Chop, Crunch, Simmer, Squat

Nancy Lemieux’s Cookercise workout doesn’t involve bench-pressing a 15-1/2-quart, minestrone-filled Le Creuset Dutch oven (which weighs in at 26 pounds when it’s empty), but it does offer instructions on burning calories without leaving your kitchen.

The Orlando Sentinel recently published a recipe and accompanying workout called “Hoppin’ Halibut” and explains the structure of Lemieux’s book, Cookercise: The Cooking Workout:

[D]epending on the dish, you may do several knee-to-chest lifts while ingredients are simmering, then add pasta, reduce heat to medium and step back for four more minutes of lifting. Or, you may toss asparagus in a strainer and slip in one minute of tummy crunches.

The whimsically dubbed ‘Chick with Shapely Shoulders’ recipe, for instance, combines cooking chicken tenders with a shoulder workout.

The book includes pictures of the proper form for each exercise and comes with a CD that you can listen to while you cook and work out. If you’ve got to see it to believe it, YouTube offers a clip of Lemieux working out in her kitchen with her young daughter.

As someone who is constantly trying to balance exercise and eating, I understand the desire to squeeze in a few squats here and there. But for me, the contentment I feel when doing yoga or cooking dinner stems from the single-mindedness of each activity. Whether I’m chopping onions or finding my downward dog, I enjoy the meditative state of focusing on a single task. Plus, if I’m doing crunches while my sauce is simmering, who’s gonna wash off my cutting boards and set the table?

Of course, Cookercise might work for the devoted multitaskers among us, but I’m holding out for the workout video that teaches me how to use my cast iron cookware as free weights.

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