World’s Fittest Mom Nita Marquez shares her secrets to stay fit at 40

Episode 104

Video Transcript

Jackie Keller: Welcome to Food Exposed, where each week we look at the
story behind what’s on your plate. I’m your host, Jackie Keller and
welcome to Food Exposed. Today we’re going to talk about how to look
fit and fabulous at 40, 50 or beyond. Let’s face it. We all get there
and it’s a fact of life. So, you don’t need to let your body give away
your age. In fact, according to Dr. Oz, your lifestyle and what you eat
and how you live controls somewhere between 70% and 80% of how well you
age and how you look, at any age. That’s great news for people who are

So, what are the best foods to control that aging process? Well to
start off with, you want foods that have anti-inflammatory properties.
These are foods that slow the aging of your blood vessels like salmon,
walnuts, flax seed, other healthful nuts like almonds and these are
things that will reduce your memory loss, will reduce the constriction
of your blood vessels. You also want foods that enhance your immune
system, that slow the deterioration of your immune system and some of
those foods are berries, orange juice, lentils, tomatoes and kale.
There’s a whole host of foods that have very high antioxidant
properties that help with that. And finally, you want foods that
counteract environmental factors that influence aging. So, foods that
are organic, foods that are non-GMO, foods that are sustainable or
locally grown that don’t use any herbicides, pesticides, fungicides;
our own farm at NutriFit, which is on the central coast of California
is a sustainably grown farm and we use organic farming methods. Those
are the kind of things you want to look for in your food supply.
Remember, if you eat smart you can have your best body at 40, 50, maybe
even 60 or 70.

My guest today is IFPB fitness professional and mother of three, Nita
Marquez. Her passion for fitness is expressed in her branded
motivational mantra “Be Phenomenal! You are worth the work!” After a 10
year career as a top five national fitness competitor with the NPC,
Nita won the fitness nationals to earn her professional status in 2008,
which led to the release of her book Fit for Combat. Nita Marquez,
welcome to Food Exposed.

Nita Marquez: Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to see
you again.

Jackie: It’s nice to see you and you look not only fit but fabulous.

Nita: Thank you so much.

Jackie: I know you have some tips for all of our listeners. They’re
very interested in knowing how to get to look their best. I mean, we
can’t all look like Nita but we would all like to look fabulous.

Nita: Well, thank you. First of all let me just preface the conversation
with a thank you for all the kind accolades but honestly I grew up with
a weight problem. They called me Low Fat when I was growing up because
I’m only four-eleven, just under five feet and I was overweight and
because I was short and chubby, kids made fun of me and kids are cruel.

Jackie: Aw. You were bullied.

Nita: Yeah, I was.

Jackie: Oh my goodness.

Nita: Yes, I was. And as I got older, when I met my husband we had our
first baby and I had distinctly remembered Charlene Tilton on the cover
of Sports Illustrated when I was 15 years old and she was talking about
how she had just had her baby and she had the best body ever, after her
birth and I thought if I ever have kids I’m going to remember this. So
I really started investigating, at that point in my life, what it would
take not only to stay in shape not only for myself but also to have a
really healthy pregnancy. I was really fortunate that I gained a lot of
weight but I was able to drop it relatively quickly and as I’ve aged
and as I’ve had more children-I’ve had three, as you’ve mentioned-I’ve
just been very fortunate that conditioning my body over the years just
with-pardon the pun-baby steps toward healthy eating, toward working
out and then getting into competitive fitness, it’s been really helpful
for the aging process for me. I’ve enjoyed aging. I mean honestly, when
I was in my mid-thirties I couldn’t wait to reach 40 because…

Jackie: Oh my goodness.

Nita: I was excited about that number.

Jackie: Bless you, my dear.

Nita: Thank you. Thank you. I have just loved every second of it. 40 is
such a wonderful age because you really, as you know, it’s just like
this age of self-commanding and you discover so much of who you are and
you’re so much more aware, so much more in control of your own behavior
patterns because you’re more aware of them and you can stifle certain
things that are maybe not good for you. That goes along with craving
certain foods. I don’t have the same cravings I used to and not only do
I not have the same cravings but when I do have a craving for something
I know when to stop. I know that it’s okay once in awhile to cheat as
we call it but it’s really important to just be free spirited and
understand that nutrition is not something that’s just good for your
body, it’s good for your soul and to listen to your body and honor your
soul and say “Hey, I’ve had plenty, I feel good” and stay energetic and
stay smiling. I have a number of tips that would help you physically
stay in great shape with these physical choices but the number one
thing beyond the five tips that you asked for me to share today, the
number one thing I say is just staying in joy. If you have peace of
mind that is the number one way to anti-age. It really, really is.

