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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Fabulous Farmers’ Markets Make Healthy Eating Easy and Fun

ThinkstockPhotos-460495043One of my favorite things to do once it is summer in Indiana is to visit the various farmers’ markets around town. As a dietitian I am a sucker for the fresh fruits and veggies, but I also love the homemade desserts, candles, pasta, kettle corn, fresh flowers, and other wonderful items you can find.

Here are my top five reasons why visiting your local farmers’ market is a must.

  1. Support for the local community: Since the produce is grown and purchased locally, the money remains in the community and stimulates the local economy. Also, when you shop at the farmers’ market, you are cutting out the middle man, and the product is generally less expensive than if you purchased it in the grocery store. 
  2. Eating foods that are in season: Farmers’ market produce is picked ripe and sold soon after picking. Supermarket produce, on the other hand, can take up to two weeks to travel from the farm to the store, even when it is in season. The produce tastes richer and more flavorful, and the nutrients are better retained. Check out the downtown City Market website for which products are available during the months the market is open.
  3. Healthy eating is good for you: The average American eats 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, as opposed to the current recommendations of 9 servings per day. Picking up multiple servings of fruits and veggies and incorporating them into recipes, meals, and snacks is a great way to get closer to the 9-serving-per-day-goal. This will guarantee you are meeting your recommended vitamin and mineral requirements, increasing your daily fiber intake, and acquiring cancer-fighting antioxidants, too. Locally grown produce is lower in pesticides and chemicals, also. 
  4. You can talk to the farmers who grew the food you are about to eat: You can meet the farmers who grew your food, ask when it was picked, how it was grown, and ways to prepare it. When else do you get the opportunity to learn so much about what you are putting in your mouth?
  5. There is certain to be one that fits your location and schedule: I love being able to go to the City Market farmers’ market on my lunch break downtown and sample the hot, fresh kettle corn; pick up sweet corn; and get homemade cookies on Wednesday afternoons. Saturday mornings, it’s off to the Carmel farmers’ market to purchase a walking waffle, homemade pasta, and a whole assortment of fruits and veggies for the week. To find out the location of a farmers’ market close to you, check out the USDA website.

Whether you are picking up items for dinner or for the whole week, the local farmers’ market is an inexpensive, healthy alternative to the grocery store. Try to get there early to get the best variety and options. Not all vendors accept credit cards, so be sure to have cash on hand. Finally, bring along your own reusable grocery bag to put all of your goodies in so that it is easier to carry home your fresh, delicious finds.

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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 habits healthy eating summer clean eating organic foods

The Benefits of Using TRX Suspension Training

TRXYou may have been around the gym environment when TRX training came about and wondered what the benefit of using those straps could be. I remember hitting the weight room in college and thinking, “What on earth are those? And how could I possibly get as good of a workout with them as I do with lifting?” After spending only about 20 minutes on them, I quickly learned how suspension training using body weight could really build strength and challenge the entire body, no matter the movement!

The TRX was invented by Randy Hetrick, a Navy SEAL. His idea was sparked while on a SEAL mission, with a question arising of, “How can we stay mission-fit while on deployment?” With limited materials, Randy used parts of a parachute and a jiu-jitsu belt to create his first model, and soon he was off doing several exercises that we are familiar with today.

Benefits of Suspension Training

There are several benefits to using TRX in your workout. Science proves that it is effective in increasing muscular strength! Here are a few that really stick out:

  • Incorporates nearly every muscle of the human body. If you have ever taken a class or done some of even the most basic exercises, you quickly see that core activation is one of the most important aspects.

  • The workouts are simple yet very challenging, and you can easily complete a total-body workout only using one piece of equipment in 20 minutes.

  • The straps are also very mobile, and you can take them outside or on the road. You can even attach them to the back of a hotel room door to get a workout! 

  • With an easy adjustment of your body, TRX training is safe.

