I have numerous questions so please bear with me!
1. What's a good rule of thumb for increasing calories? I know, obviously when you stop gaining weight, but when that happens, how much do you increase by?
2. And for how long do you eat that amount and then increase again?
3. How often should you be eating? Every 2 hours? 2 1/2 hours? 3 hours? I think beyond that I'd go crazy with hunger....
4. If you exercise how much extra should you be eating? I could use a calorie counter, but I hate doing so....exercise varies so much (i.e. strength training vs. cardio vs. flexibility, etc) that I wonder how much more I'd have to eat if I do some kind of intense exercise versus something not as intense (like playing with my daughter--I DEFINITELY consider that exercise!!!! she never stops moving!)?
i could suggest tracking everything you eat for 1 or 2 weeks and writing down all the calories. then average the calories out to get a rough estimate of calories you consume a day. then add 500 + however many calories u burn from working out. as very general rule. you burn about 1000 calories an hour doign intense aerobic activity like running. moderate like biking is about 600 for an hour. and anarobic like weight lifting is about 400 an hour. this is very rough but u could try going byt this. u really should try out soem calculators online for calories burned cuz i find they are usually good enough. but of course i dont recomend counting calories at all. just eat lots. it is easier said than done but it can be done. just eat lots and if u are gaining weight too fast after a week eat alittle less. and if u workout eat more to make up for it. remember calories are just a tool...a measurment used to give a total value of food. its not a macronutriant. and those are what matter. also. meal timing doesnt mantter. eat whenever u want. the only thing that matters is that you eat breakfast, have some good carbs and protein before you workout and try to get protein and carbs in after you workout. other than that it doesnt matter. thet "no carbs at night" rule is BS. its not that serious.
You have to remember only you know your body and what works for you though.