When it comes to leading a healthier life, making small changes can make a big difference.
The first step in the right direction would be toward your kitchen cabinets to downsize your plates. Smaller plates will go a long way in helping you control your food portions, says Sheenagh King, a registered dietitian with The Longstreet Clinic.
"The size of your plate really does make a difference," said King, during a recent WomenSource luncheon.
"Your brain doesn’t like it when you put a small amount of food on a large plate. It sees it and says, ‘That’s not enough.’"
Dining on smaller plates will help you trick your mind into accepting the smaller portion of food, which can help you consume fewer calories. In the long run, that will aid you in maintaining a healthier weight.
"If you could not eat 50 (of your usual) calories a day for 30 days, you’d save 1,500 calories," King said.
"In 12 months, that would equal five pounds of lost weight. Fifty calories is that spread of mayonnaise or that extra roll."
"If you’re trying to lose that five or 10 pounds, you don’t do it by skipping meals. You do it by slowly restricting your calories."
On the road to improved health, the content of your calories — not just the number of them — is also important.
"You need to be calorie conscious and nutrition conscious," said King.
"It’s important to have protein and fiber at every meal. Fiber helps you stay full and protein stimulates (a chemical in your brain) that is believed to increase your metabolism and alertness."
When filling your plate, half of it should contain vegetables, while the other half is split between carbohydrates and protein, King says.
While you’re headed to the kitchen to make a meal, that’s a great time to sneak in a little physical activity — another key component to a healthier you.
"One of the excuses that I always hear (about why people don’t work out) is because gym memberships are too expensive," said Jennifer Loggins, owner of BodyPlex Gainesville and Oakwood, during the luncheon.
"OK. You don’t need a gym to work out. Do lunges as you’re headed down the hall. Pick up a (kitchen) chair and do squats.
"Anything above your normal routine is an improvement."
Both King and Loggins were invited by WomenSource staff to speak to attendees of the monthly Brown Bag Lunch at the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center in Gainesville about ways all women can use small adjustments to greatly improve their quality of life.
WomenSource is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women in the community "achieve personal and professional success."
Loggins says the No. 1 excuse she hears from people trying to skip out on exercise is saying they’re "too busy."
"You have to take care of yourself. Break up your workouts — do 15 minutes in the morning then 15 minutes after work," Loggins said.
"Wake up 15 minutes earlier to fit it in. I promise that extra 15 minutes of sleep isn’t going to do as much good for your body as that 15-minute walk around your block.
"Incorporate 15 minutes of activities into your evening. Go for a walk or a bicycle ride. And take your kids with you. Lead by example, let them see that being active is part of a healthy lifestyle."
While you’re making these small changes, don’t expect immediate results. Or to fall in love with it instantly.
"It takes 21 days to make something a habit," Loggins said.
"And it takes four to six weeks to change your metabolism — if you’re making actual changes. You can’t keep doing the same things you’ve always done and expect new results.
"You’re not going to really see (physical) changes until about 60 days after you start. Don’t be discouraged by that — keep in mind how long it took you to get to where you are now."
Although making these changes will likely result in a lighter impact when you step on the scale, that isn’t the point.
"It’s not about weight loss," King said. "It’s about being healthy and living a long life."