Proof that eating less isn't always the answer.

January 02, 2019

Photo: Instagram / @lucymainsfit

This story originally appeared on Shape.com by Faith Brar.

Calories get all the attention in weight-loss culture. We're programmed to check the nutrition label of every food to scope out the calorie content. But the truth is, counting calories might not be the key to weight loss after all-and fitness influencer Lucy Mains is here to prove just that.

Related: How One Woman Lost Over 90 Pounds with Hard Work, Strength Training and Good Food

In two side-by-side photos of herself on Instagram, Mains shared how she became the healthiest and strongest she's ever been-by eating no less than 3,000 calories a day. "Going from the photo on the left, barely eating anything a day and not being in the greatest place mentally [to] the photo on the right, currently, at the best place mentally and eating 3,000 calories a day," she wrote alongside the images.

"I must say, this makes me beyond proud of myself. I've worked hard to get to where I am now and I'm still working hard to get where I want to be," she continued.

Mains admits she didn't always have a healthy relationship with food. In fact, there was a time when she said <a href="

">she was barely eating 1,000 calories a day in an effort to look "thin" and "skinny." She also focused on just doing cardio and some bodyweight training. Now, however, she's developed a much healthier relationship with food and <a href="

">lifts five or six times a week because that's what she enjoys doing most. (P.S. Not that we need to tell you this, but lifting weights does not make you less feminine.)

"[I've been] taking each day as it comes, enjoying the process and constantly educating myself no matter how many bad days I may have along the way," she wrote. "My relationship with food has gotten so much better over the years and I'm so glad! We must realize... food is our friend and it is our fuel. Can't go a car without fuel right? Think of us being the car and the fuel being our food!"

Mains analogy is spot on. It's important to remember that just because a food is higher in calories doesn't necessarily mean it's unhealthy. (Just take healthy fats as an example.) "While calories definitely matter, they aren't the only essential element for choosing foods," Natalie Rizzo, R.D., previously told us in The #1 Reason You Need to Stop Counting Calories.

"Replacing high-calorie junk foods with more nutrient-dense whole foods may help you lose weight," Rizzo continued. "But whether you're losing weight or not, nutrient-dense whole foods are sure to help you get and stay healthier. Remember that in some instances, such as if you're running a marathon or carrying a child, calories absolutely matter. But even in these circumstances, the nutrients inside your food are just as significant as the calories."

Mains ended her post by reminding people how important it is to set goals and stick to them, regardless of how long that may take. "Wherever you are currently at on your fitness journey, whether it's one month or one year in, you will get where you want to be," she wrote. "Just be consistent and stick to it. We find ourselves giving up too easily when things get hard or we are not getting what we want straight away. You WILL get there. Good things take time and please always believe in yourself." (Speaking of goals, have you signed up for our 40-Day Crush-Your-Goals Challenge led by the amazing Jen Widerstrom? The six-week program will give you all the tools you need to crush every goal on your New Year's list-regardless of what it may be.)

This article originally appeared on Shape.com

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