You don’t need me to tell you about all of the diets out there. It seems there’s as many of them as there are calories in a bowl of ice cream.
I’m reminded of an old joke. Husband: Honey, are you losing weight on your banana and coconut diet? Wife: No, but now I sure can climb trees and pick fruit!
I bet you also don’t need me to tell you that extreme diets are not wise. First, to be healthy we need a balance of protein and fiber and fat and the whole shebang of the nutrition plate. Second, we can’t stick with extreme diets. And when we lose our resolve we commonly regain the weight we lost.
Who am I to talk? In my first post, I admitted that I eventually regained a lot of the weight I took off in 2007. The good news is, I didn’t regain it because I had been on a diet that wasn’t sustainable. The bad news is, I got lazy. I just plain ate too much. I enjoyed food more than what I weighed and how I felt.
I had learned much about nutrition, metabolism, calories—that one pound is 3,500 of them!—and everything one should know about food quality and quantity, and what was wise for me. When I stopped my 2007 counting of 1,800 calories per day, I was going to continue to count, but give myself enough calories so that I could maintain my weight. For me, that would be anywhere from 2,300 to 3,000 per day.
To figure out what is ideal for your size, age, and activity level, use this nifty calorie calculator: https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html. These two screen shots show my info.
2,300 calories is about what I need on days when I am not very active, especially on days I don’t run or walk. On days that I run or walk, I burn from 500 to 800 calories. My rule of thumb is 100 calories burned per mile walked and 150 each mile I run, though my running app, and this website: https://caloriesburnedhq.com/calories-burned-running/, are more generous in their calculations.
The larger or smaller a person is, and how fast or slow the pace, affects the calories burned. Don’t think too much about them, because your attitude is not going to be, “I burned an extra 500 calories today, so that means I can have that bowl of ice cream right before bed!”
Those calories burned exercising speed up your weight loss and have so many health benefits. This article from Mayo Clinic hits the key points: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389.
Another key to counting calories and not feeling I am on a diet is my daily eating plan. I eat three meals a day. I rarely snack. I eat consistently: breakfast at 7:30 a.m., lunch at noon, supper at 6:00 p.m. I get full enough at each meal that, while plenty hungry by the time the next one comes, I have enough energy to keep me going.
Also, you need to train your body. If you always eat an evening snack—let’s say at 9:00 p.m.—then when 9:00 nears you are going to feel hungry. You’ve trained yourself to get hungry. Your body knows it’s going to get fed, so it gets ready.
This isn’t to say you have to eat three meals a day. There are intriguing articles where the data argues for two per day, and six per day. The key is to do what works for you, know how many calories you’re consuming, and be consistent.
Oh, and one thing everyone agrees on: evening eating is unhealthy. You’re going to bed, so you aren’t going to be burning those calories. This article provides helpful insights: https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/nutrition/is-it-bad-to-eat-at-night-6-reasons-to-avoid-nighttime-meals-and-snacks/.
You might be thinking, “But I get hungry!” I know you do, but here’s the thing about feeding your evening and between-meals hunger. Just as you trained your body to call for food by eating between meals, you can train those cravings to cease.
I used to be a fierce evening eater. It was so bad, Kim, my first wife, would ask, “Didn’t I feed you well enough at supper?” Now that I am aware of how many calories are in things, those bags of potato chips and bowls of ice cream I was eating amounted to a second supper.
When I decided I needed to stop evening eating, the first few days were a challenge. By mid evening, my stomach was growling. Soon, I found the growls to cease, the desire to desist, and the ability to keep out of the kitchen.
Here’s what works for me to lose weight:
- three meals a day, at consistent times
- 1,800 calories per day
- running and walking at least five days a week
What works for you? How quickly do you want to lose weight? How many calories is healthy for you?
Can’t run? Can you walk? Even a moderate pace is very helpful. Do you prefer a workout? YouTube has lots of videos you can follow for exercising right in your living room. Or go to a gym, or use a machine at home. Ride a bike—outdoors or a stationary one.
Do what you enjoy, so you’ll stick with it. I love running and walking outside. I am not a fan of any other way of exercising. I give up on them very easily. I’ve stuck with running all my adult life.
Do you prefer to eat more meals per day, or don’t want to give up mid morning or mid afternoon snacks? Then do it. Be happy about when you eat.
Do what works for you so that you can stick to it. So that you own it. So that you’re not on a diet, but on a lifestyle. So that you feel great about it!