To Your Health
April, 2007 (Vol. 01, Issue 04)
It can be difficult to memorize what 1 cup, 2 ounces or 1/4 of a pound looks like, but comparing portions to everyday items can help. For example, use the following portion comparisons, provided courtesy of WebMD:
- Vegetables or fruit is about the size of your fist.
- Pasta is about the size of one scoop of ice cream.
- Meat, fish or poultry is the size of your palm (minus the fingers).
- Snacks such as pretzels and chips are about the size of a cupped handful.
- A potato is the size of a computer mouse.
- A bagel is the size of a hockey puck.
- One pancake is the size of a compact disc.
- Steamed rice is the size of a cupcake wrapper.
- Cheese is the size of a pair of dice or the size of your whole thumb (from the tip to the base).
If you aren't seeing results, it may be time to re-evaluate the amount of food you're consuming, as well as how much time you're actually exercising. Do you go to the gym three days a week, but spend most of your "workout time" resting? Put yourself in check by monitoring your heart rate. Your ideal active heart rate depends on factors such as your age, weight and health history, so consult your doctor to determine the heart rate that will guarantee a good workout. At the peak of your workout, you should be out of breath, but able to carry on a conversation. Many personal trainers, nutritionists and health care professionals also recommend keeping a food and exercise journal. This will help you track every ounce of food and every minute of exercise, and keep those little white lies to a minimum.
Don't Buy Into Quick Fixes
When it comes to getting in shape, it's no time to be trendy. Just as fad diets are a recipe for disaster, quick-fix health plans inevitably will leave you frustrated and discouraged, and most likely, back to sitting on the couch. In order to achieve long-term success, you must approach diet and exercise as a big-picture improvement to your life.
There are a number of common quick-fix schemes that attract the unwary. A favorite among dieters is the misplaced motivation to get in shape for a special event - a wedding, holiday celebration or reunion. Unfortunately, this quick-fix usually fails miserably because you deprived yourself and looked dynamite for the big day; but then gained all the weight back - and more - afterward.
Another quick-fix gaining in popularity, despite the negative press and lack of supporting evidence, is diet pills. Alli, the over-the-counter version of Xenical, is the latest drug to promise quick and easy results. As with most diet pills, it comes with significant risks, like harsh effects on bowel control, and no guarantee of results. According to the American Dietetic Association, spending on weight-loss products in the U.S. reached $43 billion in 2004. You'd be much wiser to invest your money in a gym membership.