to feel bad because my real weight does not match the weight I imagine myself to be. It ties back to the same feelings I had when I unexpectedly lost weight in Taiwan – I just don’t like the idea that my body may be slipping out of control. To be honest, if my weight had been much lower than I expected, I would have been scared. Being higher than I expected is less scary. Maybe if I had been weighing myself more frequently, I would have noticed a gradual increase in my weight, and maybe it wouldn’t have bothered me. But because I hadn’t weighed myself in years, it emotionally felt like a sudden weight change.

Okay, so I was surprised by how much I actually weighed. Was I going to do anything about it?

To be continued…

4 thoughts on “An Adventure with Calorie Restriction (Part 1)

  1. I’m interested in your adventure in calorie restriction because I had my own adventure last summer, starting similarly to yours: never had a weight problem, suddenly discovered I was heavier than I thought, and wondered if I could control and reverse the weight gain. It’s a fascinating topic. Diets are crazy…

  2. Pingback: An Adventure with Calorie Restriction (Part 2) | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

  3. Pingback: I Recently Lost Weight by Eating Less. How Does That Compare to What The End of Overeating Say? | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

  4. Pingback: This Expert Agrees with Me: Smartphones Aren’t Ruining Social Lives. We Are. (Be Nice to Yourself Anyway.) | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

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