Women’s Health and Fitness Day

September 29, 2015

It’s a big day in my world–bigger than a lot of the days on which we celebrate various conditions and causes. We’re celebrating women’s health and fitness. Today we ask women to take care of themselves.

Women work hard to create a warm, nurturing home life. We work outside of the home in corner stores and corner offices. We cook, clean, raise kids and change the world.

It’s about time we took the time to encourage women to take control of their health and learn the facts they need to make smart health choices–and to make time for regular physical activity.

Let’s take this day and turn it into a revolution of women taking control of their health.


But I’m Busy…

I hear this all the time. Women are busy and work hard. Women have little time to waste. I get it. I’m busy too. I work hard and have little time to waste.

We have to re-boot our thinking so that regular exercise and healthy eating are as much a normal part of our day as brushing our teeth. Only by taking care of ourselves do we stand a chance of being the kind of people we want to be at work, at home and in our communities.

Sounds great, right? But how do we do it?

Let’s start with exercise. For me, it’s as important as making healthy food choices. It not only keeps me fit (obviously…) but it keeps me sane.

The great paradox is work. It can easily get in the way of working out, but regular exercise has been shown to be integral to sustained success and vitality, especially as work becomes more challenging and taxing. Exercise not only makes you stronger but it boosts immune function and focus as well. When you exercise, you get more done in less time because you think more clearly.

But working hard can quickly derail your commitment to fitness. In my own experience, I’ve used these tips to stay fit despite demanding work schedules.


1. Work Out More Efficiently
I have to pick workouts that yield high results and that I can do almost anywhere, because I travel a lot and there’s not always a gym at my fingertips. I love the gym when I am home and have the time to use it, but I need to accomplish significant physical gains without a lot of preparation. I usually have about 45 minutes a day to commit to a workout, so high-intensity interval training, Tabata workouts, bodyweight exercises, walking, and running are all great options.

2. Cater to Your Own Likes and Dislikes
Ah, I hear you already. You’re thinking, “I hate running!” (or Tabata, or HIIT or yoga or…or…or). That’s cool. One person’s running is another person’s Pilates.

Look, in the end, you have to love what you do for exercise or you won’t do it. Regardless of the time you have to commit, if you don’t like it or if you dread it, you’ll skip it. Yes, you need to have some discipline, but if you choose something you love, you’re more likely to do it. You may have to try a few things before you find your perfect exercise fit, but that’s okay. Experiment until you find what works best for your lifestyle.

3. Make a Commitment and Stick to It
It’s so easy to blow off your workout. The day got away from you; a last-minute meeting cropped up. These things happen. I get it.  But…you have to have a back-up plan, especially if you’re new to working out. What worked for me was writing my workouts into my appointment calendar. I kept to them like they were important meetings. Now, I’m so hooked on my fitness, I need no prompting.

4. Something Is Better than Nothing
Working out doesn’t need to be a big time commitment, just a consistent commitment. If 30 minutes is what you have, you can work in a complete, effective workout. Even 10 minutes can make a difference! Every single one of us has a few free minutes within our days. Short, intense, speedy workouts can do wonders for both the body and mind. There are apps that take you through a full-body workout in just minutes. You can do push-ups or sit-ups during commercials. Take the stairs. Walk daily. See? You’re fit!


And Then There’s Food

People struggle with finding the time to cook. It’s important to remember that the foundation upon which we build our health begins with the food we eat. Period.

Again, I hear you. You’re busy with family, work and-life. So here are some great ideas for putting together quick, easy and very healthy meal options for your dining pleasure. You will love them.

Of course you know that a well-stocked pantry and fridge gives you a leg up on cooking as you will have what you need at your fingertips. These ideas are designed to inspire you to try new foods and ideas to create healthy meals you’ll enjoy. You’ll find loads of great recipe ideas at christinacooks.com.


Kick Off Your Day Right

1. Oatmeal in an Instant
This is not the pre-made packages of artificially-flavored oats. This will stick to your ribs. Combine ½ cup rolled oats, 1 cup apple juice, and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring often for 3-4 minutes. Stir in toppings of choice, like 1 teaspoon maple syrup, 2 tablespoon sliced almonds (or other nuts), or ¼ cup dried or fresh fruit.

2. PB&J Waffle
Toast 1 whole-grain waffle and spread with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter and a touch of unsweetened fruit preserves.

3. Vegan Breakfast Scramble
In a skillet over medium-high heat, combine1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup tofu (hand-crumbled), a handful of spinach, ¼ cup chopped carrots 1/8 cup chopped onion, and a few dashes of paprika. Sauté until veggies are cooked and tofu is heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Broiled Grapefruit
Preheat broiler and halve 1 chilled grapefruit. Sprinkle each half with ½ teaspoon brown rice syrup and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Broil both halves on a baking sheet for 3-5 minutes. Serve with 1 slice of whole-wheat toast spread with 1 tablespoon nut butter for a complete breakfast for two.


A Mid-Day Feast

Lunch can be a challenge if you work outside of the home. These delicious portable lunch ideas will keep you juiced for the afternoon!

1. Quinoa Salad
Cook 1/3 cup quinoa with 2/3 cup water and a pinch of sea salt. Fluff and stir in: 2 tablespoons chopped roasted red pepper, ¼ cup cooked or canned chick peas, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon lemon juice with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Pita-a-a-a-h-h
Split a whole-wheat pita and spread one side with ¼ cup hummus. Add a handful mixed salad greens, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers and a few black olives.

3. Open-Faced White Bean Sandwich
Mash together ½ cup cooked or canned white beans with 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, a splash of apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Toast 2 slices of whole-grain bread and spread with the bean mixture. Top with a handful of salad greens and cucumber slices. For added richness, top with sliced avocado.

4. Black Bean Wrap
Rinse and pat dry a large collard leaf, or Romaine lettuce leaf. Mash 1/2 cup cooked or canned black beans with a fork. Season to your taste with cumin, paprika, and sea salt. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and mix well. Roll bean mixture in collard or lettuce leaf and serve with salsa.


The Main Attraction–Dinner

You’re finally home and starving! These quick and easy dinner ideas will really do the trick.

1. Spiced-Up Veggies
In a large skillet, combine ½ cup cooked or canned black beans with ½-cup diced tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Stir in ¼ diced onion, ½ diced zucchini and ½ diced carrot. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil. Cook 5 to 10 minutes over low heat. Season with sea salt and pepper to your taste and serve garnished with chopped fresh basil.

2. Creamy Greens and Beans Pasta
Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add ½ cup uncooked penne and 4-6 small cauliflower florets. While this cooks, place 2 teaspoons olive oil, ½ diced shallot or onion, 1 clove minced garlic in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté with a pinch of salt for 2 minutes. Add ½ cup canned or cooked white beans and 2-3 leaves of kale, torn into bite-size pieces. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until kale wilts. Season to taste with sea salt. Drain pasta and cauliflower and gently toss together with cooked veggies and beans to combine. 

3. Veggie Fried Rice
Sauté 1 cup cooked brown rice in extra virgin olive oil with ½ red onion, ¼ diced zucchini, 1 diced carrot and 1/3 brick cubed extra firm tofu . Add 1/8-cup vegetable broth and cook for about 5minutes. Season lightly with natural soy sauce and stir in finely shredded bok choy. Serve garnished with toasted almonds.

So you see, choosing fitness and health isn’t at all complicated once you make the choice to do it.

What’s it going to be, ladies?