A Quick Workout

I challenge you to take a TRX class at NIFS, give it a try on your own, or ask an instructor to teach you a few things. Here is a quick workout that can be done in 20 minutes or less. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

  • 10 Rows
  • 10 Jump Squats
  • 10 Knee Tuck/Pike Combos
  • 10 Hamstring Curls
  • 10 Pushups
  • 10 “Y” Pulls

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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: fitness center group fitness workouts core TRX suspension training body weight

Summertime Sizzle: Adding a Fitness Challenge

Summer_Showdown_sun2-1Cue DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince because it is summer time—FINALLY! This is the time of year when we get to enjoy more sun and more fun, and smiles and laughter are abundant.

With the energy level rising as the temperature rises, we tend to look for new and fun ways to challenge ourselves somehow in our lives: decluttering the house (a must, by the way), updating the landscape, spending more time with the kids, or taking on some kind of physical challenge to help keep you moving forward. 

Tons of events are popping up all around with the arrival of the nice weather, designed to challenge any and all fitness levels. Finding the physical challenge that is right for you is a fantastic way to spice up your current fitness routine and challenge your limits, perceived or actual. 

Besides some of the obvious physical benefits from creating and completing a fitness challenge, such as improved body composition and an increase in strength and endurance, accepting a fitness challenge can provide so much more. Here are just a few.

Inspires You to Return to Your Drive Toward Excellence

It can be easy to lose some fire over the course of a long year. Even the most committed fitness enthusiast (yours truly included) can be unable to find the drive sometimes to stay vigilant in striving to improve. Taking on a new challenge can provide the spark that will reenergize your commitment to excellence.

Establishes a Timeline

One important characteristic of a well-stated goal is to have an established timeline to reach it. Without a specific date for completion, it is not a goal; it is a dream. If the challenge is on a certain date, and you have 6 weeks to train for it, you have yourself a well-defined timeline. This will not only allow you to complete your current challenge, but also hammers home this important concept of a timeline for future goals.

Incorporates New Movements and Modes of Training

If you are planning on taking on a challenge that you have never done before, there’s a very good possibility that you will have to perform brand new movements and adopt a new training idea. This could be just what your body and mind need to push your limits to create new ones.

Creates Powerful Personal Bonds with Fellow Athletes

The power of working with a group of likeminded individuals is colossal and life changing. When you take on a challenge together, the relationship that will be formed is long lasting and built on mutual respect. I have seen countless strangers join together to complete an event or training program, only to become the best of friends and continue to work toward improvement.

A Challenge for You: NIFS Summer Showdown

Now that you’ve learned some benefits of establishing and completing a fitness challenge, let’s define one, shall we? Starting on June 22 here at NIFS, the Summer Showdown challenge returns. New and improved, this program nails all of the benefits discussed above. Not only do you get to choose your team, you get to choose the level of the challenge you wish to complete. 

The NIFS team has designed a whopper of a challenge for you this year. New to the Summer Showdown will be mass test-in and test-out events where all participants will complete the challenge together at the beginning and end of the program. At the test-in event, all teams will be given specific wristbands to wear throughout the showdown. After you get tested in, you will spend 6 hyped weeks training to improve your test-in time. You will be meeting with your team twice a week to work on all of the aspects of the challenge so that you can crush your previous score and improve your fitness. 

All of your hard work will lead up to the finale, where you will once again complete the challenge with all of the participants of this year’s Summer Showdown. Learn more about the Summer Showdown challenge here.

I took on the Level 3 challenge last week and finished in 25:40. It was a blast, and super challenging, just the way I like it!

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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: goal setting group fitness workouts accountability NIFS programs challenge summer training

Foundations of a Strong, Healthy Body: Muscle Building

ThinkstockPhotos-494559503-1Okay, so you’ve been successful in your first two phases of developing your new workout program. You have progressed in your cardiovascular exercises throughout the weeks and your muscles have been feeling more “in shape” from your high repetition, low-weight muscular endurance training. What now?

