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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Tara Rochford

Recent Posts by Tara Rochford:

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

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!

Request a FREE Class Pass

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

Top 3 Tips for Staying Healthy in College

collegeEven though it’s been a few years since I graduated, it still feels like I was just walking through campus and living in the dorm. I absolutely loved college, and while many people gained the freshman 15, I took advantage of the opportunity to live on my own for the first time and make lots of healthy habits that I still follow today. Just because I created healthy habits doesn’t mean I didn’t have an amazing time.

For me, living a balanced life full of fun is essential for being healthy. Here are my top three tips for staying healthy your freshman year and beyond (that leave room for plenty of college-style fun and experiences).

1. Keep a Routine

I am a routine type of girl, but I have come to learn that having a routine is not just a “me” thing. The human body was designed to function on a schedule and to have a routine. Everyone can have a different routine, but I found that I functioned best when I went to bed a little earlier than most people and woke up a little earlier. Of course, I would stay up later on weekends to participate in events, hang out with friends, and attend socials and parties, but I would give myself a curfew (typically midnight) so that I could get some sleep and still feel great the next morning (even after having a great time the night before). The most important thing is to figure out what works for your body and stick to it. 

2. Take Advantage of the Rec/Fitness Center

Most colleges and universities have a fitness center or are affiliated with a fitness center for students to use. Guys, this is a no-brainer! Just go to the rec center or fitness center. These places offer tons of group fitness classes, personal training sessions, and weight and cardio equipment for you to do your own workouts, and they are usually open for the majority of the day. Stop making excuses; find a friend and hit up the rec/fitness center. You’ll thank me once you do!

3. Walk It Out

I went to a small university, so the farthest thing away on campus was typically a 10-minute walk. That’s it! I would only use my car if I had to take a large load somewhere or if I was leaving campus, which was very rare. Walking is amazing for the body because it gets the body moving, but it doesn’t put a lot of stress on the muscles and joints. Walking as your form of transportation is a habit that you can start during your college days and then continue throughout the rest of your life! Seriously, just walk. You’ll feel great and those freshman 15 pounds will stay far away. 

Of course, there are tons of other things you can do to stay healthy in college; these are just a few for you to start with! 

Let’s hear from you below in the comment section. What are some of your favorite ways to stay healthy?

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.

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Topics: healthy habits fitness center walking sleep college

Top 5 Tips for Morning Workouts

466265051As a natural-born morning person, many people frequently ask what my secret is for bursts of energy before the sun rises. While I may naturally be a morning person, there are a few things that I do in order to guarantee a successful morning workout because, believe it or not, there are times that even I find it hard to drag my bod to the gym to start my day.

Here are my top 5 tips that will prepare you for a successful morning workout.

1. Plan it into your schedule. 

Personally, I can’t just wake up and “wing it” when it comes to my workouts. I need to have something planned ahead of time. Whether it’s meeting a friend for a workout, taking my favorite group fitness class, or planning out a treadmill run, taking the guessing game out of my morning workout gives me something to look forward to and helps me mentally prepare the evening before.

2. Lay out your clothes and anything you need for the next day the night before.

Even though I may be a morning person, it still takes me a bit longer to do things first thing in the morning. Also, if I have my clothes (shoes, socks, and undies included!) already laid out, I feel like there are no excuses keeping me from the gym if I wake up feeling a little less than motivated. If I am going somewhere after the gym (like straight to work), I make sure to have all bags packed, ready to go, and laying by the door so I don’t have to do any extra work when I first wake up.

3. Pack/plan breakfast.

For me, I always eat a little bite of something before my early morning workouts. Despite my little pre-workout snack, I am almost always starving by the end of my morning workout and I’m ready for an actual meal. Packing a breakfast (something like overnight oats or hard-boiled eggs and fruit) allows me to get the nutrients I need to start my day so that I keep that energized feeling going throughout the day. Having a healthy breakfast packed and ready to go also helps me avoid less healthy yet ultra convenient breakfast options.

4. Go to bed early.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I honestly think it’s the most important thing on the list. Sleep is so, so important, and if you stay up late or get inadequate sleep, you won’t be doing your body any favors. Getting enough shut-eye will ensure that you are strong for your morning workout and in a great mood throughout the rest of the day.

5. Remember how great you will feel AFTER.

You know that feeling you get after a super-sweaty workout—energized from the inside out, that slight shake in the muscles as a little reminder of the hard work you put in, and you look at the clock and realize most people haven’t even eaten breakfast yet! For me, that feeling of “getting it done” before the day has even started is invaluable. Now, when you come home exhausted from a draining day at work, you can kick back and relax without a hint of guilt.

