NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Healthy Eating While Traveling

ThinkstockPhotos-494262007Whether you are traveling for business or for pleasure, it typically means you eat most meals out or on the go. It can be challenging to make the most balanced choices and keep your eating on the right track. You want to try foods that are special to that region, you are busy and grabbing the first thing that sounds good, and you don’t have access to a grocery store for more fresh foods; these can all be challenges while traveling.

Tips for Healthy Eating on Vacation

Following these tips will help you enjoy your food choices and not derail all of your hard work!

  • Drink plenty of good-for-you fluid. This includes water, tea, decaf coffee, 100% juice, and milk. Staying hydrated will help to keep your metabolism working efficiently, flush out the sodium from restaurant meals, and keep you hydrated when traveling can zap that from you. 
  • If you are splurging, keep it to one per meal. There is nothing wrong with trying foods that you might only get on vacation. However, if every meal is a splurge without any of the good-for-you foods that your body requires, this can be a problem! Allow yourself the ice cream cone, but one scoop will do! Enjoy the bacon cheeseburger, but pair it with a side salad. Always try to scour the menu and choose the one thing you really want and then balance your plate to fit the 3-food-group-per-meal rule.
  • Pack snacks from home. This can help keep you satisfied between meals so you are more in control when sitting down to a meal. Make sure to eat every 3 to 5 hours and choose snacks that have fiber and/or protein to help keep you full. Easy and portable snacks to pack include nuts, trail mix, fresh or dried fruit, snack-size protein bars, and peanut butter sandwiches.

Plan Ahead for Better Nutrition While Traveling

Here are some final tips to keep in mind while traveling:

  • Request a refrigerator in your room to keep healthy perishable snacks and meals.
  • Bring a water bottle with you to fill up at rest stops or after security at the airport.
  • Keep alcohol in moderation. 
  • Avoid minibars in hotel rooms. 
  • Visit the local grocery store once you’ve arrived at your destination. Stock up on healthy snacks and convenient meals. (This is better for your budget, too!)
  • Research menus ahead of time. 

However, the most important tip is everything in moderation! Enjoy your travels, try something new, and get out there and explore the new city!

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This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating snacks hydration traveling

The Benefits of Incorporating Resistance Bands into Your Workout

bands-1If you have spent any amount of time in the gym lately, I am sure you have seen a lot of people using exercise bands for part of their workout. When looking at a flimsy, thin exercise band, many would think, “Okay, what type of workout will that even give me?” Studies have shown that workouts using exercise bands will increase muscle strength and size while helping decrease fat, similar to using free weights.

How Bands Improve Your Workout

So, whether you are in CXWORX, working out in a HIT class, or doing something on your own, using resistance bands can add significant benefits into your workout. Here are the top things they can do:

  • Provide resistance: Just like using a weight to make an exercise more difficult to do, resistance bands help to provide tension and resistance to challenge you in your workout.
  • Allow free range of motion: Doing exercises in the full range of motion is important because it helps in injury prevention. Training in full ROM puts positive stress on your connective tissue and will decrease the chance of injury.
  • Allow progressive speeds and tension without changing equipment: Adapting an exercise while using a resistance band couldn’t get any easier! With a simple step forward or backward, the tension on the band will significantly change, allowing the exercise to become easier or more difficult.
  • Easily packable for road trips or a space saver: This is the most obvious one of all; resistance bands don’t take up a lot of space, so even if you have always dreamed of that “home gym,” you can get a few bands and still make it work without a lot of equipment. It goes without saying that this is a huge cost saver.
  • Get a total body workout: Any fitness professional will tell you that you can get a full-body workout simply by using a resistance band. From biceps to triceps, back to chest, glutes to quads, and everything in between, using a band will change the idea of using 200 items to get in a full workout!

Change Up Your Workout

If you are trying to think of ways to change up your workout, think about throwing some resistance band training in there. You can ask any of the health fitness specialists at NIFS to show you some exercises or put you through a routine. 

Need help setting up a workout program? Schedule a free assessment today!

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

Topics: equipment injury prevention muscles range of motion resistance Les Mills

Are You Ready to Race a Triathlon?

Tri-training-Are-you-ready3
Topics: exercise running swimming triathlon race competition biking

Five Things to Do Before EVERY Workout

5-things-to-do-newI consider myself a group fitness junkie. While I either teach or complete a group fitness class most days of the week and feel very comfortable and confident taking a wide range of classes, I remember the days when I was SUPER nervous about stepping foot into unfamiliar territory.

