400 Calories

There’s no real mystery to weight loss. To lose one pound per week you must create a 3,500-calorie deficit by burning 500 more calories than you eat every day. You could do it by exercising, or dieting, or a combination of both.

Simple, right?

Sure. In theory. The practicality, as you know, is more difficult. But when it’s broken down like that into a daily goal, it does become less overwhelming.

Keep in mind it is enormously easier to lose weight than to keep it off, which is why I’m sharing this stuff with you. The ultimate goal of the Lazy Low Cal Lifestyle is for you to create this new lifestyle for yourself. If you follow my plan every day for however long it takes you to break your bad habits and learn new healthy ones, then you’ll be able to assess 400-calorie meals without trying. You’ll learn how to remake your own recipes and menus without my help. Of course, if you start to gain, all you’ll need to do is pull out your frame and meals again to get back on track. Easy peasy.

Here’s something to give you a bit of perspective. Cup your hands together. That’s about how big your stomach is. Think about the last few meals you ate. Could each one fit in your hands without looking like a gigantic Jenga game? It doesn’t take much to fill your hungry tummy. The trick, I’ve found, is filling it often enough with small amounts of healthy food.

I don’t know how many calories I used to consume, but this plan helps me know — really know — how much I’m eating.

All the diet books and advice I’ve heard says most women will lose weight if they shoot for 1200-1600 calories per day; and men 1600 – 2000. Those are the numbers I stick with … usually.

Part of my confusion and frustration with calorie counting is that while I know portion control is the answer, it also seems that your metabolism can get out of whack pretty easily too. So I try to keep my body guessing. I don’t know if it works in a scientific way, but it does keep me from getting bored or into a dangerous rut. Some days I eat 1200 calories and others I eat 1600. Some days I exercise and some I don’t. When I do exercise, I mix it up, trying not to do the same workout within three or four days.

It would be great if we could have perfectly balanced nutrition every day, but c’mon. That will never happen. It’s probably more likely that politicians and celebrities will steer clear of scandal. And seriously, can you picture that?! No, I can’t either.

But if your healthy eating and your calories average out over the course of a week, you’re fine. When I learned not to obsess on a daily basis, it all became easier. Don’t make it all-or-nothing.

You can choose to eat 1200 or 1600 calories every day. You can choose to exercise or not. Experiment and play around with what works for you. You may find it’s different for you each day too.

Never go under 1200 calories, though. Your body will go into panic mode and think you’re starving and hold on to everything it can, thereby stalling any kind of weight loss you want to achieve. Plus, it’s just not healthy. You can’t run a car without gas and you can’t run a body without food.

Try to eat every 3 hours, whether it’s a snack or a meal. Sometimes I simply split my 400 calories across a couple of hours, especially if I know I’ll be busy three hours from my previous meal. I always — ALWAYS — keep a snack bag of almonds in my purse or car for emergencies. Even if it bounces me over my total calories for the day. If I have to choose between calories or eating every three hours, I always choose to eat. Not a drive-thru cheeseburger, mind you. But something healthy.

Which reminds me, preparation and thinking ahead is key to my new healthy lifestyle success.