NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Fitness Goal Setting: Why You Should (and How NIFS Can Help)

ThinkstockPhotos-487716564.jpgYou hear it all the time: “Set your goals—it’s that time of year again!” I can assure you that this will not be the last time you hear about goal setting, either. The types of goals that you can set are endless: professional goals, personal goals, financial goals, exercise goals, and the list goes on. Well, goal setting is actually something vital to being as successful as possible, and has some extremely significant benefits to keep you focused and accountable, as well as help you measure progress. These benefits apply to all types of goals, so let’s take a closer look at why you should participate in goal setting.

1: Goals Help You to Move Forward—Energizer

Setting specific goals helps you to set your mind to something, to have direction, and to stay focused. They give you something to plan and work for, so when you begin to lose that motivation and focus, you are pushed quickly back on track. We all have those inner desires, and having goals allows those inner desires to move outward.

2: Goals Set You Up for Success and Positive Self Image—Confidence Booster

Having goals in place can definitely set you up for success and allow you the opportunity to boost your confidence and attitude. When you have specific goals and eventually are able to accomplish them, a part of you becomes proud of what you have done—and rightfully so! When you achieve those goals, you allow yourself to set even larger ones and boost the image that you have of yourself and what you can do.

3: Goals Help the Impossible Become Possible—Mountains Become Hills

We all have big dreams, and sometimes those dreams seem like they could never become reality. When you take the impossible goals that you have and create baby steps or smaller goals, that “impossible feat” suddenly becomes a small incline uphill, rather than a climb to the Everest summit. Setting goals and a realistic approach to achieving them allows you to really make something of what you truly hoped for.

4: Goals Help You Be Accountable for a Lack of Success—Accountability

Writing down concrete goals and setting a date of completion keeps you accountable. But in the event that something prevented you from accomplishing that goal, you can look back and learn from it. And it’s no secret that one of the best ways humans learn is from our mistakes. So instead of putting your tail between your legs if you don’t achieve what you wanted, allow it to be a teachable moment and grow from it.

5: Goals Stretch You—Make You Better

Putting specific and challenging goals ahead of yourself stretches you and makes you better. They push you out of your comfort zone, making you grow and realize how much you really are capable of doing. We all want to be the best possible versions of ourselves, and setting goals that challenge you allows you to do that.

So what are your goals? What is on that list in the back of your mind that you thought was impossible? Pull it out, strategize the stepping stones you need to take to get there, and start!

If one of those goals is to complete that 5K or half marathon you have thought was impossible, let 2017 be the year to achieve it! Let NIFS help you take those baby steps to achieve your goal through our Mini-Marathon Training Program. Our group training programs will help you take that goal and make it a reality! Early bird registration starts October 25th!

         Minilogo2017_small.jpg    early-bird-2017.jpg

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

Topics: NIFS exercise motivation goal setting group training mini marathon accountability attitude challenge goals 5k

Software Update: Why Mindset Is Crucial to Fitness Success

ThinkstockPhotos-524261293.jpgI recently attended the Perform Better 3-Day Functional Training Summit in Chicago, where the leaders of the fitness world converged to drop a whole bunch of knowledge and inspiration on fitness pros. I have been attending this, what Alex refers to as a “Fitness Concert,”every year since I started at NIFS. It is something I really look forward to yearly, and this year was even better because I had seven other NIFS pros with me. Just as in recent years, it was a great experience of learning, refocus, and reenergizing.

Attitude: A Missing Puzzle Piece

But this year I left with a different feeling than in the past. I felt that I had been missing a very important piece of the success puzzle for so long, and it had nothing to do with movement. It was probably the most powerful of everything I took away from the “concert.” Most years I cultivate new ways to challenge the body through movement and methods of training, as well as grab a few great ideas about how to help people see what their true self is truly capable of. But not this year. Now don’t get me wrong, those topics were presented, and I enjoyed hearing those concepts, but they did not create the biggest impact for me this time around. The biggest idea that created the most impact for me was that MINDSET matters the most in fitness (and really anything you want to accomplish).

Brian Grasso was the presenter who really changed the way I think about creating change, and really blew my mind (pun intended) by revealing that life’s problems are mainly due to a “software” (the mind) problem, not a “hardware” (you) problem. I am a huge believer that things happen for a reason, and me choosing to see Brian’s presentation that day in Chicago was on purpose. In a previous post I wrote about an experience attending Wanderlust and the impact the concept of mindfulness had on me, and no more than a month later I was sitting listening to Brian talk about why mindset matters the most in anything we wish to be successful in, or to create change.

“Life’s problems are mainly due to a “software” (the mind) problem, not a “hardware” (you) problem.”

My Top 5 Takeaways from the Perform Better Presentation

Brian presented so much in a short amount of time—far more than I could do justice to in a single post. But here are my top 5 takeaways from his life-changing presentation.

Mindset is not motivation. Mindset is understanding YOU and how you see and interpret the world, and how you fit into it. Motivation, or motivational speeches and activities, tends to be short-lived with a crash at the end. This cycle is similar to illicit drug use; it provides an intense high followed by an equal low. This will result in two things: the want for more of that feeling, and the feeling of failure. Brian gave the perfect example by presenting the question, “Why are Tony Robbins motivational speaking engagements always sold out?” He provides that emotional response, making people feel great, but eventually that high goes away and people are left to their original problems, and feel the need to go back and get more motivation without focusing on the main issue: a negative mindset. 

The unconscious mind drives your life: Our unconscious mind drives our lives and shapes our world. It serves as our software for our behaviors. Our software can be shaped by the sequence of the unconscious which is:

Influence            Perceptions      Belief System      Expectation
(we incur)           (we carry)           (we accept)            (we hold)

These are some pretty powerful drivers for our behavior; knowing what is driving the behavior allows us to really change a lifestyle that needs help. Our software (unconscious) can be classified as either fixed or dynamic. Fixed is thinking what you see is the absolute truth; this mindset is usually negative. A dynamic mindset is “rewriting” the unconscious and seeing yourself in other ways. Another great example Brian provided to drive home this point was this: when you purchased your new iPod, you didn’t find your favorite music on it when you pulled it from the box. You had to download the songs you wanted. Your unconscious, so to speak, works the same way; if you don’t like the song that is replaying in your head, CHANGE THE SONG!

Perceptions that we carry don’t have to be our story. Brian said something that really spoke to me: “We talk to ourselves like we would not let anyone in the world talk to us.” Simply, our negative self-talk is so, well, negative, and that it can be so hurtful that we couldn’t imagine anyone talking to someone like that. But we do it to ourselves every day. This negative self-talk stems from the perceptions we carry about ourselves, others, and life in general. These perceptions can hold us back from making real change. Brian described the story of circus elephants and how they are tethered to a post by a rope tied around one of their four legs. At a very young age, a much smaller rope is used to tie them, which is strong enough to keep them there. As the elephant ages, trainers would use the same size rope, even though the elephant could easily break through it. But they don’t…why? Because the elephant is conditioned to believe that the tiny little rope is strong enough to hold him back. Do you see how strong perceptions of ourselves can be, and how mindset is the key to unlocking potential? 

Conscious vs. unconscious. So the unconscious mind is considered the driver and where behavior is created through impulse. It is believed that the unconscious mind already knows the right answer, and the only job of the conscious mind is to make the unconscious story true. Conscious choices create behavior through action, and this is where most of today’s self-help strategies engage, at the conscious level. But if most decisions are already made, and the story of YOU happens in the unconscious mind, these strategies will be unsuccessful. “We concentrate on amending physical behaviors without recognition of the drivers behind them,” Brian said. I equate this idea with something I feel I know a great deal about, movement. If you have a bad movement pattern (negative mindset), and you load that movement pattern (self-help at the conscious level), you will simply reinforce that bad movement pattern (negative mindset). On this point, Brian shared a quote from Clinical Psychologist Dr. Sophie Henschaw; she states, “The reason positive affirmations don’t work is that they target the conscious level of your mind, but not the unconscious. If what you are trying to affirm is incongruent with a deeply held negative belief, then all that results is an inner struggle.” Pretty powerful statement considering we as a society have become so reliant on the development of goals and daily affirmations as strategies for success. But if we take time to consider that the deeper portion of our mind is what is really driving our behavior, it only makes sense that, for sustainable change, the focus is on the unconscious and strategies that deal directly with that level of the mind.

“Our negative self-talk is so, well, negative, and it can be so hurtful that we couldn’t imagine anyone talking to someone like that.”

It’s a story, plain and simple: Mindset, as stated above, is understanding YOU and your story. Your story is developed through that sequence of the unconscious (influences-perceptions-belief system-expectation), and awareness of that sequence is a powerful first step. Because here is the thing: you can change your story. It doesn’t have to be fixed! You don’t have to respond to influences with negative actions or thoughts. You do not have to carry those influences that do not lead you down a positive path. And if your belief system is based on principles and not personality and environment, it will be more apt to deal with the changing world around you.

Bottom line is, if you want to change your life, update your software and change your story. I leave you with another impactful quote that Brian shared with the group:

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
—Carl Jung

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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 fitness center motivation attitude functional movement mindfulness mindset

5 Reasons Being the Worst Improves Motivation and Fitness

ThinkstockPhotos-75547581.jpgOkay, so the title is a bit misleading. You shouldn’t really strive to be the worst at what you do. What I mean by that title is to put yourself in situations where you are consistently surrounded by people who are better than you. If you are too afraid to associate with those who are clearly more skilled, more talented, and harder working than you are, how will you ever figure out why they are better than you in the first place and find motivation and attitude to improve?

1. Others see things in you that you do not.

Often we, as humans, sell ourselves short on our own potential. We are either too afraid to try something new or too convinced that we don’t have the required skill set to do something, and we too often just give up. That’s the magic of an outsider’s perspective. Somebody else can and will see you, your strengths, and your weaknesses in ways that you cannot. And if you surround yourself with the right people, they will push you toward your strengths and encourage you to pursue the things that will be best for you.

2. Monkey see, monkey do.

Humans are creatures of habit. We can begin to create these habits without even realizing we are doing so. So, the more time you spend with people who are successful, the greater the chances are of you picking up on their good habits.

Since I have joined the team here at NIFS, Tony Maloney has been my main mentor. In the past 10 months, I have learned a vast amount of knowledge from Tony. What has been my number-one method of doing so? I follow him around and ask as many questions (stupid or otherwise) as I can. Some people say there are no such things as stupid questions. I disagree, because I have heard a fair amount come from my own mouth. You must not be afraid to ever ask a question. I would much rather sound stupid for a second than miss an opportunity to learn something new.

3. The leaders carry the pack.

If you stay loyal to those who help you and guide you, there will be some sort of payoff in the end. The success of others can often lead to your own success, so always be on the side of those who are going places. If you pick a great mentor, and then they go on to do bigger and better things, you never know what could happen. They could bring you along for the ride, or you could even possibly step into their old role if they see you have put enough time and effort into learning from them.

4. Learning keeps you humble.

If you are constantly learning and seeking out knowledge and experiences, when could you even find time to overindulge in self-praise and pride? A humble person finds his or her presence being desired by many more people than the person who cannot step out of their own spotlight. One of my favorite quotes is from Walter Payton, and it goes like this: “When you’re good at something, you’ll tell everyone. When you’re great at something, they’ll tell you.” So leave all the praising to others and always return the favor.

5. A single moment can change your life.

Does this sound like just a cliché to you? Well, drop that notion right now because this statement is true, and it can impact you if you allow it the opportunity. If you took this moment right now to commit to complimenting at least 10 people today, do you think that could change anything major in your life? If you don’t, please give this a try and see what happens. I know you will be surprised at the outcome. Never underestimate the power of a thought or a moment.

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This blog was written by Aaron Combs, NSCA CSCS and Health/Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness motivation attitude

Allison Griner: A Complete Life Change Thanks to Weight Loss and NIFS!

allison.jpgIn October 2014, Allison Griner decided to join Weight Watchers through her work. Her reasoning was quite simple: “They were giving a discount through my job.” That day she weighed in at 301 pounds. It wasn’t long before Allison started seeing some results and realized that exercise needed to be a part of the plan as well, so she decided to sign up for an event to keep her motivated. The first thing that came across her radar was the Fight for Air Climb, and in preparation for it she signed up for the boot camp at NIFS.

Now for anyone who doesn’t know what the FFA climb is all about, I’ll just say it’s probably one of the hardest events you could sign up for! The climb is a race up the 49 flights of stairs in the Chase Tower in downtown Indy. And if that doesn’t sound hard enough, the boot camp at NIFS is not the easiest of tasks, either! But Allison completed the boot camp amid the severe challenges of not being able to do a burpee or climb the stairs in the workouts.

It’s been over a year now that Allison has kept to her weight loss journey. She consistently follows a workout schedule, meeting her cousin at the gym, and watches what she is eating; and she combines both cardio and strength training workouts to meet her goals. Allison also has PCOS. PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) makes losing weight a very difficult task and is linked to an increased risk for insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Allison has spent lots of time learning to eat right and to focus on making sure that her perspective is not on how her condition inhibits her losing weight, but rather taking the stance of, “It’s not that I can’t lose weight, I just remind myself it’s easier for me to gain weight.” Despite the odds that are against Allison, she has lost 75 pounds since October 2014!!*

Here are a few things that Allison had to say about her journey:

What has kept you consistent in making a change?

I am a very goal-oriented person, and when I see success it makes me want to keep pushing to the next level. I keep setting milestones, and once I got the eating part under control I knew that adding exercise and staying consistent with that would keep me reaching those.

What things have kept you going?

People in my life are what has kept me going! My mom, my roommate, my friends, and other family have really supported me and helped me to believe in myself. Even in times when I start to feel down, they push me to keep going. There are times that I have hit a plateau and they keep encouraging me to keep it up!

What are your secrets to success?

I forgive myself a lot. If I get down or make a mistake I forgive myself, pick up where I am, and move on. I tell myself it’s a new day and I am going to do better than I did yesterday. I am constantly trying to look forward and not backward, which I think is the key.

How has NIFS helped you to achieve your goals?

This facility is fantastic! There are so many different things to do that I never get bored. There are tons of options with weight lifting, the versatility with the track, the canal, or a treadmill. It’s impossible to not get a good workout. FFA also helped me in the beginning to realize it will take hard work, but that I am capable of doing anything I put my mind to!

What has been the hardest part of this weight-loss journey?

The hardest part is that this is a mental thing. I am always struggling to not see myself as that 300-pound girl. I am not surprised by what people say or what I see in the mirror and how much weight I have lost, because the challenge is looking in the same mirror and seeing myself as not just the big girl that I was. It’s also a struggle if I slip up and eat something I shouldn’t. I have to overcome that mentally and remind myself there will be setbacks and I will make mistakes.

What has been the biggest reward from all your hard work?

I feel better!! I was having chronic back problems when I was at my heaviest weight, and those have been nearly eliminated! The best reward is definitely how I feel.*

Anything else you want to share?

When I was at my biggest weight I always felt like I was in the way. I was never able to go out and do things with friends; my biggest fear was being in a crowd and being in the way. I would get so nervous about the idea of having to maneuver through a crowd of people. If you think that way, you can do something about it! One of the biggest changes I and others have seen through this time is my social life. I am confident to go out and be myself now!

*Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

Congratulations Allison on all your hard work and success! We know this journey has not been easy and it’s not over yet, but we encourage you to keep going and sharing your inspirational story!

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

Topics: NIFS cardio nutrition motivation weight loss attitude boot camp strength stairs

NIFS Crucial Conversations: I Took My Life Back (Part I)

Katie_Before_2.jpgThere comes a time when a story of struggle, strife, and success must be shared to remind others that you are never alone in your battle, and that achievement and happiness are closer than you may think. Katie Feltman has such a story.

I have had the privilege to work with Katie for many years now, and I can remember the first conversation we had out in the fitness center about where she was at the time, where she wanted to go, and how we could work together to get there. I felt her struggle instantly, but I also felt a great deal of determination, evident from the progress she had made before coming to see me. She wasn’t going to take this battle lying down anymore!

I asked Katie to talk about her journey with me so that I could share it with those who may be looking for that spark, that notion that nothing is impossible, but I’Mpossible! Join me in walking in Katie’s shoes as she shares some of her journey with us.

Conversation with Katie, Part I:

Tony: So, take me back about four years and tell me what was going on with you at that time.

