How many calories should you eat to lose weight?

by Cathy Parkes on December 1, 2010 · 153 comments

Become a Happy Dieter and Lose Weight the Right Way!


Cutting back on calories is a great way to lose weight, but cutting back TOO far can be counterproductive. I’ve seen a number of people take their calories down to 1,000 (or lower!), and without a doubt they have regretted their decision in the long run. First of all, when you drop your calories too low, your body responds by slowing down your metabolism. This will cause you to burn fewer calories, which is definitely NOT what we want to happen. Also, when your fuel intake dips below what you need to support the activity of your muscles, bones, and organs, your cells simply can’t function properly. Eating too few calories will zap you of energy and can affect your looks (i.e. dry skin, limp hair).

So, it is important to strike a good balance when determining the number of calories to consume each day. An article in the August issue of SHAPE magazine had a formula that I think works really well:

Step 1 : Multiply your weight goal by 10. That is the minimum number of calories you need per day without any physical activity. So, if your goal weight is 130, you should aim for no less than 1,300 calories each day.

Step 2 : Factor in your daily activity. If you have a very active job (i.e. a nurse, a busy mom), you should add an additional 3 calories per pound of your goal weight. So, if your goal weight is 130 and you are super active each day, you should add on an additional 390 calories to consume. However, if you have a desk job and are at the computer most of the day, stick with the number in Step 1.

Step 3 : Tack on extra for exercise. On the days that you work out, add half the calories you burn to your daily intake. In other words, if you burn 300 calories during your workout, add an additional 150 calories to your daily allotment.

Here are a couple of examples:

EXAMPLE 1 : Debbie is a busy nurse, and her goal weight is 125 pounds. Here is how many calories she should target to lose weight:

  1. 125 * 10 = 1,250 calories.
  2. Due to her active lifestyle, she adds on 3 * 125 = 375.
  3. 1,250 calories + 375 calories = 1,625 calories.
  4. When she works out, she burns approximately 300 calories, so we add half of that (150 calories) on to her total.
  5. So, on days that Debbie does not work out, she should target 1,625 calories. On days that she does workout, she should target 1,775 calories.

EXAMPLE 2 : Tracy has a job that requires her to work at the computer most of the day. Her goal weight is 140 pounds. Here is how many calories she should target to lose weight:

  1. 140 * 10 = 1,400 calories.
  2. We don’t add any additional calories due to the sedentary nature of her work.
  3. When Tracy works out, she burns approximately 250 calories. We add half of that number (125 calories) to her total for the day.
  4. So, on days that Tracy does not work out, she should target 1,400 calories. On days that she does work out, she should target 1525 calories.

Now that you know how many calories to eat each day, learn how to spend that calorie budget wisely! Read Happy Dieter’s Top 10 Favorite Foods to help get you started.

If you have any questions, add them in the comments below and I’ll respond just as soon as I can!

Also, I’ve summarized a bunch of great weight loss tips here.  Let me know if you find them helpful!

{ 153 comments… read them below or add one }

Mandee Leann April 10, 2012 at 11:34 pm

This was very helpful. I’m a female “5-5″, 21yrs old. I currently weigh 145 and my goal is 120 in two months, any other helpful advice?

alicia January 3, 2013 at 8:38 pm

I’m 50yrs old an I go on my treadmill everyday for 2 hrs I burn anywhere,to 500 to 900 caloris a day, I keep gaining an not loosing, I eat eggs,veggies,an fruit, I weigh 160 an want to get down to 1.what can I do? Or what am I doing wrong?5

Cathy Parkes January 3, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Hi Alicia! Two hours is a long time to spend on a treadmill. Also, I’m concerned that you might not be eating enough! I would set a reasonable goal of losing 1 pound a week, calculate how many calories you need to consume to make that goal (using the steps listed on the post), and make sure you aren’t cutting back too far. If you cut your calories too low, your metabolism will slow down and you won’t get the results you want. A couple other things I should mention: (1) Treadmills often overstate the amount of calories burned, so you may want to invest in a heart rate monitor to get a more accurate number, (2) Using an online tool like Sparkpeople or a calorie tracker on your smart phone like LoseIt can really help you keep track of your calories, (3) Try switching up your exercise from just walking the treadmill – maybe try weight training, swimming, dancing, biking, or something else. Sometimes that can help you get out of a rut and start losing again. Good luck in reaching your goal, Alicia.

Cathy Parkes January 3, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Hi Mandee! Sorry for the late reply! At 5’5″, I am wondering if 120 pounds might be a bit aggressive. You want to make sure you pick a goal weight that you will be able to maintain in the long run… and still enjoy your life! Maybe you work towards 135 and see how you feel then? In terms of advice, I would make exercise a priority (30-45 minutes at least 5 days a week), and keep track of your calorie intake until you understand how to eat to lose about 1 pound a week. LoseIt on a Smartphone or one of many online tools can help you do that. Other than that, I would make sure you are keeping busy in your daily life, so you aren’t eating out of boredom! :) Good luck, Mandee.

alicia January 10, 2013 at 11:23 am

Thank you. Cathy for info , it was helpful, I figure the treadmill calorie count would be off, that’s why I go longer on it, I do walk . 3.5 miles an take my incline up to 9.5 an back down again an repeat .after I do streatchees jumping jacks,then I use ankle weights an walk 3.3 milesan hour an take incline to 4 back down repeat. Stretch an so on

jennifer January 31, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Hi Cathy.
I am 5’6 and weigh 202 pds. About 6 months ago my MD put me on phentremine and I started exercising and lost about 20 pds in 3 months. Then we agreed to wean off and stop completely which I did. I have continued to exercise and have only maintained. I do 45-1hr long DVDs in variation. Between Zumba and interval training mostly. When I am done I am sweating, out of breathe (reasonably), and red in the face. I give it my all. I started counting “points” about a month ago and have only managed to lose 2 pds. I believe 25 pts which is what I’m eating is approx. 1250 calories. Am I not eating enough? I would like to be about 145. I’m ok with 160. Breakfast consist of a pack of oatmeal or an egg white sandwich on whole wheat bread w/ spinach, lunch is light soup, turkey sandwich w/mustard and spinach or left overs. Along with apple, light yogurt and usually 100 calorie snack. Dinner is usually baked chicken, pork, spaghetti, pizza, burritos, hamburger helper(all with 95% lean meat) along with veggies. I keep all of those within my “points”/calorie range as to not go over for the day. I also have coffee at night w/sugar free creamer, no sugar to help with sweet cravings at night. Help, what am I doing wrong?

Cathy Parkes February 3, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Hi there! It sounds like you are very committed to losing weight and working hard to do so. Congratulations on keeping up with your exercise and calorie tracking. If you weigh around 200 pounds and are exercising ~5 days a week, I’m a little concerned that eating 1250 calories a day may not be enough. Most of your food choices (egg white sandwich w/spinach, apple, yogurt, baked chicken) are really good. However, some of the other items you listed (pizza, burritos, hamburger helper) are pretty high in sodium and preservatives, which may not be helping matters. Losing 2 pounds a month is good, but I understand that you are expecting to lose more given all that you are doing! Perhaps you can increase your calorie count to about 1500, and make sure those extra 250 calories are “whole foods”. So, add in more fruit, veggies, and/or nuts. If that doesn’t work, maybe your doctor can shed some light on a better approach. Good luck and keep up the great work!!

Shilo February 7, 2013 at 1:27 am

I’m 17, and I weight about 165 and i’m 5’6″. I’ve been exercizing for the past two weeks, I watch what i eat and I count calories. I’m in the gym for an hour, sometimes over, and I burn on average a little more than 200 calories a day. I really want to lose at least 10 pounds, but I only seem to be gaining it. Am I not eating enough? Or am I not working out enough?

Cathy Parkes February 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Hi Shilo! Good job on hitting the gym over the past 2 weeks! In order to offer some advice, I need to get a few more details from you. I am curious how many days a week you go to the gym? Also, when you say that you burn 200 calories a day, do you mean during your time at the gym? Finally, when you count calories, how many calories are you eating on average each day? What type of foods do you eat? Trying to lose weight is really a balancing act… it is important not to go overboard on exercise and calorie counting because it is usually not sustainable in the long run. But in order to lose weight, you DO have to make changes in diet and exercise – ideally changes you can stick with for the rest of your life.

Donna February 13, 2013 at 6:03 am

Hi Cathy!
When i started my weight loss 3 yrs ago i was 258 pounds. Im currently weighing 176. Ive got 30 more pounds to go roughly. Id like to reach my goal weight of 140. The last 30 pounds is becoming more difficult to lose. The only exercising ive been doing is walking the treadmill. Im currently walking at 3.5, 30 mins a day 5 days a week. Ive started recently adding in cardio to my workout a few days a week. The weight just isnt really budging much at all. I believe im platueing. On average i eat in the 1300’s and thats counting the calories i burn exercising. 1400’s not counting burned calories. What do you think is the problem to why the weight isnt coming off? Am i not eating enough or working out enough? Id appreciate any advice you might have.

Thanks! :o)

Cathy Parkes February 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Hi Donna! First of all, congratulations on your incredible weight loss! You should be so proud of yourself. So, the hitting a plateau is a really common, particularly when you are trying to lose those last pounds to reach your goal weight. The walking you’ve been doing has worked for you so far, but I think it may be time to change things up in terms of exercise. Your body can get used to a certain exercise routine, and it doesn’t have to work as hard to do that routine after a while. I think you will get better results if you add in a little strength training a couple days a week. If you are gym person, you can join a beginner strength training class there. Or you can just do a DVD at home (like me). Take a look at some of my DVD recommendations…I think Minna’s Emergency workout is really great for people who are just starting out with strength training. Jillian Michaels is more intense. Also, have you thought about swimming laps? I swim one day a week, and the scale always looks good the morning after I swim laps. So, I think if you stick with your eating plan, but vary your workout a little more, that may be just the thing to start losing again. Good luck!! :)

Donna February 14, 2013 at 12:02 am

Hi Cathy! Thanks for replying back to me so quickly :)
“The walking you’ve been doing has worked for you so far, but I think it may be time to change things up in terms of exercise”. I totally agreed with what you said there and that is why i recently added in a cardio workout video along with the walking. So do you think i should stop doing the video and just do strength training and continue walking also? I dont own a car so i cant get myself to a gym at all. I do however have a resistance band that i can shorten for different lengths. Ive been working with that also at times. I cant do any swimming due to not having a car to get there. I have boughten two of Jillian Michaels DVD’s, Killer Buns & Thighs and the Killer Abs. I am concerned with maybe i am not eating enough calories but if you think with what i am eating is good then ill stick with the same calorie intake. I think because ive added in the cardio workout video that my body is holding onto any fluid right now and that is why im seeing the scale go up a bit. This morning i weighed at 179 and i cant seem to get back down to the 173 i was right before Christmas. I did gain 6 pounds due to the holidays and it was starting to come down 2 weeks after New Years and then i thought to kick it up a notch by adding the cardio video and the weight is shooting back up. What do you think i should do? Im at a loss :(
Thanks Cathy!

Cathy Parkes February 27, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Hi Donna! Sorry for my delay in responding this time. Between my mom visiting, taking care of my two kiddos, and Nursing school, it’s been crazy at my house. So, upon second look, I think your calories could be a little low. I am always concerned when people drop below the 1500/1600 mark, as I think it could slow down your metabolism. You are doing SO many things right… I would just add in some strength training 2x a week and keep your calories around 1500. As for the types of food you eat, I would really focus on lean protein, fruits, and veggies as much as possible. I would limit the carbs you eat to whole-grain choices a couple times a day. You may already be doing all this. If so, you can disregard that advice! As I shared in my previous message, you should be SO proud of yourself for all you’ve accomplished. The last pounds are always the hardest to lose, so hang in there and good luck!! :)

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Nicole March 5, 2013 at 12:01 am

Hi Cathy

I weigh 170lbs 5’4 and 32 years old… I would like to reach a goal weight of 145 in 3 months… Right now I just started counting calories so im eating between 1300 and 1400… Ive been doing zumba 3 days a week… this is my 2nd week.. Now the problem… I don’t sleep.. I work 2 jobs and literally average 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night during the work week… Everyone keeps telling me to find a way to sleep but its not possible at the moment I’m not quitting a one of my jobs… How can I stay on track with losing weight… This is the heavest I have ever been … also let me add that both of jobs require sitting all day… some helpful tips for me… And how do I know if I’m balancing the right foods…

kemnedy March 6, 2013 at 1:59 am

I Cathy! I’m 5’5 and weigh 112 and 13 years old. I’ve been running at a fast pace for 20min every night on the tread mill and doing a series of abdominal work outs. My goal weight is 100 pounds. But I can’t seem to lose those extra pounds!! I’m confused on why I’m not losing the weight.):

Cathy Parkes March 6, 2013 at 4:48 am

Hi there! Well, at 5’5 and 112 pounds, you don’t need to lose weight! Also, since you are 13 and still growing and developing, cutting back on calories and trying to lose weight may deprive your body of the nutrients it needs during this important time. Instead of trying to lose weight, I would just concentrate on keeping an active lifestyle and eating healthy (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein). You are the perfect size, and it’s important to enjoy your teenage years without obsessing over weight. Be kind to yourself!!

