Tips to Keep Moo-ving this Winter

By Lacey Zuck

Hi all,

Congrats on taking a step to further your health and wellness journey, either by chance of finding this article or by participating in the Live Healthy Iowa 10 Week Wellness Challenge! 

My name is Lacey Zuck, and I’m a farmHER, fitness junkie and lover of all thing beef (and beer and biceps). I reside on a cow and calf operation with my husband Josh, trio of cowpups, a diverse flock of feathered friends and beefy bovine herd. Fun fact: Josh and I met showing livestock against each other at the county fair!

Our operation is diverse in both breeds and purpose. We sell show calves, locker beef, onsite meat sales and finished feeder cattle. While my personal life stays rooted in agriculture, I maintain my professional career in healthcare informatics as an application analyst with Unity Point.

I grew up just a few miles from my now home on what is a less-than-traditional farm. Along with the Holstein dairy, corn and soybean portion of our operation, my parents also raised exotic animals! Buffalo, elk, lions, cougars and bears… OH MY! Throughout my childhood, farm life provided so many opportunities to stay active. We were constantly mucking stalls, baling hay and playing by the creek.

Once I left the farm for college, I received an unexpected present… “The Freshman 15.” And in the years that followed, my desk-based career continued that trend in an upward manner. At age 25, I was at my heaviest, taking blood pressure medications and suffering from frequent migraines. I decided it was time for a change and started to make my health a priority! I started with the simplest and cheapest activity I could think of – running. 

Lacing up for that first “run” (which to be honest was more of a slow walk), I never would have imagined it would turn into representing Team Beef Iowa in 15 half marathons in 12 states, becoming a bikini competitor, losing 50 pounds and owning my own online health and fitness business.

A day in our home starts at 4 a.m. because it’s the only uninterrupted part of the day! No one is calling, emails can wait and the dogs are typically willing to keep sleeping. I start each day with a quick gratitude reflection and then lace up my shoes. What started with a set of five-pound weights now includes two benches, two sets of adjustable weights and my husband (most mornings)! During my time living in cities like Houston and Columbus, getting to a gym was easy because there was one on every block! Moving back to rural Iowa made it a little more complicated to keep up with my fitness goals. It felt like morning chores, unpredictable calving schedules and commutes with bad weather could easily get in the way of my goals. So how does someone with a full-time job, beefy responsibilities and a fitness business stay on top of her own wellness? At-home workouts! 

Beyond the scale and physical transformations, fitness has improved our abilities on the farm. Farm life is physical and we are more than up to the daily challenges of throwing bales, halter breaking calves, scraping bunks, mucking pens and calving cows. The past few months, my strength (both mental and physical) has been challenged by halter breaking calves for the next generation of stock show kids. I’m grateful to be in good enough shape to finally follow through with my dad’s rule: “Don’t let go of the rope!” 

Last year, I decided to show the awesome benefits of beef by trading in my jeans and boots for an itty-bitty bikini and some too-high heels… I competed in my first bikini figure competition! What better way to show the value of a product than be a “product of a product”? I used this experience to show others the nutritional value of beef by consuming a beef product and/or byproduct every day during my training. Sirloin, ground hamburger and ribeyes dominated the menu, but I also enjoyed a range of proteins including pork, chicken and salmon. While most competitors were eating bland chicken, rice and broccoli combos, I was enjoying meals like this ground beef favorite: Rock and Roll Beef Wraps from the Beef It’s What’s for Dinner website.

Please note, by clicking the links you will be leaving a partially funded checkoff site. 

I’m so excited to be part of the Iowa Food & Family Project’s Farm Team for the Live Health Iowa 10 Week Wellness Challenge. This challenge paired up perfectly with the kickoff to this year’s bikini competition preparations and our busiest time at home… calving season. 

I love sharing an inside look at our farm, fitness and family on social media and invite you to come along for the ride. You can find me on Instagram at @CattleandCardio.

Keep MOO-ving this winter!