NIFS Healthy Living Blog

5 Thanksgiving Day Hacks

5 Thanksgiving Day Hacks [Infographic]

5ThanksgivingDayHacks

This blog was written by Tony Maloney, Health Fitness Specialist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise calories holidays weight management workout goals Thanksgiving

NIFS Lifestyle Program Participant: Kim Flowers

KimI’d like to take a few moments to highlight a member of the NIFS Lifestyle Program. This program provides extra guidance and observation to individuals with chronic medical concerns. NIFS’s Lifestyle Coordinator communicates with the participant’s physician about their progress and helps them plan workouts geared to their specific medical needs. Take a few minutes to read about Kim Flowers and learn how this program has changed her.

SHARE YOUR STORY OR A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF IN A FEW SENTENCES:

I am 48 years old and have been a member of the Lifestyle/Scholarship Program at NIFS for about five months. Currently I am on dialysis three times a week and am awaiting a kidney transplant. Due to diabetes I lost my leg, but I am coming to NIFS to turn all of this around and get healthier in all aspects of my life! My goal is to get back to work as a social worker once I receive my kidney.

SOMETHING YOU HAVE ENJOYED ABOUT BEING IN THE LIFESTYLE PROGRAM:

I have enjoyed getting out of the house and learning different ways to exercise. Even with the limitations that I have physically, I have enjoyed seeing how much I am able to do that I didn’t think was possible. Working out, something that I have not done in the past, is giving me more overall energy. It is helping me to get stronger, and helping me in my everyday tasks, which sometimes are difficult with a prosthetic.

SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE LEARNED OR SURPRISED YOU:

After getting my general fitness assessment, I learned and was surprised at the amount of fat I have in my body and that could cause me to have serious health issues. I am learning ways to work on getting my body fat to a more acceptable level.

FAVORITE THING TO DO FOR A WORKOUT:

All of it! I really do enjoy everything that we do. Though some things are harder than others and really stretch my abilities, there is not one thing that Amanda has me do that I don’t like. I really enjoy working out with Amanda and it has made a difference in my life.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS SO FAR:

I am able to do exercises that I was not able to do in the beginning. I have also increased my endurance. Being on dialysis and having a prosthetic makes it challenging to keep up my heart health, but I can tell when I am walking that I am able to last a lot longer than I could before*.

*Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

THINGS LEARNED FROM YOUR TRAINER ALONG THE WAY:

I have learned about better eating habits, how to use the machines at NIFS correctly, and how to make exercise a part of my life.

WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED:

This is something that I want and that I know I need to do in order to help myself. It is helping me to take steps to my goal of getting my kidney and starting a new life.

I have really enjoyed being a part of the Lifestyle/Scholarship Program at NIFS. I am so thankful for the opportunity to participate in something that without others’ help I would not be able to do. Even once I hit my goal, I want to keep going! I want to say thank you to every person who helps to make this program possible.

NIFS Lifestyle/Scholarship Program

One component of the Lifestyle Program is that there is a scholarship opportunity for those involved. Many of these people have physical limitations and are unable to work. NIFS has a scholarship fund on a needs basis, allowing participants the opportunity to get the help and guidance they need. Currently NIFS funds 16 scholarships to program participants.

To help sustain our current scholarships and increase the opportunities to fund additional ones, NIFS organizes an annual auction. We need your help to continue to provide this gift to those who need it! Please consider bidding in the seventh annual online auction.

AuctionImageVisit the auction website beginning November 24 at 8:00am and concluding on December 15 at 8:00pm and see what great items you can bid on!

For questions about the Lifestyle Scholarship program or the online auction please contact Amanda Bireline at 317-274-3432 ext. 219 or abireline@nifs.org.

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Lifestyle Program Coordinator and Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise nutrition goal setting NIFS programs endurance diabetes

Three Elements to Include in Your Training for Running a Faster 5K

147861285So you have the running bug! You have now completed a few 5K races after years of debating whether you would even be able to finish one, and now you want to run faster. Congratulations on being one of over 8 million people to complete a 5K last year!

If you are like many new racers, your training up to this point has consisted of just being able to complete the 5K distance, and it has allowed you to accomplish your goal of completing the race. Now you want to step it up and get faster at the distance but you are not sure how to do this. Here are three basic training elements that you can incorporate into your training plan right away that will guarantee faster 5K times.