The next progression I would recommend would be to start training for muscular hypertrophy, or more simply put, muscle building. 

Getting Ripped Versus Getting Toned

Muscle building is a term that seems fantastic to some (guys) and horrific for others (ladies). Guys (depending on your age) have an affinity to building muscle on a higher level because of a little hormone called Testosterone. The higher levels in men will allow for more tissue development, while the lower levels in women will not. Training for hypertrophy in females will yield a more desirable “toned” look versus a large gain in mass.

Changing the Variables to Develop Muscle Mass

When you are training for an increase in lean muscle mass, you will need to tweak the variables that you used for muscular endurance. To recap, those variables included sets, repetitions, and rest periods. 

  • The sets you may perform can also start very low (1-2) if you are new to this type of training. As your experience increases, the amount of sets can double or even triple. 
  • The repetitions that you perform will also adjust. Instead of doing reps in the 15-20 range, they will be more in the 8-12 range. With the decrease in repetitions comes an increase in the resistance (weight) that you are using. You want to make sure that each set is performed with a weight that can be done no more than 12 times. 
  • Rest periods will also remain relatively low. 30 to 60 seconds of rest between sets is recommended. You will definitely “feel the burn” if you do it correctly.

The next blog in this series talks about how to activate your newly developed muscle tissue to increase your overall strength.

Get after it!

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, NIFS Athletic Performance Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: cardio muscles resistance endurance weightlifting muscle mass muscle building

Are Recent Changes to Restaurant Menu Ingredients Good for You?

ThinkstockPhotos-200325352-001Have you heard the news about Panera? How about Chipotle? It has been in the news a lot recently that these chains are making dramatic changes to their menus. So, what are the changes and will they make for more healthy eating?

Panera Drops Artificial Ingredients

Panera has decided to drop all artificial ingredients from its menu. This list of 150 ingredients is called the No-No List. This list includes artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and flavors, and these ingredients will all be removed by the end of 2016. 

Even though the debate is still ongoing as to whether these ingredients can cause harm to consumers, Panera decided to not take the risk. It was reported that reconfiguring the salad dressing to meet the standards was the toughest menu item change. As of now there are no plans to increase the cost of the menu items to offset these changes. 

Chipotle Gets Away from GMOs

Chipotle has also decided to clean up its menu recently. The chain announced that it would be serving only food that is free of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. In 2013 Chipotle was the first restaurant to show which menu items contained GMOs, and now it is the first chain restaurant to remove them. As with artificial ingredients, GMOs have not been found to be harmful to humans, but environmental working groups are concerned about the effect they might have on the food chain and environment. 

Are These Changes Better for You?

It is great that these companies are making an effort to provide safe food choices; however, these changes do not mean that the food is necessarily better for you. Most calorie contents won’t be affected by these changes; and in foods where artificial sweeteners are removed the calories may actually increase. 

So, if you are watching calories or wanting to lose weight, don’t be fooled into thinking the giant blueberry muffin will be the best option to help you get to your goal. That will still have 460 calories and 18 grams of fat! With any change in a nutrition announcement, the rule of thumb is not more is better. The goal is to stick to the basics. Incorporate as many fresh and unprocessed foods as possible into your diet. This includes reaching for 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day!

Be on the lookout for more companies to make similar announcements soon. Kraft has decided to remove artificial coloring from its Mac & Cheese, and Pepsi is removing aspartame from its diet drinks. Each announcement can be a positive for consumers, as long as they remember to get in a balanced and fresh diet the majority of the time. 

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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: healthy eating calories lunch artificial ingredients

Foundations of a Strong, Healthy Body: Muscular Endurance

ThinkstockPhotos-178630269Once you have mastered the basics of cardiovascular exercise, resistance training is the next viable option. If you have no physical limitations (like the ones shown in the Functional Movement Screen), basic resistance training may continue your improvement in building a better body. Remember, not all resistance training is created equal, and the sets, reps, and other variables will determine the result that you receive.