Cathy Parkes March 6, 2013 at 5:04 am

Hi Nicole. I’m so sorry for your incredibly stressful and busy life right now. I have to be honest that your lack of sleep and sedentary job are two important factors that will likely make it a challenge to lose weight. So, first and foremost – working towards a goal of having one job that will allow you to get at least 7 hours of sleep is really important. I realize that this may be financially unrealistic for you right now, but it is definitely something to work towards… In terms of sitting all day, can you walk around or pace while on the phone? My friend’s husband constructed a “treadmill desk” for his home office, and he walks VERY slowly (1 mph) all day long while programming and doing conference calls. Over the course of a year, I believe he lost over 30 pounds. Anything you can do to stand or walk will help you. One of the reasons I chose a new career path as a Nurse (over a better paying position as a IT manager) was my need to be less sedentary. Sitting behind a computer all day and in meetings (with donuts and bagels always available) was really making a struggle to lose weight.

In terms of your calories and eating. Your calories probably need to be a bit higher on your Zumba days – around 1,500-1,600. IN terms of what to eat – I would eat lots of fruits and veggies, limit your carbs to whole grains, eat healthy proteins (eggs, greek yogurt, lean meat, nuts), and lay off the sweets as much as possible. Keep tracking your calories, as this is a great way to make sure you are aren’t eating too much or too little.

Good luck with everything on your plate, Nicole. I hope that you are able to get to a place with better balance in the near future. Take care!

Chelsea March 8, 2013 at 4:25 am

I’m so lost! I’m 25 and have a lot of medical issues. PSOD, lupus, diabetes, a lot of other things. I take 15 pills at night and 9 in the mornings. Just found out I have IBS and a fatty liver and my stomach dr wanted me to do the South Beach Diet. With me having lupus and also bulging disk in my back I can’t do a lot of exercise like most people. I bought a pool before I was diagnosed with lupus to exercise in, but my dr said just load up in sunscreen if that’s all I can do. I’m only maybe 5’1 I weighed at the dr today 245. Everyone says I don’t look like I weigh that much she even made me do it again today. I’m big boned I guess I don’t know. I have no butt at all its all my belly no legs either. My problem is I’m never hungry I have to make myself eat and that’s once day. I would like to get down to 150 but I don’t know where to start or what to do besides I know I need to make myself eat. If you could email me thanks.

Nicole March 12, 2013 at 12:45 am

Hi Cathy so you told me to bump up my calorie in take I wanted to know if this was too much for my day.. Now remember I’m the one that has the two jobs so I’m up pretty early.. I start work at 3am and my work day ends at 6:30pm so this is what I had for the whole day…

Apple -6am
1/2 Turkey Sandwich on wheat bread with lettuce and tbl mayo – 8am
snack-frosted mini wheats dry 1 cup
1/2 turkey sandwich and tortilla soup 1 1/2 cups and half avocado- 12:30pm
snack- 3 tbls of hummus and 5 whole wheat crackers-3p
mixed lettuce light dressing 2tbls with grilled chk and 1/2 avocado -5p

I had black coffee in the morning and water throughout the day…

So this is what I had the calorie count came out to about 1460 I think it might be more… I feel pretty full does this look like a healthy day… Im really new to this better foods thing so what’s healthy is like someone speaking German to me…

Mignon Spencer March 14, 2013 at 5:09 am

Hi Cathy, I’m 5’9 and I weight 230 pounds. I used to be play basketball in college team and train for marathon competition, I weight 140 lbs before my knee injury, I hurt my knee in a marathon, fell on my knee and totally torn my ACL on both knees. I also have hormone issues since teenage years. Well, long story short, I gained 50 pounds in the year after my injury, and gradually put on 40 more in the 6 years after that. I barely eat any fast food, I cook majority of my food from fresh ingredients, but still keep putting on weight. I knew I was low on protein and high on carbs. Well, I think my metabolism is probably pretty messed up, especially I don’t get to exercise much, and I had tried to fast (skip dinner for weeks) in the past, and 2 years ago, I was diagnosed with depression, which is even worse for my weight. I think I hit my rock bottom and I decided to get my life back.
Now I’m doing some light exercise like weight training, balance ball, 3 times a week, alternate with 2 miles walk(30 minutes), 3 times a week. I had my calorie goal on 1000, eating very healthy, 35-40% lean protein, 25-30% carb, and 30% ish fat, (mostly from chicken, avocado, and nuts). I had some days my net calorie is actually a little lower than 1000, some days about right. I’m hoping to lose 4-5 pounds a week without too much of exercise load on my knee (I plan on doing some elliptical and swimming in the future to add variety). My questions is, is 1000 calories too low, will that suppress my metabolism too much? If my net calories is a little short of 1000, will that be a negative thing?
Thank you very much!

Ashley March 15, 2013 at 6:40 pm

I’m 5 ft and am 137 lbs. I would like to get down to 120 in 2 months. I’m in college and so I walk back and forth to all my students but am also sitting a great deal of time. I work out about 3 times a week. What should my calorie intake be?

Cathy Parkes March 18, 2013 at 2:41 am

Hi Ashley. I would say that on days that you DON’T work out, you should probably aim for about 1350 calories. Depending on the intensity and length of your workouts, I would add another 100-250 calories on the days that you DO work out. Good luck!!

Cathy Parkes March 18, 2013 at 3:07 am

Hi Mignon! Sounds like you are doing really well with exercise. Your nutrient break down is also right on track. You may already be doing this, but make sure to get lots of fruits and veggies in each day. In terms of the number of calories you eat each day, it’s my opinion that 1,000 is TOO LOW. Dropping your calories down to this level may negatively impact your metabolism, since your body will think it’s in “starvation mode”. In response to lower calories, it will slow everything down, which is not what you want! So, I would keep the same nutrient break down, but increase your calorie count to at least 1,200-1,500 per day. Sounds like you are no longer skipping meals, which is great. Maybe add the extra calories in as snacks, which should include a lean protein and ideally a fruit or veggie. The other thing I’d like to mention is that losing 4-5 pounds a week is kind of aggressive. If you can consistently lose 1 pound a week, that is something that you can sustain over a long period of time. Shows like “The Biggest Loser” make it seem like we should lose massive weight each week, but really slow and steady is the way to go! One pound a week will add up quickly, and you won’t be so miserable on your road to goal. Keep up the great work and good luck!

Cathy Parkes March 18, 2013 at 3:13 am

Hi Nicole! I feel so bad for your work schedule… I hope that you can move towards a better work-home balance in the future. :) So, GREAT job adjusting your calorie intake. Your food choices are really good too, Nicole! The only change I would make would be to include a few more fruits and veggies. Perhaps you can reduce 1/2 of avocado and replace it with another fruit or some baby carrots. Other than that, it looks great. If you are full, and this kind of eating plan is sustainable for you, then I think you will be really successful in losing weight. Keep up the great work. Be sure to keep me posted!!

Cathy Parkes March 18, 2013 at 3:23 am

Hi Chelsea! I am so sorry for all your health concerns. I am going to school to be a nurse, but I am definitely not qualified to give you advice on the best way to proceed. If your doctor recommended the South Beach Diet, then that is probably the way to go. If a Weigh 2 Go member is interested in giving South Beach a try, I usually recommend that they begin with Phase II or III vs. Phase I (which is overly restrictive). However, I would check with your doctor to first to make sure that would be OK. As for swimming, I have found it to be an EXCELLENT way to lose weight. I walk up to our neighborhood pool once a week and swim laps, and the scale is always very happy the next morning. So, if swimming is all you can do, that is not a bad thing! Eating at least 3 times a day is important too, and if you follow the South Beach plan, you will be doing that. I realize you have many obstacles in your path, but if you follow the advice of your doctor, I hope that you’ll be able to lose weight and reach your goal! Good luck to you, Chelsea.

Donna March 21, 2013 at 5:36 am

Hi Cathy! :o)
Sorry for not responding back to you, i totally forgot about my post until just now and so i thought id take a look and i seen that you replied. I so appreciate the fact that you took the time to respond so thank you! :o)
Here was your reply to me so you can get familair again…

“Cathy Parkes February 27, 2013 at 4:39 pm
Hi Donna! Sorry for my delay in responding this time. Between my mom visiting, taking care of my two kiddos, and Nursing school, it’s been crazy at my house. So, upon second look, I think your calories could be a little low. I am always concerned when people drop below the 1500/1600 mark, as I think it could slow down your metabolism. You are doing SO many things right… I would just add in some strength training 2x a week and keep your calories around 1500. As for the types of food you eat, I would really focus on lean protein, fruits, and veggies as much as possible. I would limit the carbs you eat to whole-grain choices a couple times a day. You may already be doing all this. If so, you can disregard that advice! As I shared in my previous message, you should be SO proud of yourself for all you’ve accomplished. The last pounds are always the hardest to lose, so hang in there and good luck!! ”

Ok to get you up to speed to where i am at in my journey to weight loss since Febuary. I have already started strength training 3 times a week for the last 2 weeks, added in more cardio. I burn exercising anywhere from 300 to 480 calories a day Monday-Friday, rest during the weekends. I upped my calorie intake to 1500-1600 a day. I finally came back down to 174 just recently and relost the 6 pounds i gained during the holidays. Im currently 174-175. Im hoping with the increase of exercise and calories the scale will start to go down further. I have however noticed the weight loss in my measurements. I measure more often now (every 2 weeks) due to the resistance training and so im seeing the difference in that and not seeing it as much in the scale. My idea was to build muscle to burn the fat and hopefully id start seeing it in the scale but im just not. I get how that all works! I just want to eat the right amount of calories and burn the right amount to lose these last 34 pounds. If you think you can add anything else id really love any suggestion you might have :o) It was nice to see your last comment because it only confirmed what i had started doing already lol so at least i was doing something right even though i was unsure. Thanks Cathy :o) Hope to hear back from ya, NITE!! Donna

emily stoke April 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Hi iam 31 years old i am 185lbs i have been taking pure green coffee bean 3 times a day and i walk 3 miles each day i eat about 1400 calories a day mostly whole foods and i do not eat after 6pm i am loosing weight and kinda fast am i doing this right?

Jenny April 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Great article – it has been really helpful for me. I am 51 years old and have lost 65 pounds over the last 2 years. I am now at 193lbs. I workout 5-6 days a week. I wear a heart rate monitor that tracks my calorie burn. So I burn at least 600-1200 calories a workout depending. 3 days a week, I do bootcamp type workouts with a trainer, 2-3 I run or do other cardio. I’ve been eating around 1300 calories a day and CANNOT consistently lose. I lose 2 then gain 1. I track my food every day. I eat mostly whole foods, try not to eat any processed food. Lots of protein daily. So frustrated – I want to lose at least 30 more pounds. Its not like I’m that close to my goal yet, so I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong.

Mignon Spencer April 8, 2013 at 3:19 am

Dear Cathy, thank you so much for the advice. I changed my calorie goal to 1200 after I saw your response. I have been working on balance diet, some cardio and some weights. Well, it was challenging but I have lost 13 pounds so far. My doctor said I lost 26 pounds of fat, and gained 13 pounds of muscle. Yay!
I do need some help with calories vs net calories. Hope you can shed some light on this. I usually eat around 1200 to 1400, if I work out that day, I would eat more to balance my net calorie to around 1200, if I’m not working out, I will only eat 1200 calories. But I wonder, if I eat 1200 today, and at the end of the day, I work out, like say burned 300 calories on elliptical, my net calories is only 900 now for today. Do I have to eat some more calories to make it up to 1200, like what I’m doing now? Is it a negative thing to have a lower net calorie even if I ate enough in? Cause sometimes, I eat only because I haven’t eaten enough yet, not because I’m hungry or craving.
Again, thank you so much for everything. I feel encouraged to see it’s possible and there’s some hope in front of me.
Hope to hear from you! Have a great week everyone!

Stephanie April 11, 2013 at 11:55 pm

OMG Kathy please help me! I don’t know what to do! I come home and weigh myself I gained 3 pounds in a day?! All I’ve eaten healthy low calorie low carb foods. I can’t seem to lose weight! To start off I don’t even know how many calories to eat! I saw this girl on YouTube she said she lost a whole lot of weight eating 1000 and exercising for an hour. Which I do! And I can’t lose weight I’m hungry all the time. Right now I weigh 147 it’s April 11th I’d like to weigh 130 by May 2nd 2013. I’m 5’5 I’m 18 years old! How many calories should I eat. Also I don’t run anymore! I just do vigorous workouts that target different areas if the body. Like abs and arms one day and legs and butt another day but I workout for an hour. Please just help me I don’t know what to do.

