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how many calories do you need??

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Friday, April 9, 2010

how many calories do you need??

I have never been a calorie counter in my life, I don't really weigh myself...I eat a healthy diet, and I totally have downfall nights like last night (Ben & Jerry were calling to me...), and I gauge my weight gain/loss based on my clothes and how they fit.  But, I must say, that I did a boot camp a year or so ago, and the trainer made me calorie count, and he gave me a number of calories that I could eat daily.  Want to know what that number was?  1100.  I was allowed 1100 calories a day.  I was STARVING!  (Just an FYI, someone my size who works out the amount I do, should take in about 1950 calories daily)  He told me that pickles didn't count towards my daily intake, so eat pickles I did. I must say I lost 11 pounds in one month, I also must say that the weight came back on, mostly because when we were done with the weigh-ins, I ate to my hearts content.  That was the longest month of my life, and I was the crankiest girl EVER!!  But, I must say, that actually reading labels, and looking at serving sizes/calories really opened my eyes to foods that I thought were good for me, and they actually weren't so good; they just happened to look like they would be, and were sold at Whole Foods.  It was a really eye opening experience, and while I don't still calorie count, I basically know the calories of what I am eating.  And, I think that it is a good idea to read labels, in general, make sure what you are putting in your body isn't full of preservatives and fillers; make sure you are getting real fiber and whole grains, not a ton of fat/calories, and that you are eating the right serving size.

But, I did find this great tool created by the Mayo Clinic for people to figure out their caloric needs:www.mayoclinic.com/health/calorie-calculator/NU00598. Remember, that if you are trying to lose weight, you should be increasing your activity level, and decreasing your calorie intake.  I am NOT suggesting that you only eat 1100 calories a day and do over an hour of intense exercise a day, as I did, it wasn't healthy at all, and it all came back in spades! To be successful, your goal should be no more than losing a pound a week, and while you are exercising and lowering your intake, it is important to allow yourself 'cheat' meals...if you are craving chocolate, have some! There is no point in denying your body its cravings, just don't go crazy with them, and try to eat the recommended serving size.  And, I like to justify some dark chocolate, by reminding myself that it has antioxidants, thus it isn't entirely bad for you ;)

Also, I think that it is important to note that people always only equate calories with food, but remember that alcohol and most beverages other than water contain calories (I know that diet soda doesn't have calories, and the like, but I will never advocate for soda...diet or not, it is horrible for your body and I do not recommend drinking it at all!!).  For example, (approximately) a glass of white wine is 120 calories, a shot of most hard alcohol is 125 calories (mixed with tonic boosts up calories to about 175), and beer has 150 calories (non light).  So, one drink isn't horrible for you, but two or three basically replaces the calories of a meal.  It goes back to eating in moderation, ensure that you are exercising, and try to cut calories where you can...like if drinking plain water is too boring for you, throw in a few squeezes of lemon or lime, or a couple slices of cucumber- it gives it a little zip without adding any calories!

Try to get 25-30 grams of fiber daily, it will fill you up, AND your colon will thank you later in life!  And, there are actually certain foods that help boost your metabolism and/or fill you up so they are great if you are looking to lose an extra few pounds:
-green tea is a metabolism stimulant
-soup has few calories but helps to fill you up and in studies women who ate soup for lunch consumed at least 100 calories less a day
-Grapefruits are packed with vitamin C and fiber, and help to stabilize the bodies insulin levels, thus you curb your hunger
-Apples and pears are full of pectin (fiber) and when eaten with a glass of water can fill you up and be a healthy snack!
-Turkey is a lean meat, full of protein ( a 3 oz serving has only 120 calories and 26 grams of protein- better than chicken!!)
-Hot peppers contain capsaicin which is in jalapenos and cayenne peppers, and it causes your body to release a stress hormone temporarily and boost metabolism
-Oatmeal has cholesterol lowering insoluble fiber (steel cut and rolled oats- stay away from instant, it doesn't have as many nutrients), it's full of vitamins/nutrients, and it allows you to feel full and boost energy!
And, as always raw veggies are full of fiber, vitamins/nutrients, and it takes your body extra energy (in the for of calories) to break it down!

So, I hope this helps those of you who are looking for some weight loss tips, and I know it came be frustrating, but go slow and take it day by day, meal by meal, to lose weight in a healthy, attainable way.  Also, don't set weight goals for yourself...go by how your clothes fit and how you feel, don't get frustrated by numbers on the scale!

Yours in Good Health

B

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