When I started trying to lose weight, it was unbearably hard trying to eat less than my body required. The hunger nearly drove me mad at times. In retrospect, I wonder if, at a starting weight which was probably around 380, I made it harder on myself than necessary by picking an arbitrary number and saying that was how much I’d try to eat that day to lose weight.
I don’t think I experienced “starvation mode”, because I didn’t count calories everyday at first and didn’t greatly restrict my eating 6 out of 7 days a week at first. I do think, however, that things could have been just as effective, but smoother had I eaten 500 calories below my basal metabolic number everyday from the start. That is, if 3800 was what I needed to stay at 380, I may have been able to lose weight on 3300 calories per day. I don't’ know if that would have worked, but I think it might.
At any rate, I don’t regret the choices I made because they helped me to incorporate delayed gratification into my life quite effectively. Weight loss plans aren’t a perfect science. They’re more like alchemy in which you’re making wild guesses at what to do and on rare occasions it works and most of the time it fails.
The reason I’m thinking about how many calories one can eat and still lose weight is because lately it has gotten a lot easier to eat less. I haven’t weighed myself recently; in fact, I have scrupulously avoided it because I have a planned weighing for mid-June as that marks the one-year anniversary of my decision to try and change my life such that I’d lose weight. My sense is that I’m probably somewhere in the 260’s now, which means that I’m now aiming for 1500 calories a day with some “bonus” nibbling that might take me up to 1600. I’m easily falling in the mid to high 1400’s most days since deciding to scale back my eating a little more. Some days, I’m actually in the high 1300’s without effort.
The main thing which has changed since the early days of my efforts is the frequency and intensity of my hunger. I recall all too well how hard it was in my early one-day-a-week 1200 calorie days. Sometimes, I thought I would just go mad with hunger. I also have found even within the past 3 months that I was having problems throughout the day, but recently something seems to have changed. Either hunger isn’t hitting me as hard as it used to, or I’m much more capable of setting it aside and ignoring it (possibly both).
I can’t say for sure why this is the case, but my speculation is that my body’s energy demands have drastically gone done (as a lower weight means a lower BMI) and my cells and organs have slowly adjusted to the diminished energy levels. Whatever myriad chemical processes keep my body alive have finally gained some sort of cellular “understanding” that this is a situation which does not require klaxons going off in my brain saying, “eat, eat, eat.”
It’s also possible that I’m simply spending those calories better now and therefore I’m more easily sated than before. I consider this as a rather remote possibility because my eating style has not appreciably changed from the start. I still eat lots of chicken breast, quick breads made with fruit and Splenda for breakfast, eggs, controlled portions of rice, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat bread, fruit, occasional small portions of salted snacks, small portions of cheese, pureed vegetable soups, raw carrots and tomatoes, small amounts of chocolate, salads, and tuna and drink lots of tea and moderate amounts of Diet Coke. The diet really hasn’t changed, though I have been more consistent as I’ve gotten used to the (high) cooking and preparation demands. I can say though that I love the food I eat and rarely hunger for something that I feel I have to deny myself. It’s not that I’m such a “good girl”, but just that I have developed really good portion control and can incorporate nearly anything into my plans without losing control or overeating.
The way things have gone lately, and I realize this may be a temporary state (but I hope not), have given me a better sense of how other people manage to eat less on a regular basis without trying too hard. They do it because their bodies aren’t issuing demands and their psyche’s aren’t controlling the path from mouth to stomach. That being said, my psychology still drives me to food for comfort on occasion. Last night was stressful, and I ate about 200 calories at the end of the day as comfort. The only difference about what I did then and what I do now is that the amount I eat for comfort is very small, engaged in much less frequently, and usually within calorie allotment totals for weight loss (and never above maintenance numbers).
Besides the inevitable relief of not having to fight your impulses to eat all of the time or stave off hunger, this state of being feels more peaceful because I find that I ruminate on food much less often than I did initially. I used to go to bed every night thinking about food and imagining what I’d eat the next day. Now, I find that I rarely end up doing that. I also find that I am spending less time looking at the clock to see if enough time has passed between breakfast and lunch to allow me to eat again.
So, I’m glad to say that it gets easier after awhile. I can’t say it “gets easy”, but with practice and further reduction in body weight, it does become less difficult. It has taken nearly a year to get to this point, but I’m gratified to be at this current stage, and I hope it continues to last (or get even easier). I want to note this change because I think it's important to remember not only where I am at this point in the process, but where I used to be before.