Since January last year, I have kept a daily record of my caloric allowance and consumption, and I've just been reviewing the data, and comparing Jan-Jun '15 with Jan-Jun this year; it's quite fascinating stuff.
In the first six months of last year, I exceeded my daily caloric allowance 34 times. 34!!! Usually by fewer than 500 cals but there were a couple of days when I chowed down on more than a thousand over.
That said, between the beginning of January and the beginning of June last year, I still managed to shed 22lbs. That's just under a pound a week, which is not too shabby, considering how much I wasn't able to work out, due to a very painful injury which restricted my mobility (thus giving credence to the adage about 80% of weight loss happening in the kitchen!).
Although I had several times when I gained weight (genuine gains, not just water weight), due to travelling, and frankly, making the most of being away(!), by the end of 2015, I was nevertheless down 38lbs.
Guess how many times I've gone over my caloric allowance since the beginning of this year?
None. Not once. And I've lost 25lbs during that period.
At first glance, it doesn't seem a like vast improvement, compared to the same period last year. However, given that in general, our weight loss slows down the closer we get to our goal (because the lighter we are, the fewer calories our bodies need, and the fewer we expend), the fact that my weight loss this year has been greater than it was during the same period last year, despite being 38lbs lighter than when I started 18 months ago, simply by being stricter about keeping within my limits, suggests that having so many 'indulgence' days (c.1.4 days per week) is simply not good for me. Nor will that kind of attitude get me to where I want to be.
But here's the rub; indulgence days aside, last year, I used to plan my meals, and tot up my calories as I went along - this year, I've not done that at all. Not once.
I still weigh my food - mostly to confirm that I'm not overdoing it (and I'm generally within 5g either way of my estimated weights), and I make a note of what I'm having. At the end of the day, I tot it all up. I'm always within my allowance.
At some point, I want to be able to live without my safety net, and while weighing and logging doesn't bother me in the slightest - I don't find it to be a chore at all - I don't intend to be doing it for the rest of my life. The whole point of this - aside from being slimmer, lighter, and healthier - has been to re-train myself. To be able to eat what I like but without overindulging.
I'd still like to lose another 15lbs - maybe a little more, depending on how I feel and look - and I am confident of my ability do to that. More importantly though, I am completely confident that I will be able to keep the weight off.
I genuinely have no desire to overindulge; I now never eat until I am full, I eat enough to feel satisfied - I have discovered that there is a vast difference between the two. I also don't have set mealtimes, instead, I only eat when I am hungry, which really suits me.
A few people have asked me what I eat - do I eat any so-called superfoods? The answer is no. Absolutely not. Even if I believed all that marketing hype and pseudo-science, and wanted to eat chia seeds, goji berries, spirulina, et al, I couldn't afford to. I eat 'normal' foods!
I am completely vegan, which means that as well as not eating animals or fish, I don't have eggs, dairy, honey, or anything which contains ingredients of animal origin.
All of my life I have loved vegetables and salad, and I do eat loads, plus a fair amount of fruit too. I eat seasonally and locally, and most of what I eat is organic. This is in no way by design, I just happen to live where what's sold at the daily market happens to have been grown nearby, without the use of pesticides. I also eat lots of pulses, beans, nuts, etc., plus grains. And yes, I do eat bread, pasta, and rice too. (And not wholewheat pasta either - that's a serious affront to my Italian genes!)
I still have pizza, I make lots of Indian food (not just curries!), I make my own seitan, and I love tofu. I make smoothies and ice cream, I often have chocolate rice milk, and I make my own vegan nacho 'cheese' to have with tortilla chips. I bake cakes, cookies, and scones, I make the most awesome mousses and decadent puddings, and I have masses of variety in my diet. More than most of my omnivorous friends and family do, actually. I am not in any way deprived!
So there you have it... no secret, no derp, no woo - just a positive attitude toward food and drink, and finding the best way to make what I consume fit in with my lifestyle.