Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Do You Suffer from the Eye-Mouth Gap?

Updated September 29, 2008

Can't Figure out why you're gaining weight even though you're watching what you eat and have been exercising consistently for a while? Two recent studies shed some light.

According to the Berkeley Wellness Letter, the "eye-mouth gap", a term used to describe the common practice of underestimating the amount of food one eats, is prevalent among those trying to lose weight.

The idea is if you ask someone what they ate yesterday the odds are their caloric estimate will be off by a considerable amount. Studies show that up to 80% of the population underestimates their food intake. This includes lean and athletic people, too.

Researchers have found that when queried, many obese people remember eating only about half as much food as they actually consumed. A recent survey found that most adults underestimate their daily food consumption by about 800 calories. Considering that the standard adult diet is in the neighborhood of 2000 calories, these flawed estimates can add up to quite a few extra pounds and inches each year.

What's more, while people underestimate the amount of sugar, refined foods, and unhealthy fats they consume, people also tend to overestimate their daily intake of fruit, veggies, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. So we're consuming more calories than we realize, we're eating more junk food than we realize, and we're eating less healthy food than we realize.

There are a few possible reasons why a person might fail to grasp what (or how much) they are putting into their bodies. Explains the Wellness Letter:

Misreporting is seldom a deliberate deception, researchers believe. More likely, it's unconsciously done, perhaps in response to social or familial pressure, combined with wishful thinking. In addition, people don't know how much food they put on their plates. If you're trying to lose weight or improve your diet, don't trust your eyes.

In addition to underestimating how much we're eating, another recent study shows that Americans are overestimating the number of calories they burn during the day (exercising or performing everyday activity)! The overweight population is overestimating their calories burned per day by approximately 900 and normal weight people by 600. These two recent studies certainly explain our expanding waistlines.

Click here to watch the Liz Bonis segment on "Eye-Mouth Gap"

What can you do?

1. Be consistent in your workouts and make them progressive. Simply put, keep working diligently and change your routine frequently.

2. Track your calories. Doctors, fitness professionals and dietitians suggest health-conscious consumers track their meals to have a more accurate picture of what (and how much) they're actually eating. Use some method (the easier, the better) to keep count of how many calories you're consuming. If you want to lose weight, allow for a small caloric deficit on most days of the week - you should expend more energy than you take in by approximately 400 - 800 on caloric deficit days.

Clients at our studio have access to the industry's leading nutrition tracking software, Vitabot. And another great nutrition tool I've found to help track both the quantity and quality of calories is Meal Plans 101, created by dietitian Dr. Chris Mohr, PhD. Regardless of the method, people who keep track of what they are eating are far more successful in their fitness and body fat reduction efforts.

Click here to learn more about Meal Plans 101...

Okay, armed with this new awareness, let's get to it!!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian CalkinsCincinnati’s HealthStyle Fitness, INC

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"F" Should Stand for "Fit"

September 9, 2008

Recently, Greater Cincinnati took a bit of a beating when studies showed that Kentucky ranks seventh on the list of fattest states, with Ohio coming in at an also- unimpressive 17th. The fifth annual "F is for Fat" report, issued by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that 28.4 percent of adult Kentuckians are obese, as are 25.9 percent of Ohioans.

As a Cincinnati-based fitness professional, I'm not surprised by these statistics. After all, we live in the land of biscuits and gravy, goetta and five-way chili; long, cold winters and hot-as-blazes summers - none of which encourages healthy habits. If you take a look at the leanest state, Colorado, you'll see a very different picture: lean, healthy eating choices and abundant natural resources that encourage activities like hiking, walking, skiing and snowshoeing.

The good news is, every day I work with clients who have taken stock of their health and made the commitment to improve it by developing a healthier lifestyle that focuses on proper nutrition and regular exercise. You don't have to work with a personal trainer to get your body back on track; just a little common sense and ongoing tweaking to your habits will start you on the path to optimal health. Together, we can get Kentucky and Ohio off the "fat" list and onto the "fit" for good. Here's how you can start your path from couch potato to lean machine in manageable, easy steps.

  • Forget what the experts tell you. If you're sedentary, just do something, anything, to get off the couch and away from your desk. Walk to lunch; park further away from the office; order fresh fruit as a side instead of fries. Make one small change this week, another next week, and keep at it little by little.
  • Forget about "exercise." A treadmill isn't necessary. Think about physical activities you enjoyed as a kid and how you can incorporate them as an adult.
  • Use your walk to improve your mind. Download a book to your iPod and enjoy! Your walk will be done before you know it.
  • Think about WHY you want to improve your health. Want to make sure you're around to meet your grandchildren? Tired of feeling sluggish and exhausted? Research shows that people who know why they want to do something, and create a plan to achieve it, are 10 times more successful than those who don't.
  • Take 15 minutes of your lunch break for a brisk walk. Then take 15 more after dinner. This will reduce your appetite and can result in a 15-pound weight loss over the course of a year!
  • Keep at it! Research proves that sedentary people who exercise consistently for six months develop a psychological habit - you just might find you've become one of those people who love to exercise!

Give it just three months of your life. You can start any time, any place, but the key is to actually DO IT. At the end of those three months, you'll be leaner, have more energy, your mental state will have improved, your clothes will fit better and we will turn the tide to a healthier city. All it takes is one small step, followed by another.

And for those looking for a change of pace to your workout, check out this total functional workout that you can do anywhere! Click here to watch the TRX Suspension Trainer on FOX!

Alright Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, let's get to it!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian CalkinsCincinnati’s HealthStyle Fitness, INC