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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

How to Try New Group Fitness Classes

Group exercise classes can be a good way to get in shape and have fun while at the gym. They are designed to allow participants to attend without prior experience. They offer a full warmup, full workout, and cool-down in a variety of settings and styles. However, sometimes trying a new class can be daunting or scary.

You may feel scared to try a new class because you feel inexperienced. You may believe that you can’t keep up with the “regulars.” In turn, these feelings can lead to you missing out on fun and exciting workouts. But I want you to know this: Any good instructor is prepared to teach all levels of participants. Not everybody in the class is at the same level. Some people may be new like you! So trust me when I say that you can try new classes, and you can get a great workout. You may leave the class feeling more confident. So give new group training classes a try to discover whether you like them, rather than never giving them a chance. Here are three classes that you can try now!

Of course, trying a new class is easier said than done. So here are some tips that you can use when you are trying a new group exercises class.

1. Read the Description

All gyms have descriptions of the group exercise classes. They are short summaries of the focus of the class. The difficulty level should also be noted in each description. However, most classes invite all levels to join. The location of the class, the time it starts, and the name of the instructor should also be stated. You can always ask a gym employee questions if you need more information.

2. Arrive Early

You do not have to arrive very early, but arriving about 5 to 10 minutes early will you give you plenty of time to locate the class. Most instructors arrive early as well, in order to advise participants on equipment needed. So being there before class starts gives you time to set up your equipment.

3. Introduce Yourself

As mentioned above, the name of the instructor should be included in the description of that class. Once you have located the class, find the instructor and introduce yourself. This is the time to inform the instructor that this is your first time participating and ask whether they have any advice or instructions for you. Instructors are always happy to help!

4. Find a Good Spot

Even though it is your first time attending, that doesn’t mean you have to be in the back. You want to find an area where you can see and hear the instructor. Even though the front is the perfect spot for that, the middle area will work just fine. You will be able to see and hear, but you won’t feel like you are on display for the rest of the class.

5. Start Slow

Most group exercise classes will have a warmup. During that time, get a feel for how hard you want to work. Since you are new to the class, start slow. The instructors will demonstrate different levels of work for each exercise. Level 1 may be a good place to start. Once you feel comfortable, you can then try to increase the intensity slowly throughout This will help you last longer as well as keep you safe from injury.

6. Have Fun!

The last thing for you to do to enjoy your workout is to have fun! Don’t worry about what others around you think. You are all there for the same reason, and that is to work out, feel good, and have fun.

If you are looking for more information about the group exercise classes offered here at NIFS, see our group fitness schedule. You can also download our free app, which provides the group exercise schedule as well.

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This blog was written by Masie Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise fitness center group fitness NIFS programs

Endurance or Speed? Two Common Goals for Running

For years people have been running in marathons and half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. And most recently the wide world of racing has taken a turn for themed runs, which is quite exciting if you have ever been to one! But no matter how many years go by, two goals continue to come up: running farther, and running faster.

We often hear someone say, “I want to be able to run farther than I did before.” We see it all the time: “I am going from the couch to running a 5K,” or “Last year I completed the 10K, so this year I really want to try the half marathon!” The other thing we hear is, “I like the distance that I am running, but next time I want to cut off 10 minutes.” The goal is to keep going faster and breaking a personal record. But which one is better—which goal should we strive to accomplish?

There are hundreds of programs out there that help you with one of the two goals: programs that are designed to help you increase your distance over time, or programs that are designed to keep your distance but increase your pace. And the good news is that both types work for different people.

Kris Berg, an exercise physiologist and professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha, says that after several decades of studying how an athlete can increase their endurance, he continues to lean on the profound answer of “The person needs to do what feels right for them.” Every person is made up differently genetically, and every method works differently for each person. It’s important to listen to what your body says, and if you can’t go farther, work on going faster, and if you can’t go faster, work on going farther!