Cathy Parkes April 12, 2013 at 12:13 am

Hi Emily! I think keeping your calories around 1400-1500 sounds pretty good. Also, avoiding late-night eating is a good idea too. I don’t know anything about green coffee beans… just make sure your doctor is ok with it! Other than that, if you are losing weight and feeling good, then good for you!!

Cathy Parkes April 12, 2013 at 12:16 am

Hi Jenny! It really seems to me that you aren’t eating enough, given the intensity of your workouts! If you eat 1300 calories a day, but burn 600-1200, that doesn’t give your body enough calories to function properly. Consequently, your metabolism may be slowing down, which could explain why you aren’t getting good results right now. Using the formula on this web page, calculate how much you should be eating WITHOUT exercise, then make sure to factor in 1/2 the calories you burn via exercise each day. I think once your body gets sufficient nutrients again, you may see your metabolism pick, and hopefully you will start losing again. Good luck!

Cathy Parkes April 12, 2013 at 12:24 am

Hi Stephanie! First of all, please know that your weight will fluctuate daily. There will some days, when you get close to your period, where the scale might go up quite a bit. So, I would recommend only weighing in once a week – in the morning, when you wake up. Also, don’t pay attention to the girl on YouTube. 1,000 calories is NOT enough, particularly when you are working out an hour each day. So, I would recommend using the formula on this web page to calculate the calories you need each day. I’m guessing it will end up around 1,500, give or take 100 calories. Cutting calories too low is completely counterproductive… it will only mess up your metabolism. Make sure your diet is rich in veggies, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein. Don’t overdo it on the exercise either. Make sure you maintain an exercise regimen that you can stick with for the rest of your life. Every day doesn’t have to be vigorous. Think about walking, swimming, skating, or some other cardio in between your strength training workouts. The other thing I want to mention is that at 5’5″, you are not that overweight… so go easy on yourself! Good luck!!

Nicole April 23, 2013 at 2:09 am

Hi im Nicole , im 13 5 foot 3 inches and 202.1ponuds.. Yes i know im oveweigth by a lot,. don’t remind me. But what should i do if i don’t have a job and my goal weight is at least 120 ?? Anything ?

Kaylee April 25, 2013 at 3:19 am

Hi! I’m 14, I, (sadly), weigh 165 pounds. I’m 5’4. I’m trying to reach the weight goal of 125 or 130. If I use these steps, will I actually lose weight? I have a slow metabolism due to the fact that I’ve never be thin, literally. I’ve been on a lot of fad diets, which have ruined my metabolism. Are there any tips as well that you can help me?

Kelly April 29, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Hi Cathy! I am 42 years old and 5’2. I weigh 170 lbs. I have a desk job and sit for most of the day. I want to lose about 50 lbs. I have been cutting back. I still eat what ever I want for dinner but skip breakfast and have something light for lunch. I’m not really counting calories but I make sure I dont go over 1200 a day. Some days may be less though. I have also added some exercise to my daily routine. I walk 2 miles per day. I have lost about 4 lbs in about 2 weeks. Should I continue with this routine or what can I do to improve my chances of losing the extra weight? My goal is 50 lbs in 5 months.

Cathy Parkes April 30, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Hi Nicole! You don’t have to worry about me judging you or anything… this website is all about providing support and encouragement. The good news is that not having a job gives you lots of time for exercise, right? So, I would start walking 5 times a week, and work your way up to 3 miles per walk, at a brisk pace. In terms of calories, I would use the formula provided on this page to determine how many calories you should be eating each day based on your activity level. Make sure not to go too low, as this can mess up your metabolism big time. In terms of what TYPE of calories you should be eating, stick with lean protein, whole grains, and lots of fruits and veggies. When you are just starting off, it’s important to keep a food journal (or use an iPhone app) to track your eating. You will also want to measure/weigh foods to get a good idea of how much you are eating. Typically, during the process of keeping a food journal, you will find foods that you are eating that are contributing too much to your daily calorie budget. For me, I found out that my Saturday morning pancakes (with butter and syrup) added up to over 700 calories by keeping a food journal. BUMMER! In any case, good luck Nicole! You can do it! Check back in with us in the near future to let us know how you are doing! :)

Cathy Parkes April 30, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Hi Kaylee! I’m glad you have seen the light on fad diets. Any diet that makes you cut calories severely or eliminate entire food groups is bad news! Over time, your metabolism should recover. The important thing is to make sure you exercise regularly and keep your calories within a reasonable range (~ 1,500 a day). If you stick to the calories calculated on this webpage and incorporate daily exercise, you *should* start seeing results. When I say results, I mean losing 1 pound a week, which is plenty. The slower it comes off, the more likely you will be able to stick with your plan and keep off the weight. I know too many people who are expecting to lose weight like “The Biggest Loser”, and that is just not realistic or healthy. One pound a week adds up over time, and you won’t be starving yourself or screwing up your metabolism. As for the types of foods to eat – stick with lean protein, whole grains, and lots of fruits and veggies. Keep a food journal and weigh/measure out your food for a while until you get a knack for portion sizes. Good luck, Kaylee! I know you will do great!

Cathy Parkes April 30, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Hi Kelly! Losing 10 pounds a month is a pretty aggressive goal… and not one that you will likely achieve without cutting calories really low and making yourself miserable! So, first of all, you DO NOT want to skip breakfast. After a night of sleep (and fasting), your body needs breakfast to kick start your metabolism. It doesn’t have to be a huge breakfast. One scrambled egg and a piece of whole wheat toast is a great breakfast that will keep you full for hours. By not eating, you will ultimately slow down your metabolism. So make sure you start eating breakfast! In terms of exercise, it’s great that you are walking 2 miles each day. If you can make it closer to 3 miles, and incorporate some strength training a few days a week, that would be ideal. You can take a look at my “Reviews” page for some DVD recommendations that can help you with strength training. And finally, your calorie count is low. I would use the formula provided on this webpage to figure out how many calories you should consume each day. I can tell you that it will likely be around 1,500, given your daily walks. So, keeping your calories under 1,200 is TOO LOW and will result in slower metabolism. While you are losing weight quickly now, if you continue to consume so few calories, you will stop losing weight because of a weak metabolism. So, I would really increase your calories to around 1,500 and be a little more patient with your weight loss. Losing 1 pound a week is great, because it doesn’t require huge sacrifices on your part and won’t mess up your metabolism. It may take you 10 months to reach your goal, but you will be more likely to keep it off in the long run. Good luck, Kelly!

Kelly May 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Thank you so much Cathy! I will try that. I actually have increased my walk to about 3 miles. I am going to continue to increase that. I actually jogged part of my 3 miles last night and I’m amazed that I could at all. I already feel better and that is incouraging. I also have been doing some crunches and working out a little with 5 lb dumb bells. I will try to start eating breakfast. I just have never been a breakfast person but I know it is the most important meal of the day. I am really enjoying this whole “lifestyle change” right now and I pray that I always will. Thank you for the helpful advise!

Danielle May 3, 2013 at 8:56 am

Hi Cathy! I’m 4’11 & 155 lbs. My goal weight is 120 lbs or close to it. I plan on changing my diet so that I’ll be eating healthier foods & working out 3 times a week. How many calories should I intake each day? And how long do you think it will take for me to reach my weight goal?

Cathy Parkes May 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Hi Danielle! I think your goal weight sounds very reasonable. As for how many calories you should eat each day, I would use the calculations shown on this webpage. It will give you a specific number based on your goal weight, height, activity level, etc. The people who are most successful in losing weight and keeping it off typically lose 1 pound a week. If you did that, you would reach your goal weight in 35 weeks. That is great that you have a plan for eating healthier foods and working out 3 times a week. After a while, you may want to increase the number of days you exercise to 5 days, and incorporate both aerobic and strength training exercises. Good luck Danielle. Keep us up to date! :)

Cathy Parkes May 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Hi Kelly! I am so happy to hear about all the great lifestyle changes you are making. Great job with the walking/running and strength training. Sounds like you are feeling good and on the right path to success. Keep up the great work!! :)

Kiyah May 7, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Hi Cathy,
I am 33, 5 foot 5 and weigh 178 pounds. I would like to lose 10-20 more pounds. I am struggling right now with how many calories I should consume daily. I have been consuming 1200 calories per day without excercise. I exercise 4-5 days a week but the scale hasnt moved in months. How many calories should I consume on days I exercise and days that I dont exercise?

Sarah May 7, 2013 at 8:27 pm

I think the amount of calorie intake that is being told is incorrect. At least it is for me. I try to stay around 1200 calories a day. I have been on my diet for about 1-1/2 months now and I have lost 15lbs. If I eat more that 1200 calories I gain 1/2 to a lb. If I stay around 1200 or less I lose 1/2 to a lb. I am 5’9 and weight 175 now and I started at 190. I work out 6 days a week, 3 to 4 days out of those 6 days I works out twice a day (30 minutes each time). So no matter how much I workout, if I go over the 1200 calories I gain.

Cathy Parkes May 8, 2013 at 2:25 am

Hi Sarah! It sounds like you have a weight loss plan that works for you, and that is great. Based on my experience as a weight loss support group leader for many years, it’s my opinion that 1,200 calories a day is too low for someone who is tall and exercises regularly. I think cutting calories drastically can result in a sluggish metabolism. That being said, everyone is different, and you’ve got to do what works for you. So, thanks so much for your perspective and good luck on meeting your weight loss goal!! :)

Cathy Parkes May 8, 2013 at 2:31 am

Hi Kiyah. Based on the formula provided on this webpage, your target calorie count should be closer to 1500-1600. So, I am wondering if you are cutting your calories too low, which would cause your metabolism to slow down. You may want to keep a food journal and weigh/measure your food for a while to be sure of how many calories you are consuming. Also, you could try changing things up with your current exercise plan. I’m not sure what you are currently doing for exercise and for how long, but variety is key for burning calories. Best of luck, Kiyah!! :)

Carla May 11, 2013 at 4:03 am

Hi cathy,
I weigh about 204 pounds and i am 5’4 i want to get down to 155 pounds but i was wondering where to start i have been working out almost 3 days a week of intense cardio for an hour (kickboxing,jumping rope,running) i just started counting calories on the myfitness pal app. My question to you is my app says im suppose to intake about 1480 a day but does that mean that when i work out i must still meet the 1480 calorie goal? Its been a month and i still havent lost any weight. I dont know what im doing wrong please help. Thanks

Barbra May 12, 2013 at 4:18 pm

I am 15 years old. I am 5’6″ and weigh 158. I play softball for 2 to 3 hours 3-4 times a week. I try to eat as healthy as I can but, I am usually out late and practice doesn’t end until 7:00 or 8:00. I would like to weigh around 130ish. I run close to a mile every other day.

Barbra May 12, 2013 at 7:23 pm

I need some ideas for losing my weight. Please help!

Christina May 14, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Hi Cathy!
I am 26 years old 5’8 and 160 pounds. My goal weight is 145. I used to weigh this much 6 months ago. I was always on my feet, moving around and working out. I had a small knee injury and deployed. The food here is pretty terrible so I was desperate for food. The only thing other than MREs was bread. So not only was I sitting all day but also eating white bread. I cut the bread out and started eating tuna (50g or less of carbs a day!) but was only taking in 700-900 calories a day to compensate for the less than sedentary lifestyle. I was so frustrated from gaining weight constantly but put my body into starvation mode.

I’ve gotten better. My knee has healed and I am able to do physical fitness before work. I average about 1200-1300 calories a day even with running. I just started running 50 minutes (5-6miles) a day. I am considering kicking it up to 2 hours a day (once in the morning and once at the end of the day) to lose this weight. I have a hard time eating food but take about 50g fat, 140g carbs, 140g protein, 25g fiber and 40g sugar a day. I am so frustrated with this weight gain cuz I am used to a very slender body. Should I change to 2 hours or tweak anything nutrition wise? Or am I just impatient?

I am redeploying in 3 months and will go back to my active lifestyle. Will the weight start to come off easier then? I really want to be back to at least 150 lbs before I redeploy. Please help

Nancy May 15, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I am 63 and have gained about 20 lbs. over the last 5 years. I currently weigh 171 and want to lose the 20 lbs to feel better. My exercise level is not what it used to be due to illness and surgery a few years back. I try not to overeat but getting back to moving more is hard! I read your calculations for calorie intake. I am going to try to limit my intake to 1500 calories and increase my daily exercise to walking a mile and 15 minutes of free weights. At my age, would that combination seem efficient to reach 150 lbs in a few months?

