Let April showers bring May POWER!
In January I published an article called “Leap Into the New Year with 12 Simple Steps to Fitness.” If you missed it, make sure you check it out so you know exactly how this little 12-Step program has been designed.
January’s Step 1 is simple. No worries if you want to hop on board now–you can catch up easy! All you have to do is read about the first step to fitness and start Step 1 during the first week of April. During the second week, add February’s “Step 2,” the third week add March’s “Step 3,” and then in the fourth week of April, add step 4. This way you can still ease your way into the program but you don’t have to start everything all at once. And if this is just too intimidating, start with step one now and next month add step two. There’s no wrong way or time to start creating a better YOU.
When you CLICK HERE, you’ll find the page titled “12 Steps to Fitness” and just scroll until you see “Step 4 / April.” Step 4 is also listed directly below!
Good luck and happy stepping!
Step 4: Eliminate ONE Processed Food Item from Your Diet
Step 4 sounds easy: eliminate one food item. And guess what? This will be SO easy to do…once you understand what processed foods are.
Processed foods are foods that have been altered from their natural states. And honestly you might be surprised at how many foods are processed. Most people think of processed foods as chips and cookies, bologna, or mac-n-cheese. Unfortunately, ANYTHING that has been altered or changed at all–even for safety standards–is processed. Kind of crazy right? Now obviously, I’m not going to tell you to give up organically farmed tuna just because it comes in a sodium-packed can–but I may tell you to think twice about diving into a box of fish sticks. And it’s a change like this that I’m asking you to think about making. Switch your fish sticks to a less “altered” seafood. Switch your white rice to a sweet potato. Can you try eliminating pasta or even bread from your diet? (Gasp!)
About.com lists some of the more popular processed foods that people should remove from their diets:
Processed foods that may be bad for your diet:
- Canned foods with large amounts of sodium or fat.
- Pasta meals made with refined white flour instead of whole grains.
- Packaged high-calorie snack foods such as chips and candies.
- Frozen fish sticks and frozen dinners that are high in sodium.
- Packaged cakes and cookies.
- Boxed meal mixes that are high in fat and sodium.
- Sugary breakfast cereals.
- Processed meats.
My Processed Food Elimination Journey
Let me tell you a quick story. Most people tell me “I could never give up bread.” Or “Pasta is my favorite dish!” And I 100% sympathize. I grew up on Tuna Helper. I loved it. Probably still do but I haven’t had it in over six years. And I ate boxed mac-n-cheese at least twice a week–EVERY week–growing up. And I’m talking well into my 20s. When I was in college, I experienced fettuccine Alfredo for the first time in my life and I continued to eat it at a minimum of twice a week for lunch and often times for dinner. The Olive Garden breadsticks dipped in Alfredo sauce became my favorite monthly splurge, and if I wasn’t having pasta for dinner (without veggies) every night, then I was ordering Chinese (with egg rolls) or pizza (with cheesy bread). Oh and with cinnasticks too. You know, now that I think about it, I can’t believe that I didn’t gain MORE than 40 pounds in college. But my point is, bread and pasta made me FAT. Seriously fat. And though I don’t have celiac disease (being allergic to gluten–a product in wheat and in many processed foods) I do most certainly have a sensitivity to it and it completely screwed me up. So making a decision a few years ago to give up pasta and bread (and as many processed foods as possible) has completely changed my life.
And I guess my other point to this whole story is that if I can do it--anyone can do it. I haven’t had pasta in years and other than an occasional pizza splurge, I can’t remember having bread unless at a Thanksgiving dinner or something of the sort. Bread/Pasta-free living is totally doable.
BUT–if the thought of giving up either of these items is too much now, don’t get discouraged! If you aren’t ready for a step as big as living without bread, just don’t do it! Just pick something else to leave out! Can you cut Tuna Helper or Hamburger Helper from your diet? What about the mac-n-cheese?
How about one of these? The Huffington Post lists its top 10 processed foods recommended to remove from one’s nutritional plan and I’ve added my own thoughts on replacement foods:
- Chicken nuggets (eat grilled or baked chicken instead!)
- White rice (whole grain or brown rice. Or better yet, a sweet potato!)
- French fries (A baked potato or sweet potato)
- Canned fruit in heavy syrup (Duh, fresh fruit)
- Potato Chips (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds…)
- Soda (Zevia, water, Unsweetened Green Tea)
- Foods with High Fructose Corn Syrup (foods made with “real” or naturally found sugars)
- Processed Meats (grass fed, organically raised and minimally processed meats)
- Fast Food Hamburgers (see above!)
- Sugary Cereals (Steel cut oats, eggs from free range chickens and uncured bacon, or heck, SKIP BREAKFAST altogether!)
As you can see, there’s a lot of “bad foods” that exist in our markets but fortunately, there’s ALWAYS an alternative! And that’s usually what I tell people. Losing weight may be 80% diet and 20% fitness, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat salads for the rest of your life. Take what you love and simply find its replacement. It may be a slow and steady process but after a while, I have a hunch you won’t just be eliminating ONE processed food from your cabinets–I fully believe you’ll be eating a complete diet of fresh, whole foods just as soon as you start seeing–or feeling–the results!
If you’re eager to read more, check out this blog post I found while researching: 10 Reasons to Cut Out Processed Food.
If you have any questions on weight loss, nutrition, exercise, etc., now is a GREAT time to ask! Please utilize the comment section below, the CONTACT US page for more private info (it’s just a direct way to contact me via email), or you could go into our “We Figure” forum and post a question and get some good conversation started. I’ve learned some of my best tips and have gotten excellent advice in forums, so PLEASE utilize this feature–it’s designed just for YOU!