1. Build a Base

To be faster, you will need to be able to run longer than just the distance of the race, so improving upon your endurance is a huge factor. This does not mean that you need to go out and run a ton of extra miles right away, but you want to start increasing the duration of your runs as well as the number of runs you are completing each week. Building a base is a gradual progression and you should ease into it. Start out by just adding in an additional mile to one of your runs or an extra day of running to your weekly plan.

2. Run Strides

A stride is one of the easiest ways for your body to learn to run fast. Strides improve your efficiency and are a key step in teaching your body to run faster than normal. A stride is a short run of around 100m that you gradually increase your speed through until the last 20m, when you gradually slow back down. Strides are not an all-out sprint. You should be hitting your top speed for only a few seconds about ¾ of the way into the stride.

To start, add four 100m strides to the end of one of your easy runs each week. You can gradually bump this up to six to eight strides one or two times each week.

3. Complete Intervals at Race Pace

Naturally, you are going to start getting through your 5Ks a little faster the more comfortable you are with the race. But if you have a specific time goal in mind, you have to run that pace during your training. Interval training is an essential element to being faster on race day. Intervals vary in length and speed based on the goal for that workout, but a workout to incorporate right away is 800m repeats. Determine what your goal pace is for the race and complete four 800m runs at race pace with 2 minutes of rest between each one. Your body will now know what the pace feels like.

To make this workout more challenging, bump yourself up to six sets and take only 1 minute of rest in between. You can play with the distances, paces, and recovery time of interval workouts, but they are critical to improving your speed.                    

Determine how fast you want to run your next 5K and start training toward that goal. Pace charts and training calculators can help you determine how fast you ran your last race and how fast you should be running your intervals. Start out with an attainable goal of just a minute or two faster than your last race and see where you can go from there. Make this year your year to hit that big personal record you have been aiming for in the 5K.

Mini-logo-2016-final.jpgCross the finish line with us this Spring! The 26th Annual Mini Marathon & 5K Training Program starts January 27–May 9, 2016. Training is at 6pm at NIFS downtown. Take advantage of our early bird discount and be entered to win free training!

early-bird-2015.jpg

Visit our website or contact Amanda Bireline for more information.

This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running marathon training mini marathon half marathon

The Fitness Puzzle: Nutrition, Workout, and Recovery

460050857Along the way, I have learned that fitness and wellness can seem quite complicated. Various mentors, self-described gurus, professors, doctors, and muscle magazines have provided us all with enough quick fixes, miracle workouts, and “sound” advice to help us become the person we want to become (and also fill an encyclopedia). Probably the best advice anyone has given me would be the old saying, “Find something you love to do, do it, and do it well.” If you do not love any form of fitness, whether it is ice hockey or Zumba, at least find something that you can put up with, such as outdoor hiking or gardening, and do it well.

There can be any number of pieces to a puzzle, but we will focus on three. While missing puzzle pieces make it harder to see the big picture, having no puzzle pieces makes it impossible to see your potential outcome. On the other hand, with all three pieces of this puzzle in place, there is no reason you will be unable to fulfill your goals and realize your potential.

The Pieces of the Puzzle

Here are the pieces:

  1. Nutrition: Most importantly, you should be aware of the number of calories you are consuming each day, how frequently are you eating, and the quality of food you are eating. There are registered dietitians who specialize in nearly every aspect of wellness, whether it is for weight loss or sports nutrition.
  2. The Workout: Comprised of both resistance training and cardiovascular work, we always seem to think this is the hard part, but it can be easier than you think. Think about how many hours there are in a week (168). Then think about how many hours you are recommended to exercise each week (a minimum of 2.5). Also, you have a built-in support network when you work out with friends, and especially with instructors there to help along the way. (Here are more reasons to work out with friends or a group.)
  3. Recovery: Recovery is not always associated with the big picture, but it’s equally important. This encompasses everything from getting a good night’s sleep, to getting a massage or foam rolling, to proper hydration. Really, all that matters here is readying your body properly for another workout, maximizing your potential, and decreasing chances for injury.

The Pieces Work Together

Getting back to the puzzle analogy: If I were to have an amazing two-hour workout but then followed it up with gas station pizza and then pulled an all-nighter with my buddies, I’m probably not going to see results. That example goes without saying, but there are plenty of distracters out there to sabotage your puzzle and big picture.

Focus on your weakest puzzle pieces and try to make them one of your strengths. Understand that there will be slipups and hiccups along the way, but ultimately, if you can find the three puzzle pieces of the fitness analogy, there will be very little that stands between you and fitness prosperity.

