Looking to make a few positive changes for the new year? Well, here are a couple of suggestions which will not only bring positive change for the new year to come, but for a lifetime!
Stop drinking soda:
Did you know that Americans spend over $66 billion a year on soda and other sugary carbonated beverages? Not only is that figure alone quite astonishing, but when you throw in all of the numerous negative side effects associated with soda drinking, we clearly have ourselves a wide-spread addiction! And it isn’t just about sugar, because it seems as if all of those Diet Coke fans simply go rabid over the stuff! Take Ellen, for example. First thing every morning, Ellen Talles starts her day by draining a supersize Styrofoam cup filled with Diet Coke and crushed ice. The 61-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla., drinks another Diet Coke in the car on the way to work and keeps a glass nearby “at all times” at her job as a sales clerk. By the end of the day she has put away about 2 liters. “I just love it,” she says. “I crave it, need it. My food tastes better with it.” Many folks meet Ellen’s consumption level even in drinking regular, or sugar-filled sodas. Just as an FYI, if you drank 2 liters of sugared soda a day (which many Americans do) you would be consuming 216 grams of sugar which translates to almost 800 calories! And let’s not forget the caffeine and sodium! Soda provides absolutely no nutritional benefit!
Whether you feel dependent or not, excessive consumption of soda is an unquestionable health risk, linked to an increased risk of low bone mineral density in women, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. What’s more, a growing body of research suggests that excessive diet soda intake may actually encourage weight gain. How? Researchers haven’t been able to quite nail that one down yet, but many theories suggest that the weight gain associated with diet soda consumption is as a result of the chemicals which make up the soda, including aspartame (Nutrasweet).
So, how does one kick the soda habit for good? Well, not going to sugar-coat anything here…if you consume soda anywhere to the same level as Ellen, then you’re addicted and as with all addictions, withdrawal may be a bit painful. Alternative beverages? Water…water, and um, water. Now, if you need to add a little flavor to your water, no problem. Use a liquid Stevia which now comes in a variety of natural flavors. If you are hooked on the carbonation, switch to seltzer. Also, give herbal and green teas a try which are filled with antioxidants and powerful immune, skin, digestive and cognitive boosters! Cut out soda for 2 weeks and you will be amazed by the results…you will likely lose weight and feel much more naturally energized!
Cut out fast food:
If you haven’t yet read Fast Food Nation authored by investigative journalist, Eric Schlosser, then I suggest you give it a go. The prettiest food packaging and wrappers can’t cover the fact that Fast Food is a seriously disgusting industry, where profit is prioritized above and beyond anything else, including human health and humane animal treatment practices. Fast food is notoriously high in fats, sugar, salt and calories. It makes sense that anyone who consumes fast food on a regular basis will gain weight. Rates of obesity in America have increased steadily over the last 30 years, a time period that has witnessed an explosion in numbers of fast food restaurants, vending machines and convenience stores. But if these correlative facts aren’t enough to change your mind on fast food, check out the nutritional stats below:
- McDonald’s alone serves 52 million every day (that’s 1 in 6 Americans every day) 18 billion people every year
- In 2006 the spending was 142 billion. 142 billion dollars on nutritionally deficient high calorie food. That’s $460.00 for every man, woman, and child in the USA. That’s almost enough to end world hunger forever…can you imagine how this number has increased over the past 5 years?
- The fast food statistics indicate that of all the items on the McDonald’s menu, only seven of them contain NO sugar. Talk about a sugar fix! It’s in your drink, your dressing, on your burger – it’s even on the fries!
- If you have a Big Mac, large fries, and a coke, you would have to walk (at 3mph) for 6 hours to burn up those calories.
- The #1 vegetable in America? French Fries. I don’t think it really qualifies as a vegetable anymore, but it’s still the most consumed…green veggie anyone?
- The average fast food spend per meal, per person? $4.00. For a family of 4, that equates to $16.00. For $16.00, you can whip up a filling meal of broiled chicken, fresh veggies or salad and a whole grain – in return you get a full tummy and a lot less fillers, additives, preservatives, sugars, sodium and trans fat! You will however have to do the dishes, but that’s why dishwashers and small children were invented!
All of my fitness friends would be slightly amiss if I didn’t mention exercise. On top of all of the nutritional issues we contend with in America, there is no doubt about it – we are sedentary. Now, for many of us, getting a nice work-out into the day is difficult when managed against work and family responsibilities. However, the biggest concern in all of this is the means in which inactivity impacts our kids. The NSCH (National Survey of Children’s Health) confirmed that lack of exercise directly correlates with obesity statistics among children. We have got to get movin’ people! So why do most folks have trouble making exercise a regular habit? Well, there are probably a number of factors, but here are the main ones as I see it:
- Too difficult. People set out with a lot of ambition and enthusiasm, and start out with a big goal. “I’m going to go to the gym for an hour a day!” or “I’m going to run 30 minutes every day!” The problem is that the goal is too difficult to sustain for very long. You can do it for a few days, but you soon run out of energy, and it becomes a drag to do it.
- Too many goals. Often we set out to do too much. We want to run, and lift weights, and eat healthy, and quit sweets, and stop drinking soda. Well, those are multiple goals, and you cannot focus on the exercise habit if you’re trying to do all the others at the same time. Or we might start with one goal, but then get caught up in another goal (to stop procrastinating, for example), and lose our focus on the first one.
- Not enough motivation. It’s not a lack of discipline, it’s a lack of motivation. The most powerful motivators, in my experience, are logging your habit and public pressure.
- Can Diet Soda Make You Fat? (fitsugar.com)
- 22 Reasons to Stop Drinking Soda (wisebread.com)
- Crush Bad Cravings for Good (nourishednutrition.com)
- Bad Food? Tax It, and Subsidize Vegetables (autoimmunephoenix.wordpress.com)
- From Athlete to Overweight to Primal (marksdailyapple.com)
- Shameless McDonald’s Ads To Link Big Mac & Fries With Local Food Movement (friendseat.com)