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AS A known health and fitness enthusiast over the years, students and staff alike have come to me in search of input that would cancel out long stints of minimal activity and poor dietary choices. Although there is no pill, drink, drug, fad-diet, or “quick-fix” to counteract the damage that has already been done, there are some small steps that can be taken which would potentially yield significant results right away.
One step you can take is limiting the amount of highly processed foods consumed on a daily basis. It’s best to consider processed foods as on a continuum that ranges from minimally processed to highly processed. Examples of minimally processed foods would be washed and packaged fruits and vegetables, bagged nuts and seeds, and canned beans or tuna.
These examples may have one or two ingredients listed on the nutrition label and usually do not include foreign ingredients in the form of additives, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives that help maintain a long shelf life. Making efforts to periodically replace highly processed meals and snacks with whole foods greatly decrease the chances of you becoming another statistic.
A second step that can lead you down a healthier path is to incorporate green smoothies into your life. A green smoothie combines ingredients such as fresh fruits, dark leafy greens blended together with juice, coconut water, or some form of dairy free milk. Green smoothies are loaded with antioxidants and other micronutrients which help build up your immune system. These drinks provide natural energy without the use of caffeine. Due to the high amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals, green smoothies can assist with weight loss. They’re also very easy to make and taste great. Over time, you might find yourself going from not liking veggies to craving them.
A third step you can take towards accomplishing your fitness goals would be to reduce the amount of meat and animal products in your diet. Americans consume well beyond what is recommended by the USDA and the suggested Dietary Guidelines.
Most people who find themselves wanting to make lifestyle changes that cross my path looking for direction, guidance and support are not consuming meat and animal products in that way. Most of their meat consumption comes from hot dog stands, fast food chains, and other miscellaneous places. These products are highly processed, full of sodium, loaded with saturated fat, high in cholesterol (and God knows what else).
Whichever way you make efforts to reduce your meat consumption, one thing that is for sure: your body and all its organs and cells would be very appreciative. Start with one meal and see if you can get to a point where you can go meatless for the whole day. You might learn something new about yourself that may surprise you.
Making any kind of lifestyle change can be a daunting task. However, where there is a will, there is a way. If you can begin with baby steps and celebrate the triumphs of accomplishing mini-milestones, it can provide the necessary motivation and momentum to continue setting new goals and reaching new heights. Are you ready to take that first step?