Jackie: That’s important.

Nita: You have to smile a lot.

Jackie: You know I work with a lot of women who really have sort of a
love/hate relationship with food. They really battle their bodies. You
talk about loving yourself and having a mature, sort of sophisticated
relationship on a higher level with your body and respecting it and
understanding where you fit into the universe with your body but there
are a lot of women out there and men too who struggle with making peace
with their body. So I wanted to ask you, how do you keep your body the
way it is and not fall into that “Well, I’m over 40 now,” or “I just
hit 40, now all of a sudden things are starting to fall apart.” Is it
really inevitable or can you find a way to sort of make peace with it
and still look so fabulous?

Nita: Well, personally I subscribe to the theory that you really have to
love your own league because we’re all in a league of our own, every
one of us. Not one person is like everybody else or any other person in
their “category,” even physically. You know we all have different DNA,
we have different bone structures and where we might be parallel to one
person we’re still different in another area. So it’s about accepting
your body and saying “Hey, I’m in a league of my own,” and just that
self-acceptance has really helped me. Because for as tiny as I am,
under five feet, at four-eleven my height, being tiny it’s always been
really a struggle to keep my weight down and when I would gain five
pounds it would look like 15 on me.

I think a lot of it comes with that self-acceptance of “Hey, I’m in a
league of my own.” It’s really perspective. It’s not about, oh there’s
nobody else like me, nothing fits. I’m in a league of my own and that’s
what I’ve come to grips of my body type with is that there’s nobody
else like me. I’ve got to do what’s going to work for me specifically.

Jackie: Okay.

Nita: Of course there are rules of thumb that you could follow, but yeah.

Jackie: Well, share some of those with us.

Nita: Well, first of all I think it’s really, really important to do
something that’s going to help you practice proper breathing because
what happens is you get this great chemical activity going on in your
brain that helps you relax, which is great for your cells. It helps
anti-age the cells, so any discipline that teaches you proper form and
technique in breathing alone, like yoga or pilates is fantastic.
Meditating is fantastic but in addition to that it also helps you
posture your body. You learn how to use your core to reinforce your
back. A lot of people started experiencing back problems, so you’ll
reinforce your back muscles by using your core more and putting more
impact there and strengthening those muscles, which helps keeps your
bones in order and in the right lines.

When you’re doing that, that leads me into my second tip, that will
help you have proper form and technique with weight training. Now if
you haven’t by the age of 40 been weight training, I highly recommend
that anybody go and really do intense research on a physical trainer
who does weight training who matches not only a great experience level,
not somebody that just got their internet certification in two hours,
but a real, qualified expert in weight training…

Jackie: That makes sense.

Nita: …who can help you learn to use your muscles effectively for
developing and sculpting your body. I think that that’s been really
helpful for me. The weight training, it gives me a sense of power and
strength and there’s like some kind of mental control that goes in that
space and it really helps me feel good about myself. When I walk out of
the gym and I’ve been consistent and I’ve really burned those muscles,
it feels great and you get that endorphin rush just like you do with
cardio or with yoga or pilates. The third thing that I really recommend
to people is really starting to investigate the idea that your body is
not producing what it once did. As we age, inevitably we…

Jackie: That’s so true.

Nita: …yeah, we…

Jackie: We change.

Nita: Yeah, we change our cellular activity. Our hormones change. Our
cellular activity drops somewhat. In certain areas of your body you’re
just not able to do as much so the only way to really start
regenerating some of that is through supplementation. I really
recommend doing your research. Your company is great with educating
people on proper nutrition. In addition to that, where people find that
they are lacking on what they’re taking in on a daily basis in terms of
nutrients and minerals, it’s really important to look into supplements
that are going to help-like you said-with vitamin C is great for your
cells. All the major vitamins and minerals that you would get from all
your greens and your proper foods; if you’re not taking those and in
terms of your nutrition, get the proper supplementation, also glutamine
which is an amino acid that your body produces for recovery. Your body
can’t possibly keep up with the manufacturing of that as you age and
then on top of it, if you’re working out, in addition, you need
probably an additional five to 10 grams a day of glutamine, minimum
just to keep yourself in recovery mode so that you’re helping your
muscles not to stay sore for quite as long, they’re recovering
properly. So your amino acids, your vitamins and minerals, so
supplementation, I think is very important.

