Lesson #1. I don't eat enough. It is really rare that I hit my 1800 calorie goal. Like it never happens. I had a few months (like 6) of "not-giving-a-shit" dieting (aka- eating like I used to) and it has totally thrown me off. I don't eat on a schedule, I have to set alarms to remember to eat, and I am clearly lacking in the fresh produce area. I am working on it, but being acutely aware of what I am eating (and not eating) has been... enlightening ;)
Lesson #2. I don't eat enough protein. MFP has this fancy graph of nutrition macros and I have been baffled why my carbs are nearly 50% every day. Its not so much that I am eating carb heavy food (I have generally cut out stuff like white bread, rice, cereal, potatoes, stuff I consider carb heavy) but more that I am not eating NEARLY enough protein. The good news is, I can work on that!
Lesson #3. I don't eat enough. I know, I know, I already said that. But in my search to understand why I was eating 50% carbs, I decided I wanted to know what my percentages really should be. I am not going to take this as "IIFYM" because I know, as I wrote, that I would turn it into a pop tart fiesta, but I am going to pay more attention to my macros, and try to get as close as I can to them every day. I had a professional do my numbers, based on my height, weight, activity level, etc, and my calories were set 200 less than they should be, and I eat about 300 less than they were, so I am starting to understand how eating 1500 calories when I should be eating 2000 could cause plateaus. The more you know. And like with protein, on average I would eat 70-100 grams, where I should be eating 176. Like I said, enlightening.
So I am taking this knowledge and going forward.
If you haven't done it in a while, I recommend tracking your food for a week or so and seeing what you are eating. It might surprise you.