Size Matters

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Today as part of my ‘treat yo self’ day, I dined at the Cracker Barrel near my apartment. I had a gift card and haven’t been out to eat in weeks so I figured, why not? I ate by myself as I just wanted some quiet time and when the waitress came to take my order I asked for a biscuit while I waited. She asked if I wanted one or two and I responded “just one” knowing I had a whole plate of French toast, eggs and bacon coming soon. About a minute later she reappeared with a plate and two biscuits. “I couldn’t bring you a plate with just one…it’s just odd.” I gave a polite laugh, thanked her and enjoyed my one biscuit. I had already decided I would take the second one home and felt very good about that decision until five minutes later when my meal came out and VOILA—two MORE biscuits. Needless to say, I reevaluated the biscuit count and ate another, now having TWO to take home.

All of my southern friends are likely smiling at this point, appreciating this moment for what it appears to be—southern hospitality at it’s finest. And it WAS nice. I wasn’t charged for them and I didn’t ask for them (I actually asked to not have them, technically), but I was still provided with an over-abundance of food. I doggy-bagged half of my French toast and the two biscuits and feel like I have a whole other meal waiting for me tomorrow.

The problem is, 5 years ago I would’ve eaten everything. Splitting my one meal into two would have seemed silly, and even though I would’ve been stuffed full, I would have found a way to eat all of it. I think the vast majority of people follow the same pattern as I did a few years back, and therein lies the problem. We are taught from an early age to get the most “bang for your buck.” The more food you can buy with that dollar, the better. Ignoring all nutritional components of that food purchase, anytime you eat out (with the exception of fine dining locations) you are almost always getting “too much.”

You see, I personally hold the opinion that much of America’s obesity epidemic could be solder with one simple adjustment—portion control. I truly believe you can eat most anything (don’t go overboard with an all donut diet here…) so long as you manage the portion size. Mind the basic nutrition rules of having a good balance of protein, fats and carbs, but don’t worry AS much about what you eat as you do about how MUCH you eat. I can hear some nutritionists buzzing in my ear right now about endorsing a world without consist calorie counting, but hear me out.

I don’t count calories. I eat smaller portions of the things that I know do not provide the nutritional value my body really needs, while setting no portion limits for the “healthy” stuff. If I’m really craving some garlic bread (recent occurrence), I won’t just NOT eat a slice, but I will only eat one. Meanwhile, when I steam some green peas, I polish off a whole three serving bag without thinking twice. Does that contradict my portion size? Maybe a little, but let’s be honest here, most people in America aren’t getting anywhere NEAR their suggested vegetable or fruit intake…so when I am preaching portion control, I’m really speaking to what we presently overindulge in. I have never witnessed a health problem following overconsumption of fruits and veggies.

While portion control may seem an easy enough adjustment to make, sadly, the odds are stacked against us. Food companies list nutritional facts for a personal packaged pizza, but bury in the label the fact that this personal pizza is actually two servings. Restaurants provide “value” to the customer through quantity rather than quality and oftentimes most dishes are packed with enough calories to happily feed two people.

So what do you do? Society tells you beauty is in a small pant size and yet the food corporations are throwing a day’s worth of calories onto your dinner plate.

I’ll tell you what I do…I take back control. I listen to my body and what it needs. I eat when I’m hungry, but stop when I feel full (let’s face it, stuffing yourself full of food is only enjoyable for that one second that you taste the food…after that it’s all a terrible mind game of “why did I do that”). I don’t deny myself desserts or indulgences, but I maintain control over the portion size, and trust me, I’m not starving myself over here.

Dieting is everywhere. You can’t turn on the tv, read a magazine or even talk to a friend without the concept of losing weight or dieting coming up. As a professional in the health and wellness field, my exposure to this is probably about tenfold and I’ve recently hit my boiling point with the chaos that surrounds this topic. If I see one more top secret, magic wrap, pill or fruit I literally might implode…okay, not literally, but it is very possible I’ll hop up on my soapbox and simply never come back down. Take back the power. There’s nothing magical necessary to live a healthy life. You just need to have control. Control over your mind, control over your body, and most definitely control over your portion size. In the case of weight loss and healthy living, size really does matter.

