At my campus health center on May 2, 2016, I met with a nutritionist and an exercise physiologist. I was looking forward to these appointments because I was interested in receiving professional advice instead of relying on different sources from the internet, many of which proposed different methods (e.g., Paleo, no carb diet, fat-burning exercises, eat less and exercise more, intermittent fasting, vegetables only meals, etc.). This is not to say that those methods don’t work or that people have not seen success following them, but I know I needed some concrete guidance from experts who could answer my questions.
So what should a balanced meal look like?
Meats and beans (protein), grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, as well as oils and limited discretionary.
1. Draw an imaginary line through the middle of a standard dinner plate.
2. Draw another imaginary line down the middle of one of the halves.
3. Fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetables.
4. Fill one of the smaller sections with whole grains. Maybe pasta or rice.
5. Fill the last section with a healthy piece of lean meat, poultry, or fish.
6. Pour an 8-ounce glass of nonfat or low-fat milk. Water’s a good choice, too. If you don’t drink milk, you can add another small serving of carbohydrates, such as a 6-ounce container of light yogurt or a small roll.
7. Add a piece of fruit or 1/2 a cup of fruit salad.
8. Enjoy. And don’t forget. Eating meals using The Plate Method can help you with portion control.
- It’s best to reduce intake of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.
- There should be no guilt associated with food.
- Food should be seen a source of fuel for a day’s activities.
- Having a low carb diet may contribute to fatigue and lack of concentration.
So what should exercise look like?
There is a difference between physical activity and exercise.
Physical activity is movement that is carried out by the skeletal muscles that requires energy. In other words, any movement one does is actually physical activity.
Exercise, however, is planned, structured, repetitive and intentional movement intended to improve or maintain physical fitness. Exercise is a subcategory of physical activity
It was recommended to me that because I was already at a caloric deficit from dramatically reducing my portions, exercise would only increase that deficit in a negative way: affecting my energy levels and concentration. Instead, an increase in physical activity was suggested. Also she informed me that due my recent 9-10 lb weight loss, she predicted that my body would likely put everything to a stop.
At the end of both appointments, my goals were described to me as the following:
- Make small changes and build upon those changes
- Weigh myself 1x/week at the same time each week
- Walk to class instead of driving all the time
- Park further away from destination
- Set aside 20-30 min for walking each day