The first goal that I have people focus on is usually muscular endurance. Muscular endurance is the ability for your muscles to withstand a long duration of work. It is important throughout all walks of life, whether it be for preparation for a marathon or doing a day full of yard work. Your goals in everyday life determine your muscular endurance goals and the ways it can be achieved. 

There are three variables that are vital to how your body responds to all resistance training, not just training for muscular endurance. Those three are:

  1. Sets
  2. Repetitions
  3. Rest Periods

The number of sets you do during muscular endurance training may be relatively low. For someone new, 1 to 2 sets may be sufficient to see improvement. For those of a higher training level, 3 to 4 may be required. The number of repetitions you perform is the next important variable. If you want your muscles to be able to last a long time, repetitions will be high. 15 to 20 repetitions per set is usually sufficient but some individuals might increase reps above that level. The final variable is the rest period. The rest period between your sets has to be short. Less than 30 seconds is generally the accepted time but time can be whittled down to 15 seconds or less for optimal adaptations for muscular endurance.

This type of training builds that initial workload for the muscles to withstand the heavier/more intense training that could be done in the future. Below you will find an example of a lower body muscular endurance resistance training routine:

  1. Barbell Squat 3x15
  2. Kettlebell Lateral Lunge 3x10/Leg
  3. Dumbbell Step-Ups 3x10/Leg
  4. Kettlebell Swings 3x20
  5. Hamstring Curls 3x15
  6. Calf Raises 3x15

The next blog in this series will talk about the next phase of building a program, everybody’s favorite, building muscle.

Get after it!

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, NIFS Athletic Performance Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: muscles resistance endurance

Wonder Woman: The Indy Women Fitness 2015

IWF2015As a fitness professional, I have had the honor and the privilege to work with some amazing women over the past decade. Strength, passion, and a focus on excellence are just a few of the characteristics that I have witnessed women displaying day in and day out, and I have gained strength and motivation from them. So when I was asked to join some of the strongest fitness minds on the planet to celebrate and inspire some of the women of our wonderful Indianapolis community, it was a no-brainer. I’m IN!

Using What You Learn

I have been attending seminars and fitness summits for some time now. I love them, because I absolutely love to learn. I have gained so much from attending different events, but mainly I have learned that you have to be a lifetime learner, no matter what you do vocationally or personally. 

Inspiration and motivation are served up in buckets at these events, and you can’t help but get amped up about the impact we as fitness pros have on people. I always return from summits refreshed, revived, and ready to rock. My Group Training warriors know when I go to these events and prepare for when I return from them. They know that we are going to take it to the next level and learn some very cool ideas. I just can’t wait to get back and share what I have learned. I believe that when you catch fire, you just can’t help but to spread it. 

A Preview of the Event

Unlike any other event in our great city, the Indy Women Fitness 2015 event is designed for women of all fitness ages (from enthusiasts to those just starting out) to come and learn, train, and be inspired on their journey to greatness. The event will be held July 18, 2015 at NIFS. One of the keynote speakers for this event, Molly Galbraith, puts it best by saying that “unleashing the inner wonder woman” inside all women will be a side-effect of attending this event. Molly is the co-founder of Girls Gone Strong and dedicates her life to the education and empowerment of women everywhere; I really look forward to meeting and working with her.

Mike Robertson, our other keynote, will be breaking down many fitness misconceptions and teaching how to transform cookie-cutter exercise programs into individual-driven programming. I have attended one of Mike’s presentations and walked out of it having gained so much in so little time. Mike’s partner in crime, Bill Hartman, will be covering “Butts & Guts”; I love that title, by the way. Bill will be speaking the truth about what strategies and principles are actually effective in building “strong abs and a shapely posterior.” These two guys are fountains of knowledge and are sure to lay it all out for you.