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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: healthy habits motivation workouts attitude

5 SUPER Smoothie Add-Ins for Healthy Eating

4773111471The weather is getting warmer, Mini Marathon training is in full swing, and some of our group fitness classes are able to meet outdoors for a fun twist on the workout. Yep, spring is here! The warmer weather and sunnier days definitely have me craving a fruit and veggie-packed smoothie first thing in the morning, no doubt about it. Full of fiber, plant-based protein, vitamins, and minerals galore, it’s pretty clear that drinking a smoothie is a guaranteed way to get in a nutrient-packed breakfast to start your day with healthy eating. 

You can make your own recipes using these hints. Start with a liquid base like almond milk, coconut water, or coconut milk. Add in about a cup of your favorite frozen fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, or cherries. Next, I always like to add in half of a frozen banana for extra creaminess! Last, pick one or two of these super-food mix-ins to really take your smoothie to the next level. Trust me on this one! Your body (and your taste buds) will thank you.

Spinach: Greens are known for their serious antioxidant cancer-fighting superpowers as well as their high vitamin and mineral content. It’s no wonder your parents were always trying to get you to finish those greens with dinner. Well, adding raw spinach to your morning smoothie is a great (dare I say sneaky) way to enjoy these greens so you can reap the nutrition benefits of this delicious veggie. I promise, you won’t taste a thing. Try adding a large handful of raw spinach to your next morning blend.

Chia: It’s no wonder everyone is chatting about chia! Rich in plant-powered protein and healthy fats that help promote brain function and heart health, these little seeds pack so much! They create a gel-like consistency when added to liquid so they will thicken your smoothie right up. Try adding one tablespoon to a smoothie for a tasty treat.

Cacao: Rich in magnesium, iron, potassium, and antioxidants, cacao is the raw form of chocolate. That’s right, it’s healthy to have a chocolaty, rich smoothie for breakfast. One of my favorite combos? Almond milk, frozen banana, almond butter, a dash of cinnamon, and a tablespoon of this delicious raw cocoa powder. (And maybe a handful of spinach!) 

Coconut water: Drinking coconut water is a great way to hydrate and start your recovery after a tough workout. It is lower in calories than most sports drinks and contains no artificial ingredients or added sugars (just be sure to read the label), which makes it perfect for restoring your hydration levels the way nature intended. Use about a cup of coconut water as the liquid base of your smoothie to give your body a natural electrolyte boost after your morning sweat session.

Avocado: Do you LOVE super-creamy smoothies? If so, avocado is the superfood add-in for you! Adding a quarter of an avocado to your smoothie not only gives you a boost of fiber, monounsaturated fats, and potassium; but it instantly turns your smoothie into a thick and creamy milkshake. Milkshake for breakfast? Oh, yes!

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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 eating recipes breakfast hydration recovery

Muscle Soreness Recovery Tips

sorenessWhen we are new to exercise or trying an exercise that is new to our body, it’s pretty common to feel SOME sort of muscular pain.

I think most of us can agree that a little muscle soreness after a fantastic workout is a fun way to remember that things are changing and that we are getting stronger. I think we can also agree (and most have experienced it) that there is a certain degree of soreness that kind of feels like “everything hurts so badly you can’t stand up or lift your arms,” which isn’t quite as motivating. Along with this you may feel irritable, fatigued, and really hungry. Sounds fun, right?

Not to worry! For each type of muscular soreness there is an amazing  recovery solution.

Why Do My Muscles Get Sore in the First Place?

The muscle soreness that you feel 24 to 48 hours after the workout is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), and it is actually caused by tiny micro-tears in the muscle and surrounding tissue. Say WHAT? Tears in the muscle? Sounds pretty terrible, right? But actually those little tears in the muscle are necessary to make things stronger.

So What Should I Do About Muscle Soreness?

To alleviate mild muscle soreness, a little movement is actually best! Try walking or some yoga. While it’s good to move after a workout to take away some of that pain, this is a pretty fine line and it’s most important to truly listen to and trust your body and give it rest when needed.

Here are five ways to take care of your muscles and reduce muscle soreness:

  1. Take it slow. Gradually progress the intensity, frequency, and duration of your workouts.
  2. Foam roll. Not sure what this is? It’s a way of stretching and basically giving your muscles and fascia a great massage. Check out our handy guide on how to foam roll!
  3. Get a massage. You’re going to love this one! Foam rolling is great, but if you have the time and funding for a therapeutic massage, it’s well worth the investment. It helps your body heal itself.
  4. Practice yoga or do some light stretching. Avoid a fast-paced or intense practice and choose something slower such as Yin or Hatha yoga.
  5. Ice the muscles. Placing an icepack on a specific area may help reduce muscle soreness in a very localized area. Make sure not to leave the icepack on for very long, though, as it may cause tissue death.