Cathy Parkes May 17, 2013 at 2:21 am

Hi Carla! So, your app seems like it has set a reasonable daily calorie target for you. Since you haven’t lost weight eating 1480 calories a day in the past month, I am wondering if your portion sizes could be off. Have you tried weighing/measuring out your food to be sure that you are consuming the amount you think you are? Sometimes it takes a while to get a feel for portion sizes, so it’s important to make sure you get it right or else you might be eating a lot more calories than intended. In terms of your question about how many calories to eat when working out – typically, when you work out, you need a few extra calories to get you through the day. I’m not talking about replacing the amount of calories you burn with exercise, but maybe just tacking on another 100 or 200, depending on the intensity of your exercise. Also, if you could incorporate 2 more exercise days a week, I think that might help. Since you are doing intense cardio on the other days, perhaps you can go for a walk or do some light resistance training. Good luck, Carla!!

Cathy Parkes May 17, 2013 at 2:29 am

Hi Barbra! So, at 5’6″ and 158, you are just a LITTLE out of the “normal” range for your BMI. See this link:

It’s great that you play softball 3-4 days a week. Besides getting great exercise, I’m sure you have lots of good friends on your team. It might be worth incorporating some different types of exercise on your non-softball days. For example, some resistance training or running could help you shed a little weight AND help with your softball game! In terms of eating, I would recommend incorporating lean protein (including nuts and greek yogurt), whole grain carbs, and lots of fruits and veggies. I’m sure you are super hungry when you get home at 7/8pm, so make sure you have some nutritious options that are READY TO GO when you get home. For example, have some cut up fruit or veggies and hummus in the refrigerator.

Just remember that you don’t have much weight to lose. I think 130 is a little low for your height. Plus, you are young and should have fun. Trying to get down to a really low weight will likely make you miserable. So, just aim for 5-10 pounds over an extended period of time. Enjoy your teenage years! :)

Cathy Parkes May 17, 2013 at 2:33 am

Hi Barbra! You came to the right place. I’ve got tons of advice in this website. Click on my “articles” tab, or here is the link:

I’ve taught weight loss support groups for years, so these articles offer lots of practical advice for how to successfully lose weight. The key, in my opinion, is not to go overboard on dieting. Make small changes that you can live with for the rest of your life. Fad diets are never sustainable and can really mess up your metabolism. So, stick with regular exercise and a balanced diet to get sustainable results. Check on my articles, and let me know what you think! :)

Cathy Parkes May 17, 2013 at 2:45 am

Hi Christina! First of all, let me say THANK YOU for your service to our country. My thoughts will be with you when you redeploy in 3 months! I so glad your knee is healed and that you are able to incorporate daily runs into your life. At 5’8″ and 160 pounds, you are actually officially in the “normal” range for your BMI (See this link: I can certainly respect the fact that you would like your previous slender figure back, but as we get older, it can be harder to maintain a very low weight. At your height and activity level (HIGH with daily runs), I really think your daily calories (1200-1300) are LOW. I would really aim for at least 1,500 calories a day. Also, I noticed that your protein is really high and carbohydrates really low. I don’t know about you, but I could not maintain that kind of eating plan in the long run… Maybe you could try increasing your calories, and adding in some fruit and healthy whole grains to balance out your nutrients? Everyone has different opinions on how much protein vs. carbs to eat. I tend to fall on the side of keeping things more balanced. Hope that helps! Good luck!!

Cathy Parkes May 17, 2013 at 2:52 am

Hi Nancy! I’m sorry to hear about your illness and surgery, but it sounds like you are now able to do some limited exercise. It can be really hard to lose weight when you can’t be very active. So, I think limiting your intake to 1400-1500 and incorporating as much as exercise as you can sounds like a solid plan! That will likely result in a loss of about 1 pound a week, or 4 pounds a month. So, to lose 20 pounds, that would take approximately 5 months if you are really consistent with your dieting/exercise. That may seem like a long time to some people, but losing 1 pound a week is the way to go. Losing more than 1 pound a week would require you to make drastic changes in eating and exercise that would likely NOT be sustainable in the long run. Slow and steady wins the race! Good luck, Nancy. I know you can do it! :)

coco May 31, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Hi, I’m trying to lose 40 pounds. I’m 24 years old, 5’5 and I weigh 178 pounds. I wanted to ask you how much calories should I consume to lose weight. Thanks!

Cathy Parkes June 17, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Hi Coco! So, using the formula on this page… Let’s assume your goal weight is 140. Then, the minimum number of calories you need to eat each day is 1400, if your job isn’t super active. Then, on days you exercise, you should add in 1/2 of the calories you burn. In other words, if you go for a run and burn 300 calories, you should add in an additional 150 calories that day. So, your total calories for that day would be 1550. On days you don’t exercise, you would keep your calorie intacke at 1400. Good luck Coco!

Gail June 25, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Hello. I am 27 and I’m 5’4 and weigh 137. I would like to get down to about 125. How many calories should I consume to reach this weight and how long would it take? Thank you!

Cathy Parkes July 9, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Hi Gail. At your height, I don’t think you have much to lose. I would definitely go about it slowly – losing no more than 1 pound a week. So, if your goal weight is 125, that would mean eating a minimum of 1250 calories a day. Then, you need to add in extra calories to account for exercise (1/2 the calories you burn that day via exercise) and your daily activity level (i.e. if you have a very active job). Just follow the steps on this page! So, if you were to lose 1 pound per week, it would take you 12 weeks to meet your goal. However, when you don’t have much to lose (like you!), it can sometimes take even longer. As long as the scale is going down, I would still be happy with a 1/2 or 1/4 pound loss each week. Good luck Gail!

Kayla July 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Hi, I’m a teenager and im 5’6 but I weigh 130. I use to play tackle football for my high school and engage in gym. But now i’m homeschooled so I’m constantly gaining weight, but the only place i’m gaining it is on my stomach, im getting handlebars and fat that I don’t want. How can I get down to about 115 asap, Its getting uncomforable

Patty July 22, 2013 at 3:43 pm

I’m 5″1 and 124 lbs. My goal weight is 110lbs. According to calculations provided above I need to eat 1100 calories a day +200 cal (I burn 400 cal from working out) = 1300 calories a day. I sit in my office most of the time
but I’ve been contolling all my diet… tofu, broccoli, chicken breast, granola, and yogur. I drink a protein shake the morning after my workout. I do a combination of cardio and weight machines. It’s been a week since my workout and I actually went from 120 to 124 lbs! I see myself more toned up overall but why the weight gain? Please help! Do you have any suggestions for getting leaner?

Genie July 24, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Hi Cathy,

I am 5’5 and I currently weight 130.. I’m also 34. I am right at where I need to be however, I want to loose body fat. So how much calories should I have in a day to loose body fat? I also do free weight 4 day of the week and run 2-3 miles two days of a week.

sarah crump July 31, 2013 at 1:01 am

Hi there!! I need help I’m 5″5 weigh 147 my goal weight is 125. I exercise moderately 4 to 5 times a week and am a busy mom…I really need help any suggestions!!

sigourney July 31, 2013 at 10:36 pm

so my goal weigh is 98lbs so ishould eat 980 cal?

Emma August 2, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I’m 5’2 and 143 pounds and my goal is 120 pounds. I spend an hour on the elliptical 6 days a week and I lift weights 3x/week. I burn in between 530 – 600 calories per elliptical session and my heart rate varies from 160-185 bpm. How many calories should I target to lose weight?

So far I’ve lost 4 pounds in 7 days. I don’t know if this is normal but I’m eating around 1,600 calories a days so I’m definitely not starving myself.

Cathy Parkes August 14, 2013 at 2:41 am

Honestly, at 5’6, 130 pounds would be considered a healthy weight. So, instead of focusing on losing weight, I would try to find a way to increase your daily activity level and get more exercise in. It could be that some of your muscle has changed to fat due to being more sedentary with homeschooling. One thing that works really well is getting a pedometer and aiming for 10,000 steps each day. Check out the Omron pedometer I recommend on the “Reviews” section of the website. In addition to getting in 10,000 steps each day, I would make sure to get 30-45 minutes in of additional exercise 4-5 times a week. Make sure to do different types of exercises throughout the week (i.e running/bicycling 2 times a week, strength training 2 times a week, etc). I think once you get more active, you will convert some of that fat to muscle, and feel better about yourself and your weight. Good luck!

Cathy Parkes August 14, 2013 at 2:47 am

Hi Patty. It seems like you are doing a lot of good things to improve your weight and health. If you are eating 1300 calories per day, it is really strange that you gained 4 pounds in one week. Some things that could be to blame include: (1) Perhaps some of the weight gain is due to an increase in muscle mass from your strength training, (2) Weight can fluctuate a great deal due to hormones over the course of the month, or (3) Even though your food choices are good, perhaps you are eating more that you realize. When you first start off counting calories, it’s a good idea to weigh/measure all of your food to be sure you have your portion sizes right. If you continue gaining weight in future weeks despite measuring/weighing your food, it would probably be a good idea to check in with your doctor to be sure there aren’t other complicating factors with your health. Good luck!

Cathy Parkes August 14, 2013 at 2:50 am

Hi Genie. I agree that you are at a healthy weight for your height/age. Since you are not trying to lose weight, you need to keep your calories at a level that would MAINTAIN your weight. So, I would put that around 1,900-2,000 calories a day, given your exercise level. Your strength training regimen should be sufficient to convert body fat to muscle. Just be sure to change things up frequently, so that your muscles are worked in different ways and don’t get used to one type of exercise over and over again. You are on the right track, so keep it up!!

Cathy Parkes August 14, 2013 at 2:56 am

Hi Sarah! I feel like 125 pounds may be a little aggressive, given that you are 5’5″. It is really great that you exercise 4-5 times a week – that is really impressive given that you are busy mom. I would just make sure that you are incorporating both cardio and strength training exercises into your exercise program. If you do the same exercises over and over, it becomes easier on your muscles and you won’t get the results you are looking for. So, be sure to challenge yourself and change things up often. In terms of eating, I would be sure to incorporate lots of fruits, veggies, lean protein, and whole grains into your diet. Try to avoid white bread, alcohol, sweets, and fatty meat as much as possible. If you keep up your exercise and focus on a balanced diet, you should feel better and look better in no time!

Cathy Parkes August 14, 2013 at 2:57 am

I guess I would have to question a goal weight of 98 pounds, unless you are REALLY, REALLY short (like 4 and a half feet tall).

Cathy Parkes August 14, 2013 at 3:04 am

Hi Emma. Wow, you are hitting hard with the exercise. Your heart rate seems a little on the high side… have you looked up your target rate for your age? If not, you may want to do so. So, your current exercise and eating plan seems to be working well – almost too well in fact! I think 1,600 calories a day is great and I would continue to stick with that. However, your exercise sessions sound a little brutal to me, and my concern is that you might burn out in the near future. You also may want to vary your cardio exercise a little. Instead of elliptical every day, how about throwing in some swimming, biking, running, or other exercise a few days of the week? In any case, great job on losing 4 pounds. Don’t be afraid to dial down your exercise a little in order to improve the likelihood that you stick with it over the long haul. Good luck!

anna August 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Hi, I have lost 10 pounds so far on my diet, i understand the concept, but I have read somewhere that after loosing weight the person must cut the calories a bit to maintain that weight. I am 5’5 143 pounds but have gone down to 133, but I am afraid of gaining the weight back. Do I have to cut back some calories?

Cathy Parkes September 11, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Hi Anna! Congratulations on your successful weight loss! Great job! You are right that you need to cut back your calories slightly as you lose weight. This is because your body weighs less now and needs fewer calories to maintain proper functioning. It’s not a lot, however, so if you are continuing to steadily lose weight, I wouldn’t mess with a good thing. If, however, you hit a plateau in the future, then it would be worth decreasing your calories a bit (maybe 100 calories per day).

Kim Thepparath September 24, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I am 34 years old, and i weigh 193. I want to lose weight but i’m stuck about how many calories i need to be eating to lose weight. I have been following calorie count and to lose 1.5 lbs per week it tells me to eat 1370. I try not to eat that much on a daily basis and i also exercise with the elliptical trainer and kettle bell 3 times per week burning around 500 calories. I don’t eat any of my exercise calories back. But i am no really loosing any weight.. Please help!!!

