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Fitness Matters: Answers to your health and wellness questions

Question: I'm not a great cook, and I seem to eat a lot of boxed foods. Is this a problem if I'm trying to focus on getting healthy?

Answer: It really depends on the specific foods you're eating, but it's definitely to your advantage to eat as many fresh fruits, 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 percent 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. Also, 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 cooking class (offered at the Worthington HyVee!), trying out a few recipes from your favorite health magazine, or even watching online videos of how to prepare your favorite healthy foods! Good luck!

Question: I really enjoy lifting weights, 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 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: Liz Albright is the club manager at Anytime Fitness in Worthington. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at