Did you know that one of every three Americans (over 78.6 million people) is obese? That fact and the other Fast Facts from CNN are ludicrous to me. What’s going on America!?
In terms of BMI, there’s normal weight, overweight, and then obesity which occurs with a BMI score of 30 or more. (You can get your BMI score calculated in this post: getting fat in college.) And way too many people are checking out as obese.
Why are Americans so unhealthy you ask? There are two big reasons why and they’re the consistent big two: lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet.
A big contributing factor to this reality is a lack of cardio and muscle exercise. According to a CDC study, 80% of Americans don’t get enough exercise. Another shocking number! But at this point I shouldn’t be surprised anymore.
People need to start exercising more, standing up when working, and watching less tv for starters. Do something, anything, to be more active, please.
The second big factor that contributes to obesity is eating terrible foods. Since I’ve already discussed how to work out more and easy healthy meals for college students, for this blog post I decided to focus on the worst foods to eat on a diet or in general.
If you can stay away from the foods below, you will feel energized, limit the chance of obesity-related diseases, look sexier, and be happier. Those are all guarantees!
The categories below are broken down by unhealthy snacks, fast food, and meals.
1. Sugary cereals (Raisin Bran, Trix, Reese’s Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Flavored Cheerios, Fruit Loops, or Cap’n Crunch)
Harmful ingredients: loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and sodium
Healthier alternative: check out these 20 healthy cereal brands
2. Candy (Butterfinger, Snickers, Sour Patch Kids, 3 Musketeers, etc.)
Harmful ingredients: sugar, corn syrup, artificial coloring, citric acid, and sometimes GMO’s
Healthier alternative for chocolate: dark chocolate, granola bars (like KIND, or organic)
Healthier alternative for sweets: dried fruit, fresh fruit (maybe add a little Nutella), Twizzlers (but limit yourself!), small handful of animal crackers, fruit popsicles, Greek yogurt
3. Packaged snacks (potato chips or pretzels)
Harmful ingredients: excessive fat, sodium, calories, and chemicals like acrylamide
Healthier alternative: nuts (almonds, sunflower seeds), or all of these chips
4. Microwave popcorn
Harmful ingredients: the bag itself is lined with perfluorooctanoic acid which has been known to link with cancer, food is full of trans fat (which leads to high cholesterol), sodium, GMO’s, artificial flavors, and sometimes a preservative/toxic gas
Healthier alternative: make your own popcorn following these steps
Unhealthy Fast Food
5. Chicken nuggets
Harmful ingredients: trans fat and chemicals that keep the chicken from looking weird or going bad
Healthier alternative: organic meat, salmon
Harmful ingredients: saturated fats, carbohydrates (which easily turns into fat), chemicals, genetically modified foods (GMO’s), additives, and preservatives
Healthier alternative: homemade sweet potato fries, zucchini fries, seasoned bell pepper sticks, baked asparagus
Harmful ingredients: heavy sodium, fat, enriched flour (from the bun), sugar, additives, and preservatives
Healthier alternative: fish, salad, or eat the burger without the bun
8. Stuffed burritos
Harmful ingredients: grams of fat, calories, and sodium
Healthier alternative: chicken burrito, grilled chicken and brown rice, or make your own burrito with corn tortillas instead of flour, ground turkey, guacamole, and reduced fat cheese
9. Cinnamon rolls
Harmful ingredients: thousands of calories, high in fat and saturated fat
Healthier alternative: yogurt parfait, turkey with eggs, fruit bowl
10. Ramen noodles
Harmful ingredients: High sodium, calories, fat, hidden GMO’s, and chemicals found in the Styrofoam cups
Healthier alternative: Healthy Choice Hearty Chicken Soup (add water to dilute it, making it even better for you), zucchini ramen noodles, or homemade ramen noodles with sodium-free chicken bouillon as seasoning.