Katie: I was living a very different life. A recent doctor’s visit had revealed I weighed 286 pounds, I was pre-diabetic, I had high blood pressure, my LDL cholesterol was high, and I had just found out I had to wear a Holter monitor to diagnose heart arrhythmias I was having. I had lower back pain from herniated discs that required an unhealthy amount of daily Advil to keep at bay (and along with my poor eating habits had created a wicked case of acid reflux that ultimately became an ulcer) and I slept poorly. For 37 years of age, I wasn’t doing okay. I was unhappy.

Tony: What were some of the major struggles you were dealing with?

Katie: Like most people, I had my share of stress sources; nothing extreme or unusual, but I had an ill mother, and a job that looking back now I realized had reached a point that made me miserable. But generally I had nothing going on outside of me that should have triggered the kind of profound lack of self-care I was engaging in on a regular basis.

“I coped with my stress by pushing my feelings inward and washing it all down with sugary processed foods and wine. I made no time to take care of myself.”

Katie_Before_4.jpgYou’d think with the scary words the doctor was saying I would have walked out of there that day and taken charge of things right then. But change isn’t like that—not for me, at least. I was frustrated with how I felt, and I know this will sound superficial but it is true: I hated how I looked, which I didn’t realize then but now know was key to my struggle. Self-hate = no self care, and that was how I was living my life. I was living life in a muted capacity, and I lacked the motivation to do something about it—any of it.

Tony: Can you describe some of what you were feeling at that time?

Katie: I was demoralized and frustrated at what seemed like an impossible and insurmountable task—it was so daunting. Getting healthy, changing how I lived, and peeling pounds off. I wanted instant results from modest change. I’m an extrovert, and my social life at the time revolved heavily around eating out, going to bars, and generally going places where food and booze were the main reasons for being there multiple times per week. But there was a nagging voice in there that knew there was more out there for me—I just wanted to feel better, feel happy most of the time, cope better with the smaller, mundane stresses as well as major things, and sleep better.

Tony: How did these struggles and frustrations affect your life? What did you feel like before you decided to take your life back?

Katie: I felt unhappy, ashamed, and not in control of my own life, and generally was in a terrible place emotionally and physically. And if it hasn’t been stated clearly enough before, I felt like crap pretty much all the time and it wasn’t just physical—it was mental, too. I was in a fog much of the time. I didn’t handle even small stresses well, much less bigger things. I was just floating along with life rather than living the life I really wanted to live.

“I was just floating along with life rather than living the life I really wanted to live.”

READ PART 2 of this amazing story and learn what it took for Katie to make the critical changes that resulted in her being able to take her life back and overcome obesity and a lack of healthy habits and see measurable weight loss.*

*Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

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.

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Topics: NIFS healthy habits fitness center weight loss attitude diabetes personal training heart disease Crucial Conversations obesity making changes

Wakey Wakey: Why Waking Up Right Is Just as Important as Sleeping

Since the dawn of time (I’ve always wanted to start a sentence like that), humans have slept for a little while, and then were awakened by something or someone that told them it was time to start the day. We know now the huge roles that sleep plays in so many aspects of our health:ThinkstockPhotos-453226511waking

  • Physical recovery
  • Healthy hormonal environment
  • Stress regulator
  • Cognitive retention and memory
  • Appetite regulation
The list can go on and on. (For more reasons why sleep is essential to your overall health, check out this article from Precision Nutrition.) Bottom line is that we need ample and quality sleep to be at our best every day; I don’t think anyone can argue against that. But there is a pretty important aspect of our daily ritual of rest and recovery that is not always worthy of the front page, and that is how you WAKE UP. 

The Science Behind Sleeping and Waking

We have circadian rhythms that act as an internal clock of sorts, which usually run on roughly a 24-hour cycle. Researchers have identified that circadian rhythms can influence our sleep-wake cycle, and abnormal circadian rhythms have been associated with obesity, diabetes, depression, and other disorders. 

Why am I telling you all this? Well, your circadian rhythms are produced by natural factors in your body, but can also be influenced by the environment. Light is the major cue influencing the rhythms that turn on or turn off genes that control your internal master clock. Having a normal, healthy circadian rhythm can be the difference between waking up ready to conquer the day or having to hit the snooze button a hundred times. 

