This is the first article of a Women’s Column this semester, which will be featuring information especially valuable to women within the St. Kate’s community. This column will serve to educate, inspire, and ultimately help women live the best lives and become their best selves.
This first article focuses on women’s health and fitness in an interview with nutrition professor and registered dietitian Christina Meyer-Jax, a new addition to the St. Kate’s community and a health spokesperson for various Minnesota news media stations. In this interview she addresses everything from the best workouts for women and their different body types, to the new Kardashian craze of waist training.
Elizabeth Rodewald: Can you tell me more about your education background? Where you attended undergraduate school and with what major(s)? What other schooling did you attend after that?
Christina Meyer-Jax: I received my undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. I am a registered dietitian awarded from the Commission on Dietetic Registration, and my Master of Science-Nutrition Education was received at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago, Illinois.
ER: When did you begin at St. Kate’s? What do you like about St. Kate’s?
CMJ: I began this August at St. Kate’s after a three-year hiatus from academia. I have had many family members attend and graduate from [St. Kate’s], so I’m really honored to be part of the faculty community. I love that St. Kate’s provides a tight knit community where faculty can really get to know and support their students and each other. I am looking forward to collaborating with internal and external partners to broaden the scope of student learning and to work for a service-driven organization that focuses on helping those who may not be able to help themselves.
ER: I read that you are a registered dietician and have been a source for a few Minnesota news outlets including Fox 9 News and WCCO News. Are there any other programs that you have consulted for?
CMJ: Yes I’ve enjoyed being a nutrition, health, and brand media spokesperson for over 10 years. I have worked with local and national TV stations, internet only productions, quoted in several newspapers and magazines, and enjoy blogging.
CMJ: Most recently I worked with Google to help create healthy eating systems. The position used the combo of behavioral sciences and nutritional science to support people in making the best choice the easiest choice. There is never a dull day in the world of nutrition.
ER: What are some great, easy exercises that women of all body shapes can do to cut down on typically female problem areas on the body (more commonly known as these penned social names: saddlebags, stomach pouches, flabby arms, and rear ends that may jiggle too much)?
CMJ: The most important component to these problem areas starts with what you put in your body. I’m a firm believer that abs start in the kitchen (or what’s on your plate). You can never out exercise a poor diet. Keeping your diet focused on lean proteins, lots of veggies, and fruit will help get you more than half way there. For exercises doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training that mixes cardio and strength/weight work is a perfect combo for helping to burn fat and increase lean body mass (muscle). That will help shed pounds where you want to and build muscle where you need to.
ER: Which weight machines or cardio machines should women stay away from or use with caution, that will harm us either with what we are trying to accomplish or what we are trying to make smaller or bigger on our bodies?
CMJ: In the end it’s important that you vary your workouts. Doing too much of any one exercise will not get you to well-rounded fitness. Whether it is elliptical machines or the same workout DVD that you do a million times in a row, your body gets used to it and it’s only working certain muscle groups. Also doing the same types of exercise can lead to repetitive use injuries, similar to what athletes face when doing the same sport for long durations.
CMJ: Find several exercises and activities that are fun and motivating to you and vary them throughout the week. Make sure you are including stretching type movement in your routine as well. I do yoga at least once per week. It’s the exercise that helps keep me healthy enough to do all my other activities.
ER: Have you heard about the new craze made famous by the Kardashian sisters called, ‘waist training’? Can you tell us a little about what it does? If you think it is a good idea? Would you recommend that others try it or stay away from it? What are the potential risks that are associated with displacing your fat from your waist to other areas of your body?
CMJ: The waist trainers are basically a modern day corset. It does exactly what an “old fashioned” corset did, by shrinking in your waist to appear smaller. It also does not allow for full expansion of the lungs (not a real smart idea for working out in). Because of the tightness around the waist, it may decrease food intake as there is also not a lot of room for stomach expansion.
CMJ: So it does not get rid of fat, but can push it down to lower parts of your abdomen and hips. This is all temporary and not a long term solution for weight loss. It is pretty much a gimmick with some short term minor benefits. In the long term this does not lead to lifestyle and habit change that requires dedication to healthy eating and exercise. Sorry it’s an unsexy answer, but it’s the truth.
We all lead busy lives with school assignments, jobs, and maintaining friendships and relationships, but we have to keep in mind that physical health is just as important as our mental and emotional health. When we maintain healthy lifestyles, we notice that the other aspects of our lives improve as well, something that we can easily forget with the hustle and bustle of every day. It is never too late to start eating healthy and exercising; after all, starting with baby steps is better than not starting at all.