11. Frozen meals (burgers, chicken, toaster strudels, pizza/pizza rolls, single meals, etc.)
Harmful ingredients: hydrogenated oils, artificial ingredients, saturated fats, preservatives, nutrients destroyed by microwaving
Healthier alternative: veggie burgers, frozen fish, or meal prep your week with homemade meals
12. Mac and cheese
Harmful ingredients: preservatives, artificial food coloring, saturated fats, excessive sodium and calories, and chemicals
Healthier alternative: organic (gluten-free is even better!) mac and cheese, or make your own
13. Fried food
Harmful ingredients: the oil that foods are fried in is full of acrylamide (frying carbs), trans fat, toxic chemicals
Healthier alternative: foods cooked in olive or coconut oil, baked foods, or look up healthy meals on Pinterest
14. Processed lunch meat
Harmful ingredients: extra sodium, nitrates, BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), monosodium glutamate (MSG), corn syrup, and sometimes gelatin
Healthier alternative: grass-fed meats, organic meats, fresh meats from the market
15. Pizza (bagel bites, or pizza rolls)
Harmful ingredients: MSG’s (which make you crave more), modified food starch, maltodextrin, high sodium and calories, hydrogenated oil, processed meats
Healthier alternative: pita pizza, quinoa bites, chicken and spinach calzone, or make your own pizza with cauliflower crust and healthy toppings
Although this post is about worst foods to eat, I decided to add bonus content with the most unhealthy drinks. Internalizing this extra information will only help you treat your body better.
Harmful ingredients: fructose, sugar
Healthier alternative: detox water – just add fruit or lemon juice
Harmful ingredients: sugar, electrolytes (bad when not consumed properly), high fructose corn syrup, food coloring, sodium
Healthier alternative: coconut water
Sodas (even diet)
Harmful ingredients: sugar (which can lead to belly fat and diabetes), fructose phosphoric acid, sodium, and excess calories
Healthier alternative: dry soda, Zevia (zero calorie soda), sparkling mineral water, or green tea
Harmful ingredients: sugar, guarana, taurine, ginseng, and excessive caffeine (raises heart rate, blood pressure, dehydrates the body, risk of heart attack, and more). Did you know it takes over 6 gallons of water to flush out a 20 ounce energy drink?
Healthier alternative: homemade smoothies, green tea, protein shakes, water, or black coffee
Harmful ingredients: Propylene glycol alginate (E405), oxalate which contributes to kidney stones
Healthier alternative: green tea (helps melt fat)
Harmful ingredients: about 8 grams of fat per 8 ounce glass, LDL cholesterol, hormones and antibiotics (in the cow), and pesticides.
Healthier alternative: organic milk or unsweetened soymilk
Flavored coffee drinks
Harmful ingredients: extra calories, flavored syrups are mixed with a solvent called propylene glycol (found in antifreeze)
Healthier alternative: natural coffee flavoring, Walden Farms Original Creamer, So Delicious Coconut Creamer, soy milk
Harmful ingredients: high fructose, corn syrup, sugar, calories (pina colada has the most!)
Healthier alternative: red or white wine, light margarita (use lime juice instead of artificial mixers), vodka with a low calorie mixer, Guinness, whiskey, or gin.
What You Crave Chart
Eating healthy is maybe the toughest battle of willpower out there. And it doesn’t help when you have no idea how to replace unhealthy foods for healthier alternatives.
That’s why you should use the following chart to know what to eat when you’re craving something bad for you. Knowledge is power when it comes to your diet, too.
This list of the worst foods to eat can feel overwhelming if you’re not used to eating healthy. However, take solace in the fact that once you start eating and maintaining a healthy diet, junk food and soda will not be as big of a crave.
Although you probably won’t believe it now, start eating for energy and your body will naturally feel better from the healthy foods. Once your mind and body see the positive results, they won’t want to regress to shoving their face with horrible foods.
What are your personal weaknesses when it comes to eating healthy? Do you crave something not listed here? I encourage you to do some research and figure out what you can do to kick your bad habits!
How To Plank: Why This Is My Favorite Exercise!
Whether your motive is looking better with your shirt off, feeling more in shape, or strengthening your body, you’ll want to know how to plank.
It might change, but right now this is my favorite exercise on the planet.
Watch this short video to get a quick explanation of the plank and how to do it to perfection:
In case you didn’t watch the clip or catch the steps to do a perfect plank, here they are:
- Get into push-up position
- Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your body weight on your forearms
- Keep your upper body and lower body on a flat straight line
- Look at the floor and relax your head
- Hold this stance for as long as you can while maintaining proper form
- Don’t stop breathing, inhale and exhale at a slow normal rate
That’s all it takes to build your core and get stronger muscles. Isn’t the plank simple?
Plus you can plank daily to challenge your abs, where it’s not smart to do chest, biceps, or leg exercises daily. This is another W for the plank!
How often do you plank?
