• FAQs: Weight Loss

    February 6, 2012

    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.

    I’ve been in a real funk lately. I haven’t wanted to workout or eat healthy, so I haven’t lost any weight recently. Do you have any motivational posts you can share?

    Yep, I do! Check out these posts for some motivation:

    http://carrotsncake.com/2012/05/morning-motivation.html

    http://carrotsncake.com/2012/06/back-on-track.html

    http://carrotsncake.com/2012/03/break-crack-questions.html (<— lots of linked posts in this one)

    Hope they help!

    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.

    Pin It

    { 20 comments… read them below or add one }

    HRCK the Herald February 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    I feel like posts like these are sometimes shunned in the healthy living blog world (really– so many bloggers seem to be opposed to talking about calories and hard weight numbers), but I LOVE hearing this information, so thank you for posting about it!

    Reply

    Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) February 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Great post Tina! The thing is, weight loss and healthy eating is not a one size fits all scenario. Everyone has to find what works for them and it’s not an all or nothing situation. I want people to know that it doesn’t have to be led with deprivation! You don’t have to give up on all you love, you just have to more more to still have all of those things. Weight loss take time and you have to be prepared to make some sacrifices, but there are rewards too. I believe that once you get to your happy place with health, you can then enjoy this new lifestyle.

    Reply

    Liz @ Tip Top Shape February 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Great post! It’s smart to think of changes to diet/life as a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. It helps keep things in balance.

    Reply

    Stephanie @ Mr and Meatless February 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    I agree that it helps to remember you’re making lifestyle changes, that you’re not “dieting.” It sounds so awful when you call it dieting! At the moment, I’m trying to switch to a more plant-based diet. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 11, but I believe dairy is very unkind to my body, so I’m trying to cut most of it out, and it’s hard! It’s especially hard when you love cheese and your husband loves dairy of all kinds! But I managed to live with him eating meat and me not for the past three years, so I supposed I can do it with dairy too, right?

    Reply

    Lindsay @ Salt, Sun & Sanity February 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I’m totally with you- after a couple glasses of wine, once I’ve had a “taste” of something snacky, I just can’t stop! I love how you try to pair wine with just a bit of chocolate or cheese- something with enough flavor to satify you with nibbles. Drinking definitely reduces night-time snacking will power though!

    Reply

    Sara GAlvin February 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Thankyou!!!

    Reply

    George Super BootCamps February 6, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    The two points that really resonated with me here were about counting calories and taking the long term view.

    It can be totally revelatory to actually monitor your food intake, I found that it took me at least a month of doing it before I had any solid idea about my intakes, and now if I don’t check in with it a few times a month, I lose my calibration and go off target. And that’s how I use it, as more of a calibration tool than a ‘live by’ measure of diet effectiveness. I noted that you use a mix of the weight scales and your trouser fitting to gauge when to refocus on your diet, and this seems to be a good strategy for those who have lost weight and kept it off….

    I liked your approach to making long term changes when you spent your year losing weight; to allow yourself treats, but stay within your guidelines, and to see it all as being part of making ‘lifestyle’ changes was a great strategy. This is in stark contrast to many people who get totally motivated one day and lose it the next, as they don’t build a sense of perspective into their weight loss plans. We all need to be able to focus on the long term approach when making changes that we want to be permanent, and some people find they do it naturally, but some need to be shown (blatant plug for my diet and motivation book here!), but either way, we all need to give it that focus.

    Keep up the good work,
    George Super Boot Camps

    Reply

    Erin February 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Great post. For some reason the link to the post about a 9-5 job isn’t working

    Reply

    Tina February 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    @Erin: Which link?

    Reply

    Erin February 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    @Tina:

    Where it says “Yep! Check out this post I wrote about how I lost weight while working a 9-5 job.” Is there a link to the post? I just graduated and started working so I’d love to read the post.

    But maybe there’s something wrong on my end or I’m blind and missing the link :)

    These FAQs are great by the way!

    Reply

    Tina February 8, 2012 at 7:18 am

    @Erin: Here you go! http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20568004,00.html

    Reply

    Erin February 8, 2012 at 9:54 am

    @Tina:

    Wow, I really appreciate how you take the time to answer everyone’s questions- because I know you get hundreds! And this morning’s post was perfect! Thanks, Tina!

    Laura Jane @ Recovering Chocoholic February 6, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Love the Q&A. It seems like a lot of weight loss maintainers lost their weight with strict calorie counting and eventually are able to stop counting and maintain their weight. That’s encouraging to people who are still in the counting stage. I understand the struggles of losing weight while at a 9 to 5 – so sedentary!

    Reply

    Tiffany February 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Hey Tina!

    Great post!! I really enjoyed reading the facts.

    The link to question “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?” is not linked above…can you add the link?

    Thanks so much!! :)

    Reply

    Jessi February 6, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    One thing I’ve always loved about you is that you are so realistic with your approach to food. Other healthy living blogs I’ve read treat sweets/comfort foods like they’re the plague, but you’re so real about enjoying all things in moderation. :)

    Reply

    Ivana@Practicing Perfect February 6, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Such basic information….but so true and powerful. There’s no magic pill…just consistency and hard work. I love that nothing is off limits…it’s the only way to make it manageable in the long term.

    Reply

    jessica March 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I recently found your blog and it has quickly become my fav :-) I have a question. I read you eat 1800-2200 calories a day, but I was wondering if you subtract your workouts from that?

    Reply

    Tina March 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I’m so glad you found CNC! My 1800-2200 calorie range doesn’t include any sort of exercise burned calories.

    Reply

    Mollie Whalen July 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Love your blog and own your book! This link isn’t working: http://www.ahealthyme.com/topic/calneed. Can you recommend another calorie calculator?

    Reply

    Tina July 28, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Sorry about that. Here’s from one Calorie Count: http://caloriecount.about.com/cc/calories-goal.php

    Reply

    Leave a Comment

    Previous post:

    Next post: