All Things in Moderation

It’s a new year and with the starting of a new calendar many folks around the world have all vowed to do one thing: lose weight.

And I saw a statistic the other day that was not all that encouraging for their chances.

Me? While my doctor would love to see that scale go down at my 6-month check-up, I’m not as concerned with the numbers as I might have been before. For me, it’s less about losing weight and more about being healthy.

That’s where moderation comes in.

Todd and I are pretty good about eating the “right” things, 9 times out of 10, but lately we’ve been less concerned about portion size. And if lab rats have taught us nothing, we’ve learned that too much of anything–even the good stuff–can be harmful.

Here’s a for instance for you: A while back I participated in the Game On! Diet challenge with some friends (which was a fun way to do things if you’re competitive and wanting to break some old habits, though I don’t completely agree with the way they categorize certain foods). Since we were going by the instigators instructions and not the book itself–and everything was being done via Facebook posts–there was a slight miscommunication/misunderstanding that led to the idea that each of the 5 meals the plan called for needed to include 2 cups of approved veggies.

Folks, there’s a reason cows have 4 stomachs–1 is just not enough to deal with all that roughage in one day!

It didn’t help that, by no longer having a gall bladder, my body was just not equipped to handle such large meals in succession anymore. Basically, to say I was uncomfortable by mid-afternoon would be a severe understatement.

But before I swore off the challenge I dug around a bit and found where I’d gone astray (for the record, only 2 of the 5 meals–easily lunch and dinner–required the 2 cups of fibrous veggies) and the rest of the 4-week challenge went just fine (I even managed to lose 5 pounds, and our team won!).

Back to the point, moderation relies on one major factor: awareness. What you’re eating, how much of it and what it’s made of all play a part in this sort of healthy lifestyle choice. So how can you be more aware?

First, write everything down that you eat and drink. Really. You can do this in a notebook or use a hand website/app like MyFitnessPal.com. I started playing around with the latter the week before Christmas and found that if I was committed to writing everything down I was less likely to go grab a cookie from the breakroom because I didn’t want to have to write it down. And the time that I was willing to do so, I really appreciated that cookie a bit more.

Second, think about what really constitutes a portion. A 6 oz steak mike look pretty small on your plate, but it’s technically 2 servings of protein. Some folks like to relate portion sizes to the palm of your hand, the size of your closed fist, etc. but all I have to do is look at the size difference between my hand and Todd’s and know that’s not an accurate guide! If might feel weird, but carry around a 1/2-cup measuring cup for a week or two and visually compare it to the food on your plate will give you a much better idea of what a portion is.

Finally, know what you’re putting into your body. Obviously, if French fries are a regular part of your daily diet, you might want to start substituting something less fried for your side. But even the seemingly “healthy” stuff can do you in if you’re not sure of what’s in it. A salad topped with fat-free dressing might sound like a good thing, until you realize all the chemicals that went into making that dressing could be more harmful than a basic oil and vinegar dressing with, yes, fat (but the good kind of fat). If you’ve got the time to make everything from scratch, more power to you–I don’t and don’t expect anyone else to, either. But educating ourselves about ingredients is a step in the right direction and the Fooducate app is, I think, a great tool for making better choices at the grocery store.

That’s my plan, at least, and if the numbers on the scale go down, that’s great. (If not, you won’t find me boo-hooing, though, because quality of life, to me, is more than a number on a scale.)

Do you have any healthy plans for the upcoming year?

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