<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=424649934352787&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Out with the Old: Change Your Workout to Improve Wellness

GettyImages-529079056.jpgTake yourself back to the 1970s when Arnold Schwarzenegger was preparing for the Mr. Olympia contest. Everybody wanted to try his incredibly intense workouts. It has been rumored that Arnold’s workouts were so intense that at least three different trainers would have to give him separate workouts in order to keep up with him.

Following in the king’s footsteps, anyone who wanted to be a bodybuilder or get into shape undeniably thought that working out six days a week, two times a day, was the way to make this happen. Luckily for us and all of America, workouts have evolved from the old-school mindset to the new school.

Varying Your Workout

Old School: Sticking to the same workout for months.

Although this was the go-to, this pattern isn’t always going to work. When you do the same sets and reps for every workout, you miss out on allowing your body to change.

New School: Implementing the SAID principle.

The SAID principle is an acronym for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. When the body is put under different stress, it starts to adapt. In other words, the body is trying to get better. By providing your body with different types of sets, reps, and loads, you are able to tap into more of your muscle fibers, increase strength, and avoid plateaus.

Targeting Training

Old school: Focusing only on the trouble spots.

This type of focus won’t work for the majority of people who are coming to the gym to work out or lose weight. When there is variety in your workouts, there is room for growth and development. Focusing only on the areas that are the weakest isn’t going to help the areas that are already strong continue to get stronger.

New School: Correcting trouble spots while also training strong areas.

Correcting a weakness and building on a strong point at the same time will enable you to improve your body as a whole. A way to correct those problem areas is to figure out exactly why they are causing you problems. The Functional Movement Screen captures fundamental movements, motor control within movement patterns, and competence of basic movements uncomplicated by specific skills. It will determine the greatest areas of movement deficiency, demonstrate asymmetries, and eventually correlate these with an outcome.

Cardio vs. Strength

Old School: Focusing only on cardio will increase weight loss.

While it’s important to incorporate cardio into your workout regimen to help build and keep your cardiovascular systems stronger, it is not the only type of exercise that is needed for weight loss. Focusing only on cardio will lessen your chances of building muscle.

New School: Getting a healthy dose of both cardio and strength training will improve overall health.

Much like how a car stays warm after it turns off, the same can be said about your body after you finish a workout. EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) explains how your body’s metabolism can continue to burn more calories. Resistance training can provide a greater EPOC effect than running at a steady speed.

Out with the Old and in with the New

Training methods will come and go, and at some point the new-school methods will become old school. At NIFS we offer a wide variety of programs, assessments, and education to help turn those old habits into new routines. Stay positive, be willing to accept change, and explore to find what works best for you!

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Ashley Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS weight loss workouts calories resistance metabolism functional movement assessments programs wellness mindset assessment plateaus targeting workouts change oxygen

Which Fitness Assessment is Right for Me? Part 3: BOD POD®

BP_#121.jpg

BOD POD®: A Body Composition Assessment

Have you ever wondered what your true body composition is? Are you ready to measure your success with precision? When you get onto the scale, the number that you see is your body’s actual weight; however, that is not a true reflection of the makeup inside your body.

The results from a BOD POD assessment will give you those real numbers that you are looking for. You will see a true muscle-to-fat ratio and get a better idea of your overall health. Whether your goal is to gain, lose, or maintain, this assessment will give you real and accurate measurements to help you measure your success.

Why It’s Important to Know Your Body Composition

In order to tell your true level of health, you need to know what’s going on inside of you. You can obviously tell when someone is overweight or underweight on the outside; however, we know that looks can be deceiving. Someone may appear on the outside to be on the heavier side, but they may have a significant amount of muscle mass below the surface. When simply measuring using a scale, there is no way to tell the muscle-to-fat composition inside. Knowing these numbers can be helpful to see the potential risk for things like cardiovascular disease. This assessment will give you the real numbers of your body composition and level of health to help you set goals to gain, lose, or maintain your weight and body fat percentage.