It all comes down to listening to your body and not being afraid to take a day or two to let your body heal. Soreness, injury, and illness are a time to nurture yourself and give your body the rest it needs. Take the rest, and pay attention to how much stronger you feel in your next workout!

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.

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Topics: yoga injury prevention muscles stretching pain recovery

Three Group Fitness Classes to Try NOW!

NIFS offers a wide variety of group fitness classes every day of the week that are innovative, fun, and make sweating a bit more enjoyable. Whether you are a group fitness “junkie” or just trying out the whole group fitness thing for the first time, here are three group fitness classes you should put on your list to check out:

1. Cycle/RPMcycle

This heart-pumping cardio class will get you fit while sweating to the beat of powerful music. In the middle of summer, it’s often too hot or humid to safely ride your bike outdoors, while in the winter it can be too icy and cold. Indoor cycling is a great alternative. For a high-intensity workout, cycling is low-impact. Each class focuses on a combination of interval training, speed work, and hill climbs to keep you healthy, fit, and happy.

2. CXWORX

The CXWORX workout is just 30 minutes and focuses on the core (the abs, hips, butt, shoulders, and back). That means whether you are looking for a quick and effective workout or are trying to improve your performance in your other workouts, this is the group fitness class for you. While this can be an intense and challenging class, our instructors are excellent at providing exercise modifications that allow everyone in the class to be successful!

3. Yoga_DSC0280

We all know that stress doesn’t do anything good for our health, and one way to balance out the many stresses of life is to hit the mat and take a yoga class. The controlled stretching and breathing practiced in a yoga class allows the body to relax, which can lower your blood pressure, repair overworked muscles, and give the mind a needed break from the hustle and bustle of a regular day. Not flexible? Not a problem. Our instructors understand that everyone comes into class with his or her own “baggage” and will make necessary adjustments and provide options so that everyone can have a calming and rejuvenating yoga practice.

With 80+ monthly group fitness classes at NIFS there is something for everyone. Get started and try a free class on us!

Request a FREE Class Pass

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, LES MILLS® certified BODYPUMP® and CXWORX® instructor and contributing writer. Author of Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS yoga group fitness cycling core Les Mills

Half Marathon Training and VO2 Max

It has taken a bit of time to get used to calling myself a “runner,” but I enjoy running races and incorporating running into my weekly workout routine. So, even if I still have vivid memories of quitting the middle school cross country team after one practice, where I walked the entire time…I am still a runner.

Although I’m not an elite runner, and I don’t plan on winning any races anytime soon I do have a slightly competitive mindset and I enjoy seeing improvements in my fitness level. When I signed up to complete my fifth half marathon this November, I knew that I needed a new goal. I have had small personal goals each time I completed a half marathon to help get me through training:

  • Finish the half marathon without walking.
  • Finish the half marathon in under two hours.
  • This half marathon was only weeks after my second half marathon, so I just wanted to finish feeling good!
  • Beat my previous best time of 1:56:53.

The next goal: complete a half marathon in 1:45:00. This will mean shaving a significant amount of time off of my mile, but I know that with hard work and dedication I can do it. Because I am not an “experienced” runner, I thought I would use some of my resources at NIFS and ask the more experienced staff for advice in decreasing my running time.VO2 max test

Steph, one of our Health and Fitness Specialists and an experienced runner, suggested completing a VO2 max test to find out my lactic threshold. She explained that a VO2 max test is used to measure how much oxygen your body processes at a maximal effort during exercise. This would determine how my aerobic fitness compared with other women my age. The test also would determine what my lactate threshold point is, which tells me how intense my training sessions could be and what my “tempo” or lactic threshold pace should be.

You may have heard of a “tempo” run, which is simply a run completed at the heart rate just below your lactate threshold, designed to help you improve your lactate threshold level and stamina. Lactic threshold is the point of intensity during exercise when lactate starts to accumulate in the blood.

I was excited to complete this test, but I was also very nervous! I had heard horror stories of participants getting sick at the end of the test, and the contraption/face mask looks pretty intimidating, too. That being said, I knew that this would be valuable and helpful information for me, so I completed the test willingly.