Cathy Parkes September 25, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Hi Kim. Great job so far with your exercise and calorie counting. The only reason I can think of as to why you aren’t losing weight is that perhaps you aren’t eating ENOUGH. You are burning a lot of calories with your workouts, so your calorie count should be a little higher in my opinion. I have seen this happen with several people over the years… they don’t get the results they want, so they keep cutting calories. Unfortunately, when your calories go too low, your body thinks it’s in “starvation mode” and your metabolism slows down. If you give that a try and it doesn’t work, I would check with your doctor to see if there are other underlying reasons why your weight loss plan isn’t working. Good luck Kim!!

alicia theresa carasquero October 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Hi im 30 178 5 feet 1 my goal is to be at 130 I work out once a day 4 times a week two out of the 4 days I run and the next two days im in gym so I will do spin and weights on the 2 days I want to know what ahould be my calorie intake in order for me to loose this weight for my height its way to heavy please give advise

laquisha battles October 14, 2013 at 9:43 pm

I am 36 years old and weigh 193 lbs. I hve been dieting for about three weeks and have lost about 11lbs and haven’t lost anymore what im I doing wrongly

Cathy Parkes October 16, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Hi Laquisha! Losing 11 pounds in 3 weeks is quite a lot, and you should be proud of your accomplishment. I’m not sure why you think you are doing anything wrong, because it seems to me that you are doing great (as long as you aren’t going overboard on calorie cutting or exercise). I am of the opinion that losing weight slowly and steadily is the best way to go. On the Biggest Loser, they lose huge amounts of weight each week, but that is not realistic or advisable. In my experience, people who lose weight too quickly often gain it back. It is better to make smaller, sustainable changes in your life that you can live with for the rest of your life. So, keep up the good work Laquisha and give yourself a pat on the back for all that you’ve accomplished! And if you have any additional weight loss advice questions, you can ask me at free weight loss advice.

Cathy Parkes October 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Hi Alicia! It sounds like you are doing a great job with your exercise program (running, spinning, weights). In order to calculate your optimal number of calories, it would be good to know your daily activity level. Do you have a desk job or are you on your feet most of the day? If your job is more sedentary, then I would keep your calories around 1,500 on the days you exercise and a little less on the days you don’t. If you have a physically active job, then you will likely want to increase your daily calorie intake by 100-200. Remember to choose healthy calories, such as lean protein, whole grains, lots of veggies, and fruits. And keep up the great work with your exercise!! If you have additional weight loss advice questions, feel free to post them on free weight loss advice.

Kevin November 27, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I have struggled with my weight for the last 10 years now and I cannot take it anymore. I have put my body through enough and it is time for a change. At my max weight (a few months ago) at 273, my 5’5 frame could not bear the weight anymore. I have started working out and have lost almost 20 pounds. I am eating healthier and cleaner for the most part and going to the gym 5 days a week. I run a 5k everyday at the gym and have gone from 42 minutes to just over 31 minutes for the 5k. My ultimate goal is weight loss (down to 160-165 range) so what would be the best way to achieve this without starving myself? I generally have a protein bar for breakfast or eggs. I have a protein shake for lunch (after workout) and then a salad for dinner. Sometimes I will eat a heavier meal but not too heavy. I would really like to loose a minimum of 10-15 lbs a month so any methods would be helpful. I am only 29 so I want to make sure that I get to a healthy weight before my energy starts to decline. They say once you hit 30 your body begins to change in different ways related to health. Thank you.

Julie December 28, 2013 at 4:11 am

I’m 36 5’6 and weigh 250 I lost 60 lbs. last year on diet pills but gained it all back I want and need to lose weight I feel terrible think I’m getting depressed please help guide me where to start

Rebecca January 8, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Hi!! I am praying this finds you blessed!!
I am 51 years old. I have lost 86 lbs on a diet program that follows points. :)
I have been maintaining now for 2 1/2 years. Last year around Christmas I became ill. I could not workout, I was just so tired all the time. I hit a wall!! So the nurse told me to start eating protein. I had to do this for two weeks…Long story short I was not allowed to follow my diet program. I gained 10 lbs in all this mess. My body is a wreck. I so want to lose the 10 lbs again!! I do however think that my body is done with the point counting. Could I be right? My point program total is 22…..equals 50 calories a point. I keep a very strict food ledger. Exercise 60 min one day……30 the next, 5 days a week.
My husband feels like I am just not eating enough so it is holding on to everything.
I would appreciate any advice you could give me!
God Bless!!

raymond brasher January 11, 2014 at 12:49 am

Im 67, weight 215, 5’5″ my ldeal weight is 175. I walk 2 mile, 1hr. 4to6
a week. I started out at 225, a month ago, and thanking i could lose a lot of
weight i would cute calories ha! only to find out my weight was staying
the same & some times even gaining weight. So my question is how many
calories a day do i need, & how many a day do i need to lose, to get to my
ideal weight? ps: im not i a hurry.

Rudie January 14, 2014 at 11:35 am

Hi i am a first time mom whose son is now 1 and a half. Before my pregnancy i was 167 with a height of 5’3 since delivery my weight has creepingly reached 214 pounds with my height now 5’3. I want to go down to at least 151 which is a healthy BMI for my height. How many calories would i have to intake daily and lose if im on a 6 day workout plan and strict diet?

Cathy Parkes January 15, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Hi Kevin. Congratulations on your 20 pound weight loss! It sounds like you are eating healthy, exercising, and committed to a new healthy lifestyle. I agree with you that it is important that you not starve yourself (i.e. cut your calories too low). In order to make sure you aren’t sabotaging your metabolism with too little calories, I would keep a food diary and count your calories for a week or so. With your workout schedule, I would recommend not falling below 1,800 calories. Also, be sure to include all food groups in your eating plan: lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. You mentioned you eat a salad for dinner… aren’t you hungry after that? I would add some grilled chicken and another healthy side! The other thing I would keep in mind is that you will likely need to vary your workout routine in the near future to keep losing weight. Running is GREAT, but your body will get used to it after a while, and you won’t see the results you’ve been seeing. Be sure to add in some strength training and maybe some other forms of cardio as well. Keep up the great work, Kevin, and let us know how you are doing in the near future!

Cathy Parkes January 15, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Hi Julie! I’m so sorry for your roller coaster ride with diet pills last year. Please don’t be depressed, but do know that “quick” diet fixes will always fail in the end. Pills, injections, low-calorie diets, etc. will all help you lose weight fast, but aren’t sustainable in the long run. The only way to lose weight and KEEP IT OFF is to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. So, I would start by keeping a food journal, which has been shown to help promote weight loss. I would make sure it eat 3 meals a day (no skipping meals!) that are well balanced. Make sure to include lean protein (meat, nuts, yogurt, low-fat cheese), whole grains, fruits, and lots of veggies. In addition, I would begin an exercise program, if you aren’t already doing so. Fast walking, running, swimming, biking, and strength training are all good choices. If you keep your calories around 1,800 and workout 4-5 days a week, you should start seeing results. By results, I mean losing a pound a week or so, not 4-5 pounds! Some people get frustrated with only losing 1 pound a week, but over the course of a year that is 52 pounds. And the best part is that you are MUCH more likely to keep it off that if you lose weight very quickly. So be patient, be consistent, and be happy knowing that you are going to lose weight the right way this time. Good luck, Julie!

Cathy Parkes January 15, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Hi Rebecca! First of all, congratulations on your 86 pound weight loss! That is fantastic. The high-protein eating plan you went on when you were sick was likely very low calorie, which in turn probably negatively impacted your metabolism. I’ve seen this happen to a number of people, where they cut calories too low, and when they go off their diet, they end up GAINING weight in the end. It is super important to keep your calories at a reasonable amount, so your metabolism will not suffer. So, per your point program, I tend to agree with your husband – I think you may not be eating enough. 22 points x 50 calories a point = 1,100 calories. Unless you are very short, that is usually not enough calories to sustain your bodily functions. If you give me your height, goal weight, etc., I can try and be more specific on how many calories you should shoot for. However, it is very rare that I would ever recommend falling below 1,200 calories a day. There is nothing wrong with using a point system, but you will likely need to increase the number of points you have each day. Good luck and keep in touch!

Cathy Parkes January 15, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Hi Raymond. So, with a goal weight of 175 and a fairly sedentary lifestyle, you should shoot for 1,750 calories a day (on days you don’t exercise). Now, about your exercise – it sounds like you are walking 2 miles in 1 hour, which is a fairly leisurely pace. Do you think you might be able to pick it up just a little bit? When you are exercising, you don’t want to feel out of breath, but conversation should not be super easy. Maybe you can shoot for getting your 2 miles done in 50 min vs. a hour? Also, it would be great if you could work in some strength training, which will help build muscle, increase your metabolism, and help you lose weight. So, in terms of calories on days you exercise, I would add in another 100 calories. This should allow you to lose about 1 pound a week, which a good pace. I’m really glad you said that you are not in a hurry, because losing weight slowly is the way to win this race! Good luck Raymond, and keep in touch.

Cathy Parkes January 15, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Hi Rudie. Congratulations on being a mom! I am a mom of 2 kiddos myself. So, I think your goal weight of 151 is very reasonable. On days you don’t exercise, I would try and keep your calories around 1500-1600. On days you do workout, I would add in 1/2 the calories you burn. So, if you burn 250 calories working out, add in another 125 calories that day. Make sure your diet includes all the food groups – lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and veggies. Also, if you are able to take your baby for frequent walks in a stroller, that will also help! Good luck Rudie! I know you’ll do great!

alanna February 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Hi Cathy,

I currently use my fitness pal which is great. In a little less than a month I lost 4 pounds. My question is what is a good comfortable weight for my height and body type. I’m 5’3 and currently weigh 171. I know I’m overweight, but according to health charts it says I should be 115 pounds! I feel that’s unattainable considering I don’t think I ever was that weight. I would like to weigh 135-140 because although I’m short I have an athletic build with a big bust, so alot of my fat stores in my stomach. Your thoughts?

Cathy Parkes February 6, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Hi Alanna. I completely agree that 115 pounds is unreasonable for someone with an athletic build and a big bust. I think a goal weight around 135-140 would be perfect. If you look at a current BMI chart, you’ll find that the “normal” range for your height goes up to 140 pounds. Using an app such as “My fitness pal” or “Lose It” is great, so make sure to keep it up! I’ve seen A LOT of people have great success by tracking their eating and exercise using these programs. Sounds like you’ve got a reasonable goal, a good tracking application, and desire to get healthy! You are bound to succeed. Good luck, Alanna!

Jay March 17, 2014 at 10:10 am

Hi there,

I am a 46 y/o female currently 129 lbs at 5’2″, small bone structure and body
fat at approx 32%. Even though my weight isn’t extreme, I want
to reduce my body fat percentage and take about 15 pounds off. When I calculate
my sedentary cals (I have a desk job), I end up at 1400 cals a day to maintain current weight. To lose a pound a week (hopefully fat not muscle), I would need to consume 900 calories which I have heard hinders the metabolism. What’s the answer? Can I eat 1100 cals and exercise away 200 a day to get to a net calorie goal of 900 or is this still considered starvation mode? How do short, petite women get rid of high body fat percentage without hurting their metabolism?

Carol Claugherty March 26, 2014 at 6:49 am

I am 63 and trying since Feb 1, 2014 to lose weight. I have been told to stay on A 1200 calorie a day diet and have done that along with working out daily for 2-months and have lost very little weight however inches have come off. I work out 5 times a week for 40 minutes a day either on the stationary bike but primarily on the treadmill walking and running for 40 minutes at 3.7 MPR…every morning I wake up to down 1 pound….up one pound . I do not eat snacks, sugar or fast food….HELP!

Cathy Parkes April 25, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Hi Carol! It sounds like your efforts have been somewhat successful, given that you have lost inches off your body. So, you shared that you don’t eat snacks, sugar, or fast food. I’d be curious what you ARE eating, and if you keep a food journal of some kind. Remember that if you go too LOW on your calories, you risk slowing down your metabolism. A sluggish metabolism is typically to blame when you aren’t losing weight, despite regular exercise and a low calorie intake. So, my advice would be to keep a food journal (if you aren’t already). Also, there is nothing wrong with eating snacks. If you go too long between meals, your metabolism suffers. So, make sure to keep it going strong with regular meals/snacks that contain lean proteins and healthy carbohydrates.

Cathy Parkes April 25, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Hi there! So, 900 calories is way too low, and going that low will definitely hurt your metabolism. Honestly, I wouldn’t drop down below 1200 calories a day. Given your sedentary job, I would really focus on trying to increase activity outside of work. In addition to regular exercise before or after work, I would try to squeeze in extra walking, stairs, etc. whenever possible. In terms of eating, I would stick with lean protein, whole-grain carbs, and LOTS of veggies and fruit. I always recommend keeping a food journal, since it typically highlights opportunities for improvement. It can help you see where you might be eating more calories than you think, or in some cases, less than you think. If you have a smartphone, I really like the “Lose It” app for this purpose. Good luck and keep in touch!

doris May 14, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Hi there,Since the beginning of February. I have been on a weight lose journey.I am 5’4and a half.My weight was 175 in February. As of today my weight is 140.My calorie intake has been 1200 calories.I exercise 5 to 6 days a week for approximately 1 hour. I would like to maintain my current weight give or take a pound or two during the holiday’s. What should my game plan be.Thank you….

Lori Sandeen May 19, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Hi! Finding some great info here….temporary lay off for me, and needed to use the calculator to know how many calories I needed to cut to maintain my weight.

