I've been exercising a lot for years. And I thought that, overall, I was a pretty healthy eater. Yet I never lost weight. I've never been super overweight, so I didn't worry too much about it. However, it did bug me. I was spending 9+ hours per week exercising (even more if you include my speed walks to and from work), yet I was still sorta chubby and did not feel very confident in myself. Last June, one of my friends turned me onto the Fit Girls Guide. It can be a bit corny, but I found the online community to be pretty inspiring. I started exercising (stressercising at the time) a bit more, but I still didn't really lose any weight. In October, I decided to use MyFitnessPal to start tracking my food and I found that I was consuming a lot more calories than I thought. I still felt like the amount of calories that FGG generally has you eat per day was still too small for me, but I started to cut the sizes of my meals and eat more snacks. I cut down from 2600 calories per day to 1800 and it made a huge difference. Since November, I've lost 20 lbs and hit my original goal weight.
Point one: calories do matter and tracking what you eat really helps you think about what you are putting in your body.
However, it's not just calories. What you put in matters too. I do a lot of weight training, so my goal macro percentages are 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrates. When I started tracking this more closely, I noticed that I actually was very high in my carb intake and pretty low on protein. So I switched a few things around. I decided to try the Wellpath protein blend and I've really loved that. I get the vanilla blend with the green addition and my favorite smoothie so far has been to 12 oz water, a scoop of protein, one kiwi, and stuffing the rest of my vitamix full of baby spinach. Delicious, high in protein, and low in calories. A nice, nutrient dense start to my day. I also have a steady selection of protein bars in my cabinet at work so I am never without an instant meal in case I forget. My favorites are Epic Bar Chicken Sesame & BBQ and Oatmega Chocolate Peanut Crisp. Both bars are high in protein and low in sugar. I also got ProBar Chocolate Supergreens Base Bar, but I can't really recommend it because each bar has 16g of sugar. Speaking of sugar: one of the things I've noticed in the FGG community is eating things that are "healthy" like the ProBars, but they are actually full of sugar and have way more fat than you actually should eat. Fat is good, but it should be in moderation. Given the food available to us, it's much easier to eat a really fat heavy diet than you would think. When looking at nutrition/protein bars, look critically at the nutrition facts and make sure it has less than 10g of sugar and is well balanced. The Oatmega bar is a good example: 7g of fat, 21g of carbs, 14g protein. Assuming you are eating these as part of a balanced diet, that is a good protein boost in your day.
Point two: determine how much fat/carb/protein is good for you and find foods that fit your goal. Beware of "healthy" foods with excess sugar.
Another key thing not to forget is that you also should not be starving yourself. If you are exercising a lot, you need to be nourishing your body! It can't run effectively on empty. You will feel exhausted if you aren't getting enough calories in your day, especially for breakfast and lunch. Speaking of feeling exhausted and running on empty, sleep is also vitally important to weight loss and all around healthy living. If you aren't sleeping, you won't be able to kick ass at the gym and your body will suffer.
Point three: get sleep and feed yo self.
Alright, that's all I've got for now. Take care of yourself!