Jackie: You know, that’s one thing that I wanted to ask you about, with
respect to body building in general. And I know in your sport there is
a lot of controversy about supplementation. There’s a lot of men in
your sport, we usually hear about men in the sport really heavily
relying on supplements and artificial muscle enhancement techniques.
What did you find as a woman in that sport and is it prevalent?

Nita: It is. It’s very prevalent in my industry to use not just over-the-
counter supplements but of course-like you said-you’re talking about
steroids. There are a number of fat burners. Ephedra has been now

Jackie: Unsafe.

Nita: Unsafe, right. I have very, I guess you would say positive reviews on
any of that. I think that if you’re using supplements like that; a.,
you should be going to a doctor, and there are a number of anti-aging
clinics all over the country, especially here in southern California.
There are anti-aging clinics that recommend different supplements that
are consider anabolic. There’s HGH. There are things that can help your
body speed up its metabolism. You know ironically as you age, some of
those things are actually really quite healthy for you but I don’t
recommend going the street route and getting drugs from your local
steroid dealer at the gym. These anti-aging clinics, they’re there to
help you keep your body healthy, not morphed into some big, crazy, out
of order freak of nature. You know what I mean?

Jackie: Of course; and you know we know with good nutrition and with
the work I do at NutriFit with helping people just through being
natural and available to everybody foods and beverages that we can all
find and drink it’s possible to have an extremely healthy, longevity
promoting, anti-aging diet.

Nita: I agree.

Jackie: So, I thought that’s what I thought we would do in terms of
showing our audience today some of the healthiest and easiest ways to
put together some simple, great, delicious foods that they can make at

Nita: I think that’s absolutely the number one method. If you have access
to proper nutrition and you can get, like I said, the supplements that
provide you with the minerals and vitamins that you need, that’s the
number one way to keep your body healthy for, like you said, for the
purposes of longevity. Within my industry there are a number of vain
reasons to do all of those other things. I only recommend that you ever
evaluate any of those things in the appropriate circumstances and with
doctor support. I really think that’s important.

Jackie: Well, let’s make some deliciously healthy, nutritious food and
join me at the table.

Nita: Ah.
Jackie: Well I’m delighted to have the opportunity to share a very,
very easy recipe that features some of nature’s best, healthiest, most
nutritious foods and it’s so easy, so simple that I know that you can
make, anybody can make this at home. And Nita, I know lentils are a
particular favorite of yours so I think you’re going to love this
little lentil vegetable salad that we’re going to make here today. It’s
very simple and there are just a few key ingredients that I want to
point out. One is of course extra virgin olive oil.

Nita: Yes.

Jackie: We know that these highly monounsaturated, healthy fats are
some of the best fats for you. They’re very anti-aging and we want a
lot of these fats in our diet. So whenever we make a dressing, we try
to feature extra virgin olive oil if the flavor lends itself to it. And
in this particular case, we’re going to just pour a little bit of this
extra virgin olive oil into a bowl.

Nita: Now, is that about two tablespoons for one serving?

Jackie: More or less. It’s going to be a little less than that for one
serving, but I think for the volume we’re preparing today it’s about
right, which is going to be about two servings of this salad, depending
on whether you’re having it as a snack, which would work or an entree,
which would make life a lot easier.

Nita: Well I don’t like cooking so this is right up my alley.

Jackie: Well, watch how easy this is. A little bit of vinegar to
balance out the olive oil; now traditionally, and this is a fig-infused
vinegar, it’s just one of those kind of unique flavors that adds a
little bit of sweetness, naturally of course, no sugar. It’s a vinegar,
but it will balance out the olive oil and also a little bit of Dijon
mustard, which just adds a kick to the dressing. So, whisking all those
three things together very quickly…

Nita: I like a little kick in my meals.

Jackie: Yeah. Well, you’re Latin, right?

Nita: Yeah, so we like it spicy.

