Portion Distortion Part Two - Rancho La Puerta
Events Calendar
Types of Events:
Spa Services

Portion Distortion Part Two

by Yvonne Nienstadt

In my last post I explained how US food portions have increased over time, and how this has contributed to weight gain. In this post I dole out tips to help prevent the dreaded couch potato spread!

Stand, Don’t Sit

A study published in the journal Diabetologia, found that most people spend 50 – 70% of their time sitting. Its authors reviewed data from 18 studies involving 794,577 people. Many of the studies measured full-day sitting time, covering not only hours whiled away in front of the television, but also time spent in a chair at work (source: New York Times).

The researchers then cross-referenced sitting time with health outcomes, and found that people with the “highest sedentary behavior,” meaning those who sat the most, had a 112% increase in their relative risk of developing diabetes, a 147% increase in their risk for cardiovascular disease, and a 49% greater risk of dying prematurely — even if they regularly exercised.

Mayo Clinic scientists examined what they call non-exercise activity, thermogenesis, or NEAT – basically fidgeting and pacing. What the fidget research suggests for the first time is that a tiny exercise done often enough can have as big an effect as rigorous exercise done less frequently. This is good news for busy people (source: Mayo Clinic).

Can’t move around? Dr. Joan Vernikos, former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division and author of Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, presents a simple yet powerful solution. Just stand up!  She discovered that the act of standing up is more effective than walking for counteracting the ill effects of sitting. Just standing every 20 minutes reactivates our muscle cells as we pull up body weight against gravity.  How many times should you stand up?  A double-blind study by Dr. Vernikos revealed, “When it comes to interrupting your sitting, you want to stand up around 35 times a day or so.” Let me quote Gloria Estefan’s song, “Get on your feet, get up and make it happen!”

Consider a VariDesk which allows you to sit or stand.  Several of Rancho La Puerta’s staff have them and love them! Set a timer or get an app to remind you to stand up frequently. 

And when you do sit, remember to sit up straight! This is not just about helping your back. Harvard Business School researcher Amy Cuddy PhD found that sitting in an erect manner burned off the fat building stress hormone cortisol and increased muscle building testosterone in both men and women making them more confident and powerful! This is yet another reason to do yoga or Pilates regularly (source: New York Times).


Of course, formal exercise is also important. Move more – strive for one hour a day. Remember that housework, gardening and other chores can be made aerobic simply by working continuously with intensity. HIIT – high intensity interval training – is great for fat loss. Check out programs such as Dr. Sears’ PACE and Dr. Teta’s Metabolic Aftershock. HIIT is only a 12 – 15 minute commitment 2 – 3 times a week, so even the busiest among us can schedule it. Keep a diary of all your movement each day. Get a pedometer or digital device and remember to perform resistance exercise twice a week for 20 – 30 minutes to build and maintain calorie burning muscle mass.

Stop the Spread

In summary, the key to conquering spreading girth is two-fold:

  1. Move whenever you can!
  2. Curb calorie intake via smaller portions of higher calorie foods and larger portions of lower calorie, healthy foods – meaning veggies and fruits.

Deborah, Rancho La Puerta’s founder, tells guests to, “Eat dinner on the salad plate and salad on the dinner plate.” This is automatic portion control!

To learn more, check out the following books and websites.

  • ‘Portion Distortion’ was coined by The Obesity Education Initiative of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Visit their site for practical tips to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Watch Super Size Me with Morgan Spurlock.
  • Read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.
  • Read Pandora’s Lunchbox by Melanie Warner.
  • Ranch Presenter Marion Nestle PhD has a blog and dozens of books on the politics of food, visit foodpolitics.com for more info.
  • Read The Portion Teller, by Ranch presenter and Nestle protégé Lisa R. Young, PhD.