Monday, February 7, 2011

It's a Choice...Everyday

It's that split-second decision I have to make when I'm measuring out my 1/4 cup of dried cranberries for my morning yogurt - to not make the measurement "heaping" but rather, "level" - to remember that I am not running at the moment, and therefore am not burning calories like crazy so I can't eat like that. And honestly? Even when I'm running, I don't need to eat like that.

I don't have it all together. While I'd like to think I'm on autopilot when it comes to most of my food choices, the fact is that I still fudge my measurements...oftentimes I *think* I need more than I actually do. It's that kind of thinking that got me to 256 pounds in the first place - and I am all too aware that if I'm not careful, I can easily head in that direction again.

I still count out a certain number of turkey slices for my sandwich, I scoop peanut butter into a tablespoon before I put it on my English muffin, I employ the 100-calorie packs of guacamole to help keep me "on the straight and narrow" as my mom would say. And even with doing all of this, it's still a conscious choice to measure correctly. For example, I keep a set of measuring cups in my pantry (no excuse for not parceling out the correct portion this way) - and yet, every morning when I'm preparing my Greek yogurt/cereal/dried cranberries, I have to make the choice to keep my scoops level:

I plop 6 ounces of Fage nonfat plain yogurt into my bowl and then add half a cup of Fiber One cereal - I use the 1/4 cup measuring cup twice, since I'll also use it for the dried cranberries.
Level scoop. Not heaping - I will admit that the cereal is no great shakes in terms of taste, so I'm not usually tempted to add more. It does the trick with bulking up the yogurt and adding a nice amount of fiber with not a lot of calories, so that's why I choose to eat this brand.
Mmmm, Craisins! We buy a gigantic bag from Sam's Club and I decant some into a plastic container - this way I know I always have some, even if the rest of the bag has disappeared.
A normal, fairly level 1/4 cup serving.
Some days, I scoop out this much - most of the time I come to my senses and shake off the excess back into the container...
Just curious, I swiped the excess off the top and measured it - that's about 1/8 of a cup of extra Craisins, or about 50 calories!
The finished bowl, covered with a dusting of cinnamon - all this, measured correctly, comes out to about 247 calories. If I went with my heaping scoops, I'd easily be well into the 300s - not horrible, but think about this...

If, on every meal or snack, I fudged a bit on the portion size, I could add an extra 300 to 500 calories a day. Again, not horrible, but I'm certainly not going to lose any weight doing that, and over time, it WILL add up to extra pounds.

I guess this is what life will always be like for me - well, IF I want to maintain my weight loss...which, of course, I do. It's definitely a choice, and one that I am willing to make.


  1. AMEN!!!
    and yes Ive been waiting fer yer post.
    For me it's a choice.
    with fitness.
    with MARRIAGE.
    with everything.
    day by day and, some days, moment by moment.

  2. This was a great reminder (and reinforcer)'s about all the little choices every day.


  3. I linked to this on my FB page. I've foolishly gotten away from measuring some I can rely on my eyeball?! Thanks for reminding me that I CHOOSE to maintain, and yet to do it, I have to be disciplined. And measure :)

  4. Even though I'm not counting anything right now I measure a lot too. Some things I know how much a portion is and if I don't I measure it. Because you're right: taking a bit more every time can lead to a gain which we don't want.

    Your breakfast looks jummie by the way.

  5. Great post, Shelley!! It's so easy to fall into those "heaping cup" measurements. I love your visual of measuring out that excess. It just shows that it all can add up pretty quickly if we don't stay on top of it!

  6. As a lower weight maintainer, measuring becomes even more important, I think, as we have less to "play" with.

    Come to think of it, I don't mention it much, but I still measure the "weighty" ingredients.

    Great reminder!

  7. Very good post. Very interesting how you measured the "heaping portion" and saw how many extra calories that was.
    Great choice!!

  8. One time, my hand pulled back....
    One time I was on auto pilot.
    The rest of the million times, I had to choose.
    And choose and choose again.

    Auto pilot....... yeah! Pile it way high up!

  9. LOVE this post Shelley. Way back in the early 90s when I was a WW leader and the program relied much more on weighing and measuring than it does now, every so often I'd do a visual experiment with the class, just like you've done with this post. Most common oversize thing? Portions of pasta and baked potatoes. It's so easy to let our eyes slide a bit.

    See, this is why you inspire: you show us what 'real' maintenance is all about!