Jackie: You like it spicy.

Nita: I like my food like I like my men.

Jackie: Okay, well this is going to work in your world, then. And then
some of our salt and sugar free seasoning, this is our lemon garden
blend, which we think goes really nicely with this dish as well. So,
once you have your dressing done, and that’s all it is, just those four
ingredients; seasoning, oil, vinegar and mustard, we’re going to make
the salad. And basically these are cooked brown lentils. They’re the
easiest ones to cook. Twenty minutes and they’re done.

Nita: Yeah, but it literally takes like 30 seconds to prepare. You stick it
in a pan and you put the water and it’s easy. And speaking of the
spice, is that the NutriFit brand?

Jackie: It is. It is.

Nita: Okay. Because your spices, I’m telling you, I’ve been ordering a lot
of them off the site. They’re so good.

Jackie: Oh. Well, thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed them. I think they’re
great too, but you know I would because I thought of them. Some carrots
and we know carrots are very high in vitamin C. You talked about
vitamin C, how important it is for anti-aging.

Nita: Yes, it is.

Jackie: And muscle repair too, right?

Nita: Yes.

Jackie: That’s really important. Some celery for crunch and also to add
volume and fiber to the recipe; we like to put in just vegetables that
have good texture and good color. So we have some brown, some orange,
some green and some purple onions.

Nita: And the other thing with celery is that it’s actually a natural
diuretic; so when we’re having that time, women, when there’s a little
extra water the celery is good.

Jackie: It is, it is. It’s good. It helps squeeze a little moisture out
and then with those onions I always like to make sure there’s plenty of
parsley because that helps to clean the breath, it helps to digest, and
of course parsley is very high in vitamin C, right?

Nita: Yes.

Jackie: So some people think it’s just for decoration but you and I
know it’s good.

Nita: It’s good stuff.

Jackie: It’s good stuff. So, once you have your salad ingredients you
just pour the dressing over it and then we can toss it together. And
the other thing I like about this salad is that you can make it ahead
of time. And I know you have three kids, right?

Nita: Yes.

Jackie: That must put a tremendous…

Nita: We have to prepare food.

Jackie: Pressure on your time, right?

Nita: Yes.

Jackie: Now do they, are they lunchbox age? Do they take school
lunches? What do you do with that?

Nita: We have always done lunches ironically because my son had his
pancreas removed at birth. He is diabetic.

Jackie: Oh my goodness.

Nita: And so our meals are really scaled to fit lower carbohydrates, lower
glycemic carbs, higher fiber, higher protein and also he’s lactose
intolerant and so is my middle daughter. And so we stay away from very
much dairy. If we do any dairy it’s generally goat’s milk or goat’s
cheese and then we just do as much vegetables as possible. And my son
loves vegetables and he loves lentils

Jackie: This is right down your alley.

Nita: Yes, it is. It is.

Jackie: Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen these before, but I
found these amazing leaves. These are actually Brussels sprouts leaves.

Nita: What?

Jackie: Yeah. I know. Isn’t that outrageous? They’re just gorgeous and
they’re actually a new vegetable product that my guy found for me.

Nita: For NutriFit. That’s great.

Jackie: And they’re called Brussels sprouts leaves and I just think
they’re gorgeous and make such a pretty thing. And you know the other
thing I discovered about them is that they’re sweet as opposed to the
Brussels sprout which is kind of an astringent taste. It’s not for
everybody. Some people are very, it can be pretty polarizing. But these
are more in the cabbage family-well Brussels sprouts are in the cabbage
family, but these are milder, sweeter and I just love the awesome

Nita: It kind of like is with the bell peppers. The green ones have a
little kick but the red, yellow and orange are really sweet so this
would be along the same line.

Jackie: I think so. I think so, but there you go. It’s just that simple

Nita: That’s easy.

Jackie: of course that’s a large single portion or maybe enough for two
small lunches. And, you want to give it a quick taste?

Nita: Yeah. I was wondering if I was going to get to do that. I want to
chew on camera. I don’t want to make anybody have camera envy here.

Jackie: What do you think?

Nita: Hmm. I can’t talk. I want to go eat.

Jackie: Great. Well thank you so much for joining me and for sharing
the recipe. You know, I know that my audience would love to know how to
find out more about you, how to stay current with what’s new in Nita’s
world. Tell us how to find you.

