We are constantly on the lookout for quick tips and tricks the get us on the right path.
Before you start to add in a variety of new habits or lifestyle changes, the most important thing you can do is look to what you need to ELIMINATE in order to get your health pursuits off on the right foot and improve your health.
Sometimes you need to move on from things to make some positive changes and unfortunately things will get eliminated. When moving on certain things tend to have to be left behind whether it’s favorite treats, watching t.v instead of exercising or Jennifer Aniston..
Ok that might be too soon but I think Brad Pitt has made peace with it. Here are 6 key things you should look to remove in order to get on the right path to health and wellness
1. ELIMINATING THE NOT SO SWEET SUGAR TO IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH
This is probably the best thing overall you could do. White refined sugar is one of the biggest curses of our time. The rates of obesity and diabetes that have arisen over the years is staggering and sugar is right at the forefront in creating havoc in the body.
Its most detrimental form is in high fructose corn syrup. This is taking a natural substance (fructose) and refining it and concentrating it into extraction that the body does not recognize and has trouble processing, primarily the liver.
High fructose corn syrup was invented in the late 50’s and introduced in the early 70’s as a substitute for fat during the low fat craze. Trade restrictions were making sugar more expensive and corn was extremely cheap and plentiful. High fructose corn syrup was something that could give lost texture and flavor to food. It also had a longer shelf life and was cheaper to produce than using those high tariff/imported cane sugars.
Sugars lead to spikes in blood sugar that can lead to body fat storage as sugar that is not used by the body is converted to body fat by insulin. Along with body fat over time this constant insulin release can lead to insulin resistance and ultimately diabetes.
So in the early 1800’s people were consuming what would equal a 12 ounce can of a soft drink every 5 days. Now we are eating that amount of sugar every 7 hours.
Cutting out sugar or reducing it drastically will help in fighting off obesity and diabetes, it will help keep energy levels more stable and help us avoid craving more of it. Sugar has shown to have addictive properties, so having a ‘sweet tooth’ might be more of an addiction than you realize. Sugar just might be the cause for more diseases than we realize
Here’s some surprising places you can find sugar:
- Pasta sauce
- cereal bars
- soy milk
- frozen dinners
If you have been avoiding table sugar that’s a good start just be aware of how many unexpected foods contain sugar. If you’re reading an ingredient list and see ingredients ending in ‘ose’ it is probably best to avoid it.
Trans fats have historically been known as partially hydrogenated oil on ingredient lists but are now classified as trans fats. Trans fats are things like vegetable oils that have been hydrogenated so that they remain solid at room temperature. They also provide more flavor and texture to foods.
Trans fats have actually been around quite awhile most notably in 1909 when the new technology of hydrogenation was patented and acquired by Procter & Gamble. In 1911 they introduced Crisco to the market. Crisco was made from cottonseed oil and in fact is where the name Crisco comes from; “crystallized cottonseed oil.”
However studies into trans fats correlation with cancer were not undertaken until the 1940’s and it was not until 1988 when a connection was made to coronary heart disease.
In the mid 90’s it was understood that trans fats were causing 30,000 deaths a year from heart disease and the USDA continued to promote trans fats all the way up until 2005. In 2006 it was estimated that that death count was approaching 100,000 a year
The problem with these fats is they are unfamiliar to your body and essentially turn into sludge in your arteries. Trans fats can therefore lead to coronary heart disease and can increase the risk of:
- Alzheimers disease
- liver dysfunction
- infertility in woman
Trans fat has no place in the human diet. The problem is it can be hidden in a lot of things especially processed foods. Be careful reading labels because it’s a good bet you can find trans fats in the following “foods”
- cookies, crackers, cakes, pie crusts, pizza doughs and some breads
- various margarines and shortening
- pre mixed items such as cake and pancake mixes
- pretty much all fried foods
- microwave and movie popcorn
- frozen/packaged dinners
Why is this even in foods?. Pretty simply trans fats are cheap to produce and lead to a longer shelf life for products so it can help control costs for food companies.
Basically if you’re eating packaged, processed or fast foods it’s a good bet you’re consuming trans fats.
3. NOT MOVING!
That’s me running downhill sprints on some sand dunes on Fraser Island in Australia.
