Goodbye Junk Food, Hello to a New and Healthy You

As the summer draws to a conclusion many of you are probably regretting not getting your body in shape for bathing suit season. Don't give up yet. This is the perfect time to start for next summer.
I am not claiming to be a trained fitness instructor or a certified dietician. I have worked closely with some excellent trainers and have gotten professional nutrition advice to build a healthy diet plan. My goal is just to pass on what I have learned to be helpful to you.

Starting off, if you have succumbed to those wild diet pill fads, it's time to throw them all out because we are going au naturel. There are no quick fixes so just forget about it and let's get started.
Exercise is an essential way to lose weight but it's only half of the equation. You need to have a balanced and nutritious diet otherwise you won't see the results as quickly.

Begin by going to your refrigerator and cupboards and see what you have in stock.
Toss out the chips, crackers, and candy, including that ice cream and birthday cake. Next, throw out all of your soda. You can hang onto some of your juices, but beware when drinking them. Some brands such as Sunny D pack a lot of sugar, so try to limit your juice intake.

I know this process is going to be difficult, but there are replacements for those foods. If you have a sweet tooth like me, fruit will be your savior. To me nothing tastes better than a perfectly ripe apple, banana or a juicy orange. With delicious fruit you get all the sweet you need with none of the guilt associated with candies. If that doesn't do the trick, pick up a stick of gum.

If you keep all those chips and crackers around for snack time around the television you're not alone. Whenever I would get home I would hop on the couch with a box of cheese crackers. I had what I call a "munching complex," I just needed to be eating something when I was bored. I found vegetables, especially baby carrots to be a great chip and cracker substitute for my munching binges. A bag of one-pound carrots generally has less than 200 calories. If you ate a pound of cheese crackers, well you can imagine the damage.

Finally, cut the fast food out of your routine. Even if you go for the salad at McDonald's, according to a premium southwest salad with crispy chicken contains 430 calories, 20 grams of fat and nearly 1,000 milligrams of sodium. Keep in mind the salad is 12.5 ounces, which doesn't sound very filling.
Sometimes eating bad is unavoidable. You may find yourself on the town, the hunger bandit strikes and you have to pull into a fast food joint. Or you may be at the grocery store and just have to have that box of cookies. That's okay. It's important to not go overboard with dieting. There are dozens of ways to create a healthy meal plan and my goal over the next couple of weeks is to help you create that plan followed by routine exercise to meet your needs. Keep reading this column for continued fitness facts and healthy hints and stay active!