The NIFS Presenters

Our very own Kris Simpson dives into those daily habits that women may fall into which negatively affect posture and increase pain. Kris will cover strategies to help you shoulder the load of your daily tasks to maximize productivity in the real world and in the gym. One of the super members of NIFS, Buffy Linville, will be discussing the habit of a new normal and ways to stop sabotaging your health and fitness. Buffy is a complete story of health and fitness success and will explore what has worked for her and what will work for you.

As for me? Presenting and public speaking is something I truly enjoy! Since I have been attending different seminars and summits over the years, it has been my ultimate goal to be one of those presenters and be considered good enough to rub elbows with the best in my field. Through many opportunities leading up this July 18th event, I have been honing my skills for this awesome chance to join a team of great presenters and impact our community. It truly is a dream come true to take this first of many steps to be one of those great presenters I have revered for so long. 

I am so excited to cover what an effective, movement-based, and fun program will look like for any woman at any level of fitness. Consistent with what I love to do, we will start the session moving and not stop till that bell rings! We will cover everything from warm-up to metabolic finishers and grab a taste of everything. By no means will this session be exhaustive, but will certainly cover the crucial basics of any program.

If you are a woman searching for some direction, new to fitness or looking to take your health and performance to the next level, you won’t want to miss this event. Join me in the excitement of learning, training, and being inspired to be a better you! Early bird pricing runs through June 18, 2015 and you will receive $100 off the registration cost.

Get Registered

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: NIFS fitness NIFS programs education Indianapolis women

10 Healthy Habits of Fit People

Let’s get real: getting healthy and fit (and staying that way) doesn’t happen by accident. In my seven years in the fitness industry I have seen quite a bit—enough to know what works and what doesn’t. The people who are able to reach their healthy, happy weight and maintain it end up developing very similar habits to one another. These healthy habits aren’t anything crazy or extreme, but they consistently allow individuals to lead a healthy lifestyle for years and years.

Today I’ve compiled these habits of healthy people so we can all adapt our own habits to be our healthiest selves.

ThinkstockPhotos-4713112341. Start off with a breakfast to FUEL your day.

Remember learning that breakfast was the most important meal of the day? While I believe that all meals are important, breakfast definitely is a meal you shouldn’t consider skipping. Studies show that eating breakfast helps to improve focus, satiety, and energy levels throughout the day. 

So what does that mean for you? You’ll be more productive at work, will work harder during your workouts, and you may have reduced cravings and hunger later in the day. Sounds like a win, win, win to me! 

2. Drink lots of water.

The body is made up of 60% water! Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help maintain your body’s fluid balance so that nutrients can be transported throughout the body. That means you will more quickly reap the benefits of the healthy foods you eat!  

Drinking water throughout the day helps you feel full. It may sound crazy, but many people mistake thirst for hunger and end up overeating. 

It’s also important to drink water because when you stress and work your muscles in the gym, they are losing water. If you aren’t drinking enough water, your muscles will get tired faster and you may not be able to work as hard. So drink up, buttercup!

3. Set a deadline.

People are more efficient and more likely to reach their goals with a deadline in the picture. Having a deadline helps to eliminate procrastination and makes the goal seem more tangible and realistic. Having a deadline doesn’t mean you can start being “unhealthy” after you reach your goal, but it simply allows you to have a checkpoint to work toward. Once you reach your goal and deadline, reevaluate and set a new goal! It’s all about progress, not perfection, and there is always something we can improve on when it comes to health and fitness.

4. Don’t leave your healthy-eating goals to chance. 

I rarely say NEVER or ALWAYS, but this is an exception to that rule. Never assume that there will be a healthy option when you eat away from home. Always be prepared. Check out the restaurant menu ahead of time, pack healthy snacks, bring a lunch, bring a healthy dish to share, or eat something small before so you aren’t starving. You are in control of your health. It’s not anyone else’s responsibility to make sure there is something nutritious for you to nosh on.

5. Remain consistent.

Consistency is key. We all have days where we skip a workout or overindulge, but as long as healthy is your default, there is no need to sweat it! What matters most is what you do most of the time, not what you do sometimes. So, if choosing healthy (moving your body, eating whole foods, and drinking lots of water) is your sometimes, you may want to switch your mindset.

