It’s All Fun and Games…Until You Grow Up?

When Did Exercise Become Something We Have To Do?

I don’t know about you, but I used to love recess when I was younger. After sitting at a desk in school all day, I couldn’t wait to run around and play soccer, kickball, or even tag. Also, Field Day was definitely the best day of the entire year – a whole afternoon of obstacle courses and field games definitely beat being in class for hours. So when did moving around become something to dread? After sitting at work all day, why is that people aren’t more excited to go for a run, go to a spin class, play in a sports league, or do anything else that would be considered exercise? Or, dare I say it, fun?

These Guys Know How To Have Fun

wheelbarrow races!

wheelbarrow races!

Last week, I was fortunate to go to the Nestle Nutrition Institute PowerBar Sport Nutrition Conference. Just one day after the NYC marathon, I got to hear about all things “sport nutrition” with a focus on endurance training and performance. Also, I got to hear firsthand about research from some of the most respected researchers in the field, such as Louise Burke and John Hawley. Not to mention, some of America’s greatest athletes, including Josh Cox and Desiree Davila were there to share their training secrets. While the first day was all work, the second day included a substantial “recess”.

the end of the relay race - 20 sit ups

the end of the relay race – 20 sit ups

My graduate program volunteered to plan fun activities for everyone who wished to join in Central Park – many of whom had never been to New York City and were thrilled to be running around the grassy oasis. These men and women were dressed  in workout clothes and ready to get down on their hands and knees – literally. Relay races consisting of wheelbarrow races, hula hooping, sprinting, push-ups and sit ups were just a few of the stations that we set up. Also, everyone resurrected their P.E. skills and got together for dodgeball. For a rest – and a healthy snack – different teams got to play NYC trivia and snack on apples (we called the activity “taking a bite out of the Big Apple”). Basically, everyone felt like a kid again, because working out became fun again. I think we can all take a cue from these amazing athletes and researchers and channel our inner child – the one who used to have to move around in order to stay sane.

the beginning of the relay - 10 push ups. Check out that form!

the beginning of the relay – 10 push ups. Check out that form!

running the relay

running the relay

So What Can You Do?

Find an activity you genuinely enjoy. Running is a great workout, but if it’s not something you’re going to get excited about doing, chances are it won’t stick. And ultimately, the best exercise is the exercise that you will continue to do because you genuinely enjoy doing it. So, join a soccer league, grab some friends and play tennis, swim, bike, hit the gym, and most importantly,  have fun!

all of us after the friendly competition

all of us after the friendly competition – all smiles!


Quinoa with Lentils and Veggies

Quinoa with Lentils and Veggies

This dish is packed with protein and fiber, so you can feel full while loading up on some plant-based foods, like veggies, lentils and grains. Using zucchini, bell pepper, spinach, mushrooms, onions and garlic, this staple packs in flavor, along with a ton of vitamins and minerals. Also, this dish is amazing to have as leftovers – serve it hot the first time and then serve it cold days later with some crumbled feta cheese. Craving some extra protein? I’ve also made this dish using tofu in combination with the lentils, for a heartier meal.

shown with tofu

shown with tofu

Ingredients (serves 5):

1 C quinoa, uncooked

3/4 C lentils, cooked (I like to use lentils that are pre-cooked and vacuum packed. These usually just require 2 minutes in the microwave, or can even be eaten out of the package, cold – just watch out for the sodium content!)

1 medium zucchini squash

1 red bell pepper

2 C spinach, raw

1 small onion (about 1 C chopped)

2 C mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

dash salt (depending on how much salt you prefer)

dash cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp butter (or Smart Balance or other butter alternative)

1.5 Tbsp olive oil

I added yellow squash this time!

I added yellow squash this time!


1. Cook quinoa according to instructions on box (*note: you may choose to replace the water with low-sodium vegetable broth, which also tastes really good! If you do this, you do not need to add the 1 Tbsp butter – this is used to enhance the flavor when the quinoa is cooked with water)

2. Warm olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.

3. Chop onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and mince garlic. Add onion to saucepan and cook for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, mushrooms and spices (black pepper, salt, cayenne and garlic powder) and cook another 8-10 minutes. Add garlic.

4. Microwave lentils in microwave-safe bowl according to directions -usually about 2-4 minutes. (*note if you are soaking your own lentils you can omit this step).

5. Add spinach and sauté  until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Add cooked quinoa and lentils to saucepan and cook another 2-3 minutes. Serve hot (or chill in the refrigerator and serve cold!)


The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving

Calories 320, Fat 8 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 51 g, Fiber 12 g, Protein 13 g, Calcium 42, Sodium 70 mg

me leftover lunch - served cold with feta!

my leftover lunch – served cold with feta!