How It Works

The BOD POD uses air displacement technology to get your numbers. Imagine this like a bathtub that is half-full of water. If we measured the amount of water in the tub, then you got into it and we measured the amount of change in the water level, we would come up with the water displacement amount. This same thing happens using the BOD POD, just with air volume—and a lot less mess! This measurement is as accurate as hydrostatic measuring! You will also get an estimated resting metabolic rate (RMR). The RMR tells you how many calories your body uses in one day for accurate consumption, no matter what the goal is.

And, if you decide to come back for another test, the system will save and compare your results so that you can see the changes over time. This assessment takes only a short 15 minutes. For most accurate results, be sure not to eat, drink, or exercise 2 to 3 hours prior and wear tight, form-fitting clothing like compression clothes or a swimsuit.

You can see a sample BOD POD report here. Click here to watch a video on how a BOD POD® test is done.

Cost is $45 per test, or 2 for $80 (one BOD POD assessment annually FREE to NIFS members). To schedule your BOD POD, contact the NIFS track desk at 317-274-3432 ext. 262 or fitness@nifs.org.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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

Topics: NIFS BODPOD muscle mass assessments risk body composition

Which Fitness Assessment Is Right for Me? Part 2: Functional Movement Screen (FMS)

FMS-New.jpgMaximize Your Workout with the Functional Movement Screen at NIFS

Everyone wants to move better, to maximize their potential in their workouts, and to be free of any aches and pains that linger in the body. Some of these issues within the body can stem from imbalances between your right and left sides. Or maybe the issues lie within your mobility (the ability of your body to move freely and easily) or stability (the ability to stay balanced in both static and dynamic movement). We all compensate with movement even though we feel like we are moving “normally.”

However, the good news is that the majority of these things are fixable through corrective exercises. So where do we go from here? How do we figure out what those imbalances are and what to do to get better?

An Assessment of Limitations and Imbalances

The answer is to start with a Functional Movement Screen, or FMS. The FMS will take you through seven basic movement patterns that encompass all movement and exercise. The FMS certified trainers are looking for different things within each of the seven tests to help them score the assessment and understand what is going on in the body. And don’t let the word tests or assessments scare you off; the FMS is designed for all ability levels and ages! From the elite athlete in the NFL to the everyday exerciser, the FMS will help to identify functional limitations and imbalances in each individual.

Watch this video for a quick look at the FMS.

Get Your List of Exercises

Then what? Great question! Now it’s time to get your list of corrective exercises. You will then be entered into a database called FMS360. With this, you can have full access to your scores from the screen, exercises that are safe for you to keep doing, things that you should steer clear of until you earn a better score, and exercises that will help you work to correct those imbalances. Our trainers can also help you through how to correctly perform the exercises that are given to you.

The secret to success: You must consistently do the correctives! These exercises are simple and easily can be added into a warmup as you prepare for your workout. Stay on top of them and don’t let days go by without completing them; it’s only for the betterment of your movement!

The FMS will allow you to move as you should. No matter where you are in your training plan, I would highly encourage you to get one now, improve your movement efficiency, and reduce the risk of injury.

To schedule your FMS, call the NIFS track desk at 317-274-3432 or email fitness@nifs.org.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

 This blog was written by Amanda Bireline. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS workout exercises mobility functional movement assessments

7 Reasons to Track Your Fitness Progress

We are all on a fitness journey in one way or another. With life’s hectic schedule, it’s easy to lose track of where you are and where you want to be regarding your fitness. No matter whether you are trying to lose weight, put on mass, or maintain where you are, tracking fitness progress is an essential piece of your ongoing success.

While some people track every single workout, all gains, and all food consumed in their fitness journal, others just want to get it done and go by how they feel. But with the constant change in technology, specifically in the fitness industry, tracking progress becomes easier and easier; and in fact, it can add some benefits to your training.

