I don't have much to talk about today, so I'll answer a frequently asked question :)
Something that a lot of people ask me is how many calories I ate
while I was losing weight. I don't like answering this concretely, because what worked for me may be (and probably will be) different from other people. So please keep that in mind!
I decreased the calories a little as I lost,
but it ROUGHLY breaks down to this: when I first started, I was eating
probably about 1800 calories per day. Then I cut back a little at a
time, and when I reached a "normal" BMI, I was probably eating 1400-1600
On days that I ran, I would usually eat more--if I ran 6
miles, for example, I would eat about half of the calories I burned on
top of my daily calories. So burning 600 calories would allow me to eat
300 + my daily calorie intake.
Now, Sparkpeople suggested that I eat 1200-1550 calories per day,
and I tried that. But I was STARVING, and bitchy, and it led to binges.
So I experimented for a while with different amounts until I found an
amount that allowed me to be satisfied and not feel like I was totally
deprived, but still allowed me to lose weight. You just have to
experiment to see what is right for you. I was NOT WILLING to live on 1200 calories per day forever, so I didn't do it then. That's not much food, and doesn't allow for any indulgences; nobody wants to live that way!
A mistake that I think a lot of people make is to try eating 1200
calories a day, realize that it totally SUCKS, and then they quit.
Instead of quitting, try eating 1600 calories a day and see if you lose
weight; or 1800, or 1500...etc. I learned that the all-or-nothing mentality is what made me fail
so many times in the past. I had to follow the plan 100% or not at
all--and I would always fail. Once I started to make my own "rules", I
learned what I could live with and be HAPPY with.
I feel the same way about Weight Watchers Points. A lot of
people think that they shouldn't eat their weekly points or their
activity points, in hopes of losing weight faster. But usually what
happens is they feel so deprived that they quit instead of just using
their extra points. I would suggest using ALL the points you're allowed
and see how it works; at least then you won't feel like you're starving. Even if WW's recommends that you eat 29 points per day, there is nothing wrong with trying 35 points a day at first and see if you lose weight.
If there is ONE thing that I learned while losing weight this time around it was that there isn't a single plan out there that works for everybody. You have to pick and choose from your plan what you are WILLING TO do. There is no way that I am willing to commit to working out six days a week for the rest of my life--so I chose a number that worked for me. I committed to three days per week (occasionally I do more, when I'm training for a race, but I've only committed to three). Three is do-able for me. Six is not. You don't have to answer to anybody but yourself.
As far as calories go, and what I ate to lose weight... I didn't eat ANYTHING that I didn't want to. There are so many different foods out there to choose from, that there is no reason that you should force yourself to eat celery sticks and broiled fish (unless you really enjoy those foods, of course!) For example, I don't like salad; but I do like roasted cauliflower. So I ate what I enjoyed (the cauliflower) and skipped the salad. I was still getting healthy, wholesome food.
Something else that I did as part of my daily routine (and still do) is to eat a dessert every single day. Not just fruit, or sugar-free Jello or something like that. I picked an indulgent dessert for about 300 calories, and I set aside those calories at the beginning of the day to make room for them. I ate fairly healthy all day long, trying to get a good variety of foods--and only things I enjoyed--and then at night, I would indulge in my dessert that I planned out.
That gave me something to look forward to all day for staying on track. It made it so much easier to say 'no' to tempting foods during the day when I knew I was going to have an awesome dessert that night. You don't have to eat ONLY health foods to lose weight. You can work some junk food into your diet... chances are, you're eating a lot of junk food now, so planning on one dessert would actually be cutting back. It was cutting back for ME, anyway! ;)
Finally, in order to be successful while counting calories, you have to be honest with yourself. I highly recommend that you MEASURE or WEIGH your portions! I can't stress this enough. It's so easy to guesstimate the amount of oatmeal or cereal or something you're going to eat; but when you take the time to weigh it out, you are getting the exact amount that you are counting the calories for. As much of a pain in the ass as it sounds, I actually weighed out on a food scale every single thing that I ate.
Some people, however, aren't willing to weigh/measure food--and that's fine! Remember, I said you should only make changes that you're WILLING TO make. Just try to make your best guess and be honest with yourself. You might lose weight a little slower than if you weighed/measured your food, but you'll still be making a conscious effort to eat less calories, and the weight will come off.
Losing weight is a LOT of work. If you're expecting it to be easy, you're going to have a much harder time. It takes a lot of time and dedication to weigh your portions, plan your meals, and keep track of your calories. Most people are so disappointed to hear that THIS is how I lost the weight--by putting in a lot of work! But if you're willing to do the work, then you'll definitely see the results!
For the past year, I've been experimenting with "intuitive eating" or "mindful eating" or "normal eating" in order to not have to count calories forever. It's been extremely difficult, but I'm learning a lot about myself and why I eat. I still believe that counting calories is the best way to lose weight at first--for at least 6 months to a year--to get used to smaller portions, having accountability, having structure, getting into a routine, etc. Ultimately, I would love to be able to eat intuitively and maintain my goal weight though!
I hope this is helpful for anyone who is thinking about counting calories. The most important things to remember are: 1) Only eat foods you truly like; 2) You don't have to follow someone else's guidelines--make up your own plan that works for you; and 3) You'll probably have to do some experimenting to see what works--but don't quit!