Expert answers to your health and wellness questions
Question: I’m not a particularly great cook, and I seem to eat a lot of boxed foods. Is this a problem if health is one of my primary goals?
Answer: It really depends on the specific foods you’re eating, but it’s definitely advantageous to eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables and all-natural whole grains as possible, not to mention fresh meats and seafood. That said, convenience, price, and several other factors most likely play into your food choices as well, so choosing the best foods 100% of the time may not be all that practical. My advice to you would be to move in the direction of fresh foods as much as you can, given your particular lifestyle. And remember, you don’t have to be a great cook to reap the health benefits of nutrient-dense foods. They may taste better if you know how to properly prepare them, but it’s pretty easy to throw together some chicken or fish with a cooked whole grain and some veggies for a quick and easy (and healthy) dinner. I would also recommend taking a basic cooking class so you can learn a new skill—one that will continue to pay health dividends moving forward.
Question: I hate getting sick. Can you provide some tips and hints to keep me healthy throughout the winter months?
Answer: I’m with you—being sick sucks! Luckily, there are a couple tried and true habits that will help you avoid the latest bug. First of all, wash your hands frequently, and by all means, avoid touching your face (especially your eyes, nose, and mouth). Drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of sleep (people forget how important this is to a healthy immune system), and get a flu shot as well. It goes without saying that a healthful diet is ideal, but I would also recommend a good quality multivitamin/ mineral supplement too, since most people struggle to eat a balanced and varied diet on a daily basis. But to me, the most effective way to avoid illness is to stay away from people that are already sick. This can certainly be a challenge, especially if you have kids, but do your best. Put these tips to good use, and you should be able to skirt through the winter with nothing more than the occasional head cold, if that!
Question: I’m big into weightlifting, but I’m not a huge fan of cardio. Is there a way for me to enhance heart health without hopping on one of the traditional pieces of cardio equipment for 45 minutes at the gym?
Answer: Yes – absolutely! Cardio doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get on the bike, treadmill, or elliptical. You simply need to get your heart rate up and that can be accomplished during your weight training sessions. Doing compound sets or supersets, or intense circuits with very little rest, will definitely get your heart rate kicking, and these provide the fitness and health benefits you’re looking for. You can get active in plenty of other ways too, without feeling like a hamster on a wheel. Try playing one of your favorite sports or go hiking in a nearby park. Even tubing or sledding in the wintertime can provide a good cardiovascular workout. Just think outside the box a little and keep the focus on fun!
About the author: David J Pohorence is the club owner/club manager/Certified Personal Trainer at Anytime Fitness in Wesley Chapel, NC. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.