What’s your experience with it?
For how long can you plank without putting your butt in the air and arching your back?
Challenge yourself to start doing this weekly (it doesn’t have to be daily). Note how long you last, with good form, the first time you plank. Then take baby steps to feel the burn and go longer next time. And repeat this process.
Imagine how much progress you can make in 6, 12, and 18 months?
It’s for this reason that you better believe I’m planking tonight. Join me!
111 Reasons To Exercise
Not in a regular workout routine? Maybe the problem is you don’t realize the importance of physical activity. I’ll fix that with these 111 reasons to exercise.
You may not like reading this list because then you don’t have the excuse of ignorance. Sorry to bury your excuses.
After reading this it’ll just be pure laziness if you’re not exercising and pushing your body to get in shape. That’s 100% on you.
But I got faith in you. You can build this habit—slowly but surely—and become a more fit version of yourself.
Take it day by day. That’s the key. Don’t expect to lose 10 pounds in a week, then get frustrated you’re not seeing immediate progress. All good things take time.
Alright, let’s dive into every single reason to work out!
The Benefits Of Exercise
- Betters your quality of life
- Gives you more energy throughout the day
- Helps you fall asleep quicker at night
- Works to prevent the common cold
- Boosts productivity all day
- Improves your blood flow
- Provides endorphins to feel good
- Fights against depression
- Improves your social confidence
- Extends the amount of years you live
- Stimulates mental focus and concentration
- Lowers your body fat and weight
- Strengthens your immune system
- Presents opportunities to make new friends
- Increases testosterone
- Lessens risk of joint pain
- Tones and strengthens your skin
- Enhances your endurance
- Protects you against heart disease
- Lowers risk of some cancers
- Convinces you you’re stronger than you think
- Fights against dementia
- Motivates you to eat healthier
- Burns extra calories
- Provides a creative outlet
- Helps you feel sexier
- Drives more romance in your relationship
- Lowers cholesterol in a natural way
- Makes your dog healthier and happier with more walks
- Decreases your resting heart rate
- Instills discipline and self-control
- Teaches your kids to exercise
- Increases your work performance
- Adds a challenge to your day
- Strengthens your bones
- Develops your athletic ability
- Pushes you to take more risks
- Digests your food better
- Lowers risk of diabetes
- Lowers triglycerides
- Aids your immune system fighting infections
- Improves emotional stability
- Gives you a positive goal to attach your energy to
- Alleviates constipation
- Stimulates pain-releasing hormones
- Improves oxygen movement to the body
- Lowers the risk of osteoporosis
- Speeds up your metabolism
- Helps remove lactic acid in the body
- Develops a mindset of self improvement
- Straightens up your posture
- Provides a healthy habit to exercise more
- Develops flexibility and range of motion
- Makes it easier to fit into different types of clothes
- Gives you a social setting to meet like-minded people
- Helps you think positive
- Saves you doctor bills down the road
- Increases creativity
- Allows you to eat unhealthy without getting fat
- Makes you drink more water
- Protects your eyes and eyesight
- Creates a mentality of respecting your body
- Builds muscle tone
- Provides opportunities to test your willpower
- Fights against allergies
- Makes you look younger than you are
- Prepares you for change
- Increases fertility for making babies
- Improves body control
- Allows your brain to think more clearly
- Helps your body store glycogen
- Boosts your body’s production of good fat
- Gets you comfortable handling pressure
- Decreases appetite for sugary drinks and unhealthy food
- Adds muscle strength
- Makes you feel hungrier after a good workout
- Takes away guilt when you do relax
- Increases the odds you make more money
- Reduces blood pressure
- Teaches you a lesson in patience to see body progress
- Alleviates back pain
- Readies you for any reunion, wedding, or social gathering
- Improves breathing ability
- Gives you a chance at a six pack
- Instills belief that you can achieve your goals and follow through
- Eases menstrual cramps
- Gets you ready to run a marathon
- Improves your business network and connections
- Provides an excuse to wear and buy new exercise clothes
- Improves reaction time
- Presents opportunities to find new business ideas
- Makes for a free social activity
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Fights against feelings of boredom
- Protects against age-related muscle loss
- Gives you a pretty mirror view
- Raises your sexual performance
- Allows you to eat more food
- Makes you a more interesting person
- Prepares you to always look good in swimsuits
- Builds muscle size
- Adds a glow to your skin complexion
- Teaches you the value of hard work
- Gives you a reason to manage your time better
- Protects your body against injury
- Decreases the difficulty of lifting heavy objects
- Encourages the people around you to exercise
- Adds to your first impression
- Lowers the scary thought of stepping on a scale
- Increases compliments you receive from other people
- Gives your body what it loves, a good workout
If those 111 arguments didn’t convince you to take your health serious and begin a consistent exercise plan, I give up. You may be hopeless.
