I know. I’ve tried things too that people said were simple, only to end up feeling like they weren’t so easy. Well, there’s a distinction between simple and easy. Let’s face it, though, making a decision to do anything is really all about commitment. When we decide we really want to do something and then go get it done, it wasn’t about simple or easy. It was about our desire and commitment.

Over one quarter of Americans are obese! That’s a very scary statistic when you think about it, because with obesity comes weight-related health issues. More sick people. More sad people. Too many people are trapped in habits, hopelessness and passivity…and they continue to gain weight. No wonder our country is in a health care crisis!

For the vast majority of people who lose weight, their decision often is born first from a desire and a vision of what it would be like to no longer be overweight. They want to feel better, be healthier, look better. Their desire to make a change, getting the support they need and then having a “no excuses” attitude takes commitment.

Committing to avoiding these 10 things that contribute to America being a nation of overweight people can help you avoid putting on excess pounds and help you be healthier. And, they can, in fact, help you release those pesky pounds.

1. Too much processed food. With the mass production of food and foods made with GMO subsidized crops, it’s no wonder processed foods are cheaper than fresh produce and other sustainably grown whole foods. Processed food is cheap and convenient, but they are also full of sodium, sugar, chemicals and empty calories. When your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, it will crave more food. When the extra food is more processed food, the vicious cycle continues.

2. Low intake of fresh, whole organic foods. In addition to not being grown with toxic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, when food is grown organically, nutrient levels are higher. According to an article in the Journal of Applied Nutrition, the results of a two-year study of organically and conventionally grown produce clearly showed the average levels of essential minerals were found much higher in the organically grown than the conventionally grown food. In fact, organically grown food averaged 63% higher in calcium, 78% higher in chromium, 73% higher in iron, 118% higher in magnesium, etc. In addition, organically raised food averaged 29% lower in mercury than conventionally raised food. We should take note that mercury is a highly toxic element found naturally in sediments, water and soils. Even organics are exposed to toxins that are airborne and in ground water, but the toxins are miniscule compared to conventionally grown food.

3. Sedentary lifestyle. People sit in cars instead of walking. Many have desk jobs and then go home and veg out on the couch or in front of a computer, again! Kids play computer games or watch movies instead of playing and running. This means many people are taking in more calories than they burn. Exercise is critical for a healthy body.

4. Super-sized portions and super-sized plates. Who doesn’t want to take advantage of a deal or think that “more is better?” The larger the portion in front of us, the more we eat. Dinner plates 40 years ago were much smaller than the oversize plates in dish sets today. Our perception of portion size apparently is affected by the size of the plate.

5. Lack of sleep. People who don’t get adequate sleep are likely to eat more…staying up late often means late night snacks and refrigerator raids.

6. Misinformation and disinformation. Oh yes, people are confused about what to eat. And, unfortunately, the labels on process and packaged foods are not always telling the whole story. Plus advertising and marketing dollars are focused on moving product regardless of nutrition value.

7. Time management. Go, go, go – most people are always on the go. They eat while they are doing other things, watching TV, reading the newspaper, standing up and this mindless eating often makes people overeat. Over filled schedules means people don’t have time to cook – they depend on fast food, take out, or dining out – most of the time such foods are loaded with fat, sugar, sodium, and hidden calories.

8. Stress. We can never be 100% stress free…not in our society. Learning how to cope with stress and destress is critical to having balance. When someone is stressed, their body produces the stress hormone cortisol, which packs a triple whammy. Cortisol slows metabolism, affects blood sugar level, increases fat storage, and promotes cravings for fatty, salty and sugary foods.

9. Greater use of medications. Many medications, especially anti-depressants and diabetes prescriptions, list weight gain as a side effect. According to an article in the LA times written by Jeannine Stein in September 2012, a record 4.02 billion drug prescriptions were written in 2012 in the U.S., up from 3.99 billion in 2010. In addition, one study indicated that antidepressants were the most prescribe psychiatric medications in 2011. Medication can be lifesaving and a wonderful thing. However, with the onset of the advertising of drugs, many people now believe there’s a pill to cure every little ailment or condition. All too often alternative or non-medical interventions are not even considered.

10. Toxicity. Yes, toxicity. It’s all around us. There’s hardly a place in the world that isn’t affected by some level of toxicity. Even organic foods can have trace amounts of toxins, some naturally found in soil and others from water or air (airplanes dump a huge amount of fuel that then becomes airborne – we get to breathe it too!). Unfortunately, humankind is the biggest contributor and we are not only polluting our world, we are polluting our bodies. Foods that don’t support our wellbeing have a toxic effect and create health issues like sugar and hormone imbalances, inflammation, and weight gain…not to mention organs that have to work harder than they need. Eliminating your toxic exposure, cleansing and detoxing your body and discovering the foods that support your bio-individuality play critical roles in creating your healthy lifestyle.

People can free themselves from America’s epidemic of becoming overweight and obese. Being health isn’t just about weight though. What three things can you change in your life to ensure a healthy weight and healthier lifestyle?

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