Answering some of your questions from this post:
I must start walking today! What do you do to motivate yourself just to get out the door?
I have found that I function best in an all-or-nothing sort of way. It's probably mostly personality-related, but if I am able to get out (even for just a short walk around the block!) every single day, I have more motivation not to miss any days.
Another thing I do is tell myself that the walk/exercise doesn't need to be any certain length of time. Usually once I'm started, I don't want to stop! :)
I also know how much my boys like walking to the park or just being outside. The fact that they get so excited about going for a walk with me helps motivate me! :)
And to get out the door... I have to leave my work. I tell myself that I can wash dishes after the sun goes down, but I can't walk to the park with my children when it's bed time! :) Trying to get "everything" done before exercising would mean that I would NEVER exercise. :P
Having someone else for support helps too -- either a walking/running partner or a spouse who is willing to play with the children for 30 minutes while you exercise. I don't always or even usually have Joshua watch the children for me in order to get my exercise, but it's nice to know that he's willing to help me stay healthy! :)
I wondered if you could tell me how to find the calorie amounts. Did you find a calorie chart online, or purchase a book?
I found this calorie-counting site through Google and I'm sure there are others. :) That one shows the nutrition facts labels for tons of foods!
How do you keep track of calories when you are not eating very many packaged foods? I've wanted to track mine more carefully, but I'm not sure how to track my own cooking unless it happens to be a recipe that has the nutrition information.
Figuring out the calories for my homemade food involves a lot of math. For things like casseroles, I figure out the calorie count for each ingredient (the amount I used), add the totals all together, and then divide that total by the number of pieces/servings we are cutting.
For example, my homemade 16-inch pizza:
16 ounces of mozzarella at 80 calories per ounce = 1280 calories
1 cup pizza sauce = ~100 calories (I just use the calorie count from Hunt's since I figure it's probably similar)
diced onions and peppers = minimal (I might add 20 calories for this or just skip it since it's veggies)
8 ounces chicken breast chunks (grilled) at 120 calories per 4 ounces = 240 calories
Crust: flour (2c all-purpose at 400 per cup and 1c whole wheat at 450 per cup = ~1250 calories), salt (0), water (0), and yeast (0).
So the calorie count for the entire pizza is 2890 and we cut it into 16 pieces so each piece has about 180 calories.
We've done this for some of our muffin recipes... waffles... pancakes... a 1/2 cup of oil (960 calories) in a recipe for a dozen muffins really kinda destroys the idea of eating 6 in one sitting, you know? ;)
Our calorie counts aren't always exact... like for bread, I just use the calorie count from a slice of whole wheat bread from the store.
I think calorie counting in general has just helped us be more aware of where our calories are coming from and how much of something we should eat. Since we're not on strict diets, having a super-precise count isn't important to me... like bananas -- I just count a banana as being 100 calories even though I'm sure a large banana has a few more than that and a small one has a few less. :)
Also, I have realised that eating too much at one meal makes it difficult to not overdo for the day's calories. I try to have about 400 calories for breakfast, ~1,000 calories for lunch, and about 600 calories at dinner. If I am under those amounts, I can snack on bananas or apples or something healthy! :)
For me, the turning point came when I stopped beating myself up and just decided to do better from now on.
Getting motivated and actually STARTING is so difficult! The thought of losing 30 pounds seemed (and seems) overwhelming to me, yet I would look back a few months later and think "I really should have started back then, because I'd be half way there by now!"
In my previous post, I forgot to mention another tip that helped me: replacing the habit of comfort eating with something else.
I knew I was tempted to snack or overeat and that I needed to focus that energy and desire elsewhere. I made a list of some things I could do when I wanted to eat but wasn't hungry:
Get busy on my chores for the day
Talk on the phone
Chew xylitol gum
That really helped! And it's amazing how much faster my chores were getting done and how much longer that batch of cookies lasted...