It’s been almost two years since my boyfriend and I both decided to work on losing weight. Ryan had been unhappy with his size for a long time.I was 138 pounds and 5’1. I had stayed in about the 125-128 from age 12 to 23 or so. Even back then I wanted to be slightly smaller but after gaining 10 pounds I was truly unhappy with my appearance. I’m very short so 10 pounds is rather visible. For the first time in my adult life my BMI was outside of the “normal” range. I had only been at that higher weight for about a year but I was happy to join him on the journey so that we could both get healthier.
Ryan was able to do Nutrisystem thanks to my other blog. It worked very well for him, although it was difficult for him to adjust portion sizes at first. The foods looked small, but he quickly realized that he was never truly hungry on the program so those tiny portion sizes were okay. I researched why Nutrisystem was working for him. It was low calorie, but high in protein or fiber. Protein and fiber keep you feeling fuller longer, which made being low-calorie easier.
I used a TDEE calculator to determine that at my short height, I’m probably only burning around 1,450 calories a day while just going about my everyday life. Typically people cut 500 calories a day from their maintenence so that they can lose about 1 pound a week. Ryan eats at 1,800 because his maintenence is about 2,300. However, it’s typically recommended that people stay at 1200 calories minimum to ensure that they are getting all the nutrients they do, so I do that instead.
At 1,200 calories a day I aim for three 300 calorie meals and two 100-150 calorie snacks. The snacks are pretty easy because I stick with yogurt and fruit which easily fall within that range. With meals, I started off using a kitchen scale to perfectly work out my calories. I did this for several weeks, and honestly it was tiring to measure everything out three times per day.
Then I realized that on Nutrisystem, the entrees vary. Some entrees are 150 calories while others may go up to 270. So there are days where Ryan probably eats 2000 calories, and days where he eats 1,500 instead of every day being exactly 1800. So, at the end of the week it all pans out. This made me recognize that it’s probably okay to not measure everything perfectly as long as I am careful not to OVER estimate.
I know that one good lunch for me is eating a romaine salad with 1 chicken breast and minimal dressing. I always use the same bowl, go light on the dressing and use just one chicken breast but of course the breast size varies slightly.
I’ve also learned roughly how many pieces of ham I can put on a sandwich. We buy low calorie bead, so I know that the bread from the sandwich is 70 calories total (35 per slice), I use regular miracle whip but apply it lightly (roughly 1.5 tablespoons, 60 calories) and about 10 pieces of thinly sliced ham in my favorite brand (Buddig) is 90 calories. That means that my sandwich is roughly 223 calories. Sure, slices vary and may mayo may very slightly but I can do this quickly and easily which is worth the slight variation to me.
You get the idea. I have learned what a reasonable 250-300 calorie meal looks like in as many of my regular meals as possible. When I do buy something out of the ordinary or try something new I measure very closely. I won’t be ditching my kitchen scale because I do need it when trying new foods. However, most days I just go to one of my known low-calorie meals that I’ve used dozens of times before and I know I am okay. I only use the kitchen scale once every couple of months at this point. If you’re in the market for a kitchen scale, I’m really happy with my Etekcity digital kitchen scale. It’s simple, affordable and works well. I’ve used it for two years (several times a day at first, now much more rarely) But it’s held up great.
My weight loss isn’t perfect but I never gain (unless I knowingly fall off the wagon and eat poorly, of course). I plan to continue this lazy calorie counting method long term. Once I get back to my goal weight I will up the calories a little, maybe just adding in an additional snack so that I maintain instead of lose. I know that if I were to decide to not think about sizes or to eat something new without checking carefully that I would end up gaining again. For me, measuring food for every meal for the rest of my life just doesn’t seem practical, but having an idea of what each meal should look like in a good portion for me is enough.
Do you use this style of calorie counting? If you have another method for keeping portion sizes low without measuring everything I’d be curious to hear!