When the diet is right; my struggle with portion size

Different people succeed in getting healthy through different diets due to many factors including genetics, culture, beliefs, preferences, etc. For my wife and me, Paleo works.

My biggest challenge is portion size. Even if I eat the right food, I’m always tempted to eat a lot of it. The reason is that I derive pleasure not only from the flavor or texture of foods, but also the quantity. This is incredibly hard to control, but it’s something I work on with every meal.

My wife and I had a conversation last night and she told me that she knew her portion sizes were right when she only got hungry right around mealtime and was slightly hungry at bedtime. I never thought of it, but she’s right.

Eating a healthy diet is important, but so is the amount. The most basic rule of weight loss is a calorie deficit = weight loss. Healthy foods in excess can still be unhealthy. This is something I need to remind myself of all the time.

Strategies for eating correct portions is something I’ve had to learn. First, I try to eat only as much as would fit into a bowl created with both of my hands. If it fits into that, then it’s the right size; any less, and it’s not enough. Any more, and it’s too much.

I also needed to learn to eat slower. I tend to eat very fast; it’s something I picked up from a childhood of activity where I tended to hurry through meals to get back to doing what I was doing prior. It was cemented at Marine Corps boot camp where we had to eat entire meals as quickly as possible. This didn’t do me any favors in controlling my portion sizes.

A strange psychological barrier I also face is that if it’s on my plate, I MUST eat it. I can’t just leave food uneaten on my plate. This is due to my childhood and being punished for not finishing everything on my plate. I know a lot of kids grew up with this same experience, and I honestly think it’s partially to blame for obesity.

My wife helps me with portion sizes by giving me my meals and during meal prep by packaging our meals in proper portion sizes. Somehow, when I receive my meals this way, I don’t have problems eating the right amount. I see the portion size and I try to slow down to enjoy it as much as possible and also to possibly allow my body to register the meal to eliminate hunger.

When I’m left to my own devices, I tend to over-size my portions. Following the “Hand bowl” rule helps, but I’ve been known to cheat. This is where the final ingredient to eating proper portion sizes comes into play: self-control. I have to be in the right mindset to use self-control, and right now, I’m there. I am very motivated to get back to my healthier weight and to increase my fitness levels. Motivation is strong, and fuels my self-control with portion sizes.

These are my challenges and how I overcome them. I’d be curious to learn how you deal with portion size.

First Big Run of the Year

OK… so it wasn’t THAT big of a run, but I started off 2023 with a three-mile run. This may sound minor to most people (especially runners), but I haven’t run three miles since at least last February. Instead, I rode mountain bikes almost exclusively with the exception of two-mile runs every other morning while on active duty at Fort Sill.

The sun was very bright, and I needed a shave

I decided yesterday just before my run that I’d go back to three+ miles for my runs because I remember how much better I felt running that distance. Also, the ACFT (Army Combat Fitness Test) is a two-mile event, and I prefer to train longer distances to make the ACFT seem like a “Short run.”

I will start integrating some sprints sometime in February as my next ACFT is in March prior to an upcoming deployment, and I don’t want to do poorly on it. A lot of eyes are always on me due to my age, and I can’t let my age group down!

Today is a rest day, but tomorrow I’ll be back in the gym for my StrongLifts 5×5 followed by my next three-mile run. I’m actually not dreading it, as I thought I’d be really sore today but I am happy and surprised to find that I am not. To the contrary, I feel more energized and ready to take on my day, my week, and to keep working toward better fitness.