To this day, there are five things I do as preparation before every single group fitness class to help ensure that I get the most out of my workout and have a blast while doing it!

1. Map it out.

If I am attending a new-to-me class at a studio I have never been to, I make sure to figure out where the studio or fitness center is a day or two before the class. I also call to ask about parking. Many fitness centers have their own parking lots, but some rely on street parking or reimburse you after you pay. Are there showers? If not and you need to shower, it’s good to know this ahead of time so you don’t wind up in a bind! It’s a huge stress reliever and timesaver to figure out those details ahead of time.

2. Pack my bag and pick out my workout gear the night before.

As an avid morning worker outer, laying out my clothing and gear the night before is crucial, so that I don’t forget anything while I’m a bit groggy at 5 a.m. That being said, I pick out my clothes and gear the day before even if my workout isn’t in the morning! I find that it makes it easier to get there and it’s one less thing to worry about when I’m already a little nervous about trying a new-to-me class. I also do this with classes I have been to over and over again. I would hate to forget something or run late because I couldn’t find something that I needed. 

3. Arrive early.

Maybe it’s just me, but I like to “get in the zone” before a workout. Arriving at a class 10 to 15 minutes early allows ample time to speak with the instructor (if I’m new or have an injury he or she needs to know about), get out any necessary equipment, meet my neighbors, relax, and get a good spot!

4. Set a mental and personal goal.

If you’ve attended a yoga class, most classes ask you to “set an intention” for your practice. I have found that this is a great habit to get into for any fitness setting, whether it’s a boot camp class, BODYPUMP, yoga, Pilates, or small-group training. Setting a goal at the beginning may seem intimidating at first, but I find that it really helps me keep focus when my body is tired and my mind wants to give up on the last couple of reps.

Some example goals that help me get the most out of my workout are the following: 

  • Having fun.
  • Pushing through one more rep when I want to give up.
  • Increasing the weight I lift by a certain number of pounds.
  • Listening to my body and modifying if necessary.
5. Hydrate! 

It’s so important to drink enough water, especially when being active. I make sure to set out my water bottle the night before with all of my other gear, and I take a few sips while I head into class. It is ideal to drink about 20 oz. of water 2 to 3 hours before class, but if you wake up and work out first thing, do what you can. Drink another 10 to 15 oz. of water 30 to 60 minutes prior to class, and attempt to drink around 8 oz. of water within a half hour of exercising. Trust me, your body needs it! 

Ready to try a group fitness class at NIFS? Not a member? Try a class for free today!

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This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, contributing writer, group fitness instructor, and author of healthy living blog Treble in the Kitchen.

 

Topics: goal setting group fitness workouts hydration

Where Do “They” Come Up with These Exercise Names?

Salutations, NIFS friends. Whether you have been working out for 30 years or are brand new to fitness, one mystery that normally goes unsolved is “Where did they come up with the name for that exercise?” Sometimes it’s pretty self-explanatory (such as biceps curl), but other times it can be quite misleading (for example, Burpee). Then when you have met several different trainers, maybe they call the same thing something different (such as torso rotations versus Russian twists). It can be downright confusing.

Here we will explore a few of my favorite mystery exercises and dig a little deeper into their backstories.

Jumping Jacksjumping-jack

So, who invented the jumping jack, and where did it originate? I should preface that by saying that it is really hard to invent exercises, at least classic, iconic ones like “the pushup,” “the sit-up,” and “the jumping jack.” That being said, we really want to credit the jumping jack to the great Jack LaLanne. Although LaLanne made the exercise popular, it was already in use by the U.S. military and gets its name from a traditional toy in which a string is pulled and the arms and legs spread into a star or jumping-jack position. 

Burpees

Another exercise that carries some notoriety for name confusion is the Burpee. To a lot of people, the Burpee sounds like a made-up name for this brutal exercise. Prior to doing Burpees for the first time, you might snicker at the idea of doing some crazy Dr. Seuss-like movement, but then you do them and your opinion changes quickly. 

So, where do Burpees come from? Apparently, in the 1930s, Dr. Royal H. Burpee (sounds made up, right?) at Columbia University invented the Burpee as part of a PhD thesis. His Burpee test was meant to simplify fitness assessments and was used by the U.S. military. Nowadays, the Burpee is mostly associated with cruel and unusual personal trainers.