Just kidding. I know that’s not true. Even the most overweight, out-of-shape person can make a turn for the better to prioritize exercise.
And I know after reading this some of you will think, “Exercise is awesome. I’m going to get shredded for the beach this summer.” But then you’ll continue to not work out like nothing changed.
There’s only one road to getting in better shape, and it requires a bunch of sweat.
So snap out of it. Start exercising like you know you should. Get committed.
You owe it to your mind and body at the very least. Otherwise you’ll steal those 111 reasons from yourself.
And as I wrote in this article, the best time to start is now.
Interview: Dr. Littleton, “America’s Energy Doctor” Seen On Dr. Oz
Today I have a special interview for you with a great new friend, Dr. Jason Littleton.
He’s a doctor, CEO, author, speaker, columnist, and so much more. Mainly he’s known as “America’s Energy Doctor,” and has been on The Dr. Oz Show—that’s big time.
What I appreciate about Dr. Littleton is he’s one of those guys who benefits everyone around him, making it look effortless. All you have to do is listen, and you’re going to walk away with some new wisdom or inspiration.
You’ll see what I mean in this interview.
Check it out below, and don’t forget to keep reading after the interview to see my key insights.
Brian: You’re super successful now. But it wasn’t always easy. Tell us about your difficult trial during the MCAT and how you got through it to become Dr. Littleton.
Dr. Jason: In a nutshell, I was on a journey to become a doctor. And one of the roadblocks that came up was when I walked out of the MCAT exam.
One of the things I realized is that when you’re going for anything, you’re going to realize what you do and don’t know about yourself that you need to change. You do this so you can become a better version of yourself.
In my case, studying for the MCAT was a whole lot different from studying in high school. In high school, you read a textbook and remember what you need for the test. Even in college, you’re learning things and you mainly memorize information to get to the next level.
But for the MCAT, there’s information there that you have to not just memorize, but retain for your future success as a medical student and as a physician.
One of the things I learned about myself is that I needed to retrain how I learned information. I needed to retrain how I studied and how I focused, so I could be better prepared when I went into that next MCAT exam.
Here’s the deal when you take a big exam like that. Sometimes there’s pressure to succeed. And I didn’t fully understand that pressure as well as I maybe should have understood.
So through self-reflection, understanding the things I did wrong, and staying motivated, I was able to go back and do the test again, and succeed. That was a difficult time that I overcame. But I never lost focus that I would be a successful doctor.
Brian: What are your overall thoughts on failure? Is failure permanent?
Dr. Jason: It’s both. Failure is a temporary thing for people who see the light at the end of the tunnel, when there’s no light. You have to have a vision for yourself. You have to be able to see it when no one else can see it. And when things in the natural don’t look like they’re going well, you still have to have a mental picture of where you’re going and that you can still get there.
For people who can do that, and everyone can do that, so for those willing to do that then failure is temporary.
For people who are not willing to see the greatness inside of them and are not willing to face difficult times and get through them, failure is permanent. Because these are the types of people who will quit, not continue on, not fight the obstacles, or embarrassment. Because sometimes people feel embarrassed when they fail.
So if you can get past the pride and the embarrassment, to see that mental picture of you on the other side, failure is temporary.
Brian: I know that you’re an energy expert. So what are three changes we can make in our lives to gain more energy throughout the day?
Dr. Jason: First, you should always start with breakfast. A lot of people skip that, but here’s the deal: Carbs are our fuel. That’s like our gasoline. So when we eat breakfast, we’re getting the carbs we need to fill our body with energy.
People shouldn’t ever avoid carbs. That’s like not putting gas in your car. You want to have elite carbs though, such as vegetables and fruit.
The other thing people should do is have snacks throughout the day. I always tell people to have six meals a day—breakfast, lunch, and dinner with three snacks in between. When you do that, you stay energized as you go through the day.
