Saturday, September 29, 2012

Back from vacation!!

Hi everyone!  Did you miss me?  It's been a long time since I've posted, huh?  Marc and I were on vacation with the dogs and stayed at a cabin in a remote part of Pennsylvania.  So internet access was spotty and I couldn't really make an entry here.

Hope everyone out there that reads my blog is doing well!  I think I did okay on my vacation as far as eating goes.  The cabin came supplied with a full kitchen including a full sized fridge that isn't pictured here.  

So before getting to the cabin, we stopped and bought all kinds of food to cook - mostly stuff that we eat every day.  So we ate healthy stuff, but I was hungry and ate A LOT!  

Of course we were pretty active.  I ran one day only.  But we hiked a 6 mile trail one day and then the day before we left, we hiked the Ghost Town Trail from a place called Ebensburg to a place called Nanty Glo.  It was a total of 15 miles.  

I am finding it challenging to just enjoy myself and not worry about calories in and out.  Which I want to be able to do in short bursts - like when on vacation.  I was disappointed when we got home and the scale is reading 121.  I know that I did not GAIN 3 pounds of FAT on a short vacation.  BUT, it was disappointing anyway.  It's going to take a few days to see where I stand.  Either way, it's back to a routine on Monday!

This was us as we were about to leave to head home!  I really needed this vacation!  I was feeling very burned out about a lot of things.  Hopefully I will be completely refreshed.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Never, ever throw in the towel!

What a week it has been.  I am getting ready for our vacation to the cabin in Pennsylvania.  I am extremely excited and this is a much needed vacation!  However, as we all know, planning trips is stressful.  Plus, this week at work is one of the 2 busiest weeks I have per year.  I have been SWAMPED planning a graduation party for all of the clients that have graduated my program in the past 6 months.  So my stress level thas been through the roof.  

I had a good plan for yesterday to avoid the temptation of cake and pizza at the graduation party.  Let's just say that things DID NOT go as planned.  I am totally and completely embarassed to say that I did not do well at all.  I stuffed myself like a crazy person.  I did manage to get in a really hard weight lifting workout but I went to bed last night feeling guilty and tired and powerless.

But today is a new day.  I can either say "screw it" or get right back on the horse.  My weight is up this morning by a couple of pounds - probably a combination of salty pizza and my workout.  BUT my size 2 pencil skirt still fits this morning, and I didn't put on 10 pounds of fat, despite that voice in my head that told me how horrible I messed things up!  So I will drink a lot of water to flush my system today.  I had a healthy breakfast, and will eat a salad for lunch and a sensible dinner.  AND I'll head out for a run today. 

What I have to remember myself, and I'm guessing many of you do, too, is this:

This is very, very difficult for me - that's not to say that I think I'm perfect or anything, but I really am HARD on myself when I screw up. 

I know that some of you have bad days and don't eat like you should, or mess up in other ways.  When the next day dawns you start out fresh and clean and can either berate yourself and say "screw it" and give up, because you're sure you'll never get it right, or learn from it and start fresh.  I am choosing to start fresh today.

The next test will come for me on my vacation - it will be my first vacation since entering maintenance.  I want to balance enjoying myself and not worrying about food all the time with being sensible and reasonable in my choices.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Bob Harper: Pure Burn Super Strength

I did this DVD for the first time yesterday and thought that I would review it.  First let me say that I have never watched "The Biggest Loser".  I know very little about Bob Harper, although I do have another one of his DVD's - Totally Ripped Core.  Marc saw this DVD series (Inside Out Method) and really wanted to try it, so here we are.

There is a short workout and then an hour long one - which is actually over 65 minutes.  Let me tell you, this DVD is no joke!  It is an extremely intense strength training session.  I used 5 pound dumbbells for the moves, which at first seemed light for some of the moves, but after you've done about 30 of the moves, 5 pounds was more then enough.

The DVD has 3 people doing the workouts - a super fit woman who does the most intense version of the workouts, another woman who shows us modified moves and grunts and half-cries through the hard moves, and a guy who is very muscular and struggles through a lot of the moves.  Bob alternates between yelling at them and totally supporting them - I like his style pretty well, although he's got an evil laugh when he's really pushing them!