Let’s take a look at each of the two common goals more in depth. 

Common goal #1: Being able to build endurance and go farther over time. 

The first and most important thing to keep in mind with any sort of training (and not just endurance running) is that adaptation and change are gradual. You will not be able to run 3 miles today and 16 miles tomorrow. Building gradually is vital to grasp before you set an overall goal, which must be realistic. Gradual adaptation means gradual, patient, and consistent. 

Another trick to being able to run long distances is to not start off too fast. Many people don’t make the distance they want because they are running at a pace that they cannot sustain. Find a pace that works for you! 

One other vital point to make when working on building your endurance: don’t overtrain. In most marathon training programs and endurance building programs out there, you will not see more than three days worth of running per week. You need to allow your body time to rest between runs.

Common goal #2: Working on speed to shave off some time from your last race. 

Disclaimer: working on speed is hard; be prepared to be mentally tough and stick to the workouts. When working on speed you will want to focus on some interval workouts. These are workouts that you are pushing at a fast pace for a certain period of time, then slowing down to recover before the next interval starts. 

And a final tip: If you want to run faster, you need to make your legs stronger. By doing some strength training and building up muscle mass, your speed will increase.

***

So whatever your goal may be for your next race, keep these things in mind. A great way to help train to meet your goal is with our Mini-Marathon & 5K Training Program offered at NIFS. REGISTER NOW and take advantage of Early bird pricing until 11/22/15.

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

 

 

Topics: NIFS running marathon training mini marathon half marathon endurance overtraining goals speed

Never Give Up: Fighting Diabetes with Exercise and Diet

Diabetes is a very familiar topic for me. Being diagnosed with Type I diabetes in my early 20s (not far removed from being a collegiate athlete) has made a huge impact on my life and how I face every day.

Always being on the active side and loving the endorphins of exercise has been both a blessing and a curse. Exercise plays a huge role in fighting diabetes, not only in prevention but also in management. Some people who have diabetes are the unlucky ones with inherited genetics, while others develop it through lifelong lifestyle habits ranging from poor nutrition to inactivity. More often than not, we can take control of this situation and overcome the effects by following the guidelines set forth by our healthcare providers and by listening to our bodies. 

Countering the Effects of Diabetes

Covering serious health topics such as heart health and foot health, the negative effects of diabetes are vast. With limited options available, we must turn to good old Mother Nature. Healthy lifestyles consisting of proper nutrition mixed with a modest yet consistent workout routine provide your body the necessary tools to cultivate and sustain some resistance to the overwhelming complications of diabetes. From this, you can see that your best friends will soon be a good gym buddy or a personal trainer to help hold your workout routine accountable, and a myfitnesspal app or a registered dietician to help hold your nutrition plan together.

The Importance of Monitoring Glucose Before Exercise

You may say, “Thomas, this blog can’t be all sunshine and rainbows.” You are correct. There are underlying factors that make simple solutions to diabetes an even steeper hill to climb. Individuals with diabetes are affected by almost every food they eat and every rep and set of exercise they push through. High and low blood glucose levels from improper insulin dosage or other medication are extremely dangerous. The only way to ensure you are ready to work out is to utilize a glucose monitor multiple times throughout the day. This includes before and after meals, before and after workout sessions, and the first thing when you wake up in the morning (fasting) and right before you go to bed. That’s a lot of little finger pokes. 

Diabetic Neuropathy

Another diabetes-related issue is called neuropathy, which is basically the desensitization of nerves in the extremities. You may be thinking, “This is great; I won’t feel pain anymore!” But what you don’t know is that now you can injure yourself without knowing and make it even worse by not addressing the issue, which can lead to irreversible damage. From this, you’ll find that your new best friends are going to be your endocrinologist and your podiatrist.

We Are Here to Help

There are many other friends that you will make along the way, ranging from your optometrist to the friendly types encouraging you to stay on the wagon. My suggestion is to let them help you. Because diabetes is a road that is nearly impassible without the help of others, you will find each helping hand not only makes the journey easier, but lets you know you are not alone in your fight. 