Next thing, people should avoid drinking caffeinated drinks. Sometimes people make a habit out of that and they use caffeinated drinks for energy. But they continue that until it’s something they rely on to feel energized.
But that’s not what you need. It hurts your health. It doesn’t make you feel as energized as you actually think. It’s a lot of commercialism.
So those three things, just from a natural aspect of diet and nutrition, will give you more energy.
And here’s one bonus from a mental perspective. People have to plan to go beyond where they think their end point is. For example, if people think at 5 PM their day ends because they got off work and they’re not prepared to go beyond that, their internal mental clock says we’re done working and let’s shut it down.
But I tell people to keep the throttle going. Don’t go home at 5, sit on the couch, and turn things off. Because when you do that, you get tired, it’s hard to start again, it’s hard to work at home, and it’s hard to be an entrepreneur outside of your job.
So I tell people to plan to work to at least 10 PM. When you do that, mentally you’re prepared to go longer than you originally thought was your end point. That’s how you can also have more energy and spring to your step during the day.
Brian: From your experience as a doctor, what’s one of the biggest misconceptions an average person has about living a healthy life?
Dr. Jason: I don’t want to lose anyone here, but sometimes people think that they have to work out to an extreme extent so that they feel like they’re in the best shape of their lives.
But I argue that how many football players and athletes live beyond 70? These are people who work out to an extreme extent to become real muscle-bound. And sometimes that extreme working out causes added stress on the body and inflammation that actually doesn’t cause us to have longevity.
Some of people who have been interviewed who lived to their 100s said the secret to longevity is moderation in exercise and diet. Some of the extremes in terms of fitness won’t take you to longevity.
I’m not saying don’t lift weights, don’t go running, don’t work out. I’m saying do it in moderation, don’t do it to an extreme.
Sometimes people will do it to an extent where they don’t feel good about themselves until they’re beating their body to the extreme. When you do that, it damages your health.
Brian: Walk us through how you got featured on Dr. Oz and what that experience was like on national TV?
Dr. Jason: First of all, I have a business coach, Dr. Stacia Pierce, who is world-renowned business coach who has helped me get engaged with people like a Dr. Oz and a Dr. Nandi.
Having a coach is paramount because you need someone, as an entrepreneur, that will push you beyond what you think you can do. I wouldn’t be where I am without my coach.
She pushed me to write my first book WellSpring: The Energy Secrets TO DO The Good Life. As I started marketing myself, people got wind of what I was doing.
And one day I received an email from the social producer from The Dr. Oz Show, asking me to talk about Dr. Oz’s magnesium grocery list and how I used it with my patients.
Of course I accepted that opportunity.
Brian: What’s your favorite book, fiction or nonfiction, and why?
Dr. Jason: One of my all time favorite books is Your Best Life Now by Pastor Joel Osteen. It’s a great book about making positive affirmations, believing in the favor of God, and really walking your faith out to be your best.
I think it’s a great book because when I read that it helped me through my journey of success as a physician.
There’s another book that’s really dear to my heart. It’s by Dr. James Pierce and it’s called The Success Secrets of Excellence. And it’s about how to be excellent in life, in your job, in your business, being on time for appointments, and how you look excellent because people treat you how you look.
Those two books, and my business coach Stacia Pierce, have made me the person I am today.
Brian: What’s your life mission?
Dr. Jason: My life mission is to help people find their passion and to use that so that they can live as healthy as possible, so that they can buy more time on this earth, and so they can carry it out.
Helping people do that enriches the world. Helping people live longer and be energized to do what they’re passionate about is a huge part of my purpose.
Brian: Where can Take Your Success readers go to learn more about you and your work?
Dr. Jason: People can go to my website: www.jasonmd.com. There they can find links to my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter profiles.
And on my website they’ll be able to get to every social media site, book, and resource that I have.
What I learned is that Dr. Littleton has a clear vision for the world, his patients, and his life. That’s to live with passion.
And his passion empowers him to do his best work, regardless of the arena.
His passion to be a doctor carried him through his difficult time with the MCAT. His passion to help others live with energy improves the lives of his patients and the people around them. And his passion for entrepreneurship pushes him to continual business success.
I’m totally with him. There’s a 180 degree difference between someone who is pursuing their passion and someone who isn’t. You can see it in their day-to-day life, their mood, and often their eyes.
So I, and I know Dr. Littleton agrees, challenge you to find your passion. It’s the best thing for the people around you and you.