Mother’s Day kicked off National Women’s Health Week, which was created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office with the purpose of inspiring women to make their health a priority.
Historically, women have been the caretakers in our society and with the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care practitioners have expressed their concerns for women who may have neglected their own physical and mental health over the past year.
The website, womenshealth.gov has a ton of useful information but I also decided to reach out to a couple of super women in our community to share their tips and suggestions for those on the health and fitness journey.
Risa Stewart, owner and trainer of Club Performax in Melbourne, suggests that if you’re currently sedentary, to just start moving.
Moving can be as simple as going for walks in the neighborhood. Walking through your neighborhood is a great way to meet your neighbors and explore your local businesses and parks.
Plus, an hour walk can burn a few hundred calories as well as help with weight management.
For the person who’s already active, Stewart says adding strength training to your routine would be an important next step.
Strength training can help increase bone density, along with increasing muscle mass. Ligaments and muscle tendons also benefit from a well-balanced strength training program.
Stewart points out that many women are protein deficient, so increasing your intake of lean protein is important for muscular strength and growth.
The American College of Sports Medicine suggest 0.5 to 0.9 grams per pound of bodyweight per day for active females.
Stewart also is a big fan of eating more vegetables along with adding a multi-vitamin, a calcium and an omega 3 fatty acids supplement to your diet.
Lastly, but not least, Stewart wants to remind you to take time for yourself.
Most women put themselves third or fourth on their priority list and she says “me time” is crucial. Be sure to carve out a small amount of time each day for introspection, creating belief and confidence.
Doing this first thing in the morning sets the tone for a great and productive day, every day!
Long time fitness leader Colleen Tokarz, manager and trainer at Cocoa Beach Health and Fitness, also reiterates that women really need strength training to help improve bone density.
Weight-bearing exercises like jogging, hiking and tennis are key for stimulating bone growth.
An added bonus? A pound of muscle can burn three times more calories than a pound of fat!
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an effective way to get your cardio and strength training in at the same time, Tokarz points out.
You can design your own HIIT workout at home using just your own body weight and a few dumb bells but nothing beats getting in to a class setting where you would have guidance and motivation from an instructor, plus you’ll feed off the energy of the other participants.
Water — must drink water!
Tokarz encourages her clients to keep a bottle of water around them all the time to conveniently help keep the body hydrated.
You may remember from one of my previous columns the average person needs around 75 ounces of water per day for normal body function. Keep in mind more will be needed based on your activity level and your environment (heat and humidity).
Women need to be sure to eat a balanced diet.
The old adage, “everything in moderation,” rings true most of the time for this part of the health journey.
Everything in moderation also includes the intake of fruit. She suggest no more than three servings of fruits a day.
Even though fruit sugar is natural, it’s still sugar, Tokarz says.
Also, cut starchy carbs from your diet because they turn into sugar within your body.
If you can incorporate these tips into your routine, the weight will start to fall off.
Another Tokarz tip is to seek real foods and add them into your daily diet.
Most foods that come in a package are processed. That means it’s full of garbage like chemicals and artificial ingredients that our bodies can’t break down.
She suggests you learn to read the ingredients on the labels too. If you eat clean and get back to real foods, you’ll look and feel better.
Lastly, Tokarz lives by the mantra of “keep moving.”
She suggests trying to get some kind of exercise or activity six days a week.
I purposefully saved Colleen Tokarz to interview for this column as she is retiring and moving to Georgia at the end of the month.
Colleen has served our local fitness community for 28 years and has positively impacted the lives of thousands while wearing many hats, including being a former gym owner and current head trainer.
She has been with me the past 12 years and I will miss her for many reasons. She has helped make my fitness center more than just a gym and more like a fitness family.
She is a true leader in our industry and will be missed by many.
Thank you Colleen for your time and dedication to helping many on their fitness journey.
Jim McCormick has been the owner of Cocoa Beach Health and Fitness since 2008 and has been a resident of Brevard County since 1970.