For more information about how NIFS can provide you with the proper atmosphere and knowledge to succeed with diabetes, contact the track desk to speak with one of our certified and degreed fitness professionals. NIFS is also proud to offer a registered dietician who can help you make informed decisions regarding your diet plan.

NEVER GIVE UP

What did you eat today? Don’t underestimate the role that proper nutrition plays in your health and fitness. Contact Angie Scheetz [email protected] or call 317-274-3432 to find out more about the My Nutrition Coach app

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

Topics: NIFS exercise nutrition Thomas' Corner diabetes disease prevention

Top Ten Reasons to Compete in NIFS’ 2015 Powerlifting Competition

We are less than a month away from the Second NIFS Annual Powerlifting Competition, to be held here at NIFS on November 14. We have already exceeded last year’s registration, so the competition will be stout and the energy in this building will be palpable.

There’s nothing quite like the rush of competition, and I would argue that it is even greater in a sport like powerlifting. You against the weight is what it boils down to, and the accumulation of months of training and preparation come to the forefront for seconds to grasp victory. It’s almost poetic. 

If you’re not the Hamlet type, here are 10 more reasons to compete in the NIFS 2015 Powerlifting Competition, coming at you David Letterman style!

10. To answer the age-old question: “Do you even lift, bro?”

9. A whole bunch of free snacks and coffee!
8. Show off your new weight belt and shoes!
7. Be an ATHLETE again, or for the first time!
6. Have someone load and re-rack your bar for you!
5. Test your physical and mental toughness, something you can’t do playing Halo.
4. Collect a tremendous amount of high-5s!
3. Visit three bars (squat, bench, dead lift) without paying a cover charge!
2. The SWEET FREE T-SHIRT!
1. Finally take that leap and DARE to be GREAT!

So do it for the poetry or do it for the T-shirt, but just do it! Dare to be great and demonstrate to your fitness community (and more importantly, yourself) that you are strong, you are prepared, and you are an ATHLETE! 

This year’s competition is shaping up to be epic, and the 70 available slots are going quickly, so do not wait! Grab your slot today!

get registered for Powerlifting

This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS NIFS programs challenge weightlifting powerlifting competition

Jack Taylor: NIFS Fall Marathon Training Program Participant

I wanted to take some time to highlight NIFS member Jack Taylor. He has been a member of NIFS in both the corporate fitness and fitness center side of things for the past three years. I have gotten to know Jack through the fall Half and Full Marathon Training Program. (He is training to run the Monumental Half Marathon, which will take place on November 7 here in Indianapolis.) He has a pretty cool story, which he shares with us here.

How did you initially get started with running?

I learned early in high school that I was more of a distance runner than a sprinter. While in the military, I identified running as one of my strong suits. During college I found that running casually was challenging, effective, and relatively inexpensive. I was in the Army/National Guard for 25+ years. Running helped me maintain a necessary level of fitness for whatever I was involved in.

What is your story? Tell me a little bit about yourself and your health story.

I had participated for about 13 years with Ken Long and Associates’ spring Bricks To Bricks Mini-Marathon Training Program, as well as Ken’s Fall Half-Full Marathon training programs. Tom Hathaway was the longtime and beloved coach. In spring 2009 I had ran one of my more respectable mini-marathons. By the next year, I felt like I was in the same degree of fitness, but my time had fallen by about 15 minutes. I couldn’t really explain it. 

By that fall, I had been experiencing a variety of minor ailments, such as plantar fasciitis, peculiar twitching in my legs, and other nerve pains and sensations. Near the end of the Monumental Half Marathon the muscle in my right leg began twitching and contracting violently. I did finish the race. I subsequently saw several sports physicians and specialists with the Franciscan St. Francis Health Network. I was treated for plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, arthritis, etc. I had CT scans, MRIs, and many X-rays.  

