Lunden Souza: Maximize time with concise workouts, healthy food

April 5, 2013 

As I continue on my journey of health and fitness, I am always learning. A lot of people ask if I have a special secret, but it's more than a secret. It's taking time to figure out ways to make health and fitness prevalent in my life in a way that works for me and my schedule.

There are many obstacles to meal prep and taking time for physical activity. I've heard about them all, and even experienced some myself.

Among all the obstacles that can prevent success in health and fitness, two maxims have always stuck out: maximize time and maximize nutrients.

Maximizing time is vital when it comes to health and fitness. I've heard a lot of people express discouragement because they don't have an hour to workout at the gym.

The great thing is, you don't always need a full hour to workout. I have learned to appreciate even a high-intensity 15-minute workout. You can have a crazy workout in 15 minutes that can leave you more breathless than an hour on the elliptical at the same tempo.

Fifteen minutes has become my golden time. I'll choose four exercises and perform each of them consecutively for one minute, then rest at the end for one minute, and then repeat three times. At the end of 15 minutes, it's incredible how much work you can accomplish.

If you can fit in two or three 15-minute bursts throughout your day, that's extra beneficial.

Meal prep for me needs to be in a couple containers and easy to eat on the go. I need my fruits, veggies, good fats, protein and complex carbs ready to eat and to sustain me throughout the day.

Quinoa is a huge part of my everyday diet. It is gluten free and a complete protein. My favorite quinoa recipe is to combine 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth, 1/2-cup quinoa, 1/2-cup tricolored quinoa, celery, sweet onion, slivered almonds, carrots, mushrooms, a handful of raw spinach, 1 tablespoon of flax seeds, some cooked shrimp, raw shaved coconut, garlic powder, a splash of Bragg Liquid Aminos soy sauce substitute and a couple of pinches of fresh-grated ginger in a sauce pan. When all of this comes to a boil, reduce heat and cover for 15 to 18 minutes.

It's awesome because it cooks all together and then you have so many amazing nutrients jam packed into one dish. When I pack meals like this, I feel more satiated and I am less likely to go to a gas station to grab snacks.

Usually, I bring this dish along with some fruit, a bag of mixed nuts, celery with almond butter and plenty of water when I have a long day at work.

As summer approaches, it is time to take control of your lifestyle and learn to embrace even the shortest periods of downtime and consume as many nutrients as you can, because your body really needs them. Find focus and fuel from your food, and use that energy to be physically active.

Lunden Souza, a Merced native, is a personal trainer, health and wellness coach, and writer in Southern California. She can be reached at

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