After completing their first week in FirstHealth's New Year New You program with a weigh-in, the five participants filed into a conference room at the Center for Health and Fitness. What awaited them was a feast of sorts.
Placed along the conference table were rubber models of various foods in their proper portions, and they were shockingly small.
Portion control is something Americans have forgotten to consider in recent years, according to FirstHealth Dietitian Kathy Hefner.
"It's gotten to the point where you have to weigh 300 pounds before people are considered obese anymore," she says.
After discussing their first week on this lifestyle-changing program, Chris Thomas, Jodi Carlson, Lisa Lally, James Skelton and Doc Williford got their first lesson in portion control.
They were each asked to bring in a plate and bowl from their homes. Each poured corn flakes into their bowls, an amount they would typically eat at home. Then they were asked to scoop it back out using a measuring cup. Thomas measured just less than 2 cups, but then confessed he usually had two bowls; Carlson poured just one and an eighth cup. Unfortunately, the amount per serving of dry cereal is just 1/2 cup at about 80 calories with four to eight servings per day for weight loss.
Besides controlling portions, Hefner advises people to use smaller bowls and plates.
"We can learn a lot from our measuring cups," she says. "Get those cups and scales out; get a handle on those portions."
She adds that because average persons should have four to eight servings of grains, breads and cereals daily, they can "budget a little more cereal in the morning and taper down through the day."
Although the rubber green bean and broccoli models looked downright skimpy, Hefner recommends eating more vegetables, as a "great way to get potassium, which helps get rid of the extra sodium," she says. "Servings should fit in the palm of your hand, typically three ounces for women and four to five ounces for men."
Each of the participants consulted with Hefner using a device called MedGem to determine their metabolic rates and appropriate caloric intake. In developing an overall fitness plan, Hefner also tailored each nutrition plan according to how many pounds they should lose, typically one to two pounds.
Already, all five have begun changing their habits, their routines and diets.
Lally says she has changed the way she grocery shops dramatically.
"I've restocked my refrigerator with really healthy foods," she says. "I'm eating a lot of salads and getting into a routine, and I feel a lot better. I forced myself to stay on the treadmill and it felt so good. I'm getting over that hump."
Although he misses Milky Way bars and Coca-Colas, Thomas says he's more conscious of what he eats.
"I was very concerned that there would be nothing appealing to eat. But I went to the store and found there's plenty that I really love to eat that I didn't even think about."
While he weans himself off several Cokes a day, he's trying Coke Zero and drinks a lot more water.
Williford has noticed a dramatic change since signing onto this program.
"I've actually been eating a lot, but it's been really good food," he says. "I have a lot of energy with six or seven hours of sleep."
The biggest hurdle he has faced so far has been getting hungry later in the evening.
"I tend to overeat during late evening instead of during the day. But I'm eating breakfast, and I just have more energy than I've had in a long time."
During the first week, the group lost 14.2 pounds collectively.
Mary Griffin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 693-2482.
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