At one point I was told by my sports physician that I was doing great and could return to running after some physical therapy. By that time, the twitching in my legs continued, and I noticed that I progressively could not lift my leg quite as high as normal. The inability to lift my leg gradually got worse. One specialist told me that I must have a weak hip flexor, but I was somewhat skeptical. I completed the physical therapy and began running again. 

Not long after, I noticed while running gingerly trying to increase my stamina and mileage that every so often, I would uncontrollably drag the toe of one foot; I had no ability to control it. One day, in the spring of 2011 at the finish of a three-mile run, I dragged the toe again and fell suddenly flat on my face, badly bruising my nose and both eyes. At that point I knew I had to do something else, so I went back to my primary physician in another health network and basically started all over again.   

For the next several months I went through more and more tests, and my balance and physical stability got progressively worse, which led to many frequent falls. The symptoms were very similar to neuropathy, such as damage to nerves in my feet and legs and difficulty controlling bodily functions. I began to experience symptoms of paralysis in my left leg as well. This got progressively worse until I had to walk with a quad-cane—basically dragging my left leg and foot as I went along my way. I had to manually lift my left leg with my hands to negotiate curbs or steps. I also experienced general muscle weakness in different parts of my body to varying degrees.  

It wasn’t until late 2011 that the neurologist had ruled nearly everything else out and was able to order an MRI of the thoracic region of my back. That was the ticket. It was evident right away that I had a large tumor on my spinal cord inside the vertebrate. The tumor was the size of a lime. The tumor was crushing my spinal cord flat, and my doctor advised that the tumor had likely been growing for 10 to 15 years. 

I had surgery to remove the tumor in January 2012 and had to undergo weeks of inpatient physical and occupational therapy as well as continued outpatient surgery. The neurosurgeon advised that I might never recover from all the nerve damage, and I would be lucky to walk normally ever again. While he said it was possible, he didn’t give me a lot of encouragement about running again.  

Since early 2013, I’ve been working to regain my strength and balance in all aspects. I didn’t start running a lot until I joined the NIFS mini-marathon training program in 2014. Because I wasn’t very confident about how I would progress, I didn’t even consider running the mini-marathon in 2014 because I didn’t have a clue how my progress would transpire in the training program. I did finish the program and completed the group 12-mile run. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but it was at that time for me. 

I joined the NIFS mini-marathon training program again in 2015 and finished the mini. That brings me up to date now that I’m attempting the NIFS half-full marathon training program.

How many half and full marathons have you completed?

I’ve truly lost count. I’ve run 30+ half marathons and 2 marathons. I’ve run countless races, from 5Ks to 10 milers.

And what inspires you to keep running?

While it is a lot harder than when I was younger, it helps me maintain an acceptable weight level while allowing me to eat most of what I like.

Thanks for taking the time to meet Jack! What a great story and an inspiration to keep going. Good luck in your next race, Jack!

 Cross the finish line with us this Spring! The 25th Annual Mini Marathon & 5K Training Program starts January 27–May 9, 2016. Training is at 6pm at NIFS downtown. Register today online!

 

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

Topics: NIFS running marathon training mini marathon half marathon NIFS programs

The Importance of a Maintenance Phase for Athlete Training

The NFL season is only three weeks old and injuries are running rampant through the league. Week after week, a star player is lost for multiple weeks, months, or possibly the whole season because of injuries that usually are the result of bad luck or possibly not being as physically prepared as they could have been. Hopefully your team, **knock on wood**, does not or will not have to deal with this at any point during their season. My team, my beloved Detroit Lions, look like a dumpster fire for reasons other than injuries.

