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Old 01-28-2010, 07:46 PM   #1
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Default Am I eating enough? Help with zig zagging too please :)

Hello everyone,

I am still fairly new to calorie counting and I am a little confused about how many calories I should be eating in a day. I mentioned this in my other post because I am frustrated that I have stalled several times already and I am only losing an average of a pound or less per week despite the dramatic changes I have made since November. I quit smoking a month ago and I exercise at least 3-5 times a week doing a 3 or 4 mile Leslie Sansone workout video and 20 minutes on my elliptical trainer during each session. I think I am burning about 400 calories in a workout but its a ballpark guess. I want to get a heart rate monitor with a calorie counter soon. I have been eating around 1300 - 1450 calories a day, sometimes less and occasionally around 1600. I am wondering if I am eating too little and it is stalling my weight loss. "Tom" was three weeks late last month and has not came at all this month yet (no chance of pregnancy) but I do spot sometimes after a workout. I wonder if I am in some kind of starvation mode or if my body is reacting to the stress of workouts because I used to be pretty inactive.

Anyway, I was hoping for some direction regarding my calorie intake so I can lose around 2 - 2.5 pounds a week. I am 28 and 5' 3" with a fairly large bone structure. I have big wrists, broad shoulders and large muscular calves. I also carry a lot of my weight around my middle, if these details means anything. My current weight is around 201 and I do have a slow metabolism. I am not sure how many calories to shoot for on days I don't exercise and days I do. Should I eat more on days that I exercise, and how much more? I am just confused and probably making it more complicated than it needs to be. I have a hard time trusting online calculators that tell me to eat anywhere from 1100 to 1900 cals a day! They don't even take into account my body type and metabolism level. I am pretty new to the whole thing and I want to give myself a good start. I would also love some insight on zig zagging my calories to boost my metabolism. It was slow to begin with and now that I quit smoking, its pretty bad.

Thanks so much for the help. Your replies really do mean a lot to me


Last edited by sweetnlow28; 01-28-2010 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:12 PM   #2
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I don't think you want to lower your calories any more than you have. You're doing all the right things, but sometimes it just takes a little while for your body to catch up. I would honestly be happy with 1 pound per week.

I personally believe the "starvation mode" is a myth. It has some basis in fact, but eating more won't make you lose weight. Theoretically, if you have a 500 calorie deficit, you should loose a 1lb./week, and if you have a 1000 calorie deficit, you should loose 2lb./week. But when you get low enough in your calorie intake, you're metabolism begins to kick in and you loose a little less, but I don't think the body flips a switch and goes into starvation mode.

I quit smoking this summer too, before I started my new lifestyle (not a diet, right ) and I definitely noticed a change in metabolism (or maybe it was all the candy). You are doing a ton of tough changes and your body is going through a lot right now. You should be really proud of all you've accomplished and not worry as much about what the scale says. Most people gain twenty pounds when they quit smoking, you've lost 20!

Have you taken measurements? This could account for some of the slow weight gain, if your body is putting on more muscle. Do your clothes fit differently? Do you feel fitter? Evaluate some of these things as opposed to worrying only about the number on the scale.

I like zig-zagging calories, and I do find it helps sometimes. Usually I do 150-200 calories down and then back up on a weekly basis. It's been mostly experimenting to find out what works best for me.

I know this probably isn't what you want to hear, but I think you should stay the course and see how it is in a month. Your body's doing A LOT of adjusting right now and you should just try to give it time!

Great job and congrats on the non-smoking! You'll notice a HUGE difference soon!


Last edited by cherbear; 01-28-2010 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:11 AM   #3
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I doubt exercise would mess with your cycles at this point. I know this happens to olympians and such, but that's extreme-extreme. I have very irregular cycles, but I also have PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). And even with that, losing 5% of our weight tends to help with that, and it has for me. It looks as though you've lost about 10%, so that shouldn't be a factor even if you did have PCOS. So basically, I don't know what to tell you about that.

As far as the weight loss goes, it comes off pretty rapidly at the start and then tapers off. Adding exercises actually stalls my progress pretty significantly and I haven't learned to cross the hump of disappointment yet. (I've done this before and I gave up) This time I'm going to get over the hump, but I haven't yet! I'm pretty much right where you are.

