Happy 2014! After taking a two-week holiday hiatus, the Fit & Happier Blog is back providing the fit and working-to-be-fit alike with information and advice to sort through the diet and fitness clutter so that you can create realistic fitness goals and achieve a fit lifestyle.
Last month, I gave readers the statistics that show making drastic, huge lifestyle changes for weight loss aren’t realistic and have a very low success rate in achieving weight loss goals. I’m encouraging everyone who has a goal of being more fit this year – whether that means losing weight or not – to join my One Small Step movement. It’s a lot cheaper than joining a gym and safer, healthier and easier than starting a restrictive diet – two of the most popular New Year’s Resolution promises. And, because it’s always easier to begin new things when you have someone else to do it with, grab a friend or two to join you on your quest to be fit and happier.
One Small Step Philosophy
A fit life is attained by making small, manageable changes in food consumption and exercise over time. This allows a person time to create and hone new, fit habits that then become adopted and integrated into her everyday life. The result is a person who is living a fit lifestyle each and every day, making her healthy and strong for a lifetime. I have used this philosophy to create my One Small Step blog series. Each month, I give you one healthy change to work on for that entire month. Sometimes it’s a diet change, sometimes an exercise change and sometimes one of each. The idea is to concentrate only on that one change for a month so that it becomes ingrained into your daily meals or weekly exercise routines, making you able to take on another small change at the beginning of the next month.
January’s One Small Step: Portion Control
Have unlimited fruits and vegetables but proteins, grains/starches and fats (including those that may go on fruits and vegetables) need to be portioned out. At meals, proteins and grains should each take up only 1/4 of your plate leaving the other half for produce. Cereals, dressings, dairy, nuts, nut butters, condiments, alcohol and anything else that’s poured or scooped out of a container should be measured to the recommended serving size. At first, don’t guesstimate – actually measure. This will take a little bit of time investment on the front end. But, over time, you’ll know exactly how much cereal and milk to pour into your bowl or wine to pour into your goblet to constitute the appropriate serving size. Although, it’s not a bad idea to audit yourself every once in a while – it’s human nature to cheat up over time.
Portion control isn’t just for meals. Practice it with snacks and, most especially, treats. Again, measure out portions and don’t eat directly out of the container. We have a tendency to binge on high calorie foods because we rationalize that we’re blowing the diet, concluding we’ve already failed, and we’re doomed whether we eat two cookies or half the box. The truth is a treat here or there won’t erase all the good you’ve done but a whole container could. The better way to look at it is to accept that treats are a part of your diet, not apart from it, and they should be consumed, enjoyed and savored in the correct portions. In reality, if you allow yourself small indulgences when you crave them, you actually begin to crave them less.
More easy tips to help you with portion control: always have a water bottle with you, drinking more water helps cut down on over-snacking; use a smaller plate, it gives you the visual illusion that you’re eating more than you actually are; eat sitting at a table with no distractions (no TV, smartphone, book); eat slowly and make a point of tasting and enjoying what you eat; after portioning out meals at home, place vegetable/fruit sides on the table family-style while leaving remaining meat and starches away from the table; plan and shop for meals ahead of time; purge high-calorie, highly-processed, low-nutrition food from your pantry and office; plan ahead before eating out; when eating out, eat half your entrée and bring the rest home for a 2nd meal.
Join the movement and share your success stories, tips and questions along the way. We’ll all benefit from shared experiences and knowledge.
Author’s Note: I am an exercise professional, not a nutrition professional. My food recommendations are based on the most current science-backed information provided by nutrition professionals in the fitness industry publications I receive and my personal experience. Mine are general recommendations that are in line with the guidelines published by the US Dept of Health and Human Services for apparently healthy individuals. If you have a health condition that requires dietary restrictions, I recommend consulting a medical doctor or registered dietician before making any changes to your diet.