ThinkstockPhotos-518956980.jpgThe Benefits of Logging and Tracking

For those who regularly log and track their progress, you may not need to be convinced why you should be tracking it. But keep reading—this is still for you! And for those who don’t normally track progress, take a quick look at why it might be important to start.

  • Makes it more likely to reach and surpass your goal.
  • Allows you to be more efficient in your time and workouts.
  • Lends accountability to yourself and your goals.
  • Allows for easier modifications and shows when and where changes need to be made.
  • It can be motivating and reinforcing to remind you why you are doing what you are.
  • Helps to drive the focus and direction of your programming.
  • Keeps you committed to your plan.

How to Track Your Progress

So how do you track your progress? There are so many different ways these days that you can do this. Apps, old-school fitness journals, online fitness challenges, in-house competitions in a gym, measurements, BOD PODs, photos, assessments, and the list goes on. One of the newest innovative ways to track progress is with a Fit3D scan. This assessment can provide over 200 measurements so that over time you can track your progress, whether you’re working on weight loss or muscle building.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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

Topics: weight loss NIFS programs muscle building apps assessments tracking fitness progress

Would Metabolic Testing for Fitness Benefit You?

Hello NIFS friends! Today’s fitness world is ever evolving with new equipment, exercises, and technology. Our society, generally speaking, is one that feeds and thrives off information and numbers. That being said, how can we make something that is as simple and stripped down as running on a treadmill, basic nutrition, and the ever-so-popular “lift things up and put them down” more informative so that the exercising individual has the opportunity to quantify their progress and results?

We know the BOD POD and Fit3D are great assessments for this, but metabolic testing can take it one step further. Metabolic testing can really be a game changer for many. Two tests that stand out: one that tests your VO2 Max (the efficiency of your heart and lungs to use oxygen as you exercise), and the other being the Resting Metabolic Rate Test (RMR—how many calories your body burns in a day at complete rest and prior to exercise).

VO2 Max Testing

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 1.51.09 PM.pngVO2 Max testing is a test to quantify the efficiency of your heart and lungs during exercise. Why is this important? An athlete who wants not only to improve times, but also to see if their training is effective, can find training zones (based on their testing) and progress based on specific training over time.

The test is usually done on a treadmill or bike and takes roughly 20 to 30 minutes. It isn’t for the faint of heart. To get optimal results, we need for you to be able to “max out” your abilities and do so without any other limiting factors (previous injuries, medications, and so on). For people who are unable to do a VO2 Max test, we highly recommend the alternative Sub Max VO2 test, which can accommodate a wider range of people looking for similar results.

RMR Testing

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 1.51.52 PM.pngFor individuals who want to know how many calories they burn in a day (their metabolism), the RMR test is your main tool to finally take off the blindfold and know exactly how to budget your calories to match your goals, whether it is weight loss or weight gain.

Most likely, if I were to ask someone on the street how many calories they burned today, they would not be able to give an accurate answer. If this were the case, how would you know how many calories to eat to see the results you desire? Activity trackers do a decent job, but they still use plenty of estimations, which leaves even more guesswork. A doctor’s advice can be useful, but they still are limited in what they know about your body. The RMR test, again, takes away the guesswork and gives you a real number to base your nutrition from. Unlike the VO2 Max test, anyone can benefit from the RMR testing.

***

To recap, you are serious about your health but want more information that can make you better, right? You want to get the most out of your time in the gym, correct? You want to feel good and look even better? We have the information you need with the VO2 Max test and RMR test. You may ask, “Are these tests right for me?” The answer can be found by simply talking to one of the Health Fitness Specialists in the NIFS Fitness Center, NIFS’s Registered Dietician, to discuss what is right for you. VO2 Max testing and RMR testing are by appointment only; we hope to see you soon.

Muscleheads rejoice and evolve!

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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

NIFS VO₂ Max Test and RMR are products by KORR™. Images provided by Korr™.