Nita: Well, speaking of Nita’s world, that’s my website. It’s minus the parsley that’s in my mouth. That’s my
website. You can find out more about nutrition and my recommendations
regarding that on my blog. I do actually endorse Nitrify. I love their
products, I love their foods; the spices, if you like really tasty
food, which I do, but you don’t like cooking, those spices will give
anything life and just a wonderfully savory flavor.

Jackie: Oh, thank you. And what’s next for you, Nita? What’s on the

Nita: Well, I have a few things. I’m still at this point just waiting to
launch my next two books, which are catered to women specifically.

Jackie: That’s fabulous.

Nita: And one of them is for novice workout enthusiasts and maybe stay-at-
home moms or new moms and the second book is for intermediate fitness
enthusiasts who are really avid with the gym but maybe need some new
steps to really step it up.

Jackie: Fantastic.

Nita: So I’ve got that coming out soon and then on top of that I’m going to
be competing in fitness again this year after three years.

Jackie: Wow. That’s wonderful. What an inspiration.

Nita: Yeah, I haven’t done it in a while so I’m excited.

Jackie: Well, thank you so much for joining me. Good luck on

Nita: Thank you.

Jackie: We’ll stay connected and I appreciate your being here today.

Nita: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Jackie: Welcome to the last bite. This is the moment in the show when I
share with you a little helpful tip about how to make your life more
positive, happier and healthier. And today I’d like to share a little
tip with you about being mindful. And mindfulness is difficult in
today’s society. It really means being present in the moment, being
aware of your body, being aware of where you are emotionally, really
being in tune with yourself and living in the moment. So how do we do
that with all of the distractions that are out there, with all the
things that can sort of pull us in so many different directions and
send us so many different signals? We’re constantly bombarded by
stimulus. How do we just quiet the mind and bring it all to a sane
place? Well, there’s a simple system. It’s not mine originally. I’m not
sure who designed it, but I’ve customized the simple system that I like
to call HALTS. And it stands for H-A-L-T-S. H is for Hungry. Now
sometimes we don’t realize that we’re as hungry as we are and we
mistake other things for hunger or we mistake hunger for other things
so the first tip is to really sit with you and say “Am I really hungry?
Am I just eating out of anger; sometimes we’re frustrated, we’re angry,
we don’t realize it, but we reach for food. So it’s either hunger or
anger. The L, lonely; you know in today’s world we are again, a lot of
electronic communication, a lot of lack of human connectedness, L is
for lonely. Am I lonely? Is that what’s really going on here, and if
I’m lonely, what should I be doing? Should I really be eating? Should I
maybe reach out and call somebody, touch a friend, hug a dog, cuddle
with your kids, pick up the phone and call somebody that you haven’t
talked to in a long time. Sometimes it’s just that we’re lonely. And
other times it’s just that we’re T, which is tired. In the end it isn’t
that we’re hungry, it isn’t that we’re lonely, it’s that we’re just so
darn tired. So instead of reaching for food, instead of reaching for
wine, instead of reaching for coffee, maybe what we really need to do
is just allow our body to relax, take a quick nap. There’s a lot of
research that shows that power napping is really good for you. It
really energizes you. It helps you sharpen the saw just like exercise
does. It kind of cleans out the cobwebs and refreshes you. So if it is
that you are tired, that’s another thing to do instead of eating.

And finally, S for stress; you know, sometimes it’s nothing but the
over, kind of low level of anxiety that we feel that we recognize in
our body as stress and we are biologically designed to deal with our
stress by doing something physical, not by eating, not by sleeping, not
by hibernating but by getting out and being physical. Our physiology is
geared to it, so if it is Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, Fatigue or Stress,
being tired or being stressed, think about that HALTS system and the
next time you’re feeling really agitated, calm yourself down, take a
step back and ask yourself: what is going on with my body, and become
mindful. Be present in the moment. That’s a great way to increase your
happiness, to make your life a little smoother, a little healthier, a
little happier, and to help yourself look and feel as fabulous as you
are. That’s my tip for today. Thank you so much for joining me on Food
Exposed. Share this show with your friends, your family, your
associates, and don’t forget to tune in next week. For more Food
Exposed, check me out on EmpowerMe.TV and until next week remember,
make food your best friend and exercise your companion for life.