This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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Topics: exercise fitness nutrition motivation goal setting group fitness recovery

Overcoming Stress, Exhaustion, and Overtraining

Kris-1Are you having one of those days (or weeks, or months) where you feel like the gerbil on the wheel? You are going along just fine, and then a stressful situation crops up and you to need to spin the wheel faster. Soon, that’s not fast enough. When you finally realize you are going to be thrown off the wheel if you stop, it hits you: you’re exhausted. I get this way every few months.

It doesn’t take much, as you look back, to see how all the mess got started. But we are here for solutions, so let’s find a plan to get us out of the wheel safely.

Take a Break or Try Relaxation Techniques

A weeks’ vacation would be great at this time, but most of us cannot just get up and go. What we can do is plan a short vacation or “staycation” for a long weekend or one day of the week. For me, it helps if I can involve my family, as we seem to be together less and less during these stressful times.

If a vacation week, weekend, or day off is not possible, you need to find time each day for meditation, reflection, and relaxation. Now, I am not about legs crossed and chants, but finding a quiet time and place where you can just STOP is a good place to begin your unwinding.

Deep breathing will help you get to a calmer place. I am not setting a time limit on this, so do as much as you can. Sit quietly and listen to your breath: good, long inhales and longer exhales. Fill your lungs and diaphragm, feeling your belly rise and fall with the breath. Do not think of anything, and try to block out your distractions. Music, it has been said, can calm the savage beast; well, you and I are that beast and we need calm, so that may help.

Here’s another blog about deep-breathing exercises for stress relief.

We cannot determine how stress adds to our weight gain or failure to lose, but it does factor in. If you can find a calm place to take yourself, to get rid of this stress, you will feel better, and thus your body will react better.

Overtraining, Stress and Your Heart Rate

“I’m not overtrained; I’m just not fit.” No, you probably are overtrained and need a break. One good way to tell is to take your heart rate first thing in the morning. (Make sure you don’t have full bladder, or it will raise your heart rate.) When you are rested, recovered, and feeling good, that’s the best time to figure out your rate. If your rate is up three to five beats, you need a break. So if you start now when you know you are stressed, try to take your rate a few days in a row, as you are taking it easy. See whether the morning rate drops.

Usually we don’t need to do the heart rate test very often (one time every two weeks or so), but in the beginning take it for a few days (three to five if possible) to get an idea where you are at.

Overtraining can cause injuries. See what the NIFS experts say about some of these types of injuries here.

A Plan for Resting on “Taper Weeks”

Most runners will tell you that taper week is the toughest week to train. Basically, this week you rest and cut down your running to be ready for race day. There is a great quote about this: “It is better to be over-rested than under-recovered.” Your body is calling (perhaps screaming) for a break, and you are going to have to learn to back down the exercise for a good week and possibly more.

In my mind, two weeks would be crazy, lazy, fattening, and maddening, but this is the bargain I have made with myself (thanks to my training partners for playing along): one week of easy, short workouts; the next will be more challenging and fun. All intense work will be very short, 15 to 20 seconds with long breaks (up to three times as long).

After my hiatus I would like to get on a race training plan or a strength plan and start at it full bore. For now I am going to nap, eat well, go as hard as I can, OR LESS, and enjoy the freedom from any strenuous workouts. If you are feeling the same, I hope you will join me!

This blog was written by Kris Simpson, NIFS Personal Trainer. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

When your ready to start your race planning for 2015 cross the finish line with us! The 25th Annual Mini Marathon & 5K Training Program starts January 21–May 6, 2015. Training is Wednesdays at 6pm at NIFS downtown.

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Topics: stress marathon training injury prevention overtraining

Looking to Unplug? Running and Walking May Be Your Solution!

178630728If you are like the majority of Americans, your work is strongly reliant on the use of computers, smartphones, webinars, and other electronic devices and digital technology. Along with this, the use of social media, text messaging, and email to interact with our friends and family is also at an all-time high—not to mention the number of hours spent in front of a television. With the combination of these things, the need to unplug from our technology has never been greater.

Fitness Centers Are Full of Technology

Take a look around your fitness facility or your home gym and count the number of devices that incorporate technology, along with the technology that you carry on yourself while you exercise. Your cardio pieces probably have a television; your gym may have an electronic device that tells you which machine to move to next, or even an electronic personal trainer. Along with this you have your smartphone attached to your arm listening to music; checking email; and texting your friends, family, and colleagues, as well as your Fitbit telling you how many more steps you need to take. It is time to unplug!

Get Outside and Unplug!