Turkish Getups

The Turkish Getup is in a category all by itself when it comes to mysteries. To some, it closely resembles a strongman wearing a leopardskin Onesie and handlebar mustache performing for a traveling-circus sideshow. 

As deep as that sounds, finding the exact origins of the Turkish Getup was even more challenging. It is thought to have originated in Turkey hundreds of years ago and to have been passed down from generation to generation to modern times, where it is primarily done with a kettlebell in either a kettlebell class or a during a CrossFit session. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the Turkish Getup’s reputation as one of the most intricate movements in all of fitness.

***

What are some names that have perplexed you or even made you laugh out loud? Share in the comments below for an open discussion and maybe you can “stump the trainer.”

Whether you call it a squat press or a thruster, one thing we always want to make sure of is safety. Your NIFS health fitness professional will ensure you’re getting a great, safe workout regardless of what you call it. Schedule a free assessment today!

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

 

Topics: exercise cardio fitness center injury prevention kettlebell personal training exercises core strength CrossFit

Should You Be Buying Organic Fruits and Vegetables?

ThinkstockPhotos-86533186This is always a hot topic and a debate that many people have strong opinions about: should I be buying organic produce? Unfortunately, I don’t have the definite answer for you, either. What I can do is give you some facts and let you decide whether buying organic foods is right for you and your family.

  • Organic produce does not have more vitamins and minerals than non-organic produce. 
  • Organics have a 30% lower risk of pesticide residue than non-organic produce.
  • Organic produce typically costs three times the amount that conventional produce costs.
  • Purchasing fruits and vegetables from the local farmer’s market is an option for getting more cost-effective organic foods.
  • Small amounts of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during fetal development and childhood. 
Pesticide Residue Rankings

Still confused? Each year the Environmental Working Group identifies foods that have the highest and lowest pesticide residues. Here is a list in order, starting with the highest level of pesticide from 2015:

  1. Apples
  2. Peaches
  3. Nectarines
  4. Strawberries
  5. Grapes
  6. Celery
  7. Spinach
  8. Bell peppers
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Imported sugar snap peas
  12. Potatoes
  13. Hot peppers
  14. Kale/collard greens

Here is a list of foods that are least likely to contain contaminants:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Frozen peas
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet potatoes

When glancing at these two lists, you can see that items on the first list all have edible skins, whereas the skins of the majority of foods on the second list are discarded. 

Ways to Reduce Pesticide Residues

Thoroughly washing produce is one way to guarantee you are washing away remaining pesticide residues (pesticides absorbed through roots can’t be washed off, however). Peeling the skins off fruit is another way to decrease the amount of residue; however, you lose nutrients when you throw out the skin. 

Take all of this information into account when deciding between organics and non-organics, and then make the choice that best fits your beliefs and budget!

This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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Topics: healthy eating disease prevention clean eating organic foods

Finding the Motivation to Swim Pays Off!

swim-blognewYou have heard it over and over again: If you are not swimming, you are missing out on a great low-impact, total-body workout. If you were sore from beating yourself up from running on the roads or lifting earlier in the week, you will find yourself feeling much better after a good swim.

If you are like me, though, swimming is not your first choice of exercise, and you find it hard to find the motivation to get to the pool when there are so many other options that you find more enjoyable. 

I am fortunate enough to have a great group of ladies who are committed to heading over to the IU Natatorium twice a week to get in a good swim session. Swimming is not my favorite fitness activity, but it has grown on me and I know that it has great health and fitness benefits*. So I have convinced myself that I need to do it! Even though we are all very committed and consistent with our swimming, we still try to talk each other out of it.

