NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Sink or Swim: Get More from Your Swimming Access

ThinkstockPhotos-95099348.jpgSalutations NIFS friends! Recently, our facility has begun a partnership that allows members access to lap swimming at the IU Natatorium. This amenity is something that has been on many bucket lists for some time, and now that we can say we have a pool, it’s time to get in there and take advantage of it. While the benefits of swimming are undeniable, there are some great points we can discuss for people (like me) who have found it a little more challenging to float. This blog will bring to light some interesting facts and some general ideas that can make your next swim (or float) more efficient, effective, and fun.

The Effects of Body Fat on Swimming

A big question that many new swimmers have is, “Why do I sink and you float?” The answer can be correlated to your body density and body fat percentage. Because fat is less dense than water, it floats. If you are an individual who carries a higher percentage of body fat, you are more likely to stay above the water surface. Competitive swimmers, therefore, would have an advantage to having both strong muscles as well as low body fat.

Using Aerodynamics to Your Advantage

Something else that you may notice is that some people who swim wear drag suits. The idea behind this is to increase resistance, therefore making the exercise more difficult. When a person competes, they wear normal swimming gear (making the exercise easier). There are advantages to this technique, but because most of us are recreational exercise swimmers and not in competition, this may be a moot point.

Along the same lines, you will see Olympians who not only use the drag suits, but also shave all body hair in the hope that they can shave :01 seconds off their personal best. NIFS personal trainer Kris Simpson suggests, “If you just want to swim, and do not care how fast, the extra resistance [of body hair] will get you a better workout and calorie burn.”

Treading Water for Fitness

As a total beginner, I find swimming can be quite challenging. Inefficient movements and lack of knowledge make long-distance routines almost too hard to bear and definitely less enjoyable. What I have found to be a great exercise, without using a lot of space or thought, is treading water. Basically, find a deep enough place in the pool where you can stay stationary in the water (no touching bottom or the sides) for a time. Then tread water for time, starting off with a minute and working upward. Add drag for more calorie-burning fun.

Get Started in the Pool

Whether you are swimming toward an Olympic dream or just trying to keep your head above water, swimming is undeniably a great exercise that cannot be overlooked. For NIFS members who are eligible, stop by the NIFS service desk to get your Natatorium pass. Kris is ready to help you get started as she plans to take HIT classes over to the “Nat” for training and drills.

As always muscleheads, rejoice and evolve!

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

Topics: NIFS exercise Thomas' Corner swimming calories

Weightlifting for Women: Enhance Weight Loss and More

ThinkstockPhotos-512273152.jpgLet’s play out a little scenario. Judy just renewed her gym membership because it’s almost time for her annual summer vacation. She currently weighs 170 pounds but wants to lose around 30 pounds before she goes on vacation. She has taken herself through this transformation once before by running 4 miles on the treadmill every other day until she finally got to her desired weight. She plans to come to the gym this year with the same game plan as last time. Judy does not lift weights because she only wants to lose fat, not gain muscle.

Now here is the question: Should Judy repeat her cardio routine this year, or should she incorporate heavy resistance training?

Lifting Heavy Weights Has More Benefits Than Cardio Alone

This may be the approach many females take when trying to lose weight. Doing cardiovascular exercise is much easier and more effective at weight loss than weight training, right? WRONG! In fact, I strongly believe any woman who is looking to lose weight should invest more of her time into weight training. But I don’t recommend just any weight training; it needs to be heavy weight training!

Reasons to Add Weightlifting

It’s easy to understand why many females prefer not to lift heavy weights when in the gym. It often causes a lack of comfort if you are not used to pushing your body to its max strength levels. In addition, the female lifting recommendation for years has been to stick with light to moderate weight with an abundance of sets and reps. While this is not a bad recommendation, lifting heavy can add a great list of benefits that lighter weight (and cardio) just cannot compare to, all while possibly giving you faster, more dramatic results.   