Topics: fitness center Thomas' Corner metabolism assessments fit3d vo2 max

Acting Out: Make Changes for Health and Fitness (Not Excuses)

ThinkstockPhotos-589558764.jpegOf the many lessons that the recent events have provided, one that stands out to me is that anybody can be anything if they take action and pursue it. Establishing goals and setting your mind to accomplishing certain outcomes is important, don’t get me wrong, but action is what ultimately will create change in any aspect of your life.

A rather large pet peeve of mine (I know I have a few) is the behavior of being the first and loudest to complain about something and being the last to do something about it. That is not inspirational, and is a weak character trait, in my opinion. More importantly, individuals who exhibit this approach to life are usually the unhappiest. In my experiences on this planet, the happiest and most successful people are those who take action and make changes, and not excuses.

Questions for Health and Happiness

So here are some questions I feel you should ask yourself if you are currently not as happy and healthy as you hope to be, followed by actions that you can take to help right the ship and have the life you have always dreamed of having.

Question: Are you tired most days?

ACTION: Get more sleep! Turn off the TV and tablets and aim for 7 to 8 hours of good sleep every night (including the weekends).

Question: Are you hungry?

ACTION: Eat real food! Enjoy food that is close to its source and is nutrient dense, not calorie dense.

Question: Are you stressed out?

ACTION: Plan better, implement strong time-management strategies, and devote 80% of your energy toward the top 20% of what is most important to you.

Question: Are you unhappy with your current body composition?

ACTION: See the second ACTION and exercise! Eat the majority of your calories from lean protein foods and vegetables, eat slowly, and remove processed items from your menu. Move every day for at least 30 minutes at moderate intensity, lift heavy things, and sprint once in a while. Keep it simple, and keep it consistent!

Question: Do you say to yourself “I don’t have enough time to be happy and healthy”?

ACTION: Get up early! Stop hitting the snooze button and hit the floor running! There are 24 hours in a day; subtract 8 hours of sleep and 8 hours of work and you have 8 hours remaining. That is a lot of time to prep food, work out, read, spend time with your family, improve your home, and improve yourself. You can get a lot done in 8 hours if you take ACTION and not find ways to waste it.

Question: Are you unhappy in your relationships?

ACTION: First of all, change your circle and remove those who are toxic to you and your life. Second, make more deposits in the emotional bank accounts of those strong and positive relationships and stop withdrawing from them. Examples of withdrawals from these accounts are being untruthful, being late, insults, being undependable, and being hateful. Deposits are going out of your way to show someone you care, sharing, inspiring, and spending time with them. Building powerful relationships in your life is very important, so keep a surplus in those emotional bank accounts.

Question: Do you have a negative attitude about most things?

ACTION: Develop a positive and dynamic mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset. In a recent blog, I stressed the importance of mindset as it relates to change. If your unconscious story is a negative one, filled with self-pity and excuses for things being the way that they are, your conscious mind will simply carry out that negative story. Dive deep and analyze your story through journaling, counseling, and other strategies to write a more positive story of yourself and rid yourself of self-imposed perceptions that are holding you back.

Question: Are you ready for a change?

ACTION: Stop talking about it, and take ACTION!

Time to Do Something for Your Health and Fitness

So here’s the bottom line: To create change, you have to get up and take ACTION to get it done! No more talking about it; it’s time to do something about it. If health and fitness is an item on your action list, contact one of our outstanding instructors here at NIFS to help guide your way with an assessment and a personal fitness program and take ACTION toward a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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 fitness goal setting health assessments mindset lifestyle happiness making changes

Posture and Fitness (Part 2): Anterior Pelvic Tilt

ThinkstockPhotos-611184084.jpgIn part 1 of this series covered kyphosis (rounded shoulders). Now we move on to another posture issue, anterior pelvic tilt.

What Is It?