  10. When I went back to WW six weeks ago, the first thing I did when I got home was to "eye ball" my portions, and then actually weigh them to see where I was at.

    What I thought was 3 ounces of chicken turned out to be 6 ounces, and what I thought was 3/4 cup of cereal was actually 1 1/4 cups.

    Yep, it sucks to have to weigh and measure everything, but its totally worth it!

  11. Thanks for the reminder to weigh and measure.
    I know where the saying, 'eyes bigger than my belly' comes from. I sometimes 'eyeball' the measurements waaaaaaaay too big.

  12. Oh brother! Yes, that's exactly what I was saying about learning at W.W. that the little things count. And you know what? Sometimes when I am being serious about losing weight, I will make the measure a little LESS. Ooh, that's hard, though.

    Very good, especially with the pictures to show all of us.

  13. Great post. I always weigh out my proteins, grains, and nuts because my eyes don't want to admit the size of an actual serving.

    With nut butter, I weigh that as well, but my problem is licking the knife with the excess on it - like those calories don't count LOL!

  14. Well said. I struggle with this every single day. :( But, it's neccessary!

  15. Well said, my friend.
    For me the choice at this moment is just not to binge.
    I'm so black and white/all or nothing.
    Measuring exactly or inhaling everything.

  16. What a great post! I've been thinking all weekend about how my portions have gotten out of control, and even though I eat whole and healthy foods I have gained a few pounds. I need to start measuring instead of eyeballing portions because I am terrible at it!

  17. What a great reminder for us all. I'm guilty of getting complacent when it comes to measuring properly, and it DOES make such a difference. Have a good week Shelley!

  18. It's interesting to see the choices you can choose to make or not in a day...and how soon choosing to make one choice becomes a habit :)

  19. I read somewhere once that the average bite/extra nibble has 50 calories...your extra craisens are right on track with that.

    As a WW member, I have also been known to use my own rating system when things don't taste good enough to cost X amount of points. When that starts creeping in, I know it's time to get back to business and fast.

    I'm with you though - measuring cups and spoons are still my friend.

  20. Love it - just the reminder I needed. I've been eyeballing my coffee creamer every morning and today I measured what I poured. It turns out my consumption has crept up to THREE TIMES what I need. Yikes. That could explain the last 5 lbs.

  21. I started measuring my cereal on the scale because what I *thought* was 1 cup was almost 2 cups. BIG difference.

    Never thought of the greek yogurt with fiber one. Have to try that. I do LOVE greek yogurt with a scoop of protein powder. It's like having a pudding dessert. mmmm

  22. Great post and great reminder. Since I started WW I've been weighing and measuring. It really is important, and when I just eyeball it and probably over estimate, I'm only hurting myself.

  23. Thank you for this Shelley! It is so true. I started measuring my fat free creamer for my coffee and I'm pretty sure I was having at least 2 times as much as I should have. Also, I have to measure my cereal I'm always heavy handed on that. I think I'll always have to measure and weigh my food, it's just one of those things.

  24. Using measuring cups is brilliant! Love that. Thanks for sharing your ideas :}. Lately I've been changing my eating habits after reading Michael Snyder, M.D.'s book, Full: A Life Without Dieting. The author offers ways to eat less food, yet stay full longer. So far this has very helpful for me and I find that I am snacking way less than I used to.

  25. I'm just a few weeks into my weight loss journey and I find that I have to measure everthing. I have a distorted vision of what a serving size is.. and the extra bit on top adds up quick. Thanks for the post!!!

  26. This is a great reminder. It is very easy for me to just add a tiny bit more. And those tiny bits can add up fast! Looks yummy, BTW.

  27. Hi I just came across your blog recently. I love the Greek yogurt but it cost so much so I eat yoplait light but sometime I eat the Greek yogurt but the yoplait light does have less calories and all in it. Here lately I have been eating it with Kashi Lean cereal. It is so good. But yeah I should measure how much of it I eat cuz I could eat more than I need to and I probably do all the time but it is so good.

  28. the many cups is that? 1/2?

  29. I agree with Carla ... its a choice with EVERYTHING.

    The great part is that you realize it; and that will lead you to success.

    Thanks for the great reminder!

    Winks & Smiles,

  30. we have a choice and free to choose
    whatever it is...
    thanks for sharing..
    good luck to you..


Comments are now moderated to prevent spammers from leaving, well, spam - but rest assured that as soon as I read a real comment, I will publish it. So please, comment away, even though the blog is officially closed. Thanks!