I frequently receive questions about the number of calories I consumed when I was trying to lose weight, and people are usually surprised when they hear my answer. Then (and now) I typically consume 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day. This might sound like a lot of calories compared to some of the 1,200-calorie plans you hear about, but finding my Feel Great Weight wasn’t a short-term diet just to shed pounds. The word diet often means a temporary and restrictive eating plan that helps you to lose weight, but when you stop the diet, you often gain the weight right back. My diet wasn't temporary, but something I planned to sustain for the rest of my life. Plus, I knew that drastically reducing my daily calorie count would leave me hungry and miserable so I set out to make changes that would stick.

In the past, I just threw together whatever convenient and low-calorie meal I could get my hands on. A lot of the time, it was one of those 300-calorie frozen dinners. In theory, eating them made sense for slashing calories, but it always left me hungry later on, which led me to overeat. I quickly learned that I needed to plan well-rounded meals with a good amount of protein, fiber, and healthy fats to satisfy my hunger and keep me full for hours. Take a look at this slideshow for a few things to keep in mind when you're planning healthy meals.