Anterior pelvic tilt (APT) is a postural deficiency that results in an excessive forward tilt of the pelvic region. Essentially, it protrudes the abdominal region while creating an excessive lower-back curvature. This postural deficiency can cause one to have lower back pain, more abnormal movement mechanics, and muscle accommodation throughout the body, which we refer to as reciprocal inhibition.

What Causes It?

APT is commonly caused by excessive sitting. While in the seated position, your hip flexor muscles become very tight from being in their shortened position. When the hip flexors become tight, they pull down on the pelvis, which causes a forward tilt. Tight hip flexors also keep the gluteus muscles from firing efficiently, which causes the hamstrings to compensate for the lack of use, which in return causes them to become overworked. (The root cause for tight hamstrings may be anterior pelvic tilt.) APT is also a cause of weak abdominal muscles. The abs become loose and overstretched, which allows the pelvis to tilt forward even more. This may lead to a false conclusion of having too much fat around the abdominal region because your belly tends to stick out farther than what is natural.

Why Is It Bad for Fitness?

APT causes an overextension of the lumbar spine, lack of glute activation, and quad dominance, which leads to compensation patterns and poor exercise technique.

How to Fix It

There is a solution! In order to fix this problem, you must attack the root cause. Most commonly you will need to improve your hip flexibility, which can be done with a variety of hip stretches and proper warmup and movement patterns that I will list below. Once the hips have regained flexibility through stretching, the gluteus and hamstring muscles should be allowed to fire more efficiently. This will allow the pelvic region to rotate back into proper alignment, which will make movement patterns such as the squat and deadlift more comfortable, especially for the lower back. It is also a good idea to strengthen up the abdominal region as this will pull up on the quadriceps muscles, also allowing the pelvis to be pulled back into place.

Muscles to Stretch

  • PSOAS
    Hip stretches: Butterfly stretch, pigeon pose, kneeling hip flexor stretch, etc.
  • Quads
    Quad stretches: Standing quad stretch, kneeling quad stretch, etc.

Muscles to Strengthen

  • Glutes (Gluteus Maximus and Minimus)
    Glute exercises: Hip thrust, squats, etc.
  • Hamstrings
    Hamstring exercises: Straight-leg deadlifts, Swiss ball leg curls, lying hamstring curls
    Anti-extension abdominal: Planks, hallow holds, hanging leg raises, reverse crunches, lying pelvic tilt 

See a NIFS Health Fitness Specialist today if you believe APT may be keeping you from proper exercise mechanics.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Darius Felix, Health Fitness Instructor. Click here for more information about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS fitness muscles stretching strength training glutes functional movement assessments posture glute abs hamstring APT anterior pelvic tilt

Proud Chest: Hacking the Squat Pattern for Weightlifting

squat-patternnew.jpgSquats, really any variation, are easily one of the most popular exercises out there today. The squat pattern is a fundamental and big-bang movement when done correctly. But before you throw a bunch of weight on a bar and step underneath it, it’s important to focus on some details to help minimize some minimums that will ultimately lead to a cleaner and safer squat.

Getting the Foundation Right

I love the phrase from Gray Cook that goes, “More is not better; better is better,” when it comes to progressing a particular movement. As a society and fitness community we are eager to jump waist-deep into something without considering the notion that you can drown in only 2 inches of water. It is so important that you mind a solid performance pyramid where movement is the foundation before jumping right to performance or skill. Doing so will ensure proper patterning, leading to even bigger lifts (if that’s your thing) and, more importantly, keeping you safe.

Assessing Your Squat Pattern

So how do you know whether your squat pattern is at an optimal level? Get assessed! If you are not assessing, you are guessing (I can’t remember who I stole that from), so know your minimums before jumping into some maximums. The upper-body/chest area falling forward while squatting is a common issue we see on the fitness center floor. Maintaining a “proud chest” (I adopted that phrase from Gym Jones), or keeping the chest up, is a key squat pattern component.