Common discussion and thoughts before and on our way to the pool:

  • Are we really going? Why are going? What if we just go run or bike or lift or do yoga instead?
  • I can’t go today. I just went spray tanning.
  • I think Starbucks is open?
  • Cold walk all the way over there! Can we go to the steam room, sauna, or whirlpool instead (or before)? 
  • I really shouldn’t even go until I get my new suit, which will be on its way as soon as I order it.
  • Wait, should we check to see if the pool is closed today?
  • Am I out of visits? Too bad if I am, because I don’t have my wallet.
  • Oh no, there are no empty lanes. Maybe we should do this another time?
  • The water is so cold…is this colder than it usually is? Why are we doing this? Can we go get coffee instead? It’s not too late!
  • Is the warm pool open today?
  • We have been sitting here with our feet in for 15 minutes. If we don’t get in soon, we will have to leave.
What we are thinking during the workout:
  • What is the workout again? 
  • If I can get through this, I can have coffee after.
  • This is hard. I can’t breathe. My arms are tired. Why I am not getting better?
  • I kind of need to use the restroom…I think I can hold it…I better just hold it.
  • Why do I do this to myself?
  • This pool got really hot all of the sudden.
  • Wow, I’m getting better at this! I am fast!
What we talk about and think about after:
  • That was great! I feel so much better than I did before we started.
  • I am awesome!
  • When are we coming back this week?
  • What is our next workout? I think I need more speed work next week.
  • I really need to buy longer fins and a new swim cap.
  • I am going to sleep good tonight.
  • I can’t wait for this warm shower and lunch.
  • Why do we complain so much? I now understand why people have a hard time committing to exercise. But it feels great at the end!
  • Another one in the books!*Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.
This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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Topics: motivation swimming accountability nifs staff attitude

The Importance of Recovery After Exercise

ThinkstockPhotos-184767539One of the most important elements of performance and exercise is rest, and it’s also one of the hardest things to do! According to ACE (a fitness governing body), recovery is the most important part of any person’s program. Taking time to rest your body can be challenging mentally, but rest has significant physical benefits.

The Recovery Stage

To get better at a sport or to enhance your personal fitness, you must expose your body to stresses. Different stresses include training and exercise programs like weightlifting, sprinting, endurance runs, etc. But upon completion of these stresses the human body needs to adapt to the stresses it just underwent, and this is where we get the recovery stage. 

Neglecting the recovery stage can lead to injuries. Many programs have built-in rest days, but if you are creating your own program to follow, be sure to find where to fit one in! It’s essential to listen to your body and gauge how you are feeling as well. If you are physically worn out, take a rest.

It’s Worth Making the Time for Rest

So maybe this is enough to get you to take a day or two off a week. But I know there are still some of you out there saying, “Okay, Amanda, thanks for the tip, but I’m in the middle of training hard right now for the half Ironman in Wisconsin, so I can’t afford to take a day of rest.” Let’s take a look at the benefits of recovery on the body. 

The whole purpose of recovery in exercise is to allow your muscles to repair themselves and to engage muscles that are sore from your workout. There are also different things that you can do during the recovery stage to help move the process along and come out ready to perform better than your pre-rest stage. 

Top 5 Recovery Techniques

Here are some things to keep in mind and apply while recovering:

Rest: Now we are talking about actual rest, sleep. This is one of the most important ways to get your body to quickly recover from the physical and mental demands of hard training.

Hydration and eating: One of the most vital aspects of both training and recovery is being properly hydrated. And nourishment falls right in line with hydration. Food helps to restore the body’s energy supply, so try to eat good, healthy options at the right windows of time to enhance your performance and recovery.

Massages: Getting a massage helps to loosen up muscles, increase oxygen and blood flow into muscles, remove lactic acid buildup (which is what makes you sore), and deliver nutrients from your body to your muscle.

Contrast therapy: If you are or were an athlete this may be familiar to you, but those who don’t have a facility at their disposal might not use it as frequently. You will be contrasting between an ice bath and a hot shower. You want to be sure to start and end with cold (like an ice bath). Jump in the ice bath for about 45 seconds and then into the hot shower for 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat this three times. The benefits of contrast therapy are to increase blood flow to the muscles and speed up the removal of lactic acid.

Ice bath: A familiar process to many, an ice bath causes the blood vessels of the body to constrict, pushing the blood away from the muscle because of the cool temperature. Once you are done and start to warm up, the vessels open up and allow blood flow back into the muscle, bringing with it more oxygen to help you recover.

No matter where you are currently in your workout regime, I encourage you to take some recovery time. It will benefit your performance in significant ways down the road. Consider trying a method from above that you haven’t before and see if it helps you. Different things work for different people, so find out what’s best for your body. You can also consult one of our health fitness specialists here at NIFS for advice. Most important, take time to rest and recover to avoid injury!

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

Topics: exercise fitness running marathon training injury prevention endurance weightlifting recovery