  • Burn more calories. In terms of fat loss, forcing your body to lift heavy weight repeatedly will stimulate muscle growth, which creates a higher metabolism. The more muscle in the body, the more fat-burning potential will be created. When you are done lifting weights, your body continues to burn calories due to its need for muscle recovery. This is called EPOC, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. So even when you are no longer in the gym working out, your body is still burning calories for you. EPOC does not happen with non-resistance training.  
  • Get toned, not ripped. Lifting weights brings out a woman’s natural curves and body structure. It’s easy to believe lifting weights will cause bulky muscles to form, just as many guys become bulky when we lift. However, there is one huge difference between males and females and that’s the presence of testosterone. As you may know, one responsibility of testosterone is muscle hypertrophy. Since females have very low amounts of testosterone, becoming bulky is often not a realistic expectation. Instead, when females participate in heavy weight training, their bodies actually become smaller due to more muscle and less fat. Females actually become leaner and curvier, which often leads to an increase in body image and self-confidence. 
  • Gain confidence. I believe a strong reason many females would rather do cardio instead of weightlifting may be due to their lack of confidence. If the treadmill or the elliptical has always been your best friend, you may find it hard to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself with a heavy weight-training program. However, what many females come to find out is once weightlifting barriers have been torn down, confidence levels rise. I have heard many women in the gym say there is nothing more satisfying than when they are finally able to lift a weight that they could not lift previously. It not only reassures you that with some hard work and consistency you can push your body to new levels, but it also confirms that women do, in fact, belong in the weight room lifting heavy weight.

The Question Again: Should You Add Weight Training?

I will raise my question again: should Judy repeat her routine this year, or should she incorporate heavy resistance training into her program for different results? Sure doing 4 miles a day may get Judy to her ultimate weight-loss goal, but how much of her weight loss will be due to actual fat loss instead of muscle loss? Typically when cardio is a large portion of the workout routine, you tend to lose muscle, whereas when resistance training makes up a large portion of the workout routine, you tend to gain muscle. Remember, the more muscle in the body, the higher the metabolism, and the higher the rate of caloric burn—and the more weight you lose.

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This blog was written by Darius Felix, Health Fitness Specialist. For more on the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: cardio weight loss calories weightlifting women toning

Back-to-School Nutrition with Lunch Makeovers

ThinkstockPhotos-528974268.jpgIt’s that time of year again…back to school! This means busy evenings or early mornings getting lunches packed for the kids. What’s in a child’s lunch is important because it’s in childhood that eating habits are formed—and heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, and other diseases begin to develop. Fatty buildups, the beginnings of clogged arteries, are seen in the arteries of children as young as 10 years old.

So even though that prepackaged meal is the quickest and easiest thing to throw in a lunchbox, consider these 10 ways to help your child eat a more balanced lunch.