I noticed a lot of you commenting about trying so hard, and not being able to lose pounds. I wanted to share my experience with that. Not scientific, just personal.

A few years back, and in my late 40s, I was struggling and starving myself to the point of barely being able to function. I was also having depression and energy problems. I had resigned myself to trying to work through it, and chalking it up to “old age”.

Well…a year or so went by, it was time for my yearly check-up, and although I did not complain to my wonderful NP, she suggested I get my vitamin D levels tested. It was RIDICULOUSLY low!! Many women over 30 and/or in non-sunny climates have this deficiency. (Some studies link low vitamin D with obesity, but I don’t believe it is scientifically proven).

Anyway, after taking prescription strength vitamin supplements to get my levels up, the weight just started coming off without me making any changes. I was already a light eater and fairly active, so I finally felt vindicated.

If any of you are experiencing similar issues, I highly suggest getting your D levels tested.

april June 5, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Hey Cathy. I’m confused as to why I can’t even lose a pound.. I was on birth control and gained about 35 pounds in a year time.. I had been on weight watchers before that and lost 60 pounds in a year while walking. Ever since I’ve came off birth control about 2 years ago I have struggled.. I couldn’t even lose a pound so I went on a low calorie diet of 800-1000 calories a day with nobexcercise the scale would not budge.. Since then (makes 2 yrs now) I have upped my calories to 1400 on my fitness pal which tells me a should be losing 2 lbs a week and I keep gaining.. I walk 2 miles and burn about 200 calories 5 days a week the rest of the time in sedentary due to my job.. I eat healthy I have peanut butter, raisin bran, fiber one bars, strawberries. Bananas, protein shakes, skim milk, salads. Grilled chicken, etc and always make sure my calories are no more than 1400 and my macros are in order I have one cheat meal a week. I might lose 2 pounds, get excited them gain the same 2 pounds back ive been so upset cause it just doesn’t make sense is my metabolism ruined? And what can I do to change it? I’m 240 pounds 22 years old and my height is 5’8. My goal is to get down to at least 185-190. I dont have thyroid trouble.. Dr said i could lose at 1900 cals a day but afraid to go that high.. I ate around 1200-1400 on ww and lost weight like crazy. please help! Thank you!

Inga August 11, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Hello Cathy, I have been trying for about 4 years to lose 24 lbs. I am a weightwatchers lifelong member but somehow it no longer seems to work. I am in my 60’s, I walk in the mornings and do video exercises in the evenings but I am not budging with the weight loss. I am supposed to eat 26 points daily. Perhaps I am not eating the right foods. I am not really a meat eater, I eat fish, vegetables, fruits, I drink lots of water. Can you please tell me what I am doing wrong??? What exercises should I bbe doing?? I want to stay toned.

Hannah backstedt September 16, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Hi I’m Hannah, I am 20 years old , my height is 5’2 , I weigh about 145lbs and bike for an hour and a half 5 days a week. My goal weight is 124lbs and I was wondering how I can go about getting to my goal in about a month maybe??? I need help. I have tried everything I can think of to lose weight and nothing has payed off so far:/ is this doable?

Ashlee November 5, 2014 at 4:03 am

Hello! I’m 15 and 5’6 and 165lbs and I really need to lose weight because I’m over weight I want to lose 20lbs and I have just started to jog/walk for half an hour three times a week! I need help because I am totally clueless!!!!

Vivian December 5, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Hi, I’m 35yrs old , I’m 5’6 and weigh 161. I just lost 60 pounds in 4 months. I would like to know how I can loose 10 more pounds without working out, and maintaining that weight. I work out 4 days a week like for an hour and a half. I’m scared that if I stop working out I might gain the weight back. I’m tired of working out.

Linda December 8, 2014 at 3:43 pm

I’m 5’2 and I weight 139lbs and my goal is to be 100 lbs in one month. How can I do that?

Cody Hutchins December 24, 2014 at 5:28 am

Hey I am cody I am 13 I weight 250 my doctor said I need to go on a diet cause he said I am obese

Amber January 2, 2015 at 1:37 pm

I’m 4’11” and currently weigh between 130 and 140 lbs. I’m not very active and am on Prozac for PMDD. By the calculations on this page, I should only be taking in 1,050 calories if I want to get down to 105lbs. Won’t going that low slow my metabolism down?

Gaby January 8, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Hi! I’m 5’6 156lbs n 30 years old! I’m getting married in sept and want to weigh about 135-140. I go to the gym 5-6 times a week for about an hour and a half. I eat about 1200-1300 calories a day. My down fall is carbs! Im also a Vegetarian! I love bread and pizza n all kinds of good stuff you know the good stuff that’s bad for you! I pretty much eat everything I want but down sized it to do a portion control so if I ate a large fry now I only eat a small fry. If I ate 4 slices of pizza Im down to 2 slices plus a salad with lemon wedges. Am I doing things correct? Any advice would be great! Thank you!!

Daniel January 10, 2015 at 10:00 pm

Hi there! So I am 5’8 and at 133 pounds and currently trying to lose 10 more pounds. In the past year i have shed of 20 pounds but I’m finding. It extremely difficult to lose these last 10 pounds. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables along with a lot of protein. I try to exercises as much as possible after school because I wrestle, play football, and run track. I try to intake about 1600 calories a day. Any suggestions to help? Thank you!

Lyn January 14, 2015 at 11:29 am

Hi Cathy I am 33 years old and weight 173 5ft 2inch my goal is to weight 130 or 125. My work out active is Zumba core for 1hr and my scale eating average to 1000 calorie a day or less. Will that help me lose weight. Also I do a little of walking in fast paste. Please help me and let me know what I’m doing wrong. Thank you looking forward for your response..

Abby January 17, 2015 at 5:32 pm

I am 17 yrs old and I weigh 113 lbs. I’m vegetarian and have been on a 1,200 calorie diet. I workout 5-7 times a week, usually burning only 150-400 calories. I’ve been on this diet for 2 months now and have lost 10 lbs. recently, I haven’t been able to loose weight like I have been and have been maintaining it. What am I doing wrong? Am I eating enough? I usually eat a lot of fiber one products, Special K, and “healthier” type foods.

Cathy Parkes January 19, 2015 at 10:40 am

Hi Abby! I am wondering how tall you are? Because 113 lbs is a very low weight, and at 17 years old, you need to make sure you keep your calories and nutrients up to support your growth. Unless you are super short, you don’t need to diet! Don’t waste your teen years obsessing about weight… instead, focus on and appreciate how strong and healthy your body is!

Cathy Parkes January 21, 2015 at 11:09 am

Hi Lyn! So, I think your goal weight is reasonable, and Zumba and walking are great ways to exercise. However, your daily calorie budget is too low in my opinion. I think keeping your calories around 1500 (1200 at the LOWEST) would work much better for you. At 1000 calories, your body thinks that it is starving and SLOWS everything down. Consequently, your metabolism suffers. You want to make sure you keep your metabolism running hot, so it’s important to eat enough to keep it going. The only other advice I would give you is to perhaps fit in some strength training once or twice a week to help build lean muscle. This will help you burn more calories and look better too! Good luck Lyn!

Cathy Parkes January 21, 2015 at 11:13 am

Hi Daniel, your weight is totally in the “Normal” range. You don’t need to lose weight at all! Keep up the healthy eating (i.e. fruits, vegetables, lean protein) and awesome exercise (i.e. wrestling, track, football). You are PERFECT as is, so enjoy your youth and appreciate how strong and healthy your body is. :) Happy Dieter

Cathy Parkes January 21, 2015 at 11:23 am

Hi Gaby! Your weight is JUST outside the “normal” range for BMI. Sounds like you are spending A LOT of time in the gym, which is great. You just need to make sure you fuel your body properly in order to maintain that exercise regimen. Personally, I would increase your calories to about 1500 a day. I hear you on liking carbs and the bad stuff… I have a sweet tooth myself. However, the types of food you are eating are fairly low in nutrients and high in fat (pizza, fries). If you could transition to eating more healthy, nutrient-dense foods, this would definitely help you reach your goal faster. I would focus on whole grains (oatmeal, WW bread, quinoa), lots of fruits and veggies, lean protein and dairy (chicken breast, pork tenderloin, greek yogurt, low-fat cheese). You’ll also find that you can eat a lot more if you stick to these types of foods… which will help you feel fuller longer. Good luck Gaby!

Cathy Parkes January 21, 2015 at 11:28 am

Hi Amber, given your height (4’11”), your weight is JUST outside the “normal” range for BMI. I am wondering how many calories you take in per day right now? If you are not very active, I would focus on keeping your eating the same and increasing your activity level. Exercise will not only help you lose weight, but should also help your PMDD. I agree that 1,050 calories is not much… if you can keep your calories consumed constant and just burn more calories via exercise, I think that is the way to go. Try to pick exercises that you ENJOY, and don’t hesitate to think outside the box (i.e. dancing, skating). Good luck Amber! :)

Cathy Parkes January 21, 2015 at 11:35 am

Hi Cody! So, given your weight of 250, your doctor is right that you need to take action to improve your health. That is a lot of weight to be carrying around at 13 years old. Unfortunately, it puts you at risk for a lot of health issues (including type 2 diabetes). Managing diabetes is NOT fun (i.e. daily finger sticks and insulin injections). It can also lead to serious problems with your heart, kidneys, eyesight, etc. So, it’s good that you are taking action to avoid these things. So, Cody, the best way to lose weight is to EAT the right kind of stuff and to EXERCISE. There is no magic bullet… it’s really as simple as that. I would love to know what you eat on a typical day and your current activity level. If you can write back and let me know, then we can go from there. As I’ve suggested to other people, it’s important to eat whole grains, lean protein, and lots of fruits and veggies. It’s also important to minimize your time using electronic devices and get some exercise. Signing up for a school sport is a great way to get in exercise, Cody. In any case, it’s a new year and a great time to start new healthy habits. Hope to hear from you soon!

Cathy Parkes January 21, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Hi Linda! So, to answer your question “How can I lose 39 pounds in one month?” – To put it simply, you can’t. That is WAY too much weight to lose in one month. Plus, weighing 100 pounds at 5’2″ would make you UNDERWEIGHT. So, I think a healthier, more realistic goal is in order. How about a goal of 130 pounds in about 3-4 months? If you lost 3/4-1 pound a week, you could get to that goal in that time period, and you wouldn’t have to starve yourself to do so. If you reduce your calories by 500 per day – through diet and/or exercise – you will lose approximately 1 pound a week. This is a good pace and one that is maintainable. Make sure to exercise ~5 days a week if possible, and eat lots of healthy, filling foods (whole grains, lean protein, fruits, and veggies).

Cathy Parkes January 21, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Hi Vivian! Congratulations on your weight loss. I agree that you are working out A LOT – 1.5 hours four times a week can get old. I think it is a good idea to change up your exercise program, but not stop it. Exercise is key to losing weight and keeping it off. I’m not sure what kind of exercise you are doing, but it sounds like its time to change things up. I would recommend working out 4-5 times a week, but for shorter durations (maybe 40 minutes?). I would also add variety. So, each week, incorporate different exercises such as running, fast walking, swimming, strength training, Zumba, yoga, and/or whatever exercise you like! The important thing is to NOT do the same thing every day. You will get better results with variety AND you will be less bored. After you change up your exercise routine, you can focus on your eating and identify areas for improvement. Are you eating whole grains, lean protein, and lots of fruits and veggies? What is your daily caloric intake? Making small, sustainable changes in your eating can make a big difference over time. Good luck Vivian!

Cathy Parkes January 21, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Hi Ashlee! I think you have a great weight loss goal of losing 20 pounds, and you are on the right track with your new exercise program. Jogging/walking a couple times a week is an AWESOME way to lose weight and get fit. You may also want to think about incorporating some strength training into your exercise program… and maybe some swimming once a week to give your legs a break (if you have access to a pool). Now, the OTHER thing you will need to do to lose weight is to eat the right types of food – whole grains, lean protein, and lots of veggies and fruit. What is your typical diet, Ashlee? Keeping a food diary is a great way to “discover” where you have opportunities to improve your diet… It’s a pain, but can really make a big difference when it comes to losing weight. Hope to hear from you soon, Ashlee! Good luck!

Cathy Parkes January 21, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Hi Hannah! So, your weight goal is reasonable, but your time frame is not. Losing 21 pounds in one month is WAY too aggressive. I personally feel that losing 1 pound a week is doable and sustainable. It will take you longer to reach your goal, but your chances of succeeding and keeping off the weight are MUCH higher. So, in terms of how you go about doing this… I would keep up the bike riding if you enjoy it. However, would you be OK switching out a couple days of biking for some other form of exercise? It’s important to include a variety of activity, so your muscles have to work a little harder. If you do the same type of exercise ALL the time, your muscles adapt and get used to it. And then they don’t have to work that hard… Also, depending on your current diet, you may need to adjust your eating. Make sure to include whole grains, lean protein, and lots of fruits and veggies in your diet. These types of foods will give you the energy you need for your bike workouts AND help you shed pounds. Good luck Hannah!