Using Light to Wake Up

So if light is one of our biggest cues to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, use it! My beautiful wife gave me a gift on my birthday recently that I have found to be so helpful in waking up and feeling rested and ready to go. It’s a Phillips Wake-up Light, and it allows you to wake up naturally with the warm glow of the sun-like light that radiates from this futuristic-looking alarm clock. I absolutely love it! 

The light will begin to glow anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes prior to your set time to wake up (how hard you sleep will determine how much time you should have the light begin glowing). The light begins a reddish color to simulate the sun rising, and gradually becomes brighter and brighter until you wake up and turn it off. And if you were to sleep through the 20-minute light glow, you would be awakened by birds chirping. 

I have definitely noticed a difference in my energy level when I wake up these days, as well as my attitude and mindset heading into a tough day. I was experiencing some not-so-positive reactions to my alarm clock, which really set me up for rough start to the day, which in turn affected me throughout the entire day. Now that I am waking up naturally, and not shot out of a cannon to the sound of the buzzer, the morning is much more pleasant and meaningful.

Other Benefits of Waking Up Naturally

Some other fantastic benefits of waking up naturally include the following:

  • Improved insulin regulation. This is important in managing body weight and body composition.
  • Improved parasympathetic response. Instead of waking up in a “fight or flight” sympathetic response, which will result in elevated resting heart rates affecting many other aspects of health, we stay in a calmer state, allowing the internal environment to adjust appropriately to stress.
  • Decreased muscle tone. I am not talking about losing muscle tissue. I am referring to “turning down” the tone of certain muscle groups that can be putting you into less-than-optimal body positions. For example (and one of the most common), toned-up lats will cause you to be in extension, which can lead to lower back pain. When we are calmer, and not so jacked up, we can allow the body to tone down when needed to improve positioning and movement patterns.
  • Better mood! Life is way too short to be miffed all the time, and it just causes problems in so many facets of our lives. Most of this bad mood is communicated nonverbally, which in most cases is so much stronger than anything you could say. Take my word for it, be happy in both your message and how you deliver it. This can be greatly improved if you feel good and not groggy, which started hours earlier with the whack of the snooze button. 

I highly recommend implementing some sort of a natural wake-up process that works for you. Most of us have smartphones. There are plenty of apps out there that can do the same thing as the wake-up light I describe above. Many of the newer fitness trackers such as a FitBit can also be set to gradually wake you up. Give it a try and let me know what you think, but have a back-up just in case it doesn’t work for you right away—don’t be late to work on my account!

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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: stress attitude sleep technology energy

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable: Powerful Ways to Reach Your Goals

I have recently been given the opportunity to participate in some very cool opportunities professionally and personally. And although these two opportunities are things that I have had goals of achieving for quite some time, it did not take away from me being pretty terrified to take them on. I had to get comfortable being uncomfortable—and fast!

Two Great Opportunities—And Some Doubts

The first opportunity was to speak with some of the nation’s greatest minds in health and fitness at the Indy Women Fitness 2015 event held here at NIFS this past month. Being on the same program as Mike Robertson, Molly Galbraith, and Bill Hartman was a dream come true, but it came with the following questions to myself:

  • “Am I good enough to be next to these guys?”
  • “How will the attendees respond to my content and approach?”
  • “Am I in over my head?”
The next chance to fulfill a goal of mine will be coming up in the near future, where I will train our city’s heroes when the Indianapolis Fire Department’s new recruit class will be using our facility to train to be the best firefighters in the country. I was asked to oversee their programming and training, an offer I could not pass up! Having two brothers that serve their communities as firefighters, I have been around this group of professionals for quite some time and carry an extra sense of pride and responsibility when asked to elevate their fitness and job capabilities. But soon after accepting this role, here came those same questions:
  • “Am I good enough to be next to these guys?”
  • “How will the attendees respond to my content and approach?”
  • “Am I in over my head?”
First of all, these questions and feelings are completely normal, but failing to overcome doubt and anxiety is a recipe for not stepping up to new opportunities or quitting before you achieve that BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal—more on these in a later post). I have adopted some very powerful ways to get comfortable being uncomfortable from individuals I consider mentors such as Martin Rooney and Todd Durkin, and from reading as much as I can from authors such as Dan and Chip Heath, Zig Ziglar, and Ken Blanchard. 