What Was the VO2 Max Like?VO2 Max test

It was a bit uncomfortable running with the face mask on and at such a steep incline, but overall the test was not bad at all! All of my previous fears were unnecessary. I started running on a treadmill at a comfortable pace of around 8:30min/mile. Steph slowly began to increase the incline as the machine calculated my heart rate and how efficiently my body was using oxygen. I was shocked at how quickly I began to feel the burn in my legs—but I guess that was the point of the test!

Looking back, I probably could have gone slightly longer, but for fear of flying off of the steep and quick-moving treadmill I asked Steph to turn off the test as soon as I felt I was at my edge.

Once the test was complete, Steph went over the results with me to explain my target heart rate for my training runs, my lactic threshold, and what my VO2 max was. She also completed a training plan for me based on this information and my goal of running a half marathon in 1:45:00.

I was not sure if I would reach my goal of 1:45:00 this time around because of the short 8 week training window, but I still had my heart set on achieving that time. Race day came, and I was feeling as ready as ever to run the fastest I have ever run such a long distance. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins and Steph’s excellent training program gave me the confidence I needed to know I COULD achieve my goal time…and I did! I ended up completing the race with a pace of 7:57 and a time of 1:44:04 and I could not believe it! (I still can’t!) 

Now that I have achieved my long-time running goal, I want to see how much faster I can actually get and the VO2 max test will allow me to do just that. It will allow me to see how much energy I still have left in my tank and Steph can create a new training plan for my next race. I can’t wait to see how this new to me training will positively affect my race time as I lead a training group for the NIFS Mini Marathon Training Program.

How Can You Schedule Your VO2 Max Test?

All you have to do is e-mail Tony Maloney, Fitness Center Manager, at tmaloney@nifs.org, to ask about pricing and schedule your assessment.

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, NIFS Membership Manager and a group fitness instructor. Author of Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS running marathon training mini marathon half marathon assessments

How to Make Time for Health During the Busy Holidays

The holidays are known as a time of temptation, bustling around, and busy schedules. It’s part of what makes me love the holiday season so much. Despite the cheerful feelings in the air, many times when we get busy, nutritious foods and regular exercise are the first things to go!

I can definitely relate to feeling the holiday rush and not knowing where or when to fit in my healthy lifestyle. I also know that with a little pre-planning and a conscious effort put into my food and exercise routine, I feel much happier overall and I am able to enjoy fun holiday events even more! Whether you are attending holiday parties, working long hours, or enjoying your child’s holiday performance, it’s still important to make time for health.

Here are my six tips for staying healthy during the busy holiday season.

1. Schedule the Appointment

At the end of the weekend, I like to take out my planner and write down my workouts where I have time available (in ink!). This allows me to know ahead of time I have an appointment. And just as if I were meeting with someone for business, I don’t want to miss it or be late. Looking at my time day by day, and sometimes hour by hour, makes the busy schedule seem a lot more manageable and allows me to find empty time pockets that I can fill if necessary.

2. Make It a Traditionworkout buddy

A couple of years ago, I signed up for my first Thanksgiving morning run and it was a blast! There were tons of crazy costumes, families, and runners of all experience levels participating. The atmosphere was so happy and inviting! Having the race to look forward to kept me on task for the month of November, as I knew I needed to stay in shape to complete the race and feel good the rest of the day. I enjoyed the race so much that I have signed up for a race every year since, and now I am getting my family involved!

3. Cook in Batchesbatch cooking

Make batches of healthy meals and snacks at the beginning of the week so you aren't tempted by holiday treats at all times. I make this a habit even when it’s not the holiday season. It could be as simple as roasting extra veggies, cooking extra chicken or fish to throw on salads, or making sure all of your produce is clean and cut so you can grab and go at any time. Holiday treats are part of the season, so enjoy them, but don’t shape your entire holiday diet around them.

4. Combine Workout with Workbatch cooking

I know how it feels to have a big exam coming up that consumes every thought in my head, or extra work that needs to be completed away from the office. Having things like this on my mind have made me feel guilty about taking the time out of my schedule to get some physical activity in. Luckily, I have found a way to squeeze in some extra work while getting my exercise in. Read your notes while riding a stationary bike, running on the treadmill, or using the elliptical. It may not be your preferred mode of activity, but it is still movement. Combining the two things on your to-do list will hopefully give you a little break in your schedule so you can spend your spare time celebrating rather than at the gym.

5. Pack Your Bagworkout bag

Preparing for the next day the night before helps me stay focused and not miss any appointments I may have coming up, and that includes my workout appointment with myself! I pack my entire bag the night before so I can get up early to work out before my day starts or hit the gym right after work—if you are lucky, squeeze it in during lunch! No matter what, your bag will be packed and ready to go, leaving you with no excuses.

