She’s known as the Fitness Gourmet, and for good reason Patricia Greenberg-Grunfeld holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, a degree in culinary arts and is a certified personal trainer. She’s also a best-selling cookbook author and the owner of an education consulting firm that specializes in teaching nutrition and fitness seminars nationwide.

 

The 50-year-old Hancock Park wife and mother practices what she preaches. She has completed 11 marathons and 29 half marathons, all after she turned 35. “My focus is to get people to make better choices,” said Patricia. “It’s a combination of eating well and exercising.” When it comes to fitness, there is no one thing that is right for everyone. “I tell people to do what they like, but try to do it for 30 minutes per day.” For instance, “I started running because it was so easy to just throw on some shoes and go outside…it was free and easy.” But others might have orthopedic issues or time constraints, or the whole exercise thing feels so daunting that they won’t even start.

 

Her advice: start walking. Walk around the block, park your car at the furthest spot from the grocery store, take the stairs. “Exercise burns calories, improves lung function and strengthens your heart, lowering your heart rate. It also improves immunity and sharpens your brain.” Long-term benefits of regular exercise include lowering one’s risk of diabetes and cancer, and increased endurance, she added. A leaner body composition also comes with exercise, even though you may not weigh less, said

Patricia. “The reality is that body types cannot be changed, so I tell people to maximize what they have. You can’t just spot reduce, but overall fitness will build muscle and improve your appearance.”

Exercise, along with paying attention to the quality and portion size of the food you eat, is the most effective way to get fit,” she said.

Portion control is very important, and gives people an awareness of how much they are really consuming. “Look at the nutrition facts on the packaging and you’ll see calories per serving, which is often surprising. For example, one serving of pretzels might be 15 pieces; a serving of cereal is

only one cup.” The nutritionist suggests taking the time to portion food out and put it into Ziploc bags. “It really just gives you a good look at how much you are actually eating. “What happens in many cultures is that people get their identity and value from how much food they serve up. I work with parents and say, you can still offer a lot, but include healthy choices. Instead of candy and soda, put out one plate of cookies, but surround it with a variety of fruit platters, cheese slices and flavored

soda water. “It’s really about paying attention to the quality of foods we eat. Health professionals

worldwide are all on the same page when it comes to healthful eating, which should include lots of fruits, vegetables, whole wheat and skim dairy complemented by smaller quantities of meats, oils and

fats.” Occasional treats are fine, she said, like dessert once a week. “But save the splurges for birthdays and special occasions.”

The long-term consequences of not taking care of ourselves PRACTICING what she preaches. Greenberg has completed 11 marathons and 29 half marathons do not add up until much later in life, said the marathon runner. “I look at staying fit and eating well as preventative medicine. The fear of aging is very valid, but what’s the alternative?” she muses. So, while turning 50 may be traumatic for some, “I was just so happy,” she said of her recent birthday. “My husband and I looked at each other and said ‘we’re so thankful that we’re healthy.’”