(The video below explains portion control and why it’s necessary for some foods, and why having more veggies and fruits can actually help portion control for other types of food)

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Updates on Oz

kangaroo

Following countless questions in regards to my plans to trot across the globe, I thought it best to provide some more details on my venture to the outback.

I have purchased a flight and officially depart the U.S.A on February 3rd, 2015. Yes, I know, it’s still months away, but since I found out in April and it is now mid October, I’m convinced time is flying past me, and I have already woken up once thinking my plane had left without me. Even harder than that transition of continents will be my departure from the great state of North Carolina- my adopted home state (in spite of despising sweet tea-sorrynotsorry) for the last 17 years. My family has since moved back to the Midwest (still planning to return to the east coast someday), but my “home” has always been here. I know this state, I know these people, and I love the life I have. So on December 15th (approximately) when I pile all my worldly possessions into my little hyundai hatchback (flashback to college when I did that for the first time), I will still feel like I’m leaving part of me here.

Anyway, back to updates. The application process for my planned graduate school in Australia was, to say the least, arduous. Due to changes in their system, a few glitches in the application (and maybe in small part due to the Aussie’s ‘no worries’ laid back lifestyle), it took over two months to get my full application in. Before the questions abound, yes I have a flight before I have a school, kind of. My situation is quite unique in that my boss from Duke (who now works in Oz) has a couple PhD spots available to offer at his discretion. So while I still need to go through the hullabaloo (wonder if the Aussie’s know that word!) of applying for both admission and a scholarship, I really just need to meet their minimums. Obviously meeting minimums has never been a mantra of mine,  so I put a fair amount of work into the application hoping to earn admission and scholarship off my own merits (but it’s nice to know that either way I have a place).

In any event, I won’t hear back about admission for a few weeks-months still and scholarships aren’t even considered til mid-December. Now you see why it’s pretty necessary to commit to a flight over early on, as if I waited for the actual news, my already pricey flight would’ve shot up like a rocket. My mom and I have previously joked about how selling my car was just so I could pay for the flight over (thankfully not true, but not terribly far off either).

Through a series of very FORTUNATE events, I’ve also been in contact with a potential roommate in Melbourne. The whole thing is a bit crazy, but I’ll save the story for when everything is set in stone, and I feel sure enough to type it without jinxing it’s perfection.

Contrary to popular belief, this is not a short-term move for me. For some reason, a vast majority of the people I’ve spoken to are under the impression that a doctoral degree takes only 1-2 years. Boy, I wish. Even with my Masters, and even with the course load abroad being less cumbersome (as the focus in international schools is research, while U.S. schools require 1-2 years of classes and then research), this adventure will last 3-4 years. It seems like a long time, and it is. This isn’t a semester abroad or a year of “toughing it out,” and it’s also not an Australian vacation. It’s an opportunity to advance myself in a field I love. I’ve had a lot of jobs throughout my life, but this is my big break to set myself up for a career (read more about my aussie adventure opportunity here: https://time2begin.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/defining-moment ).

I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from friends and family regarding this move and so much support. It still kind of surprises me, however, that the most common response is something along the lines of “you’re so brave.” Really? I don’t feel brave. I feel like anyone in my position would have made the same choice I did. Now maybe from your position (you might have a family, significant other, budding career, etc) it seems an impossible choice, but from my viewpoint, going seemed like not only the best choice, but the right one as well. Don’t get me wrong, when I first heard the opportunity was real, there were definitely tears, and I honestly can’t tell you whether they were happy or sad. Can you cry both at the same time? I feel it was both. I’m leaving everything I know for an opportunity to earn what I want in the unknown. So maybe it could be described as brave…I guess I can see traversing into the unknown in that light. To me, however, I’m simply reaching. I’m reaching past the limits I once set for myself. I’m reaching past the limits of where I thought my life would lead, and though it is a bit scary, it’s also incredibly exhilarating.

Everyone’s life won’t lead them to a new country or doctoral program, but we all have things we’d like to reach for but don’t because we see limits. True, sometimes in life there are indeed realistic limits to what we can do, but oftentimes the limits we see are self imposed. Stop setting limits. Stop throwing up walls because you think you can’t or think you shouldn’t. Reach high. I can’t say you’ll always touch the stars, but I promise if you don’t try, you’ll never even come close. Your future is unlimited…who are you to say otherwise?