The physicality of football increases every year. The players are getting bigger, faster, and stronger in training facilities across the country getting ready for that next season. Guys are always looking to take that next step during the offseason to ensure that they are a better player than they were the preceding year. Countless hours are spent in the gym and on the field trying to achieve this goal. Some training programs start the day after a season is over, whether it be after week 17 in the regular season or if your team wins the Super Bowl. It’s no secret that being a professional or collegiate athlete is a year-round commitment. 

Changing Training After the Season Begins

But what kind of training do players do after their season begins? Do they continue to train five or six days a week like they did in the offseason? Of course not. With large time commitments for practice, watching film, and simply resting, an athlete must shift their focus to making sure all of that hard work is not wasted over the course of the season. The most effective way to salvage the progress that you have made over the past five or six months is to enter a maintenance phase.

A maintenance phase is one phase or “macrocycle” (a large portion of a training year) that you should use during the start and duration of each athletic or competitive season. As mentioned before, this phase is used to preserve the strength, power, and muscle mass that was built in the many months prior to the season. 

What Does a Maintenance Phase Look Like?

Some characteristics of a maintenance phase include the following:

  • 2 (±1) workouts per week
  • 45 to 60-minute sessions
  • 2 (±1) sets per exercise. Main exercises should focus on strength, power (plyometrics, Olympic lifting, core lifts [bench, squat, deadlift]), and functional mobility.
  • Promoting overall health
As you can see, these phases don’t take much time, but could pay huge dividends throughout your season. The ultimate goal for many (if not all) sports, like the NFL, is to make the post-season. The teams that always seem to perform the best in those scenarios are the ones that are the healthiest or freshest. Continuing to lift throughout your competitive season will help you maintain the overall function of your body instead of gradually losing it throughout the season. As a wise man (Dr. Alan Mikesky) once said, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

Impact on Future Seasons

Don’t underestimate the importance of a maintenance phase, due to the implications that it could have on subsequent seasons. Think about this scenario:

Imagine you start training for your freshman year of college football squatting a maximum (1RM) of 315 pounds. After 4 months of preseason training, your 1RM has gone up to 365 pounds. Once the season starts, you stop lifting weights and focus on football. Three months later when the season is finished, you hit the weight room for the first time. Your 1RM squat is back to 315 pounds. Your body had no reason to keep the neural drive of the muscles because you no longer required it to. You start your offseason conditioning program and increase your squat back up to 365 pounds and exceed those numbers by squatting 380. Once your sophomore season starts, you stop lifting weights once again. At the end of the season, your 1RM squat is back to 315. 

This is a vicious cycle that never allows for any solid progression. You start from square-one every year. Now think about the same scenario with a few changes:

Imagine you start training for your freshman year of college football squatting a maximum (1RM) of 315 pounds. After 4 months of preseason training, your 1RM goes up to 365 pounds. Once the season starts, you begin an in-season maintenance phase. You lift two days per week, making sure your squat loads are significant enough to maintain your 1RM (80-95%). Three months later when the season is finished, you hit the weight room for the beginning of your offseason training program. Your 1RM squat is 355. Although you dropped 10 pounds, it is not as significant as the 50-pound loss from the previous scenario. From your offseason program, your 1RM increases from 355 to 410. Once your sophomore season starts, you begin another in-season maintenance phase. At the end of the season, your 1RM has only dropped to 405. 

***

As you can see, progression of strength (and power with other lifts) has to be maintained year round. This goes for all athletes throughout their seasons. If they want to continue to improve, they must prevent the loss. It is as important of a cycle of training as any. Without a properly structured in-season maintenance phase, you will be starting from the same place every time you start a new offseason training program.

 

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

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Topics: training weightlifting strength power professional athlete muscle mass

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: NIFS 2015 Powerlifting Competition

Oh, the comfort zone. They call it that for a reason, obviously. It’s cozy in that self-imposed zone; it’s safe and reliable. If most things were defined as such, we would consider them good things, right? I will weigh in here and say yes, but this imaginary comfort zone could be one of the most dangerous places in your life.

