A few weeks ago I had a client, let’s call her Sandy, come up to me to discuss her frustration at not losing weight.
She’d been working with us for about six months and really hadn’t lost anything. So I said to her how is your eating?
She immediately started to tell me she eats healthy all the time and that can’t possibly be the problem.
She told me all the things she regularly eats, and to be fair it was pretty good as far as the types of foods that she was eating.
But then came my second question. How much of it are you eating?
She said, “well I know I eat about 1,300 calories a day.” To which I asked… How do you know? Do you measure it?
At first she was silent, and then she said, “Well I don’t measure it, but I know I’m not eating a lot and I know it’s about 1,300 calories. Besides, it’s all good foods like fruits and vegetables.”
At which point, I pointed out to her she had to be eating far more than she realized; otherwise, the scale would be moving.
Does that sound like you? Do you eat healthy, exercise regularly and yet haven’t been able to achieve your goal weight?
You’re not alone. The truth is many people, despite their best efforts, can never seem to get the scale to move.
Why? They’ve fallen into the healthy food trap, which is what Sandy had done.
She thought because she ate good foods, she didn’t have to watch how much she ate. Her faulty belief was that because it was healthy food, she didn’t have to watch her portion size.
Here’s the thing…Weight loss always has and always will be a numbers game. If you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight – even if those calories are healthy. Conversely, if you eat less than you burn, the weight will come off.
And, after many years of helping people to lose weight and get fit, the number one mistake I see people such as Sandy make is that they vastly underestimate how much they are actually eating. In fact, several studies have shown it’s often as much high as 30 percent!
Think about that for a second. If you think you are eating 2,000 calories a day but actually eating 30 percent more than that, it’s about 600 more calories per day. Over the course of a week, that equates to almost a pound of weight either gained or lost.
So, I challenged Sandy to actually track what she was eating. Not just write it down, which many people do (known as food journaling), but actually weighing and measuring what she was eating.
I had her start by having her make her normal dinner, then taking the food off the plate and seeing how much she was actually consuming.
You may have heard the old axiom that a serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. That’s fairly accurate, but if you are like Sandy, you think that deck of cards is much bigger than it actually is.
In her case, the four ounces of meat she actually thought she was eating was over six ounces. Multiply that three times a day, and suddenly you’ve eaten an entire serving extra and then some. It adds up quickly.
She found the same thing with the other foods she was eating. What she thought was a serving was, in many cases, two or even three.
Long story short, as she found over the few days of our little experiment, she was actually eating close to 2,000 calories a day.
No wonder the scale wasn’t moving!
The good news is she started to weigh and measure everything she ate and tracking it in a food journal. As she did, the weight started coming off. I’m happy to say that making that one little change resulted in her losing about 10 pounds in a month.
So if you are working out and eating good foods but not seeing the scale move, check to see how much you are actually eating. Get a food scale and some measuring cups, and figure out how much you are actually putting in your mouth. Then, make the adjustments. Once you do, you’ll start seeing better results just like Sandy did.
Dan Romand is co-owner and operator of Full Circle Fitness-NY in Colonie, where he also a certified personal trainer. You can read his Health & Fitness column here and online at TheSpot518.com.