How to Succeed in Anything

I would like to share some of the best ways I have learned to succeed in anything you want to achieve.

  • Think BIG and tackle the BIG things first. When it comes to goals, if it doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough. Set the bar high and do what it takes to reach it. Try to tackle the big things of your day first, and don’t multitask; focus all of your energy on one thing at a time. Set time limits if you have to, but do only one thing at a time.
  • Practice, practice, practice. I don’t think it comes as any surprise that more practice on anything will make you better at that thing. But just as important is what practice can do to your anxiety level. Practice goes up, and anxiety will go down; and practice can include learning more, rehearsing, or simply visualizing your performance. I think it’s a good thing to be a bit anxious before a major event, but practicing will keep that anxiety from becoming paralyzing.
  • Act awesome, be awesome. Martin Rooney told me once that it is okay to be tired, but it is not okay to act tired. It seems crass, but he makes a great point. If you act tired or anxious, you are more likely to succumb to the symptoms of being tired or anxious. But if you act confident and full of energy, you will eventually be that way, not tired or anxious. 
  • Talk with successful people. One of the best ways to be great at something is to learn from someone who is great at that thing. Obviously they have done something right to be considered a “go-to” in the subject; they have been there, done that, and continue to do it because it breeds success. Find those people and learn as much as you can from them. Get a mentor, and learn everything you can.
  • Do the right thing, at the right time, all the time, no matter what. For example, let’s say you are faced with the internal question of “should I go to the gym today?” Your immediate response may be, “hell yeah,” or it may be, “hell no.” No matter the response, go to the gym because it is the right thing to do. You will find that once you get started on the “right thing,” it gets easier and easier to complete. You know what the right thing is; be like NIKE and just do it, no matter what, all the time!

I still get anxious when new opportunities come knocking at the doors that are sure to take me out of my comfort zone, and I should. But utilizing the preceding strategies has made me more comfortable being uncomfortable!

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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: attitude challenge goals anxiety

Benefits of Biking for Exercise and Fitness

ThinkstockPhotos-103584987-1Biking can have significant benefits to your overall health and fitness! If you are looking for something to try this summer that maybe you haven’t done before, consider hopping onto your bike…remember that’s that thing stashed in the back corner of the garage with flat tires and cobwebs hanging off the back of it!

I often find myself wondering what different things I can do for a workout, and since I began to incorporate biking into my routine, I have found some benefits it adds to my other workouts. Let’s take a look at what some of those are.

  • Good for your cardiovascular health. Most people consider cardio exercise as running, using the elliptical, or power walking, but throwing in some biking is proven to increase your cardiovascular fitness.
  • Helps to build muscle. Biking helps to both tone and build muscle fibers, specifically in the lower extremities targeting the calves, thighs, and buttocks. It’s also a great low-impact exercise and takes the pressure off the hip, knee, and ankle joints. If you are recovering from injuries, biking can help keep you fit and active.
  • Burns calories. As with many cardio exercises, you can burn a good amount of calories while cycling, and it will increase your metabolism once the workout is finished. To be most efficient, you want to ride faster than a leisurely pace and work through some hills or intervals when possible.
  • Helps with coordination. When you cycle you use every part of your body, which forces you to work on coordination skills. As you go, you move both feet simultaneously as well as use your body weight to shift the bike through turns, using both arms at the same time to turn, brake, and change gears. It takes some mental focus to think about all those steps, even while you’re just cruising.
  • Aids your psyche. Biking, like all exercise, is good for your overall mental health. Exercise helps to release endorphins, which keep you relaxed and reduce your levels of stress.
  • Helps with longevity. According to an article put out by the Environmental Health Perspective, the benefits of biking outweigh the risks for increasing your lifespan. Cycling, as discussed before, increases your cardiovascular health, which directly correlates to lifespan.
  • Strengthens your immune system. All exercise, including biking, helps to strengthen your immune system to fight off sickness and infection.

