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Why Junk is NOT Food – What Junk food does to our bodies

Junk Food Junkies.  It sounds comical but I am not kidding, and I am a recovering Junk Food Junkie myself.

1f491acf0137683a_shutterstock_66804169.previewFirst let’s start with the obvious. If something was labeled Deadly Doughnuts, Poisonous Potato Chips, or Toxic Taquitos would you eat it? If I was taking the label seriously I wouldn’t. And while these labels are fictitious, what we don’t recognize is that if it starts with something bad like “Junk” the truth is we already know what we are putting in our body.

Let’s talk a little bit about what this junk does to your body. You can pretty much bet that when we are talking about junk food we are talking about processed foods that are high in sugar. These types of food are very easy for your body to process, because they have already been over processed for you. And when you make things too easy for your digestive system to process guess what you do? You make your digestive system a less effective machine. Junk food is also often lacking in fiber, which also means we’re not using our intestines correctly–and did you know that your intestines are a muscle? What happens to muscles we don’t work out? They become weak. So what happens when we have a defunct digestive system and weak intestines?

Well, first digestion slows down and constipation can occur. Then there is the overwhelming amount of chemicals that are required to make the junk we’re talking about. All those long names you can’t say correctly on the nutrition labels, and of course one of our biggest enemies of all.  Dare I say it aloud? Yup, the junk food devil itself: High Fructose Corn Syrup. Guess what your liver and kidneys try to do with these chemicals? It’s trying to process them, and it’s overburdened doing so.

Do you know what “junk food” mainly consists of? Junk food is usually high in fat, sodium and sugar, all of which can lead you to a mirage of health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. High levels of sugar put your metabolism under stress and make your pancreas work overtime to give off enough insulin to prevent dangerous blood sugar levels. The high sodium in junk food can also have a negative effect on renal function and eventually, lead you to kidney disease.

And then there is the high fat in junk food. I normally like to avoid the word fat, I really do, but it doesn’t take a very far leap for us to understand that if we eat foods that are high in fat we are likely to gain fat ourselves. I’m not talking about the size of your clothes here folks; I’m talking about visceral fat gain. That’s the fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity around some very important organs like your liver, pancreas and intestines.

And do you know why this happens? Because junk food makes us lazy and lethargic because it doesn’t contain adequate amounts of protein or good carbohydrates (complex carbohydrates) and after consuming it your blood sugar levels drop which will often leave you feeling unhappy, tired and… craving sugar. Additionally high levels of dietary fat are known to hinder cognitive performance, so once again, leave us feeling tired.

So if we are constantly putting junk in, and the junk is sucking away at our energy levels, what’s happening? We lack the interest an enthusiasm to perform normal daily physical activities let alone the motivation to get in the exercise that we need in order to make any sort of progress in our weight loss journeys.

JW420Often, I have been asked what I ate in a day when I weighed 420 lbs. My answer is usually “I ate junk.” And it’s not untrue. I try to go back and think about what a normal eating day was like for me then and it’s difficult for me. But I can say that I ate a lot of junk food. Jalapeno potato chips, candy bars, and spicy pork rinds were my go-to snack.  McDonald’s, Jack-In-The-Box and Taco Bell were my favorite dinners. My vegetables came deep-fried, smothered in butter, breaded, and dipped in fatty dressing. Dessert wasn’t something I had once in a while; it was a nightly event in front of the television and usually consisted of a pint of my favorite flavor of ice cream.

I was a junk food junkie; I had to get my fix every day. And when I started feeling tired, lacking energy or was depressed, I turned right back to the very thing that was causing it.

If you have ever been around someone who struggled with sustenance abuse, the pattern isn’t all that different.  I watched my “Family” abuse drugs most of my life. It didn’t matter that they were hurting their bodies. Acne appeared on their skin, sores took longer to heal, and they looked like they aged faster because it affected their skin elasticity. They started suffering tooth decay and losing their teeth, they were depressed, unhappy, miserable, and guess what they did? They’d spend their grocery money on an “8-ball” because they were addicts.

Often times, the weight loss community gets offended by this comparison. They don’t like being considered addicts; they don’t like their food addictions compared to that of a meth-head getting their fix.  But in this community, I’m one of the first people who will say this to your face.  Because I have no problem admitting that I was once a food addict and a junk food junkie.

I’m not here to sugar coat it for you or to tell you that it’s okay, and I won’t pat you on the back for eating pizza and jelly doughnuts. I’m here to educate you and help you along the way in your weight loss journey. I’m here to tell you the truth, even when you don’t like it.

