I Switched from Junk Food to Clean Food and Here's What Happened

I Switched from Junk Food to Clean Food and Here's What Happened
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Like many kids growing up, I used to consume a ton of junk food and sugary beverages. After school, I would pound chocolate candy bars, Twinkies, gummy bears, and all the cookies and brownies I could get my hands on. I used to eat two candy bars every day right after school. I’m originally from the southern part of the country — Georgia, to be exact — and I used to just crush sweet tea loaded with sugar while taking down heaps of fried chicken, fried fish, fried vegetables, butter rolls, and all that delicious country cooking! I’ve always been active playing sports, so I never really put on the pounds, but needless to say, I wasn’t eating at the level of a champion by any means.

A few years back, I started taking a closer look at my diet, trying to figure out what was optimal, and as a result, I ended up changing pretty much everything I was putting into my body. I’m not 100 percent perfect when it comes to diet, but I cut out all fried foods, trimmed way back on the sugar, and traded in milkshakes and Coke floats for green smoothies and cold press juices. I even flirted with veganism for about eight months or so.

Overall, I’ve found that eating cleaner and healthier has a ton of benefits that come along with it. I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, so a good piece of advice is to check with a healthcare professional before embarking on a diet overhaul. But I had a great experience when I took a new approach to food and I wanted to share it with you. Here are some of the great things that have happened to me:

1.) First and foremost, I feel better.

At its simplest, food is energy and energy is one of the core building blocks of the human body. Cells don’t grow without food and beverages going into our mouths, so it’s worthwhile to think about what we consume. My attitude is, whatever I put in is pretty much the equivalent of what I get on the other side. It’s simple science, and by eating cleaner and increasing my intake of raw foods, I’ve ended up having way more energy than when I used to consume more processed goods like Fudge Rounds, Skittles, and Snapple. Instead of short bursts of energy followed by an hour of lethargy, I have more sustained, long-term energy. My ups and downs aren’t as drastic as they once were. I have more energy and just feel all around good for longer periods of time than I did in the past.

2.) I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been.

While I was never particularly heavy or terribly out of shape, I got more tone and muscle definition when I stopped eating garbage food. My skin is clearer than it’s ever been and my clothes fit better. All around, I just feel better about my body and having increased self-confidence is never a bad thing.

3.) I don’t get sick as often.

It’s not that I used to get sick a lot before, but I get sick a lot less now than I did back in the ol’ junk food days. I seem to have a better time fending off diseases, airborne viruses and colds. I feel stronger both internally and externally and better able to battle whatever comes my way.

4.) I feel better than ever when I exercise and I can do more physical activities.

I’ve always been pretty active when it comes to sports, but since I decreased my intake of white bread and rice in favor of brown rice and multigrain bread and traded Gatorade for coconut water, I can perform at a better level than I could 10 years ago. I can exercise and play sports for longer durations and I can push myself harder than I could in my youth. I have more fun, with less cramps and I get an all-around better workout in.

5.) I think more clearly now.

Of course the big thing here is that everything is connected. When I feel good physically, I also perform better mentally. I used to eat junk food for lunch and then sit at my desk all day. My stomach hurt and I felt heavy and foggy in the head. By eating foods that give me energy, like almonds, green juices, salmon, grilled chicken or steamed vegetables, I feel better when I return to my work and I’m able to accomplish more at a faster pace, and that’s also never a bad thing.

5 Reasons Why You Should Dance!

5 Reasons Why You Should Dance!
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Who doesn’t love dancing? Oh well, maybe not everyone. Some might find it a bit embarrassing. After all, it can feel like a goofy thing to do. Everyone dances differently, and there’s really no right or wrong way to do it. No matter who you are, what your dance level is, or how you feel about this legendary art form, here are five reasons you should definitely get out there and get your dance on. Come on, show us those moves!

1. Dancing is great for your physical health.

This one is probably the most obvious on the list. Of course dancing is absolutely wonderful for your physical health. We tend to spend countless sedentary hours in our daily lives, so anytime we’re up and moving and breaking a sweat, it’s a huge win. Dancing increases blood flow within the body while simultaneously promoting a good calorie burn. Think of it as a fun way to exercise. Depending on the duration and intensity of your dance-off, you can get a pretty darn nice work out in. Certain varieties of dance, like more athletic styles inspired by gymnastics or acrobatics, can even help improve muscle building. There aren’t any rules on how to dance. No matter how you do it, you’re doing a positive thing for your body.

2. Dancing is also good for your mental health.

Of course, right along with the physical benefits of dancing are some mental benefits, too. Any physical activity is great for your brain’s health as well. It increases blood flow and oxygen to your brain and helps promote sharper and clearer thinking and new ideas. You’ll be happier and more prepared to tackle whatever it is you’re working on. Personally, I think dancing gets me out of my head, and it can be a nice break from the mental stream of thoughts that I have all day. It can be similar to taking a nice walk. It helps me feel better, and feeling good is everything. It’s when I’m most productive.

3. Dancing can also get people out of their comfort zone and helps them gain confidence.

Let’s be honest, dancing can feel a bit whacky. Compared to most other everyday activities, it’s not really up there on the list of things we see that much. We are accustomed to seeing other people eating, talking on cellphones, texting and reading. It’s not as common to pass someone dancing. But dancing can be great practice for other activities in life that require some bravery to step into the unknown. Things like a job interview, a first date and public speaking. Dancing can help us be a bit more prepared for other life events where we want to step it up and give our best selves.

4. Dancing unlocks creativity and helps with self-expression .

Dancing is surely an art form. Humans have been dancing as a way to express themselves and their cultures since the beginning of time. Like a canvas, a person dancing is able to create whatever mood they want. Flailing arms, kicking feet, rolling shoulders and swerving hips are all in the mix. Dancing is also a way to show appreciation for good music by groovin’ right along to someone else’s great sonic creation. It’s the ultimate compliment to talented musicians.

5. Dancing is a great way to meet people.

While dancing alone is awesome, it can also be an excellent technique to help connect with new people. Other people will stop and watch, and eventually some will probably want to join in. Who knows what kind of love and adventure a few cool moves might lead to!

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Lance Weiss is a comedian, writer and producer in NYC. Live show dates at lanceweiss.com.