AIM: A Girl’s Gotta Eat!

logo: Adventures in Maintenance with photos

It’s the first Monday of the new month, which means it’s time for another edition of AIM: Adventures in Maintenance. I promise you that there is absolutely NO tie to April Fools Day in this post! (At least not in my post. I can’t speak for my cohorts. :) )

This month’s AIM topic is by reader request and focuses on one of my favorite aspects of the healthier life: food! Specifically, we were asked to write about our day-to-day approach to healthier eating–what do we eat and how/if we plan and organize. That sort of thing. Or, of course, anything else that catches our fancy. The whole point of AIM, after all, is to get a variety of takes on a subject.

As I wrote in my last AIM post, my approach to losing weight was to identify a healthier way of eating that I enjoyed and could sustain for life. Thus, I never really had to transition from a “diet” plan to a “maintenance” plan. The plan is the plan and generally stays the same. For me the basics of the plan translate to:

  • 5-7 fruits/vegetables a day
  • lean proteins (turkey, tuna, lentils, chicken)
  • whole grains (oats, corn, quinoa, whole wheat breads & pasta)
  • healthy fats (nuts, olives, oils)

I’ve been following those fundamentals since May 2007. More or less. :) My goal is 90-95% compliance (with a little room for a “splurgette” in there to keep me happy), but there are days that drops to 75-80%. Life happens, but I always return to the basics.

As we know, it’s entirely possible to have too many calories of even the healthiest of foods. To manage weight (losing, gaining or maintaining) and better health, we need parameters. I use what I call “Calories+”, which means calorie counting with nutritional goals in mind. I’d be all too happy to eat five Snickers Bars and call it a day, but I’d get scurvy or something and die, so I keep my basic goals in mind when I’m choosing my chow. Food is fuel for the gym and the great outdoors, and the Snickers route won’t help much there. No matter HOW tasty it might be!

My nutritional goals might be fairly static, but my calorie target is something that does change from time to time. During my loss phase, I started at 1500 calories/day on average, but as I continued to strength train and develop muscle, that number got moved up to 1700-1800 calories/day. When I first moved into maintenance, I was exercising vigorously about an hour a day, six days a week, and could average 2200-2300 calories without gaining. To be honest, though, I rarely got that high for more than a few days. When you’re eating (mostly) real food, it’s actually hard to eat that many calories. At least for me. (And trust me, that’s not something I ever thought I’d write!)

These days I target 1700-2000 calories per day, depending on how much I exercise, and some days are a little higher, some lower. Averaging in that range seems to work well for me right now.

If you’re wondering how I keep up with how many calories I’m having, I’ve got a couple of approaches:

  1. Go with what I know. I tend to eat the same meal combinations repeatedly, and I know roughly how many calories are in those meals. Generally speaking, breakfast will be 250-400 calories, lunch & afternoon snack will be about 600-700 calories, dinner will be about 400 calories, and my yogurt sundae/nighttime snack will be between 100-250 calories.
  2. Get it in writing. Every now and then, either out of simple curiosity or because I suspect something is amiss, I log what I eat. Sometimes I use written notes in my daily planner; other times I use Whatever I feel like I need at the time.

So how do I adjust when I need to? *sigh* It’s the splurges that take the hit every single time. The basics are required; splurges, to my everlasting disappointment, are not. If I start feeling blobby, I know what needs to be reined in a bit, and it’s never, ever the blueberries. Damn it.

As for meal planning, I don’t do much of it. I’m cooking for one here, so I usually rely on batch cooking to ensure I’ve got something on hand to prepare. On the days when I forget to pull something from the freezer or run out of provisions, there’s always my old standby, scrambled eggs or a can of tuna. Or a good excuse for going out to dinner. :)

In a nutshell, that’s the food plan that gets me through most of my days. It’s basic, it’s repetitive, and it works for me. Because these are foods I like, I’m able to stick to it most of the time, both because I feel better eating this way and also because I like to let loose a little on real vacations and real holidays (not to be confused with work trips and Arbor Day) and enjoy some of the more decadent foods I like.

How is YOUR plan similar to or different from mine? (No, I did not just ask you to compare and contrast! ::shudder::)

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the other AIM posts:
Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh
Lori @ Finding Radiance
Debby @ Debby Weighs In
Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!