I spent months out there and honestly had some of the best workouts of my life by embracing what was all around me. I’ve worked out and played competitive sports most of my life, however I never felt fitter than when I traveled around the world. They say necessity is the mother of invention and I found ways to be active wherever I went. From climbing trees for fruit, swimming, running sprints on beaches and hills to renting a bike and seeing how far I could go.
If you’re part of a gym and already exercising or playing recreational sports; perfect. If not this is the time to get out there and get moving, and it does not have to cost you a thing.
Exercise is free. Whether it’s walking, hiking, biking, jogging, running stairs, swimming, rollerblading etc etc. You can do a burpee or push up anywhere. A gym or workout equipment in the home definitely makes it more focused but if you have not been involved in any exercising now is the time to start and don’t worry if you feel you are not ready for a gym yet.
I could make this extremely specific by talking about H.I.I.T or drop sets or mind muscle connections but let’s not make things complicated. There’s time for more in depth stuff later. If you have an exercise program try to do at least what you did the workout before with a little bit more. Did you do 11 reps on an exercise? try for 12 the next time. Did you run 25:30? Try for 26 minutes next time. Just allow your body to progress slowly but surely.
It goes without saying that exercising is key to providing us tremendous health benefits but i’m going to say it anyway! Here’s just a few of the health benefits you will receive from exercising:
- weight control
- increases HDL and lower triglycerides
- mood enhancement
- increased bone density
- boosts energy along with enhanced cardiovascular function
- promotes better sleep
- stronger joints, ligaments and muscles
This list can just keep going but I want to show you some of the great effects. If you haven’t been doing anything make sure you consult with your doctor to make sure you’re ready to start exercising. But just 30 minutes 3-4 times a week can help you get the benefits listed above. People complicate exercise too much, it can get more specific and advanced but if you’re new to getting healthy just remember to move.
Uh Oh, the G- word…
Gluten is everywhere, literally and figuratively. So here’s a bit of a rundown..
Gluten is sticky protein found in the seeds of grass, aka grains. Its primarily in wheat, barley and rye but wheat is the form most everyone encounters on a daily basis.
Gluten is what makes breads fluffy and dough stretchy
Ancient wheat or the wheat of the bible or even of your grandparents and great grandparents age is vastly different than the wheat of today. Today’s wheat has been hybridized and genetically modified so that an original strain of wheat which contained 14 chromosomes now has 42. Modern wheat was genetically altered in the 1960’s so that it was possible to grow even more of it in the same space. This was done out of noble intentions as there was the threat of hunger issues due to an alarmingly increasing world population.
This new form of high yield wheat which makes up 99% of the wheat you can purchase has a MUCH higher gluten content than before this modern wheat was developed. It is this higher gluten content that has lead to a 4 fold increase of celiac disease over the last 60 years as well as increasingly high rates of gluten sensitivity.
Gluten can lead to the breakdown of the intestinal walls which can lead to things like celiac disease and autoimmunity. Autoimmunity is when the body has got used to attacking foreign particles (i.e gluten) but has then turned on itself as it starts to mistake its own tissue for that of the invader it has become used to fighting off.
This can lead to issues like arthritis, multiple sclerosis, thyroid issues and celiac disease itself.
Wheat and gluten have also shown to have addictive properties which is why perhaps you crave it under times of stress in the form of comfort food.
Gluten has also been shown to block the absorption of nutrients and to stimulate appetite and can spike blood sugar that leads to crashes and cravings for more carbohydrates and sugar.
One must not confuse whole wheat breads or whole grain bread with actual physical grains. When you are eating bread you are eating pulverized ground flour that is quickly digested by the body causing blood sugar to rise and then eventually fall. Here is a much more detailed post I did on gluten here
5. ASPARTAME & ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
We covered why sugar is something you should look to eliminate but what about drinks without sugar? This is where a lot of people turn to artificially sweetened drinks. But you might want to wait before reaching for that Diet Coke.