There is only one real break in the hour+ DVD, but there are some places where the moves are a bit easier and give you a little break.  You will be working both your upper and lower body as well as your core.  There are weighted squats, renegade pushups, T-pushups, lunges, tricep and bicep work, and wide rows to name a few of the moves.  There were parts that I was shaking like a leaf. 

I feel like I'm pretty fit and I do a lot of DVD's, but this was the first time I actually thought I might puke I was working so hard!  One of the things I like about this DVD, which is something they have in P90X as well, is a count-down timer to show how much time you have left in the workout.  I could say to myself "Okay, only 25 more minutes!"

After doing the workout, I actually trembled for about 45 minutes afterwards.  This is common for me when I've worked my muscles really hard.  It usually happens with intense yoga, but it happened after doing this DVD.  Oh, and did I mention that I felt SOOOOO GOOOD afterwards?  Seriously, my whole body felt WORKED in such a good way.

I think this is going to become one of my favorite DVD's to do!

Try it and let me know what you think!  It is selling for dirt cheap on Amazon right now!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Diet drug and cravings...

So the FDA has approved a new diet drug - Qsymia - that everyone is talking about.  I've been asked to talk about my thoughts on this. 

To be honest, I have mixed feelings.  In general, I am for any tool that will help someone in their battle against obesity.  And for a number of people, this might be a tool to help jump start their weight loss.  On the other hand, you have to worry about side effects - look what has happened with the diet drugs before this! People frigging DIED!  It's also not a quick fix.  The drug needs to be used "in conjunction with diet and exercise".  Well if you diet and exercise you will lose weight - DUH.

They had an interview with a woman on Good Morning America and she said that she had "tried everything" but had not been able to lose weight.  That is utter BULLSHIT.  When you are obese if you eat fewer calories then you burn you WILL lose weight!!  It's impossible not to unless you are defying the laws of physics!!

One thing that this drug is supposed to help with is cravings.  And anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows that cravings can be a killer!  Do you know that the foods we crave - like carbs and sweets - go to the same spots in our brains as drugs like heroin?  And eating those foods triggers a release of serotonin in our brains which is a feel good chemical.  So often times we crave when we are under stress.

I was feeling this yesterday.  Normally sweets aren't even my thing - I can take them or leave them.  But DANG - I wanted chocolate BAD yesterday.  When I stepped back in my mind to see why I was craving so bad I realized that this week is CRAZY for work and I'm under a lot of stress.  So my body was telling me to eat something that would release a feel good chemical and lower my stress.  Instead of eating, I stood up, stretched, and tried to clear my mind. 

So one of the number one things that you can do is to decrease your stress and/or learn to manage it.  This is one of the reasons I've become a big fan of yoga.  It teaches you to clear your mind so that you can do it on command.  And YES, I know that this is easier said then done.  

If this journey were easy, we would ALL be fit and thin.  Once again, I think that the key to success does not come in the form of a pill, but in hard work.  For those people that chose to take this new drug, I wish them well.  For the rest of us?  Keep on fighting and growing and learning.   

Sunday, September 16, 2012

An awesome weekend!!

I am feeling SO great today and just want to spread it around!  I have had such a fantastic weekend and am feeling so happy - it's a great place to be mentally!

Yesterday, I got up and actually didn't have to be somewhere right away.  It was weird and I'm not good at relaxing, but I made myself just chill out.  Then Marc and I and the dogs went for a long hike.  After getting home, we did some weight lifting and then ate dinner.  I had cooked a pork tenderloin in the crockpot and it turned out DELICIOUS!

Then today, I got up and saw 117 on the scale.  I consider this my perfect weight.  Why?  Because I have decided that I am happy maintaining my weight between 115-119.  So what 117 means is that I have a 2 pound cushion on either side.

I then started out for my Sunday long run.  As much as I am not looking forward to fall, I have to admit that running is much easier in this weather.  I ended up running my farthest distance ever - 12 miles.  And I did it in 1:41:47, which is a really good time!

