One of the perks of my day job is I get access to seminars and screenings just for physically sitting in the building. The fitness manager of my gym is always setting up informative talks about hot topics like "How to Raise a Healthy Kid in a Junk Food World". After I attended one earlier this month titled "Food in the Fast Lane", I was moved to ask the speaker for an interview.
Michelle Zellner has been in the nutrition and fitness industry for 17 years. A psychology major with a nutrition minor and a masters in kinesiology, she grew up in Wisconsin a competitive gymnast, so exercise and diet were a part of her daily life from a young age. But with that came a lot of pressure and restrictions.
"I wish I had had a better understanding of eating for nutrition and performance versus just 'making weight'," she says. "I think my relationship with food would have been much different."
Our relationship with food is one of the key discoveries we can make about ourselves, according to Zellner. Understanding the habits created as a child and then retraining the brain, not only acknowledging your weaknesses, but accepting them, is when we can begin to make the changes that become the habits of a healthy lifestyle.
"We always hear about what we're supposed to be doing," Zellner says. "Everyone pretty much knows that stuff already. But getting down to the 'why' of it all, relating to a person on that level, knowing we have similar experiences and sharing our struggles...those are the times I really feel like I can affect change.
"Living a healthy lifestyle doesn't come naturally to me. I make conscious decisions throughout every day to avoid my triggers because I know myself well enough now." (Scroll down for a couple of Michelle's "Lazy Girl Recipes".)
As for exercise, Zellner believes you should "do as much as you can as often as you can as hard as you can". If you have a structured routine that requires little maneuvering, great. But if you don't, you can and should find whatever window of time to move. "Sometimes you have 90 minutes, but sometimes you may only have 20. Make the most of the time you have; something is always better than nothing."
If you don't have a lot of time, Zellner suggests a simple circuit alternating three movements - jumping jacks or jump rope; sit ups; deep body squats - one minute each, for a total of 20 minutes. This will get your heart rate up quickly while also working large muscle groups increasing your calorie burn.
Zellner encourages people just starting out to make minor changes that can be sustained over time to truly create a lifestyle change. "If you can't do it for life, it's not going to last," she says. "Nobody is perfect, but everybody can do better."
For more information about Michelle Zellner and her services, visit her website, Better Beings.
½ cup black beans
½ small avocado
2 TBSP shredded cheese
Fresh diced tomato or salsa
Wrap in whole wheat tortilla and microwave for 30 seconds. Use 2 TBSP plain nonfat Greek yogurt as sour cream
1/3 c plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 c frozen berries
1/2 c fresh or frozen spinach
2 TBSP flax seeds
1 c unsweetened almond milk
2 TBSP peanut butter or coconut oil
1/3 c protein powder
Blend all and add ice as needed