I have read article after article, spoken with Doctor after Doctor, personal trainers, nutritionist, and even people who have successfully lost (a lot) of weight asking them about counting calories, and how to successfully lose weight doing it. I can tell you that every single one of these people have given me a different answer on the amount of calories they think I should be eating – and quite a few different opinions on how to do it. They all touched on each of the following subjects, and after collecting data (and learning for myself) I’ve learned a few things I wanted to share on calorie counting and losing weight.
Ideal Body Weight. First any article or book you may read, or even person you may talk to will tell you to determine what your ideal body weight is. Every time I read the number they suggest for me I literally laugh out loud because I haven’t been 130 pounds since I was in 6th grade. I do not have a stick figure. I have thick legs and thighs and even at my skinniest when I was starving myself and working out twice a day – I never got to my ‘ideal body weight’. So please, throw this number out the window. There are different body types, and I have seen ‘skinny’ girls be more unhealthy than ‘bigger girls’. So please don’t think this number is something you have to meet (and this goes for the skinny people too! If your Doctor or friends tell you, you need to ‘gain weight’ but you feel good about yourself and you are healthy – tell them to get lost!)
When I share my weight with my friends or family, honestly they are shocked. I do not look what I weigh (thank you baby Jesus). I wear smaller sizes than other people who ‘weigh’ the same as me, and I look smaller than some people who weigh up to 50 or 60 lbs less than me (seems impossible hu?) So instead of going by someone elses standard of an ‘ideal body weight’ – I came up with my own ideal body weight. I remembered back to when I felt the best, was the fittest, and was happy (overall) with my size. It was in high school when I was playing sports and still enjoying food (not starving myself!) So that is my ideal weight. Now 20 some years later will I be able to get there? Maybe – maybe not. I may lose 50 lbs and decide that is right for me. If I am active, (and I don’t get winded running up the stairs) and I feel good about myself – so be it. I am not buying into this ‘ideal weight’ thing, and either should you.
How many calories to Eat. I have been told to eat as low as 1,200 calories, and as many as 2,500 (and everything in between). Here’s what I’ve learned – you need to get to know your body. You need to see what works for you and your metabolism. For the most part no one should be eating 1200 calories unless you are super skinny. Your body can go into ‘survival mode’ and refuse to burn fat. I suggest using this calorie calculator and start off with the amount they suggest and go from there. You may need to adjust up or down depending on how your body is responding (I would give it at least 3 or 4 weeks). I may be able to eat 1,600 calories where someone else with my same weight needs to eat 1,300 or even 2,000. No ‘body’ is the same – learn what works for you. Listen to your body and watch how it reacts to what you are doing; you’ll be more successful this way.
Eat only this or that. Dear God please help us all!! There are more diets out there than people, and I can honestly say I’ve tried a good chunk of them. With ‘fad’ diets you have to realize again – what works for someone else, might not work for you. I have low carb diet friends, keto diet friends, low calorie diet friends, no gluten diet friends, vegetarian diet friends. It may work wonders for them, but you may end up gaining. Like I said about the calories, listen to your body! With me, I can’t just eat all of this, or all of that. I need balance in my life. I want to enjoy an occasional roll or pasta dish – and I want to enjoy some sweet treats once in awhile too. I love chicken and steak, and I can’t just give all of it up! I have noticed that people that go to the extreme on their diets – cutting out a food altogether – (especially when first starting out) that they tend to binge eat, or even just fall off the wagon altogether which can actually lead to weight gain. Now if you are more of a carnivore and you are fine with just eating meats and veggies -and your body reacts right to it – more power to you. But it’s not necessarily for everyone. Learn what works for you!
Cheat Days. Again I have heard all kinds of opinions (and even some facts) on cheat days. I’ve heard of people taking an entire day – usually on the weekend – and enjoying all the foods they’ve been craving all week. I’ve also heard that you should really never have a cheat day, or even a cheat meal, except on a rare occasion. Again I think it depends on you and your body. But here’s my opinion: enjoy one ‘cheat’ meal a week. Savor it, enjoy it, and then go back to your regularly scheduled program. Personally I have tried an entire ‘cheat day’ usually on Sundays, and I feel like H E double hockey sticks the next day. I craved sugar and carbs, I couldn’t seem to get full, and I was tired and sluggish. It can also throw off all the hard work that you’ve done the week before. I definitely do not recommend an entire day of cheat food. Sometimes even a cheat meal can throw ya’ off a bit. Honestly – if you are really craving something, eat it – but in moderation. One cookie instead of a half a dozen – a small bowl of fettuccine Alfredo and a half a bread stick instead of an entire plate full. Eating in moderation can help curb your cravings, yet still keep you on track for your weight loss goals.
Obviously the moral of this story is – listen to your body. Track your food, your exercise, even your feelings and refer back. You will learn your body (and emotional) patterns, and you will learn to adapt so you can be successful in your weight loss journey.
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