I'm not a nutritionist. I'm not a fitness expert.

I am a 57 year old woman who has never felt more healthy and fit in my entire life. Five years ago, at 52, I weighed about 80 lbs. more than I do now. I felt much older, with stiff joints and back aches and no energy. And don't even ask about clothes!

My goal was not just weight loss, but to get healthier. I did not "go on a diet," I did not count calories or carbs. I made lifestyle changes, a little at a time. I tried to eat healthier and move more. You can do this, too. You can make changes to look, and more importantly, feel healthier and fit. You don't have to be overweight to be unfit. You will feel a difference in strength, energy, stamina and flexibility. I'm talking to you, men, too!

I can tell you how I did it. Not everything I do will be right for you. Through posts about my progress; tips and ideas about nutrition and exercise; links to sites I like and find helpful, I hope to inspire others to get fit and healthy and encourage a community of support and an exchange of ideas. And have a little fun on the way! Much of our information will be about local Cape Ann sites - walking and bike routes, gyms, types of exercise, yoga studios, good buys on healthy food - but Guests and commenters from anywhere are welcome as well.

Okay, I know you all want to know. Right now I'm wearing a pair of Levis - size 8. A comfortable size 8!

Twenty year old daughter:
"Mom, why are you wearing my clothes?"
Mom: "Because I can!"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Food Portions and Serving Size

When did restaurant appetizers become meal-size in type, quantity and price? At many restaurants here in town, appetizers can cost $7 - $9 or even $10. A quesadilla as an appetizer? Crab cakes are a popular item on local menus - as an appetizer? Do people eat an entire appetizer and then an entree? Even in my grandest eating days, I couldn't. Appetizers used to be a cup of soup or a salad or maybe a shrimp cocktail and cost a couple of bucks.

And the entrees. How many times have you heard someone rave about and recommend a restaurant because the portions are huge? Sure, maybe some people take leftovers home. And some of them may actually eat the leftovers, not forget about them in the back of the fridge. But lots of people clean the plate because it's there and they don't want to waste it, especially considering what they paid for it.

A 12 oz. steak? That's 4 times what a recommended serving size is. Mountains of mashed potatoes. French fries spilling off the plate. That's often why people go back to a dining place - because they give you so much food, a real value! Everything has become super-sized: even salads as appetizers are big enough for a filling meal. I'm not saying don't ever dine out or that I don't ever - if you're eating healthy most of the time, a few fries or a reasonable serving of mashed potatoes isn't going to undo the benefits of your good habits. It's just that restaurant portions these days make it difficult to control calorie and fat intake, if you dine out often. And we're not even talking about lunch - subs, drive-thrus and gourmet sandwiches!

That was more of a rant than advice!

At home, when I started paying attention to nutrition labels, I used to miss the small print that stated serving size. Ha! Calories and nutritional data are stated per serving. A serving of cooked pasta is generally one cup (measure that!). Mayonnaise: 1 tablespoon. Total brand whole grain cereal lists a serving size as 3/4 cup. Who eats one cup of pasta or uses one tablespoon of Mayo or puts just 3/4 cup of cereal in the bowl? I don't! Or didn't, until I started paying attention. Some serving sizes seem realistic and others make me wonder, "Is it me? Am I the only one who eats that much (fill in the blank)?"

Many diet and nutrition experts recommend measuring everything you eat. I don't do that regularly, but I have - mostly out of curiosity - measured some of the things I eat. An eye-popping experience! Once you've done it and compare the stated serving sizes to what you actually eat, you have a better idea of how many calories and how much fat, sugar and nutrients you are actually consuming.

What it's about - knowing what you eat so you can make better choices.

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