Marc and I then went out with a local photo club we are both members of and took some pics.  It was a perfect fall day today.  Warm sun shining down.

And to top it off, my BOYZ:
Kicked some BOOTY today!

Days that I feel like this, I wish I could bottle to take out when I have a bad day!  Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Friday, September 14, 2012

One of THOSE people?

Oh no!  Have I become one of THOSE people?  You know the ones - they make a life change and suddenly they know everything or feel the need to lecture other people on the evil of their ways?

I really have strived hard NOT to be that person.  I want to be available for people to ask questions and to give positive suggestions IF someone wants it.  But I don't want to be the type that lectures or gives feedback without being solicited.

Now some of this is NOT my fault.  Some people feel guilty about their choices and for some reason feel the need to justify their poor choices to me.  After I run at lunch, I stand off to the side of my work place and stretch.  At least once per week, someone walks by me and says something like this - "You are so dedicated!!  I know I should be exercising, BUT...."  insert excuse here - Typical ones are how busy they are (yes, because I have all the time in the world) or have bad knees and can't run, or some other excuse.  I usually just smile and say something like "Yeah, it's hard..." or something generic.

Another thing I have noticed is that when someone is eating something "bad" and I'm around they also justify their choices.  I was getting on the elevator the other day and a co-worker gets on with a large cup of soda from a local fast food place.  Naturally I glanced at what she was holding.  She immediately said "I KNOW!!  Soda is horrible!  But I HATE drinking water and..." blah, blah, blah, you get the point.  I was like "I didn't say a word!!!!"   

Yesterday I went into our morning meeting.  We meet once per week and someone always provides junk food.  I used to head in and immediately grab one of those processed individually wrapped brownie things that Little Debbie makes.  It's been so long since I've had one that I don't even think about eating one anymore.  Probably it wouldn't even taste that good since I don't eat that processed crap anymore.  But yesterday, someone brought in Ghidardelli chocolates with caramel.  They looked YUMMY!  I looked at the nutrition label and was like "220 calories for 3 pieces!!"  Now this was NOT to keep other people from eating them - it was just a reminder to me that no way was I going to eat one and have that many calories.  But I hope that I didn't make anyone else feel like they shouldn't have one!

Sigh....I feel strongly that what you choose to do with your own body is a very personal choice and I don't want to be someone who pushes my agenda on someone else.  On the other hand, since I know how AWESOME it feels to be thin AND fit (big difference then just being thin), I want everyone to have that experience.

Where to draw the line.... 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A positive frame of mind

I believe this to be true.  Attitude is so incredibly important in this journey.  Where is your mindset today? 

Where do you see yourself in terms of reaching your goals?  Anyone out there getting close to a goal - be it weight or something else? 

I think I have always been a pretty positive person.  However, I have been shocked at how overall my attitude has improved since losing weight.  It's like having the weight gone has also lifted barriers in my mind.

That being said, I am struggling this week maintaining a positive attitude.  Why?  Because it seems that fall is here.  I don't hate fall, but since it's a sure sign of winter coming, I absolutely DREAD it.  I'm trying not to project too far ahead, but the idea of being cooped up inside and running on the treadmill rather then running outside makes me want to throw a tantrum of epic proportions.

How do you keep a positive attitude when things don't always go your way?  Let me know!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rethinking goals and happiness....

Most of you know that I am a substance abuse counselor. My clients and I are always talking about how when you go to AA or NA meetings and you are struggling, there tends to be a topic that you need to hear.  It's really funny how that works. 

I find myself in that position today, and these messages that we need to hear often come from the weirdest places!  Mine came from the Extra Sugar-Free Gum website today!!  The title of the article I read from that site is "Rethinking Your Weight Goal" and can be seen here:

Why is this a message I needed to hear today?  Well last week I was pretty down because after hitting my lowest weight of 118, I bounced back to 121.  Last week, no matter how much I exercised or ate right, it stayed there.  And I was pissed.  Several people I talked to said that maybe this is where my body wants to be, and I need to be happy with that.  But I wasn't.  So yesterday I weighed in at 119.1 and today was 119.2, and in my head I was like "HAHA BODY - You ARE going to lose a couple more pounds whether you like it or not!!"