6. Eat whole, real foods.

Make it your goal to have most of your nourishment come from unprocessed, real foods that are as close to the source as possible. What does that mean? Check out the ingredients. If you are eating a handful of almonds for a snack, the only ingredient should be just that: almonds! Whole foods fill your body with more vitamins and minerals, the nutrition we need to stay healthy on the inside.

7. Fill your home with healthy, nourishing foods.

This tip piggybacks onto the previous piece of advice. If you fill your home with whole foods, they suddenly become a more convenient option than the processed stuff, and less healthy options are eliminated from the picture. If you surround yourself with healthy, delicious food choices, you are more likely to pick those foods when preparing a meal or eating a snack.

8. Take your workout with you.

 Many people travel frequently for work, to visit family, or for vacation. While traveling can make it less easy to fit in your workout, it’s definitely not an excuse to slack off in the fitness department. Talk with your trainer about a travel workout option, pack a resistance band or TRX strap, or pack a workout DVD that doesn’t require any equipment at all! There are endless resources for fitness on the go; it just takes a little planning ahead of time.

9. Learn to be politely picky when eating out.

I have learned that I can find something healthy to eat at almost any restaurant. Many times, the option I choose is not listed on the menu. It can be intimidating to ask for special options at a restaurant, but you will be surprised at how accommodating your server and the restaurant want to be. Be polite when you make requests, and your tummy will be happy with the healthy and delicious outcome!

10. Dedicate time to mental health.

Whether you practice yoga, write a journal, meditate, see a therapist, or have another way of dedicating time to your mental health, it is just as important to make time for this type of exercise as it is to make time to go to the gym. Having a healthy mental state will help you stay on track with your fitness goals and will allow you to balance your busy and crazy life with ease. Find the method that works best for you and stick to it!

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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. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: nutrition healthy habits goal setting snacks breakfast mental weight management water

Foundations of a Strong, Healthy Body: Cardio Workouts

ThinkstockPhotos-77293911Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a physically fit and healthy body. The great city was built as the result of the culmination of years and years of hard work. From streets to buildings, each single brick or stone was set with a vision in mind to create the best city in the world. I’m sure many mistakes were made throughout the process; however, those mistakes were only microscopic setbacks in the overall plan.

In exercise, the same rules apply. Some programs you try may yield great results; others may fall flat. You may see success for a couple months and then plateau. Remember: it is all a part of the process. Having a strong fitness foundation sets you on the best path to success in your goals and helps minimize the fitness mistakes you make along the way.

Physically fit characteristics must be set individually. These specific traits, such as cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance, muscular strength and power, and body mobility, are all equally important. They are the foundation of building a strong and healthy body. You must work on them to maintain or improve your current levels. The majority of individuals possess the ability to improve their current state of health throughout these fitness aspects. Whether or not they choose to address them is another story.

Cardiovascular Fitness

I start by talking about cardiovascular fitness. When it comes to starting a program, begin with the basics: running (or walking), biking, and rowing. These three modes of exercise can all be used to help build that cardiovascular base that you can improve upon continually throughout your exercise program. Although it may seem like it is very basic, all individuals need to have some sort of cardiovascular base they can work off of. Without it, your ability to get through workouts (running, lifting, etc.) will be compromised.

My Recommendation: Intermediate Skill Levels*

  • Run/Walk: 10 minutes at a moderate pace
  • Bike: 10 minutes at a constant and moderate pace
  • Row: 10 minutes, 1 minute at a fast pace, 1 minute at a slow pace

*Adjust time or intensity based on your individual skill level.

Part 2 of this blog series will focus on muscular endurance and how to structure your workouts to improve your muscles’ ability to withstand long-duration workouts.

As always, get after it!

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, NIFS Athletic Performance Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: exercise fitness cardio running walking workouts cycling