Eating 1200 cals a day and still overweight

Posted by wonderwall12345 @wonderwall12345, Mar 10 3:37am

I (32F) have been trying to lose the 20 kg (44 lb) I have gained since COVID began. I am 173 cm (5’8) and currently weigh 80 kg (176 lb).

Precovid I weighed around 65-68 kg (145ish lb), which had taken a lot of effort to get to. I ate low calorie (less than 1200 per day), did intermittent fasting (no dinner), walked at least 10k steps per day and ran 5km / 3 miles once a week. I also fasted one day a week, say from Friday evening until Sunday morning (so about 37 hours in total). This regime was the result of years of slowly adjusting my diet and lifestyle in order to try and shift a few kilos here and there. If I could choose to have a more normal way of living my life, I absolutely would have, but this seemed to be the only thing that worked. I knew that from the outside it sounded excessive and I was quite ashamed discussing it in front of people, but it became habit very quickly and allowed me, for the first time in a long time, not to have my day revolve around food as I developed habits that felt sustainable. I’d also note that while the above routine might seem quite extreme, it resulted in a fairly normal weight for my height, which was an early indication of what follows below. I will say, my weight can fluctuate wildly from day to day, up to 2 kg (4 lb) difference depending on meals/toilet habits/time of the month.

I moved in my with my boyfriend in another city during lockdown and began working from home, so my entire lifestyle changed. I was eating different foods (the same foods as him, but smaller portions) and walking a lot less. Intermittent fasting and fasting over the weekends started to feel anti-social, so the weight crept back on.

Fast forward to now. I made the decision over a year ago that I wanted to get into shape, but that I wanted to do it healthily. I hired a personal trainer who also helped with nutrition and we came up with a routine where I did strength training at the gym 3x per week, ate 1400 calories per day with balanced macros (1600 on gym days) spread over breakfast, lunch and dinner and walked 10k steps per day. This would help me lose fat/weight and also fix my metabolism. I definitely felt stronger, but in the three months we worked together I’d lost about 1 kg (I was still around 85kg (187 lb)), which could just have been down to the time of day I weighed myself. I felt more toned, but it was still under a layer of fat that didn’t seem to want to move. I did have days where I ate more than the daily calorie allowance set out, but I would always counteract it with eating less calories the next day, as advised by my PT, and he was always aware of my cheat meals and was happy with them (usually it would be something like homemade fajitas, a small chocolate bar and a non-alcoholic beer.)

I found myself getting more and more disheartened. After I finished working with the PT for those three months, I started calorie restricting further, as I just wasn’t dropping any weight. I cut my daily calories to about 1200 and managed to drop down to 80 kg (176 lb), which is my current weight. This is the result of calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, drinking 3-4 litres of water per day, walking 10-15k steps, and doing a light work out (toning exercises/pilates) five times a week (After six months of strength training, I felt the strength training was just adding muscle under the fat and making me look bigger under clothes)

My weight is now stuck at 80 kg (176 lb) , which according to my BMI (I know it’s flawed but it’s my only reference point atm) would still put me as overweight. Even sticking with the above, it won’t budge. I started running 3km every morning before I eat and that has brought my weight down an additional 2kg (4 lb), but this feels unsustainable. I got sick a couple weeks ago and had to stop and the 2 kg (4 lb) came back on.

I have had ongoing gut and digestive issues and was hospitalised in September 2022 after not going to the bathroom for 9 days. The advice I was given was take probiotics, which I have done religiously. I’ve taken probiotics, psyllium husk, tried healing my gut with kefir, kombucha etc. My diet at the moment is pretty much entirely whole foods (scrambled eggs for breakfast (1 egg, 2 egg whites) with fresh fruit and a handful of nuts, a chicken salad for lunch and two rice cakes with dark chocolate on them as a snack). If I eat ANYTHING outside of this, particularly pasta, pastries, rice or bread, but genuinely sometimes it feels completely random, my stomach inflates and I look about 8 months pregnant. I then don’t go to the bathroom for 3-4 days. I have been tested for every intolerance and food allergy under the sun, as well as having my thyroid tested, and everything has come back normal. I’ve researched endlessly (probably too much) and even things like hormone levels seemed a possible factor but I am already eating in a way that should help my hormones.

I am completely lost. My confidence is in tatters and I feel extremely detached from my own body, because it feels like no matter what I do or how disciplined I am, my body does not reflect that work.

I just want to reach a point where my life isn’t consumed by food, where I have a routine of meals that I switch between, a form of exercise, and that I know that if I follow these I will feel healthy and confident. Even if it seems restrictive, I was in this pattern pre-COVID, but 5 years later (I’m sure age is a factor too), it feels insurmountable to even reach a point where I might feel good in my skin again, and that makes me very sad.

Has anyone had anything similar? Can anyone suggest anything I might be missing?

