Count your calories! … but not the way you might think

So this is The Year of Enough…
Last week’s “homework” was to make a list of everything you do in a day.

So you wrote everything down, right.

Or did you?

Have a little look over your list. Did you put in all the emotional stuff that you did that day? Chances are you forgot it… because “it doesn’t count” right? It doesn’t count in the real world, it doesn’t make you any money… but it DOES count because it takes your life energy just as much, if not more!

So look over your list and write down every major emotional interaction you had too, so

  • Comforting a sad child
  • Dealing with a tantrum or argument
  • Consoling a distraught friend
  • Helping your sister with her financial worries
  • Worrying about a major life change
  • Having an altercation with a man in a car park
  • Having some couple time with your partner
Positive or negative it’s all your energy which is being used.
And don’t forget “passive” activities, such as commuting, talking on the phone, even watching TV… And minding kids for a day or be in work is worth 100 basic points before you add in the specifics!
So now you have your full list of where your energy went in one day. 
Now to “count your calories”
Just like in a diet program you count your calories (energy parcels) to see how much you’re taking in. In this exercise you are counting your energy parcels that you are giving out. (Please note these are not actual calories – I am just using the term to make you aware of the energy impact of your day.)
The scoring system
Any action – emotional or physical which lasted 30 mins or less in your day = 50 calories 
Any action which took particular 
  • concentration, 
  • stress or 
  • took over 30 mins receives double points= 100 calories 
Add 250 calories for each of the following
  • have a full time job (including being a full time mother), 
  • have a baby under 1, 
  • are breastfeeding
  • are pregnant or undergoing IVF
  • are being woken more than twice a night, 
  • have an illness or disability
  • are caring for someone sick
  • are a single parent, your partner is working away or working late
Any deeply stressful, once in a lifetime event – a birth, death, imminent divorce, hospitalisation, major illness or hospitalisation = 500 calories a day

So add up your points. What did you get? This is how much energy you are using in a day… (for a worked example see mine at the bottom).

As with calories, an average, sustainable day would be between 1300-2000 points, depending on your energy levels, level of support, your enjoyment of what you’re doing, and a good self care regime etc.

Anywhere over 2500 is unsustainable on a regular basis – you need to get more support, simplify your daily routine, off load commitment.

Now obviously, this is totally unscientific. But if you do this for a few days you will get a sense of:

  • How much energy you are using over a day. 
  • Whether you are front loading it or spreading your energy use evenly over a day. 
  • What events are recurring on a daily basis which you could consolidate, or avoid all together?
  • Where is your energy going?
  • Where is it leaking being drained?
  • Where could you choose to use it differently?

In short, where does it point to you how to sustain your own energy-use levels and apply the law of Enough in your life.

I’d love to hear your responses…

Example: My day’s total was: 2250

  • 250 -have a full time job (including being a full time mother)
  • 250 -are breastfeeding
  • 250 -are being woken more than twice a night, 
  • 250- baby with a cold
  • 50 -Car journeying
  • 50 -Filled out my 75 things I want to do in 2012
  • 50 -Did a high speed local grocery shop
  • 50- Made all three kids breakfast and minded three all day
  • 50- Checked my email and wrote some
  • 50-Finished and promoted my blog post for Dreaming Aloud, and another blog
  • 50-Did JUNO correspondence
  • 50- Created a dinosaur scrap book with Timmy using Google images
  • 50-Got the kids to help me tidy their room
  • 50-Played musical statues with them
  • 50- Got us all dressed
  • 50-Fed the chickens and Fed us all lunch
  • 50-Emptied and filled the dishwasher
  • 50-Did a little house tidying
  • 50-Got three kids out of the house with shoes, coats and snacks
  • 50-Recycled 7 bags of clothes
  • 50-Took Meli to the nurse
  • 50-Got clay from the pottery – made a labyrinth and a sculpture
  • 50-Checked emails and Facebook – helped promote a friend’s event
  • 100-Made supper for all tonight and for tomorrow
  • 50- Brought in yesterdays washing and hung up in side
  • 100 -Kids bedtime
  • 50-TV and Wrote my list!
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  1. Karien

    Aha, that explains why I have been losing so much weight… Well under my pre-pregnancy weight now. Just haven’t the appetite. Let’s see what we can do with the holidays coming up!