And this morning I was feel just sort of lethargic and tired - probably from stubbornly restricting my calories yesterday.  So I read this article and it talks about finding a place where you can be healthy and happy rather then SKINNY.  This got me thinking about why I want to get down to hovering between 115-119.  I mean, can I be happy and healthy at a weight of 121 rather then 117?  Do I want to be really thin or really happy?  Is the effort I put in to losing a couple of vaniety pounds keeping me from just relaxing and enjoying life?

What this is NOT an excuse for is letting myself slack off on exercise and eating right and gaining a bunch of weight back.  However, it is making me think that maybe I should just chill out and be happy with the weight I have lost and start worrying about feeling good rather then defininng myself by the number on a scale. 

As they do say in AA it's an AFGO moment - Another Fucking Growth Opportunity. 

Today I went out to do my run.  My legs were a little tired and I was thinking I would run 4-5 miles.  But I just relaxed in the cool weather and casually ran.  I felt so good at 5 miles that I went ahead and ran a mile more.  But I did it because I felt good and enjoyed running not because I was demanding that I burn off X amount of calories or was fighting myself!  It felt great!!!

I can't promise I'll feel this way tomorrow, and if my weight is up a little, I might get discouraged and start bitching again.  But for today, I just want to FINALLY - for once in my life - love myself.  I'm not quite there yet, but I'm trying.

So for those of you that are fighting the good fight, remember, you deserve to be healthy and happy!!  So keep striving towards your goals, but also keep in mind that you need to have a life and to NOT define your worth as a person by the number you see on the scale!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Quick administrative comment...

Marc and I have been working on the photos page and I've posted some photos there if anyone is interested!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

10K Race report!

Hi my darling readers!

Today was the Run for Recovery from Addictions. Since I am a substance abuse counselor, this is near and dear to my heart. I was hoping to beat 52 minutes.

I woke up to extreme winds and the forecast talking about torrential rain, thunderstorms and hail with strong winds. Great. So we get to the race place and the sun is desperately trying to peak out, YAY! Then we are told that the race course has to change because of a train that is coming through part of the course and they refuse to stop the train or give the exact time they are coming through. So for those of us doing the 10K, this meant we had to run the same half-twice - which means up an extremely steep hill TWICE instead of once like we were planning.

The race gets started and that hill is a KILLER, especially with the wind. But then I caught a tailwind and was feeling pretty great. So I manage to hit the hill a second time without dying - legs were great, but my heart was a PUMPING! Mile 4, it starts to rain. Actually feels pretty good. Mile 5 it starts to DOWNPOUR! Doesn't feel so good. Mile 5.5, rain stops. I'm coming up to the finish line and start SPRINTING. I thought I was passing another 10K'er - turns out I was passing a slow 5K'er - oh well.

I look at the time clock - 48:36 - WHAT? There's no way that I was that much faster then normal. I look at my Garmin and we only ran 5.9 miles! Must be when they re-did the course they measured wrong. Dang - so that was a PR that's not really a PR.

Then we go inside and eat and the awards ceremony starts. They put up the numbers - AND I WAS THE FASTEST FEMALE FINISHER!!!!!!!!! Even though the course was off, everyone ran the same and I was first!!

Here I am with my trophy:

Hard to believe that it was only May of 2011 when I ran outside for the very first time - in 16 minutes...

Friday, September 7, 2012


I ran across this quote yesterday and it really made me think.  When I was obese was my desire to be obese?  No way.  But on the other hand, I didn't really do anything meaningful to make a change.  So in a way, I guess that yes, it was that I wanted to stay the same.  In fact, as I think about it now, if I'm really being honest with myself, my desire would be to go back to old habits.  I would like to be able to eat a lot more then I do.  I don't think that I have a deep down psychological problem, I just reaaaalllly like the taste of food!  So I would like to go back to having ice cream and cookies for dessert and have large slices of fresh italian bread slathered in butter.  But my desire to be thin and healthy outweighs (no pun intended) that desire. 