But a 1 lb a week loss is great! It's not a race and you will get there! Exercise is a wonderful thing. Try to focus on the other benefits such as your energy level, your blood pressure, your fitness gains, etc. And maybe try to use a measuring tape in addition to the scale.
Long term goal: To still be calorie counting 11/9/2010
mini goals: ~211-10% lost;12/24/09 ~203 class I obesity 1/28/10; ~199 Onederland/15% 2/19/10; ~188-20%; ~185 half way 5/14/10; 179-bye 180's 6/12/10; ~174 overweight 7/3/2010;169-bye 170's 8/13/10;~164-30% 10/23/2010159-bye 160's~11/1/10; 153-35%~12/23/10; 149-bye 150's~2/11/11; 145 normal~2/14/2011; ~141-40%; 139-bye 140's ~135 GOAL! (129-45%; 117.5-50%)

My "goal" story: http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/goal...goal-post.html

Last edited by Eliana; 01-29-2010 at 08:11 AM.
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Old 01-29-2010, 09:52 AM   #4
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Thanks gals I know I have lost weight as well as a couple inches. My doctor says I have lost almost 10 pounds between December 4th and yesterday. Most of this was lost in December when I was still smoking. I was just worried that maybe my calorie intake needs to be adjusted. There is so much information out there and the more I read, the more confused I become. Some say to eat more in order to lose while others say to cut calories drastically. It can be really confusing. I have measured my waist and have not noticed a change in the last month but that has been since I quit smoking so I guess it's understandable. I will keep doing what I am doing and see where I am at a month from now. I just know I will be in Onederland one way or another I am still wondering if I should eat more on workout days or if that is necessary?
I keep telling myself that it is not a race but then I think of summer and how I am looking forward to wearing a bathing suit or shorts without shame I'm not talking about a bikini or anything LOL. I am so close to 199 pounds now and I just can't wait to hit that mark. I am hoping to hit it by next week

If anyone has any suggestions on adjusting my calorie intake, I am happy to hear them as well.

Many thanks
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Old 01-29-2010, 10:30 AM   #5
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I used this calculator to figure my caloric intake. It does take into account age and activity level. It gave me a lower maintenance calorie figure for a weight of 160 (my goal) than other methods do, and I'm sure that's due to the age/activity level factor:

Oh, I was not allowed to post the link!

The maintenance calorie calculator is at caloriecontrol dot org
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Old 01-31-2010, 06:12 AM   #6
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I agree, the starvation mode is a myth. In true starvation (no food at all, but there is water intake) the human body continues to use body fat for energy until it is completely used up, excluding the fat around vital body organs. A normal weight person can live about a month, an obese person, up to a year. (Read the Minnesota starvation experiments).

The body doesn't hang on to calories in preparation for starvation. Metabolism may slow slightly if activity drops (no energy form lack of food), but it never slows to the point that we cannot lose weight. If we do not take in sufficient calories, our bodies uses stored fat. It's as simple as that.

Calorie counting is an estimate at best. So are the "calories burned" in exercise. The numbers are just not that precise without using the machines that monitor these types of body processes. I wouldn't worry about eating too little or too much by the manual calorie count alone. Find the level of activity that improves your overall well-being, and the calorie range that helps you feel great and lose between 1 and 10 pounds per month. I pay more attention to averages for the month than I do for individual days. I use a nutritional software that tracks my averages so that I can see if I am on my target overall. Counting and measuring for one week, I feel is too short of a tracking period.

Now for the reality compared to the "information" out there about calories and needs. It depends on who is trying to sell a diet. Most diets try to sound appealing by claiming we can eat more and lose weight. It is simply not true. For "my" activity level (as sedentary as a person can get) I maintain weight with a 1600 calorie average and lose weight at a 1000-1200 calorie range. It has always been the same numbers, whether I am obese, or thin. When my calorie average hovers around the 2000 calorie mark and I am not active in daily exercise, I will gain weight. Each person is unique in their activity levels and how careful they are in calorie counting, so the numbers most likely will be different for you.