Two Ways to Maintain a Proud Chest

Here are two simple and effective ways to develop and maintain a proud chest in your weightlifting squat pattern:

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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 fitness center equipment weightlifting powerlifting squat pattern assessments fms

NIFS Fitness Assessments: FIT3D

NIFS’ fitness assessments are a great way to track all aspects of the effectiveness your exercise program brings. They are also great for adding internal and external motivation that will keep you striving for the results you desire! Many of us lose motivation and the will power to continue with our exercise program once we do not see improvements with the naked eye. Just because results might not be obvious to the naked eye, doesn’t mean they have not taken place.

Fit3D ProScanner and Web Platform (Short)In order to view results through a perspective other than decrease in body fat percentages, we have added in another element to our initial fitness assessments at NIFS. We will now be offering body circumference testing via FIT3D technology! This new system will make it much easier and more personal to gain accurate and important measurements for tracking progress.

What the FIT3D Proscanner Tell You

NIFS is now offering body circumference testing via the FIT3D technology. This new system will make it much easier to get more personal and accurate measurements that are important for tracking progress throughout an exercise program.

What: Fit3D is a relatively new technology that scans a 360-degree image of the most commonly tracked body circumferences, such as waist, hip, thigh, arm and biceps, and chest.

How: To get started, you will first create an account using the email address you would like your results to be sent to. Once your account is created, you will then step on the Fit3D platform, which takes a body-image scan. Immediately after the scan, a confidential email of the circumference results will be sent for you and only you to assess. If you would like further analysis of your results, you can then invite a NIFS Health and Fitness Specialist to view your results via the website. 

Why: This information can be useful because it allows you to assess the effectiveness of your exercise programs by comparing body circumference over an extended period of time, while also driving motivation to continue on the path of improvement. With these scan results, you will be able to assess where you are more likely to store fat throughout the body, as well as track where you are adding the most muscle and losing the most body fat with your exercise program. Fit3D also places the measurement results in one of three wellness zone categories (Healthy, Needs Improvement, and Health Risk) in order to assess your risk of developing health problems.

Sometimes progress is not always visible to the naked eye or displayed on a weight scale, which is where Fit 3D is very useful because you can visually see changes in your body in a picture and not just numbers. Because this technology has an error rate of less than a half-inch, you will be able to receive an extremely in-depth and accurate report of where your greatest improvements have been over time.

It is important to note that an individual cannot spot-reduce a specific area of the body where they would like to lose weight first, therefore it becomes that much more important to utilize this body circumference technology to help understand where you are making the greatest improvements initially, which will add motivation to continue with the program in order to reach your desired physique. 

Schedule your Fit3D

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

Topics: fitness motivation BODPOD technology assessments

Annual Checkups and Health Assessments Can Save Your Life

As we age, it’s almost inevitable that our bodies are going to age as well. Yes, there are plenty of ways to keep our bodies from feeling like they have aged, and to keep our bones protected, and nutrition and exercise lifestyles go hand in hand to assist that. However, there are certain aspects, such as genetics and health history, that still play a very important role in keeping us healthy.

Pete-Binhack.jpgI sat down with Pete Binhack and his wife, Julie, both active and longtime NIFS members, and listened to them share Pete’s story about making a decision to get a simple $50 heart scan to check his cardiovascular health—a decision that ended up saving his life.

First tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you have been living a healthy lifestyle.

I am currently 58 years old, and have been running regularly for the last 18 years; I made a declaration to myself when I turned 40 that I would start running and have kept it up ever since. Since then I have completed about six full marathons so far, and as of this year I have completed 18 mini marathons. I found that running is what contributed to taking care of my work stress; I have a fairly physical job in the HVAC/refrigeration industry and that has encouraged me to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Do you normally make sure to schedule annual checkups with your doctor?

Yes, I actually have always kept up an annual checkup with my doctor since the age of 18. I always took advantage of the free annual checkup that I was given from each of my employers when I would begin a new job, and then would make sure to get one every year in between.”