I remember watching some TV show a few years ago and there was a doctor on talking about the obesity problem in the US and there was some new diet drug on the market.  The doctor said "Quite frankly I'm pessimistic that we are ever going to find a pill that lets people sit on the couch all day, eat bon-bons and lose weight.  But this is what the American people want, so researchers are going to keep looking for that solution." 

I also don't think that's going to happen.  Weight loss is hard and requires an incredible amount of sacrifice and commitment.  For me, it finally became that my desire not to be obese became greater then my desire to continue the path that was what I was used to.  But there are still days that I feel like giving up.  Right now, no matter what I am doing, my body is stuck at 120 pounds.  Each day this week that I've stepped on the scale I've been frustrated and discouraged. 

Where is your desire level right now?

In other news tomorrow is my 3rd 10K and I'm looking forward to running it.  And last night my sister-in-law Rose stopped and gave me a bunch of clothes that my niece Sarah no longer wants.  I love shopping, but I also like getting hand me downs.  As I was putting on the outfits I still can't believe that I am the same size as her.  Sarah has always been so thin and the reality that I can fit into her clothes? 

In fact, I'm wearing one of the dresses that she gave me today:

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wayyyyyy TMI!!

This is a way, way too much information post!  So you are being warned beforehard.  I think that this is useful information for people that are in the process of losing weight - especially a lot of weight - but for the rest of you - especially my friends and relatives, this will be about POOPING, so you might not want to read on.

Still with me?  Well, don't say I didn't warn you!!!

I have never heard of this, but apparently people that have lost a lot of weight become constipated.  It's very common and no one quite knows why this happens.  And I've fallen into this category.  If you were to look up the IDEAL diet that you should be eating in order to have regular bowel movements, I am the POSTER CHILD for this.  I eat all the right foods and drink a ton of water.  Yet, I can't poop.  Or when I do poop, I don't completely empty out, if you know what I mean.  I still know there is more to come out but it won't happen. 

There is one exception to that rule - when I run.  And then - completely predictably - I will have to go so bad that I have absolutely no ability to hold it.  It's terrible and frustrating to have to make emergency stops - at least 2 times - during a 6 mile run!!

Now having to poop during a long run is also apparently pretty common.  It's called the "runner's trots".  BUT, not usually during short runs.  And when you combine not being able to go with then having to go IMMEDIATELY, well, I don't have to tell you that this is a recipe for disaster!  Marc even told me that if he were in my position he would give up running.  But obviously I don't want to do that.

So before my last 2 races, I started taking Miralax a week before the race to make sure that I was emptied out and wouldn't have to stop (or crap myself) during the race.  But I haven't wanted to take Miralax on a daily basis, because there is some information out there that your body can become dependent on this and then you're really in trouble.  Other sites say that Miralax has no risk of dependency.  As a chemical dependency counselor, I am always super worried about using anything that I might become dependent on!

So last week when I went to the doctor's, I told him about my issue.  He said that Miralax can be taken long term with no risk.  So I've started taking it every morning.  It's only been a week, but let me tell you what a JOY it was to run 11 miles on Sunday and not having to stop - not even once - for emergency poopage.  

I will discuss this issue when I meet with the dietician next month, and hopefully she will have some ideas for me.  The other thought that I had was that MAYBE if I get my body into a regular schedule, I can start weaning myself off the Miralax and my body will have learned to poop right on it's own.  But for now, sweet relief!!  

So those of you that are losing a lot of weight, don't be surprised if this happens to you!  It's uncomfortable and embarrassing to talk about, but if it is your reality, you don't have to suffer!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September is here...

And I am not thrilled.  It's been a hot summer and I know that a lot of people are thrilled to see fall get here, but I am definitely not one of those people!  Actually, I like fall pretty well, but it's such a sign of winter coming and that is depressing to me!  So I'm feeling pretty meloncholy today.

I am also feeling the effects of this long weekend.  On Saturday, Marc and I took out nephews - Eli and Levi - out to lunch.  I actually did well during lunch but then we stopped for ice cream and I ate a sundae.  It has literally been YEARS since I have had a sundae!  It was good, but I did feel guilty afterwards. 

