Weighty Matters

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Portions and Balance

on August 29, 2014

I can’t find the post from more than a year ago, but I remember talking about how much I loathe weighing and measuring my food. In my recent rejuvenated quest, I became willing to go to whatever lengths necessary to break through the stall and start losing weight again. As it happens, I chose a program that requires me to sort of measure what I’m going to eat.

I say sort of because there isn’t a fully written plan that specifies things like, “Eat 4 oz of lean protein, 1 cup of green beans, a quarter cup of whatever.” Instead, the plan came with brightly colored square containers in various sizes. The green container is for vegetable portions; purple for fruit; red for protein; yellow for starches; blue for some nuts and similar things; orange for certain seeds. The program provides a mathematical formula to figure out a target calorie range, depending on current weight. Then, depending on the range, it specifies how many portions of each classification of food one should eat. If you can cram it into the container and still snap on the lid, you can eat it.

In my case, I went with the lowest calorie range — 1200-1499 a day — since I know that’s sort of where my doctor wants me to hit and it’s akin to what I was eating, knowing that with exercise I’d net less. Since I don’t really have to look at measuring cups or spoons (except for oils) and I don’t have to weigh any foods, I don’t feel like I’m measuring.

I take my food to work with me in plastic containers anyway. That’s what I’m doing with these colored containers, but with the added benefit of automatic portion-size control. I don’t pack the containers full either, since I can’t handle that much food.

Where this colored-container program has really helped is in the area of seeing balance in my daily food intake. I thought I was balanced, but now can tell that I wasn’t to the degree that I should. For example, we hear a lot about a healthy diet including five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Left to my own devices with that broad a description, I would be happy eating three fruits and two veggies — which means I take in more sugar, even natural sugar, then I probably should. This plan breaks it out into three veggies and two fruits, so by following it, I achieve a better balance.

After weight loss surgery, the emphasis was on many grams of protein a day. Protein was supposed to be the leading role in the program. I did that so well for so long. Somewhere along the line, I started to deviate a little. Instead of a quality, more dense protein snack in the mid-morning, I’d eat nuts, for example. Whatever happened, I realized this week that on most days I don’t eat the amount of protein that I should, or that my body needs. So, this week I made sure that my mid-morning snack included protein. I think this has already fostered some small improvement in my metabolism. Plus it must help my body recover and my muscles work and strengthen with the workouts. I still have trouble getting in four servings of protein, but I’m definitely a solid three every day.

I absolutely know that for a while I was eating too many empty carbs like breads or crackers. I really dropped those this week. I can have two servings, but it’s hard for me to incorporate them if I’m eating the veggies, fruits and proteins. At best I had some for taste but didn’t pack in a full size portion.

Lest you think I’m starving myself, trust me. I’m not. I make up most of the shortfall by spreading out my food intake over six meals. I know that while I’m in losing phase, my doctor’s okay with me eating 1000 calories a day. I find because I’m eating everything in balance, I physically feel really good. Better than I have in a while, and my system isn’t sluggish.

I’m also making a concentrated effort to up my hydration. I’m drinking plenty of water, but a few cups of green tea or a tasty detox tea.

So, this week, the attention I’ve paid to portions and balance, coupled with the 30 minutes of strong exercise every day (plus my daily Tai Chi and dog walks), paid off. As I edited to add in the post this morning, I lost 9 pounds in the week since I started this program. Some of it was flushing out “water weight”, but the rest sure wasn’t. I credit adhering to the program, eating clean, and working out.

It feels terrific and I’m looking forward to continuing next week.

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One response to “Portions and Balance

  1. hoperoth says:

    I haaaaate measuring and weighing food. (Hate!) I try to just focus on eating clean and listening to my body’s cues about how full I feel. I could probably be more successful if I tracked calories… but I would be miserable doing it and so it’s not worth it to me. Those canisters seem like a much better way to do it!

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