I have shared a lot of thoughts on nutrition and weight loss with my awesome and ever-growing fitness community since opening CYCLESURF Studio including several of my blog posts here. I am constantly being challenged by all of you and find it such a blessing to be surrounded by so many great women, men, kids and families that are entrusting our little studio in O’Fallon Illinois to help them find success on their fitness and nutrition journey. I was asked this week by one of my clients:
‘With so much advice swirling around – bordering on information overload – what is the ONE MOST IMPORTANT THING to focus on TO LOSE WEIGHT?’
My answer (without any thought): PORTION CONTROL! Quite simply, if you work on controlling what goes into your body then you can begin a structured approach to improve the nutritional meal makeup over time. I always offer THE FIST RULE as a general guideline to the size of a meal – I know you have seen that on my CycleSurf facebook posts too.
In fact, I think that God gave us this framework when he created the world. Consider the vast list of fruits and vegetables that are interestingly fingers foods and the same size as an adult human fist or smaller (with some of course you will need a few to makeup a fist): apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, bell peppers, blackberries, blueberries, carrots, cherries, corn ears, figs, grapefruit, grapes, kiwis, lemons, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, potatoes, radishes, raspberries, strawberries, and tomatoes. I am sure you can think of many more! Doctors have been telling us for decades now that a healthy stomach is about the size of that same persons fist.
The immediate response I get to the fist rule is: ‘Are your joking? That is not enough food for me!’ I understand that in our SUPER SIZED WORLD that we have been trained to eat too much and expect large portions. Even beyond the poor nutritional value of most the food that Americans eat today, I would offer, than portion size is even a bigger offender in weight gain. Question: What is worse that eating a single fist full of bad carbs? Answer: 3-6 fist fulls of the same bad carbs!
Think about it! But you must stand back from it and view it with an objective and scientific eye to grasp it completely. I have asked some of my highest skeptical clients to write down everything they eat in a week (100% of the food and liquid intake)…and BE HONEST – write it all down! We then run the foods they have eaten through CalorieKing.com or CalorieCount.com (see the links below) to get the real story. These same clients who think they are doing really well take in over 25,000 Calories in a week with high percentages of their foods and liquids being really bad high fat content stuff (or gotcha foods – those that appear to be healthy but are not upon further inspection).
So you are wondering what should the caloric intake be? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture both Women and Men require less calories as we age but here are the general guidelines put out recently by our friends in Washington D.C.:
For Women – Because women generally have a smaller frame and less lean body mass than men, we require fewer calories. The USDA recommends women consume 1,600 to 2,000 calories if they are sedentary, 1,800 to 2,200 calories if they’re moderately active and 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day if they are very active. Or in the middle range for Women, about 2,000 calories per day equaling 14,000 calories per week as a recommended nutritional and healthy lifestyle consumption guideline.
For Men – The amount of calories men require each day varies based on their activity level. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends men consume 2,000 to 2,600 calories if they’re sedentary, 2,200 to 2,800 calories if they’re moderately active and 2,400 to 3,000 calories per day if they are active. Or again in the middle range for Men, around 2,500 calories per day equaling 17,500 calories for week as a recommended nutritional and healthy lifestyle consumption guideline.
So when my clients thought they were being good they were almost taking in double the targeted weekly calories. Nothing against any of them…this is simply demonstrating how incorrect and poisoned our thinking is about food and nutrition today. Consider this: the Big Mac (one of the most popular sandwiches on the planet from our friends at the golden arches) has 563 calories but with the super sized XXL fries and soda that blows the calorie count up to 1,190 calories. When I ask my same clients to think about my fist rule and how much more did they eat than their fist at each meal they admit that it is 2-3 fist sizes per meal. Wow that is a revelation!
So back to my main point on portion control: When you think about a fist-sized portion it is rather small, and can potentially leave you hungry and vulnerable to binge eating which we want to avoid at all cost. I ask for my clients to think about 5-6 smaller meals a day. Eating every 3 hours with less portion is a great way to begin and over time you can scale it back to 3 small meals and 2 snacks (one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon). It is okay too if you are hungry for a few hours a day. Remember, each time your stomach is growling and screaming at you ‘feed me’ and you don’t comply it contracts and gets smaller. Yes, that is a good thing….I know it is hard at first to get that concept in your brain but it is what you want, and being hungry is the way our ancestors walked around most of their lives and on top of it they consumed far less calories than we do today.
One More Great Tip: If you are having a hard time with the fist concept and right sizing your portions then go to a saucer sized plate as your standard meal plate (and please don’t pile it up). This was a great homerun tip from a client of mine who put their large plates in storage and only used saucers and saw great results. This small behavior modification can really drive a huge improvement. Tip: I went to Sam’s and bought disposable saucer sized paper plates and everyone in my family now uses them (and keeps my dishwashing down too – talk about a win-win).
You will hear me say often that lifestyle change is all about behavior modification! I love, love, love the idea of changing the physical size of your plate because it makes you think about your decision to make a positive impact right here and now on your health…life is always about living in the moment and taking small positive actions.
One final thought…watch the calories in your liquids. I have had clients that are getting half of their calories from sodas, beer, cocktails and elaborate coffee drinks. I know I sound like a broken record but our bodies needs 8+ glasses or bottles of water each day to function in a healthy way. So swapping some of those high calorie drinks for water is a really simple way to cut calories, feel better and save a bunch of money in the process. Try it and you will thank me!
At CYCLESURF Studio we workout adults and kids – ‘from 9 to 90’ (as I like to say: Children of All Ages) – to help them get fit. We use both the SURFSET® Fitness Board and the LeMond Revmaster® Pro Stationary Bike to have fun through exercise while working out with focus on 3 areas: CORE, OVERALL STRENGTH & BALANCE. Come try a class in our O’Fallon, Illinois studio today and come meet me! We serve the entire St. Clair County and Madison County, Illinois region and surrounding area including: Belleville IL, Caseyville IL, Collinsville IL, Edwardsville IL, Fairview Heights IL, Granite City IL, Highland IL, Lebanon IL, Mascoutah IL, Scott AFB IL, Shiloh IL, Swansea IL, Troy IL and all points in between. We even have clients come from St. Louis, Missouri – covering the entire St. Louis Metro Bi-State Region. We are conveniently located at 633 West Highway 50 in O’Fallon, IL 62269 near the intersection of West Hwy 50 and Cambridge Blvd (next to the O’Fallon, IL Walgreens). We love families too – consider bringing in your family for one of our ALL AGES CLASSES and experience the CycleSurf fun together or call me to plan a birthday party – for you or your kids – or even a charity fund raiser. If you are searching for fitness fun in O’Fallon Illinois (IL) come to CycleSurf Studio!
Have a great day!
Please remember your health is never an option.
Peace, Love, CYCLESURF!