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MENA MINUTE

Let's talk fitness and productivity.

WRITTEN BY MENA SPODOBALSKI
PHOTO JACI GOODMAN

00 Mena Evoke Headshot
PHOTO BY KAYLA RAW

Do you experience the afternoon slump? You’re sitting at your desk, finishing a critical report, but can hardly keep your eyes open? You are in the middle of a pitch, trying to keep from yawning? You know, it’s that 2 p.m. crash!

Let’s combat that daily occurrence. With a little bit of exercise, you can become more productive at work and at home.

There is a great deal of research about the correlation between exercise and increased productivity at work. Did you know that just a 10-minute brisk walk can help you to be more focused and alert, and that it’s an amazing stress releaser? Exercise also increases production of critical brain cells to help make you think more sharply.

Exercise also releases feel-good endorphins, which are nature’s antidepressants. Regular exercise boosts your self-confidence as well, and confident employees are more focused. Also, they’re sick less often, which means less time taken off of work, and they generally get along better with their co-workers.

You’re thinking, wait, I have a million things on my plate, not only at the office but at home as well. Now you want me to add another one? Impossible!

I’m here to tell you it is possible. Did you know that one hour is only four percent of your day? Four percent! Make time for your mind and body, and it will reward you tenfold. Whether you get up at 5 a.m. to get your workout on, or you spend your lunch hour doing a power workout, you will benefit. Maybe you can’t make it to the gym, but you can run up and down the stairs at work for 10 minutes. All of it will help you reap productivity rewards.

Now more than ever, many company leaders are offering workplace gyms or benefits to use at local gyms. Group exercises, such as kickball, capture the flag, or even golf games can help generate creativity to solve any work issue on the table. During lunch, get your team together and take a walk for 20 or 30 minutes to clear your mind and soul. Often you will find the time helps you brainstorm unique ideas.

Making time for exercise is just one piece of unlocking your productivity. Eating a healthy breakfast, such as a green smoothie, oatmeal, or eggs will set you up for success throughout your day. Choose healthy snacks and lunches to keep your productivity at its peak and your senses alert. You can attribute much of your afternoon sluggishness to unhealthy food and exercise habits. Avoiding sugar spikes will help deter the slumps. While eating regularly, every three hours or so, doing it smartly and staying hydrated will help you put forth your best efforts.

Mena Spodobalski owns and is an advanced fitness trainer at Evoke Fitness in Reno. She also is a state champion and nationally qualified fitness competitor. For details, visit Evokefit.com.

Chicken Enchilada Cauliflower Rice Bowls

(courtesy of Mena Spodobalski, owner and advanced fitness trainer, Evoke Fitness in Reno. Serves 4)

MenaDish2414

4 boneless, skinless, organic chicken breasts

2 teaspoons chili powder

1, 8-ounce can red enchilada sauce

Add chicken, chili powder, and red enchilada sauce to slow cooker. Cover and set to low, cooking until chicken is cooked through and tender (about 4 to 6 hours, depending on your slow cooker). Once chicken is done, shred with two forks and toss it in the sauce. Put aside and set to “keep warm” until ready to eat.

For cilantro-lime cauliflower rice

1 medium head cauliflower (about 4 cups), chopped into florets (can also buy ready made at Costco or Whole Foods)

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Black beans, grilled corn, tomatoes, black olives, and cilantro for toppings

Rinse cauliflower and pat dry. Using a large knife, cut cauliflower head in half and remove core. Cut into large florets, then place them in bowl of food processor. Pulse cauliflower about 15 times until it is about the size of rice or couscous. If you don’t have a food processor, grate the florets on the large holes of a box grater.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high and spray generously with cooking spray. Pour cauliflower into hot skillet and add salt, chili powder, and garlic powder. Let cauliflower rice sauté in pan about 4 minutes, stirring it occasionally. Squeeze in lime juice, and stir in chopped cilantro. Cook 1 more minute.

To assemble dish

Scoop some cauliflower rice into a bowl. Top with shredded chicken, black beans, grilled corn, tomatoes, olives, cilantro, and any other healthy toppings you like.

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