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Old 07-15-2013, 12:50 PM   #1
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Default Mind game: setting the right net calorie goal

I track my food/calories using MyFitnessPal. My current net is set to 1260. I am losing weight consistently, and my only "slow-downs" correlate to overeating at specific special events. I've lost 41 lbs since the first of the year. Depending on the day, I might have 0 exercise, or I might have 150-200 calories to eat back.

BUT, I'm finding it harder and harder to stick to 1260. I'm looking at a couple of alternatives:
  1. Suck it up and just accept I don't get treats
  2. Cut portion sizes further so I can have occasional treats
  3. Increase my net calories to 1360-1400 and have occasional treats
  4. Just go over occasionally when I want to have a treat.
My treats are usually Skinny Cow or WW ice cream treats.

I know 3 and 4 are roughly the same, but psychologically, I think they would "feel" different to me--I'm just really not sure how.

I haven't posted this on MFP because I don't want to be sent to "in place of a roadmap". (I've googled like crazy and haven't found a single study that even mentions its premises, let alone supports them.)

I know 1260 is low--but I am reluctant to mess with what is working--but I want to have those treats--and want someone to tell me what to do! (Okay, it isn't that simple, but I'd really like some input.)

Thanks, all.
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Old 07-15-2013, 02:02 PM   #2
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I see two options here. The first one is to increase your exercise so that you have more room for treats. 20 minutes of intense exercise can nab you another 100-300 calories.

The second option could be to cycle your calories. It will be a little hard to do since your calories are so low already, but it can be done. Have 1120 one day so you can have 1320 the next kind of thing. Yes, daily we should stay above a net of 1200, but our bodies do not "reset" right at midnight. You could plan for a "weekly" calorie budget and then allocate calories to each day. I know I personally need more calories on the weekends, so I would make sure I eat less on Wednesday and Thursday so I have wiggle room on Friday and Saturday!

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Old 07-15-2013, 02:09 PM   #3
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Default re:

Those skinny cow treats are 100 - 150 calories. That isn't going to make a swig of difference in the long run so I vote for #4.

I have a treat every night, but I build that into my 1200. By the way, blue bunny makes some ice cream treats that are 70 calories each.

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Last edited by Vex; 07-15-2013 at 02:11 PM.
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Old 07-16-2013, 01:20 AM   #4
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I was in your shoes about 7 weeks ago, I chose to up my calories and I'm losing at a much slower place.

Good luck whatever you decide!

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Old 07-16-2013, 02:01 AM   #5
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What's changing that it's harder to stay under that 1260 calorie goal?

I was running into a similar issue last week, but instead of going over, I was way under my goal...like unhealthy way under. I just wasn't hungry. After looking at my history, I noticed I was drinking more coffee than normal, and coffee has a slight appetite suppressant to it, so I cut it down just a bit and I'm finding it to be a bit easier to hit my 1200 calorie goal.

I also do believe that there are times where you just need to allow yourself to have that treat. I, too, keep skinny cow and weight watchers ice cream in my apartment, they are low in calories and quite tasty! I feel that if you always tell yourself no, there will be a time where you just can't say it anymore. I don't always let myself have the treat, but I gauge how I'm feeling, and see if I really need the treat or if I can wait.

I would probably do a mix of 2 and 4...if you think it's a day where you might need a treat, preemptively cut some of your portions to make room for it. But don't beat yourself up if you need that treat and you didn't save the calories...like Vex said, they are only a couple hundred calories, and won't make too much difference in the long run.

If you start to feel guilty about it, cut back on the treats for a while, but don't let it get to you! When I over-eat something I shouldn't and start to feel guilty, I let myself wallow in it for 15 minutes before moving forward. You can't change the past, so I just pick myself up mentally and keep moving forward.

Good luck, you can do this!!!
Started Weight Watchers May 5th, 2013
Started MyFitnessPal June 23, 2013
"Rather than aiming for being perfect, just aim to be little bit better today than you were yesterday"

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Old 07-16-2013, 08:26 AM   #6
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You've done such a fantastic job, i think there are some really good points here. I guess i do a form of calorie cycling where i have a weekly budget and i add in extras when i have left over calories. Sometimes i'm hungry and sometimes i'm not.

Also as buffinlovin asked has something changed which is making it more difficult to stick to? I found a high fibre diet from fruit and veg really helps, i also eat a lot of lentils and beans, nuts avocados. Haven't really been very hungry apart from just before my period. Are you eating food that fills you up? Also are you having trouble with sticking to the calories because you are hungry or because you would like to include certain things in your diet? I know i make space for cheesecake occasionally because i enjoy it!

You could take on an allowance per week specifically for the foods you like to add in? As candeka said you could try calorie cycling by picking a few days where you want the additional 100-200 calories and shave them off other days? Which is what i do.
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Old 07-16-2013, 03:45 PM   #7
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Hi Beth, I read many of your posts here and we are friends on MFP so I can see what you are doing alot of the time...and you are doing AWESOME!!!

My vote is if you want an occasional treat have an occasional treat. There is no doubt in my mind that your eating habits are nowhere near what they were 6 months ago. If your on plan 80 or more percent of the time allow yourself that occasional treat. Skinny cow ice creams are what....150 calories at most, your talking a treat a couple of times a week I'm sure you know you would need to do a whole lot worse than that to do any damage at all.

You know your getting smaller and moving in the right direction. We didn't do this to ourselves in a couple of months it'll take awhile to get to where were going - but we are going

This is just IMO. I would hate to think that you feel your depriving yourself in anyway. Good luck with whatever you decide.
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Old 07-16-2013, 04:10 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Buffinlovin View Post
What's changing that it's harder to stay under that 1260 calorie goal?
What a useful question (no sarcasm). Um, can I say "duh" to myself for not asking it of myself?

I was overly (uncomfortably) full after lunch today--and I realized that I've been augmenting my frequent frozen lunches with too much--fruit and hummus and veggies. I'm probably eating 450-500 calories at lunch--when I'd be better off (and was) eating 375-400 or so.

I think I may also be adding to dinner without taking things away--so, I've got sauteed zucchini and mushrooms planned for dinner tonight--but didn't plan to skip or make my salad smaller.

I think I need to get visually used to fewer items again--and once I do, it'll be easier.

I also had a period of a couple of months where I wasn't able to get any exercise due to foot surgery and am now getting back to being able to walk 20 minutes twice a day (on work days). Since I'm still at a slower pace than I was before, it burns fewer calories, and I'm walking 40 minutes instead of the 50 I was walking before.

All those pieces together add up to that 100-150 calories that I want back for treats.

So, I have a series of conclusions.
  1. 3FC is a wonderful supportive helpful place!
  2. I should augment a frozen meal with fruit or veggies/hummus, but not both
  3. If want both fruit and veggies/hummus for lunch, I should bring a half wrap which makes those calories work out better
  4. I should adjust other portions or choices when I add in more veggies
  5. I should get back to entering all my food into MFP the night before so that I can see when I've put too many calories in for lunch or dinner
  6. I should try and add in another 10-20 minute walk most days (high-impact cardio is just not in the cards)
  7. 3FC is full of wonderful people!
  8. I should have my ice creams occasionally :-)
Thanks so much everyone--your input has really helped and it means a lot to me that each of you took the time to help.
Goal: Back to where I was!
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