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Wow, you two have a LOT more motivation and determination then I would have, And I applaud you for all of your really hard work!! And wish you the best of success!
I will share my journey, just one anecdote of many, and how I went from 165 pounds to a new setpoint of 110 pounds, over decades:
I have never found counting calories or measuring portance to work for me. I would always binge eat and gained it all back overtime. What has worked best for me has been gradually adding more and more healthy and delicious foods into my daily routine, which squeezes out the unhealthier foods.
First I became vegetarian, started eating big salads for dinner and about 3 pounds of broccoli a week and finding fun ways to add herbs and spices/fat-free dressings to keep it interesting. I also upped my exercise, and the combination helped me gradually drop from 165 to 140 as a new setpoint. (I also tend to go up and down 3 to 4 pounds, whatever I weigh.)
10 or more years later, I became vegan for ethical reasons, and just that change created a 10 pound weight loss without me even trying! (Of course, I was still eating mostly whole foods, as junk food vegans could eat peanut butter all day long…). Over the years, I upped my exercise and focused more on “breakfast like a queen, lunch like a worker and dinner like a pauper.” I try hard to follow Dr. Michael Gregor‘s plan of at least 12 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, including three or four large handfuls of leafy greens. I then lost another 10 pounds to 130 without trying!
When I was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, I made sure to include major aspects of the cancer diet, including half a cup per day of berries, particularly blueberries, of allium (onions, leeks, garlic, shallots), and mushrooms, and as many rainbow colors on my plate each meal as possible. Again, without counting calories or trying, I gradually lost another 10 pounds.
Finally, some friends who had gone to the True North Healing Center in Santa Rosa taught me about the SoS free diet: no salt, oil or sugar. Much has been written about why this is healthier for us, particularly the book The Pleasure Trap by Lyell and Goldhamer. This book explains how these three substances are super concentrated so our brains and the stretch receptors in our stomachs do not register them as food! This is why we can keep eating potato chips or cookies forever, even after we become full on “real food.”
This information has been a real game changer for me! I only lost another 10 pounds, and I stay around 110 now for the last six months no matter what I eat (within reason), but I feel much lighter and healthier than I ever have, with more energy for exercise, gardening, hikes with my dog in the woods and everything else I love. I rely heavily on Kathy Fisher’s Straight Up Food and Cher Ramos Bravo’s Bravo Express (both available on as my two major SOS cookbooks to keep my food tasting yummy and satisfying

That’s my particular story. I know many people don’t love to cook or don’t have the time to do much of it, and need to find other strategies. When I don’t have time or don’t feel like cooking, my quick go to’s are kale apple banana ginger smoothie for breakfast, or oatmeal and fruit; rice/other grain and beans in my electric pressure cooker every three days for lunch, along with baked sweet potato and steamed greens; and a large colorful salad for dinner with a handful of raw unsalted and seeds or a yummy dressing. Then I don’t have to think too much or spend too much time with my food, but keep rotating greens and grains and dressings, and keep changing things up.
Sorry to be so long-winded! Best of luck to everyone on this challenging food/health journey!!

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For Sherryzitter: Thanks for sharing your journey. You are very positive and proactive...two personality traits I encourage everyone to develope and use daily.😇


I get it. At 32 I worried about weight too. At 76 I look back and wonder what I may have missed. I worry that you seem to be miserable in your own body and I wonder if there is a way for you to make a new relationship with your miraculous body. Thanking your body daily for how it carries you through this life. Maybe talking these concern through with a therapist might help you come to some decisions so that you can find peace and have a great time with your beautiful young body? And in the meantime while you consider things...just live to the fullest!!


I at 80 today, never believed we're made to weigh ourslves, count calories, and still have been always able to maintain a reasonably fit body to get thru my work and play.
How does it happen?

I plan what I need to accomplish in my day or weeks that would help me get to achieve where I want/like to be in life. It's the GOAL in life, aka Purpose, that steers my time use. I know it's best achieved in a reasonably rested, strong, fit and alert body. It's purpose that guides my do many others who follow their north stars.

Today I can walk up all 13 floors in my bldg huffing puffing the last six. It's a good feeling; no counting/watching floor numbers as I walk up. It's more interesting to be Within one's body. If body says Enough, respect it, why otherwise?

Just eat a sensible diet -- I am sure CDC and Harvard health and the like have plenty on it. Do play-pullups/push ups, kicking an imaginary soccer ball hard enough to get your heart racing in One minute. Make exertion play. Invent!

You will sleep better. And yes surround yourself with friends who laugh with you and also Challenge your opinions. You need a working fit mind. Life is to GROW.

Good luck.
It seems to keep me without any doc visits, meds, tests, surgeries or even calls.

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This is a wonderful and playful approach to staying healthy! I really like it.
And everyone has different bodies and different struggles… So I certainly don’t judge anyone for what they have tried and haven’t found success.
Two things I want to add to my lengthy post about my salt – oil – sugar free diet: I eat huge quantities, as much as I want healthy fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes. And I have discovered that there are a myriad Of flavors of balsamic vinegar! Those really help with flavoring when I leave out salt. California balsamic and Saratoga olive oil Company have amazing flavors, from blackberry ginger to fig to 7-herb Italian to even chocolate orange for desserts! Yum 😋


For Sherryzitter: Thanks for sharing your journey. You are very positive and proactive...two personality traits I encourage everyone to develope and use daily.😇

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Thank you!!

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