Janet Fitch said, “The phoenix must burn to emerge,” meaning that you must fail before you can achieve. But you must try before you can fail, and chilling out in your comfort zone time and time again for fear of failure will keep you strapped down, not able to emerge as the true you. I know that stepping out of that comfy, feel-good zone can be pretty scary, so you’re not alone. In a previous blog I discussed ways to be comfortable being uncomfortable, so what happens when real people reach their heights?

powerThe Powerlifting Challenge

Last year NIFS launched its first-ever Powerlifting Competition, where individuals from all walks of life and all fitness levels came to see what they are truly capable of in relation to absolute strength. It was an event that we just had to do again, with so many victories and so many lives changed in one single day. Individuals took that leap out of their comfort zones and put it on the line to test themselves—not against the competition, but against themselves. 

What the Competitors Had to Say

This event served as a first for so many competitors who wanted to test their courage and to fulfill a dream and a goal of being the best. They stepped out of their comfort zone, and this is what they discovered:

"Fitness, for me, has been a journey. I have ups and downs. But on that day, it was me and the weight. It was myself versus myself. I only cared about lifting however much my body could. It wasn't about 'beating' the other competitors; it was about making sure I walked away knowing I did the best I could."      —Megan Gantner

"I loved how encouraging everyone was. Even though it was a competition, people were constantly saying 'you can do it' or 'great job.' High-fives were everywhere, and it was awesome."       —Madison Stewart

"Some of the highlights were being around a lot of like-minded people, getting to test my strength, and pushing past my normal comfort zone. It really meant a lot to me to compete. I have been lifting weights for a very long time, but I had never actually competed any kind of weightlifting comp. Actually putting myself out there really paid off a lot for me."      —Cody Martin

If you have been thinking about taking the leap and competing in this kind of a contest, this event is a perfect one to get your feet wet and see whether competing at this level is what you have been looking for. There will be a wide range of ability levels all trying to simply do their best and have some competitive fun at the same time.

NIFS 2nd Annual Powerlifting Competition will be held on November 14th. Take advantage of the early bird rate until October 17, and register today!

get registered for Powerlifting

 

This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS challenge weightlifting powerlifting

A NEAT Way to Burn More Calories (Part 2 of 2)

In the first part of this blog series you learned about NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) and how it can impact the number of calories you burn each day. From James Levine’s article, you can conclude that NEAT can burn an average of 330 calories per day in healthy individuals, and up to nearly 700 calories per day in others. 

You have probably started thinking of ways you can add more NEAT into your day for weight loss or weight management. The most common suggestions are parking farther away, taking the stairs, or getting a desk you can stand at. Those are all great suggestions, but in this blog I will provide some other ideas that you can fit into your day.   

5 Ways to Burn More Calories at the Office or During the Workday

  1. Have walking meetings. Instead of sitting at a coworker’s desk to discuss work, try walking around the office or outside to discuss work. You may find that ideas and communication come easier to you than when you are sitting. 
  2. Drink more water. First, it will help you stay hydrated, which is good for your health. But secondly, it may help you get up from your desk more by increasing the number of times you have to go to the restroom. You could even plan time to get up and visit the water fountain. 
  3. Invest in an activity tracker. These trackers, such as the Fitbit, can provide you with an estimated number of steps and calories burned each day. With this tracker you can set a goal for yourself. This can help motivate you to get up from your desk and move to help you reach your number of steps or number of calories you need to burn each day.ThinkstockPhotos-533536853
  4. Walk during your lunch break. Walk instead of driving to restaurants nearby if you are going to eat out. If you packed your lunch, walk to find a nice spot to eat instead of just eating at your desk. Getting up and moving will help you increase calorie burning, and going outside will give you fresh air and vitamin D from the sun.
  5. Get your coworkers involved. Create a team goal or competition. You could schedule a few times each day when everyone in the office needs to stand up and move/walk for about 5 minutes. If you are trying to make it a competition, you could have a challenge each day to see who can get the most jumping jacks or pushups throughout the day.