For some of us, an annual checkup is sufficient, and it’s a wonderful start for those of us who do not currently have a doctor that we see annually. Many of us go years without seeing our physician until we find that we have to make an appointment because we just can’t kick a cold on our own or because we are feeling “off our game.” However, when it comes to more specialized appointments to check for a specific disorder (cancers, cardiovascular disease, etc.), many of us tend to not even think twice about getting checked.

What made you decide to get a heart scan?

My brother had major open-heart valve replacement surgery when we were younger, in the early ‘60s. Then I saw it via advertisement last year while visiting a friend in the hospital after having a heart attack. To be honest, I procrastinated on it until after going to a funeral for a 58-year-old high school friend of mine who died of a heart attack. The funeral was on a Wednesday; I called and made an appointment for the following Thursday.”

What were the results?

My doctor called me within two hours of receiving the results to tell me to stop my running. I had a more thorough scan set up and was then recommended to a thoracic surgeon for our next steps.”

“We thought we would be seeing her for medicine options,” his wife, Julie, stated, “We had no thoughts in our heads about surgery.”

“Later after going to the Cardiovascular Center at Methodist to see the surgeon, she showed us a 3D picture of an ascending aortic aneurysm in Pete’s heart,” Julie said. “It was 5½ centimeters wide, which is two times the size of where it should be.”

The results were shocking for both Pete and Julie, and it was crucial to move quickly in their following appointments and surgery.

“If it had ruptured, I would not be here today,” Pete replied. “My surgeon said she was pretty positive that I would not have lived through the rest of the month. Surgery was the only option. Within five days I ended up having open-heart surgery to remove the aneurysm on March 19, 2015, during which they also found a significant amount of plaque on my valve.”

Needless to say, it is important to schedule routine appointments with your doctor—not only a yearly physical or regular checkup, but also more specific appointments to get a deeper look at high-risk areas. This requires us to make sure we have a good understanding of medical history in our families.

Do you have a history of heart disease in your family?

“Yes, so my issue was more of a genetic situation. I have six brothers and sisters, four of whom have heart valve issues that are currently being monitored, and two of whom have gone out and had heart scans done since I had my surgery.”

Now that you are recovered, are you able to continue doing all the things you enjoyed before? Is there anything different?

“Yes and no. Recovery went well, but physical therapy was hard because they wanted to slow me down, while I, naturally, wanted to go faster. However, within six weeks I was able to complete the Indy Mini-Marathon with my daughter, and within three months time I went back to work. Now I am just naturally cautious of things, such as bumping my chest, etc.”

“Sometimes I forget that it has only been one year since the surgery, and I have to remember that,” Julie said. “I also have to make sure to have a little more patience with Pete’s progress. Currently I’m not sure if he’ll be returning back to his original running level, but we are very fortunate to even have him back at 60 percent of what he was.”

What advice do you have for those who haven’t gone to the doctor in a while?

“Make the appointment and sincerely evaluate where you want to be in the future,” Julie stated. “If you have never gotten a heart scan done, or any other assessment, and [certain diseases] run in your family, there’s no excuse. We got very lucky with our doctor and it was a positive influence for the both of us.”

“Don’t be afraid to make that first step and just get it done,” said Pete. “The sooner the better; make the appointment and sincerely evaluate where you want to be in the future. What we thought would be a routine appointment turned into a life-changing one, but it was all for good in the end.”

I know that for many of us, myself included, we often forget about annual checkups and assessments, or simply neglect making the appointment because we are afraid of hearing bad news or having to make changes in our lifestyle that stray from our comfortable routine. But the fact is, the sooner and more often we check in with what’s going on inside, the quicker we can catch the things that can be treated in the early stages. This will help us be better off in the long run, and we can rest easier knowing that we are taking care of ourselves from the inside out!

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Rebecca Newbrough, Lifestyle Program Coordinator and Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS heart disease cardiovascular assessments