6. Find a Workout Buddy

Having a partner in crime for any activity makes it more enjoyable, and the same is true with working out! Another option is to attend a group class. Meeting the others in the group will help hold you accountable for showing up each day. They will help motivate you during the workout, too!

If you need some extra motivation, NIFS offers Group Training classes throughout the week to keep you on track during the holidays!

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, NIFS Membership Manager and a group fitness instructor. Author of Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: exercise fitness nutrition staying active motivation healthy eating

How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle in College

With NIFS being located on the campus of IUPUI, it is hard not to notice the campus’s schedule and all of the students bustling between classes. Several students stop into our fitness center for advice so they can avoid the “freshman 15” or get their healthy habits back on track.

Now that school is in full swing and you have your classes and routine figured out, it is a good time to take a look at your healthy habits or areas that could use a little tweaking in the health department. I know how tough being in college can be, but it doesn’t mean that all healthy decisions have to fall to the wayside. This is a crucial time in your life when new routines are developed, so why not develop healthy habits that you will have for life?

College is a time when you go through many changes all at once, so it’s important to not only focus on putting healthy foods in your body, but also to be healthy physically, mentally, and socially, too! Not to worry; it may be challenging at times dealing with so many new things all at once, but I promise you will make it through.

You may be a new college student, in your third or fourth year of college, preparing to go to college, or helping a loved one get ready for his or her college experience. Whatever the case, these tips will help keep anyone college-bound healthy, balanced, and happy!

1. Create a Routineplanner

Every person functions differently. Some people are planners and some people thrive on spontaneity. Whatever the case, your body needs a little bit of routine. Make sure that you are orderly with things you do each day. For example, keeping your keys, ID cards, and notebooks in the same place each day will save you the stress of searching and scrambling last minute to find these items before each class. This extra time will also allow for more “free time” when you can do spontaneous and fun things to keep your mental and social health balanced.

2. Begin with Breakfastpeanut oats

Breakfast is the meal that boosts your blood sugar and metabolism, and can set the tone for the entire day. Skipping breakfast can lead to moodiness, low blood sugar, and overeating later in the day. Remember that you don't have to eat "breakfast" for breakfast. If you want leftovers from the night before, go for it! The important thing is to include complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fat to increase your focus, metabolism, and energy. If you don’t want to eat in the dining hall, an easy dorm room breakfast is hot oats cooked in the community microwave topped with a dollop of nut butter and a side of fruit that you grabbed from the dining hall the night before.

3. Hydrate

Keep in mind that the calories in your drinks count toward your daily calories, too. If you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated, and often thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Choose water when you can, and keep a fun water bottle or cup with you at all times to encourage drinking throughout the entire day.

4. Schedule Physical Activity and Make it FUN!group fitnees

Don’t like going to the gym? You don’t have to! Since I work at NIFS you probably think I am crazy for saying that! The thing is, your body doesn’t know whether you are running inside on a treadmill or playing a game of soccer. What your body does know is it was meant to move, so schedule some fun active time in your day just like a class or appointment. Sign up for an intramural sport, try a group fitness class, join a running group, volunteer at the animal shelter to walk dogs, sign up for a dance class, and get creative! Find something you love and do it.

5. Be Prepared

Although it may be hard to pack an entire healthy meal when living in a dorm, packing a snack can be easy! Some fruits and vegetables require little to no preparation (such as apples, oranges, peaches, cherry tomatoes, and snap peas) and can be thrown into your school bag for an easy energy booster. This can lift your mood and sharpen your focus to help prevent the afternoon blues and help increase your productivity while studying. Having water and emergency snacks on hand will also make it less likely for you to reach for fast food as a regular option.

6. Indulge!cookies

In moderation, it's okay to eat your favorite treat every once in a while. Things like ice cream, fast food, chocolate, or a special coffee drink are perfectly fine to enjoy...sometimes. It's not what you do every once in a while, it's what you do every day that makes a difference.

At NIFS we are here to help, and we couldn’t be more conveniently located for students in central Indianapolis.

We offer fun group fitness classes that are included in your membership. We have a Registered Dietitian on staff who can help you create a meal plan that will work with your campus lifestyle. And our Health and Fitness Specialists will create a workout plan for you for free.

If you have questions about student membership or any of the programs that we have available to help you live a healthy campus lifestyle please e-mail membership at membership@nifs.org.

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, NIFS Membership Manager and a group fitness instructor. Author of Treble in the Kitchen.Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS exercise nutrition staying active healthy habits group fitness healthy eating snacks outdoors