Cathy Parkes January 21, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Hi Inga! So, first of all, good job maintaining a regular exercise program! That is an important component in any weight loss program. However, if you have been doing the SAME exercises for a long time, it may be time to change things up a bit. Maybe instead of a walk some mornings, you can try a water aerobics class or strength training? Or, instead of walking at the same pace every morning, you can try to do some intervals of fast walking. Since you mentioned you want to stay toned, incorporating strength training into your exercise program would be a great way to do this. You can strength train at home or at the gym… If you are able to afford it, it would be great to have a trainer show you some safe, effective exercises to perform. In terms of eating, it doesn’t really matter whether you track points or calories – it’s pretty much the same thing. Your diet sounds perfect – fish, veggies, fruits, and lots of water. You may want to keep a food journal and add up how many calories you are eating to see if you are eating LESS or MORE than you think. If your calories are too low, this can slow your metabolism. If they are too high, this will obviously prevent weight loss from occurring. However, it definitely sounds like changing your exercise program is the biggest opportunity for you to kickstart your weight loss…

Cathy Parkes January 21, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Hi April! I can understand how frustrated you are to work so hard and not lose weight. It sounds like the birth control may have been a contributing factor to your weight gain. In addition, I am guessing that part of your current issue may also be related to the super-low calorie diet you were on previously. Reducing your caloric intake that low can really mess with your metabolism, and it can take years to get it back on track again. I’m glad to hear that you are working with your doctor, and that he/she is checking on other potential causes for your weight loss issues and is giving you guidance. At your current weight, you *should* be able to lose weight at 1900 calories a day (as your doctor shared). I think the first thing I would do is keep a food journal and add up how many calories you are eating a day (be sure to measure your food!). Some of the foods you listed aren’t unhealthy, but are pretty high in calories, such as raisin bran and peanut butter. With raisin bran, if you pour a big bowl, you are getting A LOT of calories. You would probably be better off with a bowl of oatmeal… I also find that greek yogurt or eggs are good breakfast choices that are lower in calories and fill you up. Peanut butter is also pretty high in calories, so you will likely want to use it sparingly. If you keep a food journal, you will see where your problem areas are and can address those areas specifically. In terms of exercising, walking is great, but I would mix in some other forms of exercise. For example, strength-training, dancing or swimming could really increase your calorie burn. This in turn would help you lose weight more quickly. In terms of your sedentary job, do whatever you can to help make it a little less sedentary. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, stand up and talk on the phone, etc… Hopefully some of this advice will help and you will be one your way to goal! Good luck April!

Cathy Parkes January 21, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Hi Lori! Thanks for sharing your story. There are many medical reasons that can make it difficult to lose weight and/or keep it off. It is always important to get annual physicals (that include bloodwork!) to rule out issues such as hypothyroidism or low Vitamin D levels. If an individual has one of these issues, then attempts at weight loss will be a difficult, uphill battle. Thanks so much for the suggestion, Lori.

Cathy Parkes January 21, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Hi Doris! Well, it is already after the holidays… sorry for my late reply! Nursing school has been time-consuming to say the least. So, first of all, congratulations on losing weight. That takes a lot of commitment and hard work, so hats off to you! If you are losing approximately 1 pound a week when eating 1200 calories a day, you should be able to increase that to 1700 calories a day and MAINTAIN your weight. So, that gives you about 500 calories a day extra during the holidays to spend wisely… Be forewarned that it is really, really easy to go over that amount. So, decide ahead of time what is MOST important to you to eat. For me, it is pie. For others, it might be stuffing. However, if you eat stuffing AND pie AND gravy AND etc… you will definitely go over that 500 calorie budget. The other important thing to keep in mind during the holidays is to keep up your exercise program and/or increase it! Often people gain a lot of weight during the holidays because they are eating a lot more AND are sedentary. However, it is totally doable to maintain your weight loss. It will just take some planning and discipline… Best of luck during the next holiday season!

Selina Lopez January 22, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Hi Cathy, I’m 28 yrs old. I am 5ft. 1in. and I weigh 225lbs. I started dieting the first week of January. I weighed 240 at that time I went from drinking one glass of water once a day to drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day. I went from a calorie intake of about 2800 calories to 1250. I have cut out fastfood, sweets, and all junk food, completely. I started a food diary last week and i eat on a schedule which follows.
6am get up
7am breakfast w/ 1 bottle of water which is 16oz
10am have snack of 100 cals. or less with 1 bottle of water 160z
1pm have lunch w/1 bottle of water 160z
4pm have snack of 100 cals or less with 1 bottle of water 16oz
7pm have dinner w/ 1 bottle of water 160z
8pm walk on the treadmill for 1-1 1/2 hrs losing roughly 380-400 cals
most of my calorie intake per day is around 1600-1650 so i walk depending on how many calories i need to lose in order to keep at a 1250 calorie a day intake now the thing is ive been stuck at my current weight its been about 1 week since ive lost weight im still at 225 and the scale hasnt budge my days consist of taking care of my three babies i have a 5yr old, a 3yr old, and 1yr old, my two oldest just started back at school so im down to just my little one im a stay at home mom so i have plenty of time to do anything so is there anything u recommend me doing im desperately trying to lose weight im supposed to weigh around 115 my bmi and weight calculator say so, so can u please help me. Thank You

Ashley January 24, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Dear Cathy
Hi Im 14, but turning 15 in little under 2 months.I’m 5’7 or 5’8 and 204 pounds, about 3 months ago, I weighed 215 pounds, I’ve lost weight and noticed, but my goal is 165-175 pounds,tl the areas I really want to lose are my Stomach, love handles, back, and thighs. I don’t know how much calories I take in daily but I know, I exercise almost 7 times a week for around 30- 1 hour, 5 days a week I have school so I walk 2 miles a day just walking to school, and on some occasions I walk to the store with my dad thats a mile at least, so a week I walk about 12 miles….Is that bad or good? I need some kind if help getting this weight off? Please and Thank you

Annie January 24, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Hi. Im needing lose weight in a fast matter. Im around 180 and need to lose half if not more before graduate in 4 months. Whats the quickest fastest and safest way to shed pounds fast?

Cathy Parkes January 28, 2015 at 11:11 am

Hi Annie. Congratulations on your upcoming graduation. So to answer your question, losing weight quickly is not only difficult, but that sudden weight loss is rarely sustainable. In fact, the people I know who went on a very restrictive diet to lose weight quickly ended up gaining it all back PLUS some. So, I definitely don’t recommend trying to lose weight super fast… the changes you would need to make to do this are rarely sustainable. I recently met a woman who lost over 100 pounds in a year, which is A LOT in a short period of time. How did she do it? She cut out all sugar and all flour. Her diet basically consists of vegetables, salad, chicken breast, fruit, plain yogurt, oatmeal, and brown rice. These foods are ALL good foods to incorporate into your food plan and can definitely help with weight loss. However, what do you do when it’s your birthday and you want a piece of cake? Is there anything wrong with a small handful of whole grain crackers? What about a small peppermint patty after dinner? For people who maintain a very STRICT diet, indulging in any one of these things can be a slippery slope… and often ends up with binging and lots of weight gain. So, my recommendation is to use a more moderate approach, which results in losing weight slowly, but you are much more likely to keep the weight off. I’m all for whole grains and less sugar, but I personally don’t think cutting out all flour and sugar is sustainable. Good luck, Annie!

Cathy Parkes January 28, 2015 at 11:19 am

Hi Ashley! So, first of all, I must commend you on your dedication to exercise. Working out every day and incorporating walking into your daily life is a great way to stay fit and healthy. So good for you! I’m guessing your excess weight has less to do with exercise and more to do with what you are eating. So, I would maintain your exercise program and start focusing on your food consumption. I always recommend that people keep a food journal for a couple weeks to get a feel for what you are eating, how many calories you are consuming, and what your areas for improvement are. Take a look at my article on how keeping a food journal can help you lose weight. The key is to focus on portion control and the eat lots of whole grains, lean protein, fruits, and veggies. Good luck, Ashley!

Cathy Parkes January 28, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Hi Selina. It sounds like you have made many positive changes in your life to help support your weight loss efforts. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day is great. It’s good a way to stay hydrated and energized. Also, cutting out fast food, sweets, and junk food is awesome. You didn’t mention exactly what you ARE eating, but I’m hoping it is lots of lean protein, whole grains, veggies, and fruit. :) You haven’t slashed your calorie intake too much, which is great. People often make the mistake of eating TOO little, which can really mess up your metabolism. So, based on what you’ve told me, I have two items of advice. The first is – be patient. There will be some weeks where the scale won’t budge, even if you are doing everything right. Your hormonal cycle can have a huge impact on your weight, such that the week before your period, you may be UP several pounds. The important thing to remember is this a marathon, not a sprint. I’m guessing if you stay consistent with your plan, the scale will start moving down again. The other thing I would recommend is that you change up your workout routine a little. Instead of walking EVERY day, maybe walk 3 times a week and do something else on the in-between days. For example, strength training can really help your weight loss efforts. If you build up some lean muscle, it will pump up your metabolism AND make you look better. With a kiddo at home, a DVD and some hand weights will do the trick. If you want some recommendations, click here. I really like Minna’s Emergency workout and Jillian’s 30 day shred. Other exercise ideas include dancing, swimming, and biking. In any case, keep up the good work, Selina!

Amanda February 20, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Hi! I’m 5’5″, and weigh 1380lbs. I want to lose at least 10. I have a desk job so right now I exercise between 45 minutes to an hour (burnign around 165-175 calories per workout) 3 times a week (depending how busy I am, sometimes less sometimes more). I use myfitnesspal to track my food and it has me eating around 1200 calories a day. I was just wondering if this is a good or a bad caloric intake for weight loss given my activity level? Thanks!

Cathy Parkes February 27, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Hi Amanda! Given that most of the time you are sitting at a desk, I think this is a reasonable amount of calories to eat a day. My advice would be to make sure you DON’T fall below 1200 calories, as this will slow down your metabolism. Also, you might want to think about increasing your number of exercise days to 5 (and increase your calories to 1400-1500 to go along with that). I’m not sure what kind of exercise you are doing, but 165-175 doesn’t seem like a lot for 45-60 min worth of exercise. Are you walking? You might want to think about ways to get more out of your time… like doing intervals (combo of walking and running), swimming, or working out on a elliptical. Those exercises definitely burn more calories than just walking. Also, whenever possible, look for ways to get more steps in each day. Read Top 20 List: Get more steps in each day ! Good luck, Amanda.

Jenny February 28, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Hi Cathy! Thank you so much for all this great information! Question… if I go gluten free, will it help me lose weight?

Cathy Parkes March 3, 2015 at 9:29 am

Hi Jenny! Great question! I often get asked if going gluten-free can help you lose weight, so I decided to write an article about it. Check out Will going gluten-free help me lose weight? I hope my recommendations will help you make the right decision for your personal situation. Good luck and keep us informed about your weight loss progress!

Olga March 11, 2015 at 10:35 am

Alicia this is to respond to your post,you should reduce your egg intake and
eat lean meat /and or start eating fish instead, reduce your carbs intake
it will drastically change you don’t try to look the mirror often ,but do that in every fortnight, you will see great changes I promise you .
1-reduce your carbs intake
2-eat lean/fish your exercise routine is great but add lil muscle to it because the m,ore muscle you can gain the faster you will lose that extra fat,not trying to make you like a boxer or anything closer to that but just a head up for you.
Good luck and continue follow these simple suggestions , and you will rock an roll:))

Alisha March 21, 2015 at 11:16 pm

Hi cathy im recently 5,6 and i weigh around 112 however i am trying my best for a flat stomach but i havent gotten the results ive wanted therefore im wondering if im eating to little, i usually start my day with a banana, orange and a apple then at lunch i eat 2 boiled eggs and last for dinner i have a salad mixed with cucumbers, lettuce , a bit of salad dressing and sometimes a little of chicken. however i do workout alot by doing 40 crunches ,100 hip thrusts, 50 squats, cardio for 10-30mins, 1 minute planks, and 20 push-ups (expected). Thank you so much for reading this!!!!! :D

Mary Allen March 29, 2015 at 11:22 am

I’m 15 years old and I weigh 160 lbs. I am a competitive swimmer, so I swim 4 -5 times a week, 2 hours a day. I want to lose at least 10 pounds lighter but it is hard because as a swimmer, it is important that I have enough carbs and protein. Any advice?