Today’s truth: Junk food is two words that shouldn’t go together in the vocabulary of our weight loss journey. It is either

A. Junk: We don’t want to put in our bodies

B. Food: Nutritious fuel that we put in our bodies to make it perform.

It’s either A or B Slender Seekers.  When it comes to unhealthy eating and junk food there simply is no “All of the above”


Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

The Recovery Phase – What To Do After You Wear Your Body Out

It’s been a while since you have heard from this WLS fitness enthusiast, I know. Let’s talk a little bit about what has been on my agenda and what I’ve put my body through in the last 4 weeks.

As you may recall, I left Portland OR on January 12th with three main goals ahead of me.

  1. Get to Anaheim, CA and run a half marathon.
  2. Get to Dallas to have some touch up work done on my arm.
  3. Complete a cross-country move to NC in time to start my new job on Feb. 3, 2013

I am happy to report that all three of these things were a success. Keeping up on blog writing and sharing the journey along the way; not so much. There were however several updates on my social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter (A good reason to follow me there).

1549549_10151838494477447_627482255_nWhile I will be writing more soon about the Run Disney, Tinker Bell half marathon experience, today I want to talk a bit about recovery. Understanding that when we put our bodies through something that is physically exerting or takes extra energy to do, something like say, running 13.1 miles or having surgery that requires our body work extra hard to heal, or even something as simple as a long extended car ride, it’s important to understand that we also need to give our body time to recover.

So you just ran 13.1 miles, you’re tired, you’re winded and your legs are exhausted. What do you do now? For some the answer might just be “Lie down on the ground and die.” But guess what, that is exactly the wrong thing to do. How you treat your body after pushing it, is just as important as how you treat it before you push it. Now is the time to walk around slowly, hydrate well, stretch out and grab a little something to eat. You’ll see lots of people doing just these things around you in the finishers corral if you are participating in an event. And of course, make sure you are eating and drinking the right things. Water, water, water, you can always use water additives like Mio, Crystal Light or other non-calorie products to spice things up if you’re not a water lover.

dreamstimefree_204955What you are putting in your face is just as important. Remember to choose foods that have a high pay off, bananas will help replenish potassium with 400 mg which is lost through sweating. But don’t forget they are high in sugar, have only 1 gram of protein and no fat whatsoever, so don’t overdo it. My go-to recovery foods are a half a banana and a protein bar. Replenishing protein after exercise is a must do for me, I need those muscles to recover fast and protein is essential to muscle recovery since it aids in the repair of exercise induced damage to muscle fibers.

So you just had surgery? Your body is recovering and what you eat can make a pretty big impact on how quickly your wounds heal, not to mention they can play a large role in preventing complications like constipation from pain medicine consumption. The best suggestion I can make for you when eating post-surgery, and I’ve done this a few times now, eat whole foods. Remember that whole food, which really means unprocessed foods, are higher in vitamins and nutrients. This should really be an everyday sort of thing but is especially important when your body is trying to heal. To prevent constipation, focus on food that is high in fiber like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. If constipation is an issue you want to avoid things that are dried or dehydrated, dairy products, things that are high in sugar and red meats.

QuestCPBKeep your protein intake up (Especially important for you WLS folks) with lean meats such as chicken, turkey, pork and seafood, or if you want a vegetarian approach, nuts, tofu and beans. If you are having problems getting that protein in remember you can always add a whey isolate based protein shake.

So you just put your body through something like a three-week long extended road trip. You’re stiff and sore and your body isn’t moving quite the way you want it too. What do you do? Staying in bed, staying still and letting your body rest might seem like a good idea, and you definitely want to get that sleep in; it’s essential to weight loss and weight management for sure. But you’d be amazed what a little recovery run will do for you. I’m not saying that you should run 5-6 miles on day-after-half-marathon legs, or even I’ve-been-sitting-in-the-car-for-8-10-hours legs, but movement is a good thing to loosen up muscles and speed up healing.  Until I hit Dallas where I had minor surgery on my arm and got put on “no-exercise” restrictions. I was doing 1 mile recovery runs whenever I hit a new state on my trip. Ever notice that when you are sore the moment you stop moving for too long it hurts more when you move again? Just think of it as your body asking you to keep the blood flowing and you’ll be fine!

Today I am three weeks post my half marathon, two weeks post my little surgery, and one week into being in North Carolina and starting my new job as a weight management leader, wellness coach and membership sales manager and today is the first day that I’m allowed back on cardio equipment. Can you guess where Coach Pandora will be after work today? Utilizing her new work environment gym facility! Now I just need to find a couple of Wilmington, NC Ladies that want to have fun getting fit with me.


Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.
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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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