So then Sunday I ran my longest mileage of 11.25 miles.  Whenever I run long mileage, I find myself extremely hungry the next day.  They say that the average person gains 10 pounds training for a marathon.  If I'm this hungry running less then 1/2 the distance of a marathon, I can see why!! 

So I am back to 120 this morning.  My body seems to like that number but it is pissing me off.  I know that a couple of pounds is not a big deal, but I would really like to drop to somewhere around 116-117 and have that buffer.  Time to buckle down!!

I am going to cut back a little on my running mileage this week as I run a 10K race on Saturday.  This is the Run for Recovery which is put on by my good friend and co-worker, Sal, so this one is really important to me.  I'm hoping to break the elusive 52 minutes, but since the course starts with a looonnnngggg hill, I'm not so sure it will happen.

Hope everyone out there reading is doing well!  September is as much of a "resolution" time for many people as January is.  This is a great time to implement good eating and exercise habits so they are ingrained when the holiday season hits and it becomes difficult to not over-indulge.

What are some of your plans or resolutions for the fall?  E-mail me and let me know and I'll do a blog post with some of your thoughts!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Strength training!

I have talked an awful lot on here about running.  And cardio is extremely important for fat loss.  But I also lift weights and that's what I want to talk about today.  Because if you are not strength training, then you are not doing all you can to maximize your weight loss. 

Strength training is so important for so many reasons.  First off, muscles are sexy.  They look good!  And muscle takes up much less room then fat.  So if you take 2 people of the exact same height and weight, the one that has a lot of muscle is going to look smaller and tighter and just overall better then the person that doesn't weight train.  

Secondly, muscle burns more calories then fat, even at rest.  Remember us talking about BMR yesterday?  That means that the more muscular you are, the more you are ramping up your BMR and burning calories even while you are sleeping at night.  

Think you have bad joints?  Well strength training can help you there, too!  I remember when I first started and it KILLED my one knee to do a squat.  But as you build muscle around weak joints, it tightens things up and actually stabilizes joints.  So if you have wobbly knees, ankles and hips, building muscle around them will help.  Also, if you are a woman, we start to worry about losing muscle and even bone starting at age 35.  Strength training helps prevent that.

I'm pretty proud of my muscles!

So where to start?  Well first off, forget about girlie 2-3 pound weights.  They are all but useless.  You need to lift heavy weights if you want results.  If you don't have any weights yet, start with body weight exercises.  Things like squats, lunges, push-ups, sit-ups.  They will be foreign and uncomfortable at first, but as you get better at them and begin to see your body change, it will be worth it.

If you really want to get into this, I highly recommend the book "The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women".  You can use it as a beginner or more advanced.  It also dispels stupid myths like women getting "bulky" from lifting.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Confusing calculations!

How does a person figure out how many calories they are supposed to eat?  I faced this in the process of losing weight and now am trying to figure it out in maintenance.  There are so many initials being thrown about and so many different theories - it's enough to make you head spin!

Let's see, we have BMI, BMR, RMR, TDEE, and then all of those have variants - AHHH!!!  And then there's the 2 big debates that practically make people kill each other on the internet - "Starvation mode" and "should you eat back you exercise calories"?  Let me try to break some of this down - as in what worked for me - and see if it helps anyone figure out how much they should be eating!  