Hope some of this information helps!
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:50 AM   #7
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Three Herring....awesome post!!
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:08 PM   #8
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Wow this sounds very similar to me. I am 5' and 208, Daily Plate says 1447 calories for a 1000 calorie deficit. I usually hit that plus any extra exercise that I do (250-600 calories a day, except Sat). My first week I lost 11lbs and I thought this is going to be great (I have lost weight in the past but it is soooo slow). Well the next week TOM came and I gained 4 back, after he left I lost the 4 so I am back to the end of week 1.
I ordered a BodyBugg to find out what I am actually burning because I think that I am not really burning as much as Daily Plate says I am.
I can tell you that I have had some days were I go over and i will not lose anything for a few days, so I am trying to stay under 1500.
Last time I lost a lot of weight I had to stay around 1100-1200 calories a day and I did not do it the healthy way so i gained it all back.
I am also large boned so at 150, which is still overweight on the BMI for me, I was only a size 6. I just can not imagine the the correct weight for me is 110.
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Old 02-03-2010, 03:26 PM   #9
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Why arent we allowed to post links?
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Old 02-04-2010, 11:36 AM   #10
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I agree with 3 Herrings post 100%

DOn't make this so difficult. You know, you want to keep the weight off forever right? You're not just doing this for a short term occasion are you? Most everyone want to maintain their weight loss for life, but they make losing it so hard. Equations, zig-zagging, charts, graphs, expensive gadgets and equipment...it's exhausting. When you are done losing the excess weight, how many calories would you like to be able to eat daily? (Realistically?) How much exercise are you willing to do for the rest of your life? It's not going to end...you will have to keep doing these things to keep the weight off FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. So why not go with something that you feel you can do for life? 1800 calories a day is approx. average for a normal height, normal weight, moderately active adult female. Why not just pick a number, (a little below maintenance range for your goal weight) and go on with life? Just stick with it, you'll get there. It will happen. This is not a race, it's not a game show, it's real life. You need a plan that you can do for life. One day at a time girlfriend. You'll get there. The real secret is to NEVER give up.

I was just telling someone else a while ago, it took me 1 week to lose my first 10 pounds and 10 weeks to lose my last 10, and it didn't matter...it's all gone now, and I'm still "on a diet", to maintain it. It NEVER ends. Hang in there.
Highest weight - 333 pounds. Lost 193 pounds by calorie counting in 2008/09. Regained 73 pounds in the last 7 years and am working on getting back to a normal BMI.

Last edited by Lori Bell; 02-04-2010 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 02-05-2010, 07:43 PM   #11
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S/C/G: 250/ticker/140 (maybe 130)

Height: 5' 3" and a half ;)


Thanks everyone,
I have decided to take it easy and not try to stress about the little things. I forgot to mention that I am losing my weight for health reasons so I can't be overly lax about it but I am trying to be more realistic The good news is that I am losing again and I am in the 100's now. This has motivated me so much! I earned my signature too I agree with everyone and I am trying not to make it too complicated. I did have to come up with a schedule as a rough guide for me. I am not going to get upset if I don't follow it exactly but I do feel better having something as a guideline. Here is what my schedule looks like. I am trying to zig zag a bit to help prevent the dreaded plateau. The miles I refer to are power walking miles in my Leslie Sansone videos. Anyone see any issues with it? I think it similar to what I have been doing and I should be able to maintain it most days.

Monday~~~ 1500~~~ Exercise – 2 miles + 20 minutes on elliptical
Tuesday~~~ 1500~~~ Exercise – 4 fast miles
Wednesday~~~ 1300~~~ off (house cleaning)
Thursday~~~ 1700~~~ Exercise – 3 miles + 20 minutes on elliptical
Friday~~~ 1500~~~ Exercise – 3 miles + toning with band
Saturday~~~ 1500~~~ off
Sunday~~~ 1700~~~ off

Totals 10700 calories per week

Your friend in weight loss,

Failure is only a fact when you give up. Everyone gets knocked down, the question is: Will you get back up?

My progress pictures (older thread)


After two major surgeries, I am back to give and gain support. We can do this!

Last edited by sweetnlow28; 02-05-2010 at 07:47 PM.
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