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FAQs: Weight Loss

Posted Feb 06 2012 12:17pm

How many calories do you eat per day? And how many calories did you eat when you were losing weight?

Currently and while losing weight, I eat 1800-2200 calories a day.

How is it that you eat the same amount of calories now as when you were trying to lose weight?

A lot of people are usually surprised when they hear this. It might sound like a lot of calories, compared to some of the 1,200-calorie plans you hear about, but making changes to my diet wasn’t a short-term plan just to shed pounds. The healthy habits that I developed were permanent lifestyle changes, so I knew that drastically reducing my daily calorie count would leave me hungry—and miserable.

I love to eat, but I wanted to lose weight, too, which meant I needed to figure out how many calories would satisfy me, but at the same time help me consistently lose weight week after week. I had no idea how many calories I should consume. I knew I needed to reduce my calorie intake, but I didn’t know by how much or where to start. I also wanted to find a realistic daily caloric goal that I could live with every day. I used an online calculator , which recommended how many calories to aim for each day.

Once I had an idea how much I should eat each day, I began to measure my portions and record what I ate using a free online weight-loss tool. After tracking my calories for a few days, I was shocked to discover that I consumed close to 3,000 calories each day! No wonder I gained weight! Clearly, my body didn’t need so many calories. I guess I wasn’t totally surprised—I mean, I was drinking beer and eating nachos multiple times per week—but the numbers laid it all out there in black and white. There were no questions about it. I needed to consume fewer calories and exercise more if I wanted to lose weight.

When I reduced my daily amount to 1,800 to 2,200 calories and started to exercise more frequently, the weight came off—slowly, but surely. It took me a solid year to lose a little more than 20 pounds, but I’ve maintained my weight for nearly seven years now. I no longer track my calories on a daily basis, but I continue to consume around the same amount each day. (I tracked calories religiously for a few years, so I have a pretty good idea what this range looks like!) Of course, there are the occasional days that fall outside my 1,800 to 2,200 range, but losing weight and maintaining it is all about consistency.

How long did it take you to get to your maintenance stage?

As for my weight loss journey , it took me a good year to lose the weight (23 pounds) before my body settled around 130. I’ve maintained my weight for about 7 years now, but it was definitely a journey to get here. Lots of hard work! I write about maintaining my “ feel great weight ” and what works for me each week at Health.com .

I know you love sweets and dessert, so when you first started losing weight, did you let yourself have these treats?

Yes, absolutely! As you know, I LOVE sweet… and wine… and nachos, and I knew when I was trying to lose weight that giving up these delicious foods would make me miserable. I still treat myself to goodies (everyday, in fact), but in small portions (200 calories or so). This small indulgence makes a big difference in how I view food. Nothing is “off limits” to me.

How did you stay motivated during your weight loss? I see that it took you about a year to lose all of your weight.

Losing weight was tough and staying motivated was ever tougher! What kept me motivated through it all was knowing that I was making lifestyle changes. Even though I was changing my eating and exercise habits for the better, I still slipped-up and overate every now and then. However, I always made sure to get myself back on track the very next meal/day. Losing weight is all about about consistency, so if you slip up, try to re-focus and not worry about it. Eat well at the next meal and fit in a sweaty workout. Sometimes you just have to “fake it until you make it!”

After reading about your weight loss journey, I was wondering, how do I find out how many calories I should be aiming for in a day if I’m trying to lose weight?

I used an online calculator to figure out how many calories I needed to lose about 0.5 pounds a week. Check out this calculator from A Healthy Me: http://www.ahealthyme.com/topic/calneed . It will give you the approximate number of calories to lose, maintain, or gain weight based on your height, current weight, age, and activity level.

What are your favorite weight loss books?

Check out this post that I wrote for Health.com: 3 Helpful Weight Loss Books !

I recently started working full-time after graduating from college and I have a really hard time sticking to my regular healthy diet. Do you have any suggestions that would help me to get back on track?

Yep! Check out this post I wrote about how I lost weight while working a 9-5 job.

I’ve been struggling with nighttime snacking lately. I eat well all day long, but as soon as dinner is done with, I find myself in the kitchen every 20 minutes wanting a snack. I know I’m not losing weight because of this. Do you have any advice how I can stop myself from doing this?

I do! Here’s a post that I wrote about how I deal with nighttime snacking .

At what point in your weight loss journey did you stop using a calorie counter or food diary?

I religiously tracked my calories on Fitday.com for about a year or so until I got to my happy weight. After that, I still checked in every once in awhile with Fitday.com (probably once or twice a month). I’d track a day or two of calories, but then stop. I did this less and less over the course of about six months, and, eventually, I just stopped counting calories all together. Now, I know what works for me, and I don’t count calories at all. I pretty much use my clothing as a way to tell if I am gaining weight. I don’t own a scale, so I’ll weigh myself at the gym if my jeans start to get tight, and then clean up my diet if needed!

I am currently a senior in college and have been struggling with my weight now for a few years. I seem to struggle most with drinking and late night eating after a night out. I was wondering if you had any advice of ways to approach my predicament?

Yes! In fact, my drinking and post-party snacking is one of the main reasons that I gained 20 pounds after college .

As for drinking, you know I’m not one to pass up a drink, but I also think it’s possible to enjoy an adult beverage or two (or three) without overdoing it. Here are a few things that I keep in mind when I’m drinking: How to Have a Healthy Happy Hour .

As for late-night post-drinking eating, my best advice is just not to start. Once I have a taste of French fries, potato chips, you name it— I just can’t stop myself and end up snacking for the rest of the night. So for me, it’s just easier not to start. Additionally, putting myself to bed usually helps too. Typically after a few drinks, I’m more than ready to go to sleep, so it’s an easy way to avoid late-night eating.

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