  • BMI stands for Body Mass Index.  It is a range of what is considered a healthy weight for a person's height.  BMI was originally used to calculate trends in large populations.  It has a lot of weaknesses for calculating an INDIVIDUAL'S healthiness.  For example a body builder will have extremely low body fat and be very healthy, but have a large muscle mass and can fall into the overweight or even obese category.  However, it can give you an idea of where you should be.  For my height, a healthy weight falls between 98 and 132 pounds.  At 118, I am at a 22.3 BMI, solidly in the middle of what is considered healthy.
  • BMR and RMR - These are really the same 2 things.  They stand for Basal Metabolic Rate and Resting Metabolic Rate.  Basically this calculates how many calories you would burn if you laid in bed all day.  It takes into account your height, weight and age.  Men burn more - rat bastards.  The more you weigh the more you burn, as well.  There are different calculators out there and you're bound to find a difference based on different calculators.  Mine tends to range between 1,150 and 1,250.  Which SUCKS - makes me want to fall on the floor and throw a temper tantrum.  Why?  Because I LIKE TO EAT.   Again, there are some weaknesses in these generic calculators, especially if you are working out - I'm going to talk a lot more about that tomorrow so stay tuned.   
  • TDEE - Total Daily Energy Expenditure -  This is a useful tool, especially if you work out.  It calculates not just what your body burns on a daily basis, but what your calorie needs are based on your activity level. This online one is the best IMO:  It really tries to break down what you do in a day and how much that burns.  Most TDEE calculators put me at 2,000 calories per day to maintain my weight.
If you are on a site like myfitnesspal, it takes a lot of this into account and gives you the amount that you should be eating a day in order to lose weight.  I find their calculations very low and limiting.  It almost always gives women, especially short women like me, 1200 per day.  For many of us, that is just too low.  

 How much should you be aiming to lose in a week?  Well, that depends how heavy you are.  Remember, 1 pound is around 3500 calories.  So to lose 1 pound per week, you should have a deficit of around 500 calories a day - that is, you are burning 500 calories more then you are eating.  1-2 pounds per week is the healthy way to do it.  You can go a little higher if you are very heavy and will have to aim for a little less as you get closer to your goal weight.

  • Should you eat back you exercise calories?  NO!!  Now, if you are a heavy exerciser, like I am, you should eat more.  But NEVER rely on machines to calculate how many calories you just burned.  They are notoriously inaccurate.  Heart rate monitors with a chest strap are more accurate, but still way too imprecise to use.  I ran 11.25 miles today and my heart rate monitor says that I burned over 900 calories.  There is NO WAY I am going to eat an extra 900 calories today.  But I will eat a couple hundred over my normal intake.  I am trying to listen to my body and if I'm hungry, I eat.  If you are a light exerciser, I would not feel bad about having a small snack, maybe like a light yogurt - under 100 calories if you are hungry. 
  • Starvation mode - In all practicality it doesn't exist.  If you eat less then 1200 calories per day a couple days in a row, you aren't going to immediately screw up your body forever.  Having said that - 1200 calories is pretty low and you should not aim to go under that.  Losing weight should be a slow, steady process if you want it to be life-long.  There are no quick fixes.  Slow and steady wins the war on fat.  And if you eat too low for too long of a term, you will completely fuck up your metabolism.  Signs that this is happening?  Extreme fatigue all the time, difficulty concentrating, hair falling out, mouth sores, period stopping - if you have these, you should see a doctor and start upping your calories.
  • Macros - Some people worry about how many grams of protein, carbs, fats, sodium they eat.  If you want advice on that, you'll have to look elsewhere, sorry.  In general, I believe everything in moderation.  I aim to eat a lot of protein, a reasonable amount of complex carbs, add in some good fats - if you are eating like you are supposed to - meaning fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, the macros will take care of themselves.  If you are skipping your fruit so that you can have an ice cream sandwich and fit it into your calories tonight?  Well, that's not healthy and you are probably not within your macros.
  • The dreaded plateau - At some point in your journey, you are going to hit the dreaded plateau.  A true plateau is NOT going 3 days weighing the same.  It is going a few weeks of doing what you are supposed to and weighing the same.  This generally means that your body has adjusted to what you are doing and needs a shock to the system to get things moving.  I hit 3 plateaus during my journey and they sucked.  You need to shake things up.  Often this means upping your calories and adjusting your workout routine.  That's what worked for me!  
All of this can be incredibly confusing and  frustrating. First off, do what I didn't do and wish I had - TAKE MEASUREMENTS!  Sometimes your weight will remain the same, but you will go down in inches.  That's a good thing.  Use calorie counters, BMR, TDEE calculations to give you an idea, but don't hold them as gospel.  Everyone's body is different.

And finally, the best advice is the simplest!  EAT RIGHT AND EXERCISE.  If you are doing this, your WILL hit your goal!