5 Ways to Burn More Calories in Your Leisure Time

  1. Be active while watching television. If watching television is part of your daily leisure time, try adding in small activities to complete while watching your favorite show. You can fold laundry or organize and pay bills. You can get up and sweep or vaccum the floor on commercial breaks. You can even prep for dinner by chopping vegetables as you watch your favorite show!
  2. ThinkstockPhotos-200358726-001Play with your kids or pets. They are bundles of energy that can help get you on your feet and moving. Play a game of tag, basketball, or soccer with the kids. If you have pets, use toys that they like and keep them (and you) active. 
  3. Take a short walk after dinner. Instead of sitting down to watch TV or laying down for bed, try going on a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. 
  4. Have an active date. When meeting with friends or family, you can try to make the date active by riding bikes to your destination. You could also choose to do something active like mini-golf or visiting a state park. One fun idea is visiting a ceramics studio and creating or painting pottery. 
  5. Keep up your household and landscape. Everyone wants a beautiful and clean home. So try staying organized and keeping up with daily cleaning and organizing. You can try planting new flowers, washing the car, or repainting the front fence. 

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Now that you have some ideas for staying active and burning more calories, you can start adding more NEAT into your daily life and start burning an extra 330 to 700 calories each day!

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This blog was written by Masie Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: staying active exercise at home weight loss calories hydration weight management exercise at work workplace fitness

How to Build a Nutrition-Packed Smoothie for Meals or Snacks

ThinkstockPhotos-467257185For a quick and tasty breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks, consider making a smoothie. This portable meal or snack can be chock-full of good-for-you antioxidants and vitamins if you make it correctly. Unfortunately, though, some of the pre-made ones are loaded with added sugar. So pull out your blender, food processor, or Vitamix, grab some ingredients, and let’s get started!

  • Produce: The most important part of the smoothie comes from the produce. The fruits or veggies you add will load up your drink with nutrients. Aim for ½ cup to 1½ cups from this group, which typically includes berries, bananas, pineapple, spinach, kale, and whatever else you have in the fridge or freezer to add!
  • Ice and/or frozen fruit: Add ½ to 1 cup to give the smoothie more thickness.
  • Liquid: Use ½ to 1 cup of milk (preferably the unsweetened variety) or water. If you are adding fruit juice, make sure it is 100% fruit and stick to ½ cup or less.
  • Protein: 2 TB. of peanut butter (or any nut butter), protein powder, or Greek yogurt will help to keep you fuller longer, so don’t forget to add this ingredient. If you decide to go with protein powder, make sure to get a basic whey protein powder that isn’t extremely high in extras or sugar (some are available with less than 2g). This powder is also a complete protein, which means you get all of the essential amino acids. Just stick to 1 scoop or 2 TB. to avoid adding extra, unnecessary calories.
  • Fiber extras: For some additional staying power in your drink, add 1 to 2 TB. of chia seeds, oats, or flaxseed. (See this blog for more info on chia seeds and other add-ins.)

If you have an older blender with dull blades and a weak motor, stick to fresh fruit vs. frozen, and blend the ice cubes gradually into the smoothie. One tip is to add your dry ingredients last to avoid them getting stuck in the bottom. If you are having trouble getting the ingredients to blend, let it sit for a few minutes so the fruit can soften or add more liquid a little bit at a time.

Now it’s time to drink up! Letting it sit for just 20 minutes might mean it will start to thicken or separate. You can store it in the fridge for up to 24 hours, but a fresh smoothie will have the best flavor and taste. Enjoy!

Looking for help with your nutitrion and weight loss goals? My Nutrition Coach App can help. Snap a picture of your meals and you'll receive daily feedback, info and tips from Registered Dietitian, Angie Scheetz.

Learn More

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

 

Topics: nutrition snacks lunch breakfast protein fiber