I’m so excited about this interview because it’s packed with some really inspiring info and tips on food & fitness. Health expert, TaNiqua Ward’s dedication to healthy living is infectious. You know how some people are so passionate that they motivate you? Yep, she’s def one of those people!
Healthy living program specialist, exercise physiologist, and group exercise instructor. Such an impressive resume! What inspired you to go into this field?
I decided to go into the public health field because I am passionate about health and helping others become healthy. My job primarily focuses on nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco cessation. I love educating, providing resources, and programs that can have a positive impact on someone’s life. I focus on lifestyle changes to be healthy.
I also see you’re an avid runner. What tips do you have for beginners?
I began running just a little over 2 years ago. I picked up running while in graduate school just as a stress reliever and getting my mind off school.
Here are a few tips I have for beginner runners:
∇ You are never too old to begin running. Although I am not old, I didn’t lace up my shoes and really begin running until I was 22 and I have made a lot of progress since then.
∇ Make running part of your routine. I always run 5 miles 3-4 days a week even when I am not training. I don’t ever want to lose what I worked so hard to gain.
∇ Set goals and challenge yourself. I started off just running 5ks and then I set the goal to decrease my time and place in my age division. Once I began placing in my age division with 5ks I moved on to 10ks and made the same goals and I just keep moving up from there.
∇ Make running fun. I did not enjoy running at first but you have to learn what is best for you. I love running outdoors in a nice scenic area early in the morning to start my day. I also love running on the treadmill for longer runs and watching a movie.
∇ Don’t give up! You can run… and you can probably run further than you think! I used to admire people that ran long distances and thought to myself how do they run that long. Now I am one of those people I once admired.
Ok, we want to know what you’re eating! What’s a typical day look like for you? And of course, snacks. 🙂
Breakfast: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and one of my favorites! I always run in the morning so I eat a few almonds and have water. After I run I have oatmeal and an orange. I also drink green or chia tea as well.
10:00 Snack: I mostly have a small fruit or another vegetable at my 10:00 snack (apple, carrots, cucumbers, grapes).
Lunch: I love salads and sandwiches. My lunch is usually a spinach salad (without vegetables-I just enjoy spinach). I always have a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with some veggies on it.
3:00 Snack: My afternoon snack I try to focus on incorporating protein. I mostly eat a KIND bar, boiled eggs, or something like an apple with peanut butter (I love peanut butter).
Dinner: I usually eat fish with some sort of kale or spinach salad loaded with vegetables. Fish is one of my most common dinners. If I do not have fish I have pasta! I will make chicken pasta with marinara sauce, along with a salad.
Dessert: Greek yogurt with granola and blueberries or a smoothie.
For those of us who aren’t quite as motivated to eat healthy or workout, give us some tips! Where does your motivation come from?
I have one simple tip, but it encompasses everything: Make the healthy choices your habit. Habits are essential to living a longer and healthy life. You have to want to be healthy and slowly make that into something that becomes part of your everyday life.
My motivation comes from wanting to live a longer and healthier life. I want to have a good quality of life by doing things naturally such as exercising and eating properly. A healthy life is a happy life and that is what I want to achieve.
What if you don’t have a ton of time to spend at the gym, what are some effective workouts?
Core! I love core workouts. There are tons of challenges you can find on Instagram or Pinterest and they only take about 5 minutes. Try doing those in the morning and at night.
Tabata or HIIT workouts-These are total body workouts that usually don’t require any equipment and you can do them at home. Look on YouTube to find tons of videos.
Run/Walk-You can run/walk pretty much anywhere. Lace up your shoes and go outdoors.
Yoga-Take time out of the day and spend 30 minutes to an hour meditating. You can learn your own forms of yoga and meditation or also find YouTube videos for yoga online.
TaNiqua Ward is Healthy Living Program Specialist, AFAA Fitness Instructor, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist. She loves yoga, running, reading and engaging in convos about healthy living.