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Live Green, Lose Weight

According to a well-being survey, 62% of Americans weigh more than their ideal weight. Of course, many factors contribute to this statistic, but lifestyle is at the root of the problem. We sit too much, exercise too little, and eat too many manufactured foods. We love to tell ourselves that it’s unavoidable, that that’s just the way it has to be. We convince ourselves that we’re not in shape because we work too much, don’t have enough free time to exercise, and can’t afford the price tag that comes with healthy eating. Unfortunately for our peace of mind, that’s simply not the case. Try making the following four simple lifestyle changes to trim your waistline while making a positive impact on the world we live in.

1) No More GMOs: Despite corporate claims the genetic crop modifications are harmless, mounting evidence suggests that the consistent consumption of GMOs can negatively impact our health. In 2012, a Norwegian study unearthed evidence that conclusively links genetically engineered corn to obesity. Researchers even found that eating GMO-fed meat could cause increased weight gain and fat retention. So if GMOs are bad for the environment, bad for us, and bad for our children. Why are they still on the market? It all comes down to demand. Organic farming is more expensive, so organically produced foods generally have a higher price tag, which often pushes low-budget and frugal shoppers towards cheap GMO products. By boycotting GMO products, you can help to both curb the GMO demand and improve your health. The next time you go grocery shopping, just take a moment to think before you buy. Organically produced vegetables cost an average of 50¢ more than their genetically modified cousins. Is your health worth 50¢?

2) Become an Urban Gardener: If you’re in the I-don’t-eat-healthily-because-I-can’t-afford-to boat, it’s time to put the excuses aside. Urban gardening is a possibility for everyone, and even a ramen-noodles-every-night budget can stretch to cover the cost of seeds and soil. For some urban residents, growing in a community garden is a possibility, but that’s not the only way. Try turning your apartment into your own personal greenhouse with a vertical gardening system, or start your own green roof garden. By growing your own fruits and vegetables, you can boycott GMOs, save money, and eat a more balanced diet. Growing your own food might seem like a lot of effort, but, I promise you, it will all be worth it when you eat your first I-grew-it-all-myself salad.

3) Avoid Processed Foods and Soda: According to registered dietitian and author Kate Geagan, manufacturing the amount of sugar that the average American consumes on a yearly basis releases about 855lbs of carbon. By eliminating sodas and processed foods, therefore, we reduce both our carbon footprint and our caloric intake. By cutting processed foods, you can even increase your energy level and improve your general health.

4) Walk, Don’t Drive: The CDC estimates that 80% of adult Americans don’t get enough exercise. Why? For most of us, it’s just too hard to find the time and energy for the gym. So why not squeeze a little aerobic activity into our daily routine? Instead of taking your car to work, could you walk, bike or jog? Is your local grocery store in walking distance? Could you bike to the mall? To your yoga class? Even just eliminating one car journey a day can positively impact both the environment and your health.