  2. Dreamingaloudnet

    But it’s not REAL calories, right?! I keep putting on weight – boo! And with the busy, busy life I lead I should be stick thin if the calorie thing was true!!

  3. Karien

    i know, but I just don’t eat. And adding up your lists shows me I use a lot of energy but don’t eat much. Actually less then I used to while I use more energy. I a just too busy! So now we know how much energy we need, where it all goes, but what I really need to know is how to get more!
    Do we get points for going out with friends, a night with no waking babies, some precious me-time. In short, how can we re-charge?

  4. Dreamingaloudnet

    Hmm, good point – do you take off points – no because even though these things are pleasurable they still take life energy.

    n=No, I think you need a separate points balance – say a minimum of 200 points a day self care – to cover seeing friends, grooming time, exercise, private journalling time, reading, meditation – each of these gets 50 points…

    Please eat Karien, you wouldn’t let your kids not have time to eat, or stint on calories… so don’t do it to yourself – you are their weather xx

  5. earthlytreasures

    Karien, I was exactly the same, I just couldn’t be bothered and didn’t want to eat because it took too much energy to think about and prepare!! If it wasn;t for my husband I think I would have wasted away completely – certainly my diet would have been atrocious and I ordinarily LOVE food and cooking. Now we have rebalanced our lives a little and I am eating and enjoying food more because I have a little more time for self-care. I still don’t feel like I have enough, but it’s one step closer

    It’s SO important to look after yourself because once you get into the cycle of neglecting yourself you will all too easily pass over the faint line of “enough” and risk seriously affecting your mental, physical and spiritual health – been there, done that….

    Food might not seem so important, but not only will a well-nourished body be a more willing worker for you, it also serves as a marker for how well you are treating yourself generally. Neglect is nothing more than a form of self harm at the end of the day. As mothers we often feel we can’t ask for help, that we should be able to do it all ourselves, and that’s just not true. Learn to ask for help, from anyone and everyone, however small the favour, and look after yourself xx

  6. Karien

    Thanks Lucy and Earthly treasures, you are so right. It is weird, food is a large part of my live, I spend much time preparing it and feeding my kids, it is my job (I am a food scientist by training, was a product developer for years) now have two foodblogs where I post my recipes , and yet I don’t eat enough. Evening meals are fine, so is breakfast but lunch I tend to neglect and I know I need to snack more. I will try, I promise!

    Lucy, on one of the management courses I once learned about the personal ‘energy bank account’ It was about all the things that cost you energy in live, and things that give you energy. Because some things might physically cost you energy but actually energise you, make you feel better and therefore contribute in a positive way to your energy balance. For everyone it is different what kind of things these are, it could be some quiet me-time, socialising with friends, breathing in some nature, etc. I really like this theory as it works for me, some days when I am exhausted going out with friends or for a walk on the beach recharges me more than a good rest.

  7. Ellie Di
    Ellie Di11-22-2011

    I. Love. This. I’m a huge fan of anything that makes us more aware of where and how we’re spending our energy. Breaking it down like this speaks in two languages, too, so it’s got even more of an impact once you sit down to really crunch the numbers.

  8. Angel Wings and Herb Tea
    Angel Wings and Herb Tea11-22-2011

    This is so important, its so easy for me to always assume that my partner, (who admittedly is building our new home)is expending more energy than me and I tend to put his needs first. But goodness, the myriad details of my days, the consoling, the tidying, the cooking, the juggling, the squeezing in creative work, the soothing, the butting horns (pre teen stuff)the loss of my daughter, moving house twice in two months. Yes it’s all energy isn’t it? Thankyou so much for reminding me, I tend to only count tangible, visible efforts such as a task completed.
    A brief walk under an apricot infused sky at sunset, owls and bats flitting through the trees felt like quite a good calorific snack though.

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