Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • January 2014
Written by  Karmen Nenahlo

Making fitness and nutrition priorities, trying healthy snack ideas and getting recommended amounts of aerobic activity

Question: I am someone who regularly skips meals and workouts, thanks to both a busy work schedule and family life. I’m wondering if you have any tips that might get me back on track?

Answer: Luckily, there are many people that lead busy lives while still finding the time for healthy meals and productive workouts — it can be done! You need to make sure that fitness and nutrition are priorities in your life. Once you make this commitment, doing the “right” thing will seem like a lot less work. Try taking an inventory of your week on Sunday night, figuring out which days are light and which ones are heavy in terms of work and family responsibilities. Then, you can schedule your workouts in your planner and resolve any meal planning issues as well. For example, maybe you need to pack more comprehensive snacks if you have a meeting during lunch, or maybe you need to create a reminder so you remember to take frozen meat out of the freezer the night before you cook it. These seem like small, almost trivial changes, but they make a world of difference when you’re in a time crunch. We typically schedule things we don’t want to forget, so why not schedule meals and workouts, too?

Question: Lately, my goal has been to eat healthier snacks during the day, since I’m a big fan of chips and candy bars. What do you recommend as alternatives?

Answer: I get asked this quite a bit, so I definitely have some favorites. If you want something similar to your candy bar, you could certainly go with a sports nutrition bar. The main difference is that the sports bars are a bit more balanced with additional protein and less fat. They also typically have more vitamins and minerals as well. As a result, they make for a better meal replacement than a traditional candy bar. If you want some “real foods,” which we recommend, check out the short list below:

  • Celery and carrots with low-fat dip.
  • Plain yogurt with granola and blueberries.
  • Whole grain crackers with hummus.
  • >Cottage cheese with apple slices.
  • Trail mix with dried fruit and nuts.
  • String cheese and a banana.
  • ½ whole grain bagel with peanut butter.
  • Low-sodium beef jerky.
  • Rice cakes with lean ham or turkey.
  • Edamame (soybeans in the pod).

Question: Despite the focus on strength training in recent years, cardiovascular exercise still needs to be part of my routine, right? Assuming I’m correct, how much should I incorporate into my workout program?

Answer: Cardiovascular exercise should definitely be front-and-center when it comes to exercise. After all, your heart is the single most important muscle in your entire body. There’s really no reason to avoid cardio. In fact, the only reason to limit cardiovascular exercise is if you’re a hard-gainer and your primary goal is to put on weight. Even in this scenario, you can do several sessions of low-intensity exercise per week, like walking or casual bike riding. For optimal health benefits, we can look to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which is issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Per the recommendations, adults should shoot for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, ideally spread throughout an entire week. The guidelines go on to mention that doubling these numbers provides even greater health benefits. Regardless of these recommendations, what you really have to do is factor in personal variables, like your current fitness level and your schedule. Gradually work your way up to recommended levels, and don’t forget to include strength training and flexibility as well. 

Karmen Nenahlo is with Anytime Fitness, the world’s largest 24/7 co-ed fitness franchise. For more information, visit

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