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Three Main Targets of Healthy Living -- Part One: the Gut

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With 2 out of 3 adults considered overweight or obese, weight loss and health is currently a red-hot topic.

When health enthusiasts list methods for us non-enthusiasts to lose weight and become more active, it usually follows the same pattern: join a gym, burn more calories than you consume, make it a lifestyle, so that it doesn't seem so daunting.

Fair is fair, those are all solid tips. Scientifically, everything is sound and it's exactly what people should be looking toward for guidance-- but for the health-layman, what else can be done to cushion the (sometimes jarring) tumble into healthy living?

This two-part series will focus on the three main factors of becoming healthy, and break them down. First, we start with the gut.

The Guts

For the majority of people, one of the most difficult aspects of a changing lifestyle would be diet, and the constant hurdles found therein.

Lying in bed at night, considering the meals you'll have the next day is the easiest part. Whole wheat toast and egg whites for breakfast, chicken breast and broccoli for lunch, green salad with vinaigrette for dinner. You think to yourself, this whole healthy-eating deal isn't so hard, why has it taken me so long so make the switch?

Namely, much of the United States' culture is based around food. Whether it be first dates, long time reunions with old friends, or simply a time for celebration, Americans are taking a seat at restaurants or cooking up a 3-course meal.

Calories, those tiny granules of energy used by the body to provide us with the stamina to stay conscious throughout the day, (as well as standing in line at the photocopier, chasing your kids around the park, and pumping hard iron at the gym) have been demonized by every health-magazine and weight-loss addict.

Considering, though, I think they've been given a bad rap. After all, it isn't the calories themselves that are the issue, it's how many of them are in the foods you eat.

To give an example, let's explore a hypothetical timeline of an average American's average working day:

Wake up in the morning, prepare your whole-wheat toast and egg whites. Awesome! Off to a good start!

Once arriving to work, however, you find a buffet of breakfast foods selflessly provided by your boss as a congratulations, or a gift, or just because she was thinking about you. You don't want to ruin your day, which is already off to a stellar start, but you opt to take only one doughnut. That's totally fine, and it would be rude to decline when she went to so much trouble for you, right?

After an hour of turning and burning at your desk, your early alarm begins to catch up with you, and sipping water just isn't cutting it anymore. So you grab a cup of coffee, but only one cream and one sugar. That's already better than your regular two cream, two sugar combo from the week before.

Lunchtime rolls around and oh, you left your chicken breast at home! You can even picture exactly where it is, sitting in the fridge alongside your box of spinach and vine of tomatoes. The poor thing, sitting alone and in the cold, only green leaves and leftover beef stock to keep it company.

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Writer, proud momma, and animal advocate from Portland, Oregon.

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