(3) Number three is COUNTING CALORIES (eating in a caloric deficit).
But how do you know how many calories you should be eating? When I started, I just Googled “calorie calculator” or “macro calculator” and typed in all my info (height, weight, activity level, etc) into several of them to get an average of what my maintenance calories are (the calories you need to eat to maintain your current weight), then I cut that amount by 300-500 calories to get my deficit calories. So if your maintenance calories are 2,000, you would eat 1,500 – 1,700 calories a day to lose weight. If you do it for 3 weeks and don’t lose weight, adjust- reduce it by another 100.
I had counted calories in the past. So what did I do differently this time? (a) I didn’t drastically cut my calories to 1,000 or 1,200 so that I was starving all the time and would eventually binge. (b) I ate EVERYTHING- if I wanted McDonalds, I got it and just plugged it into MFP. But I wouldn’t go crazy- I’d get a small cheeseburger and small fries (as opposed to a Big Mac and large fries). I don’t recommend doing this everyday because you don’t get a lot of bang for your buck, meaning it’s not satiating- it’s a lot of calories for not a lot of food. But once in a while, it’s perfectly fine! (c) I changed my “all or nothing” mindset.
I allowed myself nights where I didn’t track, went out with my friends, drank, ate pizza, and went over my calories, BUT I didn’t beat myself up about it, and I was right back on track the next morning (or next meal!). You are going to mess up. You might binge one night. You’ll go out with friends. You’ll live your life. The difference this time, is that I didn’t then spiral out of control and binge for the next 5 days and stop working out since “I ruined everything anyway”. I would literally eat within my calories the next day. I believe that having a workout routine/habit really helped with this.
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