Thank you

Akilyah March 31, 2015 at 9:29 am

Hi I’m 5’8 weighing around 225. My goal weigh is between 175-160, focusing on 20lbs at a time. What do you think is a healthy reachable goal time frame. I also will be starting my exercise back up run/ walk 4-5 time per week for 30 mins and strength/ weight lifting 3 times a week.thanks in advance for any advice,

Cathy Parkes March 31, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Hi Alisha! At 5’6″ and 112 pounds, your BMI actually falls in the “underweight” range. So, to answer your question “Am I eating too little?”, the answer is definitely YES. The calories you consume each day are not sufficient to support the metabolism of someone your height. I like that you are eating 3 servings of fruit a day, but why are you eating them all at breakfast? Maybe try eating one of the fruits with breakfast, along with a greek yogurt or oatmeal? Then you can have another fruit with your boiled eggs at lunch, along with some OTHER food (whole grain crackers, salad, etc)… Your dinner is also tiny. A salad with a little bit of chicken and dressing is not enough… add in some healthy carbs (brown rice, quinoa, etc) and additional protein (chicken, beans, etc). Your exercises sound fine, but I don’t know how you have the energy to do them, given how little you eat. What is most important to understand is that you don’t need to lose weight right now, and that your body NEEDS more calories to function properly.

Cathy Parkes March 31, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Hi Olga. I appreciate your willingness to help out a fellow happy dieter, but I would offer caution on one of your suggestions. Right now, Alicia isn’t eating hardly any carbs (just some fruit), so I would definitely NOT recommend she reduce carbs at all. In fact, I would add some in, as she is underweight for her height. Your suggestion to eat lean fish/meat is good, as these foods are a great source of protein. Also, strength training is a great way to build up lean muscle, which looks better than fat and burns more calories than fat. I love your encouragement of Alicia, but just keep in mind that she is actually underweight, and I don’t want to encourage inappropriate weight loss or anorexia… that can be very dangerous and life-threatening.

Cathy Parkes March 31, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Hi Mary. I used to swim competitively when I was younger too! So, swimming is a GREAT way to stay in excellent shape – so good job on finding a sport that you enjoy AND keeps you fit and strong. So, I am curious how tall you are Mary? 160 pounds may be appropriate for taller people (like 5’8″ or above). So, if you are over 5’8″, then I would just enjoy your strong, healthy body and not worry about trying to lose weight. If you fall under 5’8″, then I can offer a few suggestions. I wholeheartedly agree with your assertion that you need to get enough carbs and protein to sustain your high level of exercise. So, instead of cutting back on carbs, I would focus on eating the RIGHT kind of carbs (i.e. whole grain carbs like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread). In terms of protein, stick with lean, healthy protein such as poultry, beans, and low-fat dairy. And make sure to eat lots of fruits and veggies throughout the day, which are generally low in calories, fill you up, and are loaded with antioxidants to keep you healthy. If you cut out processed foods, simple carbs (i.e. white bread, rolls), candy, cakes, etc. and replace those foods with the ones mentioned above, you will be in great shape. Keep up the good swimming, and thanks for writing in! :)

Cathy Parkes March 31, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Hi Akilyah! It is refreshing to hear from someone with a realistic goal weight – weighing between 160-175 is about the right range for your height. I like your idea of focusing on shorter range goals too vs. becoming overwhelmed by the bigger goal. I would encourage you to go one step further and JUST try to focus on losing weight each week, with a goal of losing one pound a week. However, if during some weeks, you only lose 1/4 or 1/2 pound, that is FINE. As long as the scale is going down, you will get your goal. So, try to be patient and consistent. The important thing to keep in mind that losing a ton of weight quickly is not only difficult, but is also extremely unhealthy. I’ve seen LOTS of people really mess up their metabolism by following drastic weight loss plans. So, if you lose an average of 1 pound a week, you would get to your goal in about a year. Which may be longer than you want, but if you do it slowly as I am suggesting, you have a MUCH higher likelihood of keeping it off. Also, you won’t be starving yourself or suffering in the process. So, here is how to go about losing 1 pound a week – you need to cut 500 calories out every day. Over the course of 1 week, this will add up to 3500 calories, which is one pound. In order to trim 500 calories a day, you can cut back on food and/or increase your activity level. So, it sounds like you are about to start up your exercise program, which sounds great. If you burn about 250 calories during your workout, then you only need to cut about 250 calories out of your daily diet. On days you don’t work out, you will want to reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories. Also, remember to fuel up your body with healthy foods such as lean protein, lots of fruits and veggies, and whole-grain carbohydrates. And don’t skip meals! Good luck, Akilyah. Let us know how it goes…

Mary Allen April 1, 2015 at 10:59 am

I’m sorry, I forgot to mention how tall I am. I am 5’5. Ok thank you, I will focus on eating the right kind of carbs that will help me. Thanks so much:)

TT April 1, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Hey! I’m 15 years old 5’9″ and currently 127 pounds. I want to lose at least 7 pounds in 2 months. How can I achieve it? I’m currently on a 1250 calorie a day diet and only work out 1 time a week (mix of bike machine, small weights and treadmill). Is my goal realistic? Any tips?

Cathy Parkes April 18, 2015 at 8:27 am

Hi TT. So, at 5’9″ tall and 127 pounds, you absolutely do not need to lose any weight. Instead of losing weight, I would just focus on eating healthy, getting more activity, and appreciating your body. You should aim for exercising 4-5 days a week. Make sure to engage in activities that you enjoy… if you really love the gym, great. But you may also want to think about sports, swimming, dancing, and other forms of exercise. As for eating, focus on eating lean proteins, lots of fruits and veggies, whole grain carbs. In terms of appreciating your body, I’m not sure why you think you need to lose weight, but your BMI (which I calculated at 18.8) is actually on the LOW side of normal. So, enjoy your teenage years and have fun. :)

Kara May 2, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Hello Cathy,
I am a 5’2 40yo. who weighs 167lbs. I have been measuring my food and eating between 1200-1300 calories per day with No Faterdays! I only just started my own diet on Monday 4-27-15! I weighed myself this morning and the scale has Barely moved! I think I may have lost a Half pound or 1pound. Anyway, my breakfast is 6:30am 1/2c of Keifer,-70cals 8am 1pkt of Sugar-free Oatmeal-100 also and a small banana-110cals. At 10am I go out on a walk for 1.5mi. M-F. Lunch is at 12:30pm I eat a Dannon Oikos Zero Vanilla Yogurt-120cals, 2cups of Watermelon, at 3pm I drink the new V-8 Protein chocolate Shake thats 200cals. It does have fruits and veggies mixed in the drink. For dinner I have a serving of grilled chicken and a cup of peas. Then around 8:30pm I have weight watcher’s light dessert for 140cals or if Im under 1200 on some nights I will have a bag of Wal-Marts brand of Pop weaver Light microwave popcorn which is 220cals for the whole bag. Now, I do have a very Sedentary lifestyle. My job consists of 9hrs a day at a desk on the computer. That’s why I go on walks on my 15min breaks twice a day. I have had major Back Surgery a Lamenectomy/Discectomy on my L-5/S-1 discs and I have a bulging disc on the C-3/C-4 discs. I also have a Beautiful 3.5yo, but my Husband helps me out tremendously so I wouldn’t consider myself a mom on the go. I’m open to any advice you could give me to help me Lose 40lbs. My goal weight is 130lbs. Thank you so much!

Kara May 5, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Hi Cathy!

This thread has been going so long. I think your advice is wonderful and have read through many people’s stories.

I am 25. I am about 5′ 3 1/2 inches. I weigh 164. I suffer from anxiety and depression related to PTSD. I am also on birth control.

I have had multiple eating issues in the past including feeling out of control with food, purging, starving myself, fad diets. This has made me hesitant to implement a weight loss plan, even though my weight is higher than I would like. I have blood pressure, cholesterol and a waist measurement all within healthy ranges.

Lately I have been motivated (for healthy not image-obsessed reasons) to lose weight. I am aiming to eat 1450 calories a day and workout almost every day. My goal weight is 135 by September.

Do you have any advice about maintaining a healthy outlook while losing weight? I want to track my progress but not fall into being obsessive about it.

Thank you!

Brigid May 14, 2015 at 4:25 pm

I am 30, 5’8, and have been fluctuating between 175-180 lbs. I am very active as I am a teacher and do a lot of walking, bike commuting, spinning, and strength training, probably burning upwards of 800-900 calories on bike commuting/spin class days. Before, I was only eating about 1500-1700 calories because that’s what My Fitness Pal was saying I should do. My diet include eggs, ground turkey/chicken, protein shakes or bars, sweet potatoes, salads, vegetables, Ezekiel bread, and yogurt. I do not eat much junk, maybe once a week I have a cheat meal. I also gave up drinking diet soda last month. I have a nutritionist that said I should be eating about 2000 calories, which I have been doing, but I see no change in the scale. Am I still not eating enough?

Cathy Parkes May 14, 2015 at 6:01 pm

Hi Kara! GREAT job on picking a realistic goal for yourself… that seems to be a challenge for a lot of people. So, I think you could probably improve your eating plan a little. Your breakfast looks ok, but lunch seems a little lacking to me. A yogurt and watermelon isn’t going to keep you full and energized for very long. Maybe you could add something else to this? Like a salad or veggies, and some whole grain crackers & hummus… Also, if you like your shakes, that is fine. But for me, I prefer to EAT my calories than DRINK my calories. Research shows that chewing food can be more satisfying, and it takes your body more time and energy to digest food vs. just fluids. Now, in terms of exercise, it’s great that you are taking walk breaks during the day. However, if it would be possible to carve out some dedicated exercise time that is a little more intense, I think it would probably help your weight loss efforts. I understand that you have some constraints with your back issues, so something low-impact is definitely advisable. Have you thought about swimming or utilizing an elliptical-type machine at the gym? You should check with your doctor before you engage in a new exercise program, but getting your heart rate up for ~30 minutes 3-5 times a week is really good. If you can handle swimming laps, my scale always goes DOWN the day after a good swimming workout. Just something to think about… Keep up the good work, Kara, and enjoy your sweet 3/5 year old. :)

Cathy Parkes May 14, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Hi Kara! That makes two Karas back-to-back… So, thank you so much for your kind words about my advice. That really made my day! So, your weight loss goal is realistic, and your calorie goal is in the right zone (depending on the intensity of your workouts). If you go crazy on the exercise, you will probably need to eat a little more. Given your history with unhealthy diets and history of depression, anxiety, PTSD, I am wondering if it would be better if you focused on something other than the scale. For example, maybe setting some exercise-type goals, dropping a pant size, or eating a certain number of veggies/fruits a day. Dieting can be a slippery slope, and some people fall into the trap of judging their self-worth based on the number on the scale. Whether you are 165 pounds or 135 pounds, you are a beautiful person. So the key is just to strive for a healthier body… if you feed it right and exercise it, you will be strong and you will feel better overall (mentally and physically). There is A LOT of research that shows that exercise is super effective in combatting depression, and I can personally attest to this fact. If I feel bad or sad, a run/walk almost always helps me feel better. So, the number #1 thing I would do is implement an exercise program and concentrate on how it makes you feel. If you couple that with healthy eating (lean protein, veggies, fruits, whole grains, etc), I think you will see the results you want in terms of dropping a size or two, feeling better about your body, etc. If you really want to hop on the scale, maybe you could limit it to once a month? You definitely don’t want to do it every day, because your body has natural weight fluctuations, and seeing the scale go up when you work really hard can be discouraging. Once a week is normally what I would suggest, but I don’t want you to fall into an obsessive routine at all. So, I would LOVE to get an update on how you are doing. So please keep me updated! :)

Cathy Parkes May 14, 2015 at 6:36 pm

Hi Brigid! WOW, your exercise regimen is super impressive. So no advice from me on that! Your eating is pretty good. My only suggestions would be to add in some fruit, because they are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins (and are yummy!). Also, be careful of the protein bars, because a lot of them are not a whole lot different from candy bars. Also, I am personally not a huge fan of protein shakes, because I prefer to EAT my calories than DRINK them. Beverages go down quickly and don’t keep me satisfied/full like food… but if you love them, than that is fine. It sounds like you’ve been talking with a nutritionist, which is great. Given your exercise program, I would tend to agree with her calorie recommendation. If you have given it ample time (several weeks) and you are not seeing the scale budge, I would advise you to measure/weight your food to be sure you are getting an accurate calorie count. It’s a pretty cumbersome process, but it is probably worth doing… Another thing to consider is seeing a doctor to check your thyroid levels and/or other health issues that might be preventing weight loss. Chances are, your thyroid is not a problem, since you would likely have symptoms such as lethargy and cold intolerance. With your exercise regimen, sounds like lethargy is not a problem… :) The only other thing I would consider is making sure your cheat meal isn’t completely out-of-control. I like the idea of a cheat meal (I have a meal out every Friday), but it IS possible to undo all your hard work with a really evil meal. So, eat what you want, but don’t go too crazy. Best of luck to you, Brigid!

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