With all of this technology constantly bombarding me, I find that one of the greatest perks about going for a run outside is actually being able to unplug from all of this. It is one of the few opportunities left in my day where I can truly unplug with no distractions. Not only do I get to enjoy the weather and scenery, and reap the health and fitness benefits, but now I also get a break from technology! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all of the benefits that technology has brought to our world, but I still believe that having time away from it and actually interacting with others needs to be a priority.

Being unplugged has also brought me closer to friends and introduced me to new friends who share my passion for being active. Sure, I still send my running buddy a text message or give her a call, but it is generally to arrange a time for us to meet for our next run, where our real conversations happen.

I know what many of you are thinking: “There is no way I could run without my music!” Yes, listening to your music does count and I know many of you like to “zone out” with your music, but try running without it for a few weeks. The first few runs will feel very off, but after a week or so I guarantee you will start to enjoy taking in what is around you and enjoy the break from the constant stimulus that technology feeds you all day.

Mini-logo-option-newMy advice to you is to use running or walking outdoors as a means to unplug from technology, and use that time in your day to either be with yourself and take in the outdoors or spend it with others who also want to be active and are looking for a way to unplug. If you think going for a run or walk on your own is boring or that you need music as a distraction, consider joining a training group such as the Mini Marathon and 5K Training Program, where you will have the opportunity to run and walk with others, bringing back social interaction outside of technology. You would be surprised by the number of connections you can make if you take some time to unplug and interact with others.

Cross the finish line with us this Spring! The 25th Annual Mini Marathon & 5K Training Program starts January 21–May 6, 2015. Training is at 6pm at NIFS downtown. Take advantage of our early bird discount and be entered to win free training!

 

early-bird-final

This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: motivation running walking group training outdoors

Smart Snacking for Healthy Eating and Weight Management

184366974Some people think that snacking can sabotage your healthy eating and weight management plan. However, snacking keeps your energy levels up, and prevents you from becoming overly hungry, which can lead to poor food choices. Eating every three to four hours can also help regulate your metabolism, which ensures that you burn calories throughout the day. Strive for at least two small snacks per day, but try to limit yourself to 100 to 150 calories or less per snack.

Also, be sure your snack is balanced: it should offer complex carbohydrates for energy, protein for muscle building and repair, and a small amount of fat for satiety. You can ensure nutritional balance and prevent snack boredom by varying your daily choices.

The Benefits of Snacks

You may feel guilty about snacking, but snacks aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, mini meals several times a day can be beneficial. Here’s how:

  • Binge control: If eating several low-fat, whole-grain crackers, a few pretzels, a piece of fruit, or some raw vegetables keeps you from taking second or third helpings at your next meal, you may actually consume fewer total calories for the day.
  • Extra energy and nutrients: Traditional, made-at-home meals often lose out to busy schedules. A grab-and-go snack can be the difference between some nourishment and none at all.
  • Satisfaction for small appetites: Young children’s tiny stomachs can hold only small portions of food at a time. Older adults who are less active and who burn fewer calories also may feel comfortable eating smaller meals more frequently.

Healthy Snack Choices

Here are some great snack choices:

  • 6 oz. fat-free yogurt topped with 1 cup of berries
  • ¾ cup whole-grain cereal with nut and dried-fruit trail mix
  • 1 apple and 1 oz. low-fat cheese
  • 1 cup yogurt smoothie made with real fruit
  • 1 oz. baked tortilla chips with ¼ cup bean dip
  • 2 oz. low-fat cheese on 5 whole-grain crackers
  • 1 whole-wheat tortilla with 1 oz. melted cheese and ¼ cup salsa
  • 1 cup raw vegetables and 2 Tbsp. low-fat dip or hummus
  • 1 Tbsp. nut butter on a banana
  • 1 cup berries topped with ¼ cup low-fat granola cereal
  • ¼ cup whole-grain cereal and ¼ cup raisins with ¼ cup skim milk
  • ¾ cup pasta salad made with raw veggies, cheese, and low-fat dressing
  • ¼ pita pocket stuffed with raw vegetables and 1 slice low-fat cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat vegetable-bean soup
  • ½ turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • 1 handful almonds and ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup cottage cheese and ½ cup pineapple
  • ½ peanut butter/banana sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • ½ toasted whole wheat English muffin topped with a slice of tomato and low-fat cheese

For more tips on eating well and feeling great, especially after age 40, check out this post.

If you are interested in having your questions answered during a personal nutrition consultation, please contact me at ascheetz@nifs.org or 317-274-3432, ext 239. Learn more about Nutrition and Wellness services at NIFS.

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Topics: nutrition weight loss snacks metabolism weight management