Aspartame is going to be the most recognized artificial sweetener but artificial sweeteners exist as many brands and varieties including
- Sweet N’ Low
- Sweet Twin
- Sugar Twin
- Sweet One
So what does an artificial sweetener do in the body? In the case of Aspartame it is made up of ingredients that include methanol that converts to formaldehyde in the body which has been linked to retinal damage and birth defects. The combination of these ingredients act as ‘excitotoxins’ in the body and can cause potential nerve damage in the brain and can be connected to long term illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, brain lesions, Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
Simply put an artificial sweetener is a chemical creation unrecognized by the body and capable of creating some concerning issues.
In regards to weight loss that diet drink you reach for may be causing additional harm.
When your body consumes an artificial sweetener the sweet taste signals that some amount of calories are on the way. When these calories are not received the body then starts to crave what it feels it was teased with. This can lead to carbohydrate and sugar cravings which can cause havoc in a persons weight loss pursuits.
Also in conjunction with that artificial sweeteners have addictive properties and lead to a person craving another diet drink not long after already consuming one. Put all this together and you have a vicious cycle of addiction and cravings that go round and round and round. Here is a much more detailed article all about artificial sweeteners
At the moment 43% of adults suffer adverse health effects from stress and the American Medical Association has observed that stress is the cause of 60% of all illnesses and disease. The American Psychological Association digs even deeper into the effects of stress here
Stress makes up a huge part of our lives and it has evolved over the centuries from stress over not having adequate shelter to me worrying what will happen if I don’t install the latest itunes update.
Our stresses today range from significant to trivial but they can all have the same effects in our body. There are good kinds of stress, ones that can keep us alert and help us avoid danger. Then there are ones that continually challenge us without allowing us breaks or relaxation in between.
What is stress?
Stress is basically how your body reacts to potentially harmful situations, and it doesn’t really matter if it’s real or a perceived stress, your body reacts the same way. Essentially it releases chemicals and hormones that are helping you to prevent injury or trauma, your fight or flight response more or less.
This is helpful for jumping out of the way of a car running a red light but gradual, long term stress can have some serious effects on the body. Ready for a long list? Here it goes…
- headaches & dizziness
- irritability and anger
- panic disorders
- grinding teeth and tension in the jaw
- increased heart rate
- heart disease
- Diabetes type I & II
- digestive disorders
- upset stomach
- weight gain and obesity
- muscle tension
- lack of energy
- immune system dysfunction
Honestly I’m getting tried of typing so i’ll cut it off there. It’s pretty clear stress is something we need to eliminate but how?
The big 3 things that put stress on the body are:
- Your environment
- Your body
- Your thoughts
Psychologists say one of the first things you need to do when dealing with stress is to find out where the stress is coming from. This will allow you to take the step of realizing what stress is in or out of your control.
Just getting into the mind frame of realizing that some things are out of your control can put yourself at ease in a kind of understanding way.
This mind set can make a world of difference according to the American Heart Association. They state that changing your thought process can have real stress management benefits. Simply getting in the habit of saying “I can’t do this” to “i’ll do the best I can” can set yourself up for success.
Other mind set changes can be telling yourself you can handle things by taking it one step at a time instead of “everything is going wrong”.
The thought process may seem simple but it’s more about getting in the habit which can set yourself to gradually have your mind be put at ease more and more.
Here are 5 practical things you can do to cope with stress
- count to ten before reacting
- deep breathing- inhale for a count of 4, hold it for a 2 count and slowly exhale- repeat 4-5 times
- long walks/exercise are incredibly effective
- Don’t be afraid to vent to someone who is willing to listen
- SLEEP- sleeping helps metabolize those stress hormones. So do not deprive yourself during times of stress, in fact make it a point to get even more sleep
GO OUT AND GET HEALTHY!
So now you’ve got a good list of things you can remove to help get you on the path to health and wellness.
These things don’t have to be all eliminated at once but can be done gradually. That way you’re more likely to keep them separate from you and a healthy lifestyle. Try removing one at a time and giving it at least a week or two before you attempt to remove another.
Taking on too many changes at once can set yourself up for failure so give yourself sometime.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and an unhealthy lifestyle can’t be fixed over night. Gradually removing unhealthy factors will help you improve your health and take on a healthier and more rewarding lifestyle.
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Now if you’ll excuse me i’m off to run barefoot through the snow and try to imagine i’m back on the beach..