Hi Linda and welcome to 3FC! It's hard to give you a precise answer to your question because the number of calories needed to maintain a weight depends to a large extent on how active you are, what your body fat percentage is, and other characteristics unique to you. 3FC has a basal metabolic rate calculator here
and a daily calorie needs calculator here
that might help in figuring out what your maintenance calories would be at your goal weight.
Another way to approach weight loss might be to figure out what your maintenance calorie level is now
, at your present weight, and then subtract 500 calories per day. 500 calories per day times 7 days a week = 3500 calories, which equals a pound of fat. So if you eat 500 calories fewer than maintenance at your present weight, you should lose a safe and reasonable pound per week. If you add in exercise that burns off an additional 500 calories per day, you could lose two pounds a week.
In my opinion, the best way to determine maintenance calories is by tracking every bite that you eat and seeing if you gain, lose, or stay the same at a certain calorie level. I use Fitday (www.fitday.com
) but there are several other diet programs that you can use to track calories. So let's say that you want to try eating 1800 calories a day for weight loss at your present weight - keep track for a week and then weigh in. If you've gained, try maybe 1500 or 1600 calories/day for the next week. If you've lost, then you're on the right track. Keep monitoring and tweaking and you'll soon learn what works for YOU!
For what it's worth, I can tell you what worked (and works) for me. I'm just about your age and started at 257 pounds. I began my weight loss at 1600 calories per day and ended up at about 1200. I maintain at anywhere between 1400 and 1700 calories per day (with a lot of exercise). I'm also hypothyroid, which may play a role in my calorie needs. We have other maintainers here who can eat a lot more calories at goal than I can, so it really is going to vary from person to person.
One more thought - about always being hungry - that was my biggest problem too. It's really hard to have 'will power' when you're about to gnaw your arm off from hunger! I've found that frequent, small meals - like five to six per day - and emphasizing protein at each meal keeps me from being so hungry. And not being hungry makes it SO much easier to stick to a diet plan! Have you ever considered a diet plan that incorporates frequent small meals, such as Body For Life?
Best of luck to you and let us know if we can help in any other way!