My calories started around 1500 and eventually got down to 1200. I didn't have cheat days or cheat meals and did my best to stay on plan all the time. Not to say I didn't mess up sometimes, but I didn't let one wrong bite turn into a whole meal or day or week of bad eating.
Degamom...I didn't do anything special. Truly. I just ate healthy food and calorie counted. Added in exercise later. Light to moderate exercise. Healthy food, which for me means fresh vegetables, lean meats, fruits, some dairy and low carb. I stay away from things like pasta and breads. I didn't treat it like a diet at all. I treated it like the way I was going to eat for the rest of my life...and it worked. I still eat clean, and I love it. Every once in awhile I'll have a bakery item, or a not so healthy meal choice, if we go out to eat, but it's the rarity. Junk food is not allowed in my kitchen, even after the weight loss. It doesn't feel like a sacrifice anymore. It truly does become a lifestyle...as corny as that always sounded to me, lol.