Monday, January 14, 2013

Portion control, activity monitors, digital scales - tools to develop healthy habits in 2013

It's been a while and I'd like to apologize for my absence.  With such a long interval, I'd been worried about what to write about.  I'd read many good books over this time and I'd like to work backwards and mention a good number of them and I will do so.
 : )

There's been plenty going on in the other aspects of my life as well.  It has been many many months since I've written about fitness, dieting or weight loss.  I'll admit it's largely because I hadn't been very successful or determined in this area and I'd been avoiding thinking about it.  I did join Weight Watchers some months ago, and while there have been ups and downs in my compliance,  I'm starting to settle into it and rediscovering healthy habits that I'd somehow misplaced over the years.  

When I say settle into it, I really mean that I've become scientific and careful with measuring my food and portion control.   I remember when I'd first moved to Philadelphia for grad school,  my friends and I would buy takeout food and could eat one portion over three meals.  By the end of the year, I could finish off a takeout portion with little hesitation.  This sort of repeated itself with other types of food until I ate myself into a bit of a mess.

So, as I've been making an effort to be mindful about what I eat and how much I eat,  I did want to share some portion control tools and treats I've come across.

(1)  digital scale
Look for one with a tare function and that weighs in both grams and ounces as this makes it much easier to weigh what you're preparing and eating.  You want to be able to weigh raw food and cooked easily.  I have a friend who is following the Dr. Cohen diet and she reports that they're instructed to weigh their meat and fish raw, so a tare function makes it much easier.  

After reading the May 2012 WSJ review of digital scales, I settled on an OXO Good Grips scale with pull-out display.  It took me a month to actually use it but now I use it daily.  This particular scale's pull-out display has come in handy when I weigh cooked food - I can put the plate on the scale and then add the cooked food and still adjust my portion before I eat it!  This allows me to stay within my "points" allowance.

If you're following the Weight Watcher's program, you might want to purchase your scale from WW directly as their scale also prompts with the WW points for most food items.  I love tools that genuinely make it easier to keep on track!  

(2)  mesu bowls or portionware tools
I'd come across the ceramic mesu bowls a few years ago. I hadn't used them in part because I'd purchased them just before they stopped production. I was worried that if I broke a bowl I wouldn't be able to replace them!  But as the creator has come up with a plastic version (with lids) and because I now realize how silly I was being, I keep the bowls on my kitchen counter so I can easily measure food portions.  I use the 1/4 cup container for the decadent treats and have been able to cut down my consumption of rice by using a 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup.  I found that I didn't notice the difference in amount.  If I hadn't measured the rice, I fear that I'd have eaten a cup and a half or two without paying attention. I now try to use the larger bowls for fruits and vegetables instead.

3)  pedometer and/or WW Activelink monitor
Just knowing that I'm tracking my activity makes me more conscious of how much I move around.  I try to make a minimum number of steps (or WW points) each day and it helps to know how many steps I actually took over a 7 day period.  There are days when I'm very successful and days when I'm far less so, I'm trying to reduce the gap and to make up for the sedentary days. 

4) water bottle 
I've noticed that I do drink much more water when I have it readily available.  Even just going out on the weekend, I was able to refill the bottle twice while doing errands on Sunday.  I'm trying to drink 64 oz a day. 

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