You can see that more than being an enjoyable leisure activity, biking can significantly add to your overall health. I have enjoyed doing some biking this summer and encourage you to give it a try outdoors at some of these local places: 

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

Topics: cardio calories attitude balance immunity biking muscle building

Finding the Motivation to Swim Pays Off!

swim-blognewYou have heard it over and over again: If you are not swimming, you are missing out on a great low-impact, total-body workout. If you were sore from beating yourself up from running on the roads or lifting earlier in the week, you will find yourself feeling much better after a good swim.

If you are like me, though, swimming is not your first choice of exercise, and you find it hard to find the motivation to get to the pool when there are so many other options that you find more enjoyable. 

I am fortunate enough to have a great group of ladies who are committed to heading over to the IU Natatorium twice a week to get in a good swim session. Swimming is not my favorite fitness activity, but it has grown on me and I know that it has great health and fitness benefits*. So I have convinced myself that I need to do it! Even though we are all very committed and consistent with our swimming, we still try to talk each other out of it.

Common discussion and thoughts before and on our way to the pool:

  • Are we really going? Why are going? What if we just go run or bike or lift or do yoga instead?
  • I can’t go today. I just went spray tanning.
  • I think Starbucks is open?
  • Cold walk all the way over there! Can we go to the steam room, sauna, or whirlpool instead (or before)? 
  • I really shouldn’t even go until I get my new suit, which will be on its way as soon as I order it.
  • Wait, should we check to see if the pool is closed today?
  • Am I out of visits? Too bad if I am, because I don’t have my wallet.
  • Oh no, there are no empty lanes. Maybe we should do this another time?
  • The water is so cold…is this colder than it usually is? Why are we doing this? Can we go get coffee instead? It’s not too late!
  • Is the warm pool open today?
  • We have been sitting here with our feet in for 15 minutes. If we don’t get in soon, we will have to leave.
What we are thinking during the workout:
  • What is the workout again? 
  • If I can get through this, I can have coffee after.
  • This is hard. I can’t breathe. My arms are tired. Why I am not getting better?
  • I kind of need to use the restroom…I think I can hold it…I better just hold it.
  • Why do I do this to myself?
  • This pool got really hot all of the sudden.
  • Wow, I’m getting better at this! I am fast!
What we talk about and think about after:
  • That was great! I feel so much better than I did before we started.
  • I am awesome!
  • When are we coming back this week?
  • What is our next workout? I think I need more speed work next week.
  • I really need to buy longer fins and a new swim cap.
  • I am going to sleep good tonight.
  • I can’t wait for this warm shower and lunch.
  • Why do we complain so much? I now understand why people have a hard time committing to exercise. But it feels great at the end!
  • Another one in the books!*Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.
This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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Topics: motivation swimming accountability nifs staff attitude

The Right Attitude to Get You Moving

ThinkstockPhotos-179777962-1“Start somewhere today. Don’t put it off. You can do something, no matter how ‘small’ you think it is in terms of your long-term goal. Every step you take is one you’ll be thankful for when you get there. Remember: You're lapping everyone who’s still on the couch.” —Caressa Sharp

You see the quote above? It screams at you to get moving, doing something. In this post we talked about doing 95 percent of the work. Have you tried? If so, bravo. If not, why not?

In my quest to make you enjoy your workouts, it seems you may need more encouraging. Okay; if you started, there’s no need to be chastised. You’re on your way. Just keep at it! Let me talk to you, those who have not moved off the couch.

I made an interesting observation while attending my son’s sixth-grade (first year in middle school) open house: The teachers with the best attitude had many posters about positive attitudes, while the dull, monotone teachers had none. My take from this is to surround yourself with so much good attitude, including words, pictures, and people.

Group Training May Be the Answer

The people you workout with can pull you along. The problem just may be finding them. At NIFS, there is a great group of active older adults “kickin’ their own butts” as I like to say (I even told them this and they laughed).

We have started small group training for this very reason. I am looking for members who are searching for a training partner or group to help them get moving. If you are interested, please contact me.

Bottomline we want to find you and help you get healthier. DEMO classes are a great way to see if a training group would be just the kick in the pants you need. Any task done with a friend or partner is much easier accomplished—even if those people aren’t exactly your “best buds.”

Get active, stay active, live better!

Yes! I want to try small group training

This blog was written by Kris Simpson, NIFS Personal Trainer. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: staying active group fitness group training attitude