20 thoughts on “AIM: A Girl’s Gotta Eat!

  1. I love you say it’s basic and it’s repetitive (and it works for you :)) the more I read the more Im seeing repetitive is the way to go for maintaining.

    have you seen that too?

    • Absolutely! That’s not to say I have to eat the same foods over and over (although I usually do because I like them), but it works for me to have that basic framework within which to operate. Plus, it makes bouncing outside the repetition feel daring and somewhat illicit. :)

    • I was just about to say that, too, Miz! Basic and repetitive is comforting. I eat out more now, but I still gravitate to the same kinds of foods in every restaurant….when I can. Sometimes an Italian restaurant isn’t going to have the best salads, you know?

  2. Pingback: AIM: A Girl’s Gotta Eat! | Finding Radiance

  3. “Splurgette”–you have conquered keeping your snackage under control. I saw that in person when we had some froyo together!

    • That was some good fro-yo, wasn’t it?

      I do really well with snacking-on-the-go, but only fairly well with snacking at home. There are days where this place might be better named Nibblesville. :)

  4. I’m laughing at how similar our posts are (and to those wondering, no, we don’t preview them for each other beforehand), from “reining it in” to the repetitive eating…hey, it works, right?!

    • For me, one of the best parts of AIM, so far, has been finding out what each of you wrote and seeing our similarities and differences. The main thread of this topic seems to be consistency, consistency, consistency. :)

  5. Definitely you and Shelley are the twins in this AIM post :) I think we all need to get together for a meal and see what happens.

    Seems unfair that the splurges are the first to go, kind of like cutting myself off from buying another handbag when money’s tight :) But you’re spot on, and isn’t that what makes the splurge even more enjoyable when you can?

    • EXACTLY! Most of the time, I enjoy the anticipation so much, I don’t even have to have the splurge! (Which I usually regret a couple days later. :) )

  6. This is really some great information, I get caught up a lot in worrying that I “mess up” or don’t always follow everything to a T, then I feel like I failed, but really I’m just bending for life events, not that I want to do it all the time but I need to find a balance that I can enjoy life AND be healthy…lol and not get scurvy and die hahahaha that cracked me up

  7. I knew you and I followed the keep it simple philosophy. Can’t wait to read the others. AIM was such a good idea!

    • Besides the excellent conversation, this is the second reason I always enjoy our meals: nothing fancy, just the basics. (Oh, and fair warning: I *might* be breezing through your area early next month. I’ll let you know when I know for sure.)

  8. What I see the most about these posts is we really and truly have changed how we eat in a way that is sustainable. Not a fad diet or fake foods and all that.

    That’s pretty cool. I hope that is something that people take away from this.

  9. Love these posts Cammy!!! With peri into menopause, I eat a lot less calories than I did 5 years ago & even less than before that AND work out as hard. I am not happy about that! 😉 I tracked when I was younger but since like you, I do eat the same sort of stuff thru the week, I have a good idea of my stats. If I add something new, I figure out the stats so I know I am adding in & subtracting something else of similar stats…. it works for me. I don’t need fancy or pretty or all that.

    I just change the food with different spices or ways of cooking it! I am pretty boring! :)

  10. Great advice! You have to like the food you’re eating when dieting otherwise the chances of sticking to it are slim to none. Even if it can be repetitive I would rather eat food I like then struggle to eat foods I don’t. Thanks.

  11. I do the same thing… I don’t log food regularly, but every once in a while, I will keep track for a day or two, just to make sure everything is on target. It’s amazing how I sometimes forget how many snacks I’ve had or how big a portion is. Then, I can adjust, and get back on track. As I’ve tried to figure out what works for me, I’ve found that if I stick to protein and healthy fats, I don’t have cravings and I stay satisfied. One piece of sugary candy or white bread, and I want to eat everything in sight!

  12. Just catching up after being out of town during the AIM posting this month.

    Love this: “If I start feeling blobby, I know what needs to be reined in a bit, and it’s never, ever the blueberries. ”

    Aint that the truth?

    I find that I also like to eat the same things…when I find what works for me I like to stick to it. I’m finding dinners are my biggest struggle because I could eat the same things all. the. time., but my family likes variety. :)

    Have a great weekend and thanks for popping in on me with your encouraging comments! I appreciate it.

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