Frequently Asked Questions

1.    What is a serving size for fruit and vegetables?
The United States Department of Agriculture sets a serving size for fruit or vegetables to be equal to about one-half cup. Greens like spinach and lettuce have a serving size equal to one full cup. One serving of sliced fruit is equal to one-half cup; however a single piece of fruit, such as an apple or an orange counts as one serving. One serving of fruit or vegetable juice is 4 ounces.

Many experts suggest we need from five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. That is a total. Unfortunately many people fail to eat even five servings each day.
Here are some typical serving sizes for fruits and vegetables:
Fruits
      one banana
      six strawberries
      two plums
      fifteen grapes
      one apple
      one peach
      one half cup of orange or other fruit juice
Vegetables
      five broccoli florets
      ten baby carrots
      one roma tomato
      3/4 cup tomato juice
      half of a baked sweet potato
      one ear of corn
      four slices of an onion

2.  What can I count as exercise?
I am not going to qualify your exercise. That said if you are claiming points for minutes of exercise don’t count the regular exercise that is part of our daily life: doing laundry, carrying in the groceries, running the vacuum. Pick something you love that challenges you and do something every, every day. What matters the most is that you push yourself and that you exercise for a full hour every day. Have a back up plan- I prefer to go to the gym or on a long walk with a friend but I use my treadmill if time is short or the weather is bad. And I have been known to get on the treadmill at 11 pm if I didn’t find time to exercise earlier. A good work out DVD is a great help on days you just don’t have time to leave your house. We are offering a new option of daily steps counting for exercise points. So get yourself a good pedometer (I loved my Nike flex band and am now tracking on my Apple watch). For this option you can use every step you take in a day with 2,500 steps counting the same as 15 minutes of exercise, 5,000 steps equalling 30 minutes of exercise, 7,500 steps counting for 45 minutes of exercise and 10,000 steps counting for an hour. I'm a huge believer in walking and my own cholesterol just dropped 30 points since I got my Nike flex band and started making sure I move EVERY day. 

3  3.  Why don’t I get extra points for exercising more than an hour a day, or for steps and exercise classes? We are trying to make moderate, doable, permanent life changes. You are welcome to exercise as long as you would like but the pattern for the rest of your life should include an hour a day of walking and or exercise and we reward points for this basic one hour a day of exercise.

4. Why can’t I earn exercise points for 7 days a week? It is actually good for your body to rest one day a week. While it doesn’t have to be on the Sabbath that does make for a lovely day of rest. However there have been some competitors that take a nice Sunday walk to make up for a busy week where they couldn’t fit in all of their exercise.

5.   Why do I have to enter what I eat on myfitnesspal.com ? Why can’t I just use a piece of paper or another fitness tracker like Weight Watchers? The #1 tool I have found in health living is this on-line food journaling program. In past competitions I suspected that those that did not get good results were eating too many calories. This program has taught me what a normal daily portion of food is and how much I should be eating for the rest of my life. You set the pace you want to lose weight and this program will guide you to eat the portions that will support your plan. This program also allows you to track other things that you might need for health living like fiber, protein or carbohydrate grams. I just love it! While you may have another similar program you prefer I require this program be used during the competition partly so that we can cheer each other on! 

6.  What counts as “sweets”? Again I am not going to micromanage you on these categories. You will want to stay away from cookies, candy, pie, cakes, ice-cream etc. I am not concerned about the sugar in catsup, barbeque sauce, bread etc. Some competitors use no sugar added fudge sickles, protein bars with sugar, weight watchers desserts and do not count these as "their sugar day". The stricter you are with yourself the better your results but don’t go crazy. Those items that are full out sugary desert treats need to be restricted to “sugar days”.


 7. What counts as "sugar"? Again this is up to you. Personally I still continue to use more natural sweeteners while enrolled in a diet challenge. I use black sulfur molasses, agave nectar and raw honey as an ingredient in wholesome foods (whole grain breads etc.) I know that these are still sweeteners but they generally have more trace minerals and elements and are at least slightly healthier than pure cane sugar.  I stay away from dessert type treats even with these sweeteners. As for artificial sweeteners we all know they aren't good for us. We may have a challenge to do without them for a week. Ouch! 

8. Why can’t I earn points for no sweets 7 days a week? I’m competitive I don’t want to eat any sugar! I have found that completely abstaining from treats can lead to feelings of deprivation and eventual food binging. These binges can last days or weeks. You need to learn how to include sweets and treats in your life without losing control.

9.  Is there a limit on how many servings of sugar I can have on my sugar day? No- the program doesn’t quantify how much sugar you can eat but I would recommend focusing on one delectable, delicious, superb dessert. It should be something scrumptious that you plan for all week and savor every bite of. If you eat several sugary treats on your “sugar day” you will go way above your daily calorie allotment and slow down your results.

10.   What can I include as water? Water. Do not include ounces of juice, milk, soda or diet soda. It’s up to you whether to use herbal tea or Crystal Light once in awhile but honestly lots of clear plain water is the best!

11. Why do you only give points for inches lost from waist or hips? What about my arms, bust, thighs, calves? I would recommend you measure all of those points so that you can celebrate inches lost wherever they might be.  For easier point tracking the program only tracks waist and hips but you may want to track additional measurements as part of your own plan toward healthiness. 


12. What kind of bonus challenges will we have? These vary from competition to competition but in the past they have included things like: eating 9 servings of fruit and veggies a day, eating only whole grains, parking as far away as possible and taking the stairs etc. etc. I promise they will be fun challenges 


13.  I feel like it is so much work entering every bite I eat onto myfitnesspal.com- help I have a life besides healthy living! I would suggest  you spend some time on the website. It allows you to save favorite foods so that you merely check them when you include them in your meal rather than having to look them up each time. It also allows you to save complete meals so again you can just check them to enter. It also provides a tab for recently eaten foods so if you eat something again you can just check to enter. Additionally you can enter an entire recipe and it will formulate a nutrition label for you and you can save that information. I just saved my green smoothie so I no longer have to enter: banana, spinach, strawberries and agave nectar. Keep playing around with this site and you will grow to love it. 


14.  I am confused! I noted my daily caloric budget (after setting my goals and inputting how many pounds I wanted to lose a week on myfitnesspal.com ) but after exercising today it added the calories I burned exercising to my daily calorie budget. Is this for real? Yes and I love this feature. It has been my experience that you cannot exercise to lose weight. By that I  mean you can't eat junk and too much of it and take a walk for an hour and expect to lose weight. You only burn 1-300 calories in an average hour long exercise session. But on the other hand if you are eating healthily and sufficient portions you are often right near or maybe a bit over your daily caloric allotment. The answer is exercise. Personally if I eat enough healthy food to fill full I am always near or slightly over my daily budget for calories. And that little additional allowance from exercise is just what I need to keep losing. I would caution that there are a few of us that are suspicious of the amount of calories awarded for exercise. I try to imagine it is about 100 calories less than they award me- but that's just me! As far as earning BONUS POINTS for staying within your daily calory budget you earn those points if you stay within the budget as assisted by exercise! And also if you get to the end of the day and add it all up and you've eaten too much- throw in an exercise DVD and work off the overage!