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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Masie Duncan

Recent Posts by Masie Duncan:

Get Family and Friends Involved in Your Fitness Goals

ThinkstockPhotos-78717030.jpgIt can be hard trying to change your lifestyle or fitness on your own. It can be even harder if you don’t have support from your family and friends. You family and friends can play a key role in your fitness journey, so why not get them involved and gain their support? Including them in your journey can help your motivation and help you enjoy the path to your fitness and health goals.

How to Get Friends Involved

Hanging out with friends keeps your life full of happiness and fun. Your friends are people who share common interests with you. It can be difficult to continue to connect and have fun with friends when you decide to change your lifestyle. So why not get them involved?

Identify whether there are unhealthy activities you and your friends like to participate in. Examples can include eating out every weekend, drinking excessively, or even being sedentary together. Then as group, brainstorm new ideas for activities you can try together. Together you can discover which new activities are enjoyable and which activities don’t suit your new lifestyle, and you can help one another's accountability to stick with it. Make it fun!

How to Promote Family Fitness Involvement

Having family support is great to help you accomplish your fitness goals. Even better, now you are helping them to lead healthier lifestyles, too. It can also make it more fun.

The best resource/tool that I have found that offers ideas and tips is Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. It offers resources on nutrition and physical activity, and tips on how to be successful. The Presidential Active Lifestyle Award challenge is another great resource. It offers guidelines for children and adults to complete together.

Here are a few ideas of fun activities you can do as a group in the Indianapolis area:

Mix up the activities but be sure to do something on a regular basis. All types of physical activity can benefit your health and fitness so grab a friend or your family and get going!

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Check out NIFS's all new Ramp Up to Weight Loss membership to get you started! This program offers 14-weeks of workouts with one of our certified trainers, meetings with our dietician, free access to the My Nutrition Coach App, and fitness assessments to help you plan and track your progress. Click below to learn more.

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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: fitness winter fitness healthy habits motivation weight loss accountability outdoors Indianapolis

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

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

A NEAT Way to Burn More Calories (Part 1 of 2)

Exercising regularly is great for improving health and wellness. Exercise can help relieve stress and feel good about ourselves. However, some people are finding that exercising regularly is not helping them lose the unwanted weight that most of us carry. How can that be?

Who Has Time for 60 Minutes of Cardio Per Day?

While exercise is essential for health, you can’t rely on it to be your sole calorie-burning tool. According to “A NEAT(Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) Approach to Weight Loss,” written by Fabio Comana, “We need to burn 2,000 calories each week through physical activity in order to lose weight.” That would equal about 286 calories each day. That may seem like a small number, but in reality it is quite large. You would need to complete about 60 minutes of cardio each day of the week. 

If you are willing to put in the work, you will be successful. However, most of us have other responsibilities that can limit our time in the gym or exercising. So how are we going to burn the excess calories that we are not burning through exercise? 

ThinkstockPhotos-80966263Most of the calories you burn per day happen throughout the entirety of the day, from when you wake up to when you go to sleep. So what if you increase the calories you burn throughout the day, as well as exercising about three days per week, to help you achieve your weight-loss or weight-management goals?

Factors That Affect How You Burn Calories

Recently a research article written by James Levine discussed the idea of NEAT. In Levine’s article, he defines NEAT as “the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than sporting-like exercise.” This includes everything that you do during the day that does not include your planned exercise sessions. In order for us as a population to burn more calories throughout the day, we need to increase our non-exercise activity. 

According to Levine, there are different factors that play a huge role in the amount of NEAT an individual can achieve throughout the day. Following are two major factors that can affect how NEAT a person can be. 

Occupation: If your job requires you to sit for most of the 8 hours you are there, you will have a lower NEAT for that day. Now if your job requires you to stand, walk, and lift throughout the day, your NEAT will be higher than the person who sits at work. This factor may be out of your control, but in a follow up blog, I will provide a few fun ideas to help you achieve more NEAT in the workplace. 

Leisure time: After work, if you are more likely to sit and watch television until you go to bed, your NEAT levels will remain relatively low. However, if you decide to clean the house or mow the lawn after work, your NEAT will be higher for the day. In the follow up blog, I will also provide you with a few fun ideas to do during your leisure time that will help increase your overall NEAT. 

The impact of increasing your non-exercise activity is huge for your health and weight loss or maintenance. Levine’s article concludes that NEAT can burn an average of 330 calories per day in healthy individuals, and up to nearly 700 calories per day in others. That is a huge difference and could be the deciding factor in your weight-loss goals. 

Keep an eye out for the second part of this blog, where I will provide you with 10 ideas for how to be more NEAT during the day. Stay tuned!

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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: cardio staying active weight loss calories weight management workplace fitness

Training Tips for Former Athletes: Stay Fit and Motivated

MasieI recently ended my rugby career at Indiana University. I had been playing for 9 years, and competed in various other sports before that. Until now, I have always had a coach scheduling practices and creating workouts for me, and have always pushed myself to my limits for the team.

If you've played sports your whole life but now you are in the real world with other responsibilities and time constraints that did not exist when you were an athlete, you may start to lose your strength and endurance. You may have even noticed changes in your body due to your lifestyle change. You want to stay in shape or get back in shape, but you are unsure where to start or what to do. 

Here are a few tips to help you figure out how to train as a former athlete.

  • Acknowledge that you are no longer a competitive athlete. You are now a former athlete. This is a hard step to take because in your heart you will always be an athlete. You are just no longer a part of a team or competition, and that is okay. 
  • Create new goals for yourself that pertain to your life now. Back in college or high school, you trained a lot, and you trained hard. You had a deadline to be in shape before your first game. However, this mindset may not work now with your new lifestyle. You need to set new goals, which can include cardiovascular training like running or biking. Or your goal could be to lose weight or fat. Your goal can even simply be to maintain a certain overall fitness level. 
  • Train better, not harder. During athletic training you were told to run more, lift more, and practice more in order to be the best and win. This mindset and form of training may have worked then, but that doesn't necessarily mean it works now. You need to train better and more efficiently. Training better is easier to maintain and accomplish than trying to train as hard as you did before. But how do you know you are training better, when all you have known is how to train hard?
Join a Training Program

Many gyms offer training programs for marathons or triathlons or even weight loss. What is great about these programs is that they have coaches that create workouts and guide you through them. You will work alongside others in the program and can get the feeling of being part of a team. Here at NIFS we offer a variety of training programs

Find a Personal Trainer

If you are interested in working on your own, but still feel that you need more guidance, look into personal training. Trainers offer you the accountability that coaches and practices did. Personal trainers can help create new goals for you and lead you through specific, efficient programs. 

Working Out on Your Own

If you need help finding a starting point, here are some tips and examples you can use to help. You'll want to focus on full-body, multi-joint lifts. 

Here are examples of some exercises you can use as the basis of your workouts:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Deadlifts
  • Rows
  • Pull-ups
  • Pushups

Choose a few to perform for each workout. You can alternate between 2 and 3 days per week, performing 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions each. 

When performing cardio, a great goal is to try to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise each week. For example, you can complete five 30-minute sessions of cardio each week. You can also perform them on the same day as your strength training. 

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In the end, take time to find what works best for you at this time in your life. Training like you did when you were an athlete isn't always what works. Explore your options, and find what you like to do now. 

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

Topics: cardio motivation accountability NIFS programs endurance strength personal training team training