  1. Encourage your child to choose 1% or fat-free milk. Milk is the biggest source of saturated fat in children’s diets. Choosing 1% or fat-free milk instead of whole or 2% is an important strategy for keeping children’s hearts healthy and arteries clear.
  2. Switch from bologna, salami, pastrami or corned beef, and other fatty luncheon meats to low-fat alternatives. Supermarkets sell many good-tasting, low-fat or fat-free brands of turkey breast, chicken breast, ham, bologna, and roast beef.
  3. Include at least one serving of fruit in every lunch. Try buying a few new types of fruit each week to let your child discover new favorites and to give him or her more healthy eating choices. In addition to apples, oranges, or bananas, try pears, sliced melon, cups of applesauce, grapes, or pineapple (fresh or canned in its own juice). Try serving fruit in different ways: whole, cut into slices, cubed, or with a yogurt dipping sauce.
  4. Sneak vegetables onto sandwiches. Try lettuce, slices of cucumber, tomato, green pepper, roasted peppers, zucchini, or sugar-snap peas. Eating fruits and vegetables reduces your child’s chances of heart disease, cancer, blindness, and stroke later in life. Putting veggies on a sandwich is one way to get more into your child’s diet.
  5. Use whole-wheat bread instead of white bread for sandwiches. Choose breads that list “whole wheat” as the first ingredient. If the main flour listed on the label is “wheat” or “unbleached wheat flour,” the product is not whole grain. Most multi-grain, rye, oatmeal, and pumpernickel breads in the U.S. are not whole grain.
  6. Limit cookies, snack cakes, doughnuts, brownies, and other sweet baked goods. Sweet baked goods are the second leading source of sugar and the fourth leading source of saturated fat in Americans’ diets. Low-fat baked goods can help cut heart-damaging saturated fat from your child’s diet, but even fat-free sweets can crowd out healthier foods like fruit. This nutrition rule does say LIMIT and not eliminate. The key is moderation when it comes to sweets!
  7. Pack baked chips, pretzels, Cheerios, breadsticks, or low-fat crackers instead of potato, corn, tortilla, or other chips made with oil. Avoid empty calories from artery clogging fried chips. Also, beware of Bugles, which are fried in heavily saturated coconut oil. One ounce has as much artery-clogging fat as a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder.
  8. If you pack juice, make sure it’s 100% juice. All fruit drinks are required to list the “% juice” on the label. Watch out for juice drinks like Sunny Delight, Hi-C, Hawaiian Punch, and Capri Sun. With no more than 10% juice, they are just as sugary as soft drinks.
  9. Don’t send prepackaged lunch trays. Oscar Mayer’s Lunchables that come with a treat and a drink get two-thirds of their calories from fat and sugar. They also contain over 1000mg of sodium, which is half the recommendation for the whole day. Making your own healthy alternative is as easy as packing low-fat crackers, low-fat lunchmeat, a piece of fruit, and a box of 100% juice in your child’s lunchbox.
  10. Let your child help pack their lunch. If your child is excited about the foods they are eating, they will be more likely to finish their energy-packed lunch. Allow them to help pick and choose items to put in their lunchbox each night or morning, teaching them the importance of meal planning and responsibility.

Find out more about nutritional coaching

This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here. (And to see what she brings for her lunch, click here!)

Topics: nutrition healthy eating calories lunch kids sodium

Decoding Changes to the FDA's New Nutrition Facts Label

ThinkstockPhotos-522898575.jpgIn January I wrote about the confusing world of sugar and how it would get a lot less confusing when the FDA passed new changes to the food label that would make added sugar more prominent. On May 20, 2016, they finalized the new Nutrition Facts Label for consumers, and by July 26, 2018, all labels are required to show these changes.

The New Nutrition Facts Labels

So, how can the new food label help when you are at the grocery store? These are the major changes that will begin appearing on all labels.

  • The type size for “Calories,” “servings per container,” and “Serving size” will be increased and the number of calories and “Serving size” will be boldfaced.
  • Manufacturers must add the gram weight of Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, and Potassium.Screen_Shot_2016-06-14_at_3.41.15_PM.png
  • The footnote will be worded differently to help consumers understand its meaning. It will read: “The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”
  • “Added sugars” in grams and a percentage of the daily value will be added to the label.
  • Calories from fat is being removed because research shows that the type of fat in your diet is more important than the total amount.
  • Serving sizes are changing based on what people are actually eating and not what they should be eating. Since the portion sizes have changed since 1993 when labels were first introduced, this will be reflected by soda increasing from an 8-ounce portion size to 12 ounces on the new label.
  • On packages that are between 1 and 2 servings, such as a 20-ounce soda or a 15-ounce can of soup, the label will reflect one serving since that is typically what people consume in one sitting.
In addition, the new label shows how serving sizes have changed to better represent how consumers actually eat.

If you have any questions about the new labeling changes or would like to schedule a personal nutrition coaching session, please contact Angie Mitchell at ascheetz@nifs.org.

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

Topics: nutrition calories carbs sugar fat

New USDA Guidelines: Making the Nutrition Recommendations Work

ThinkstockPhotos-501294518.jpgEvery five years, the USDA releases new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Typically people get their idea of what healthy eating is and what they should be doing from all kinds of sources. Maybe it’s from a magazine, a TV news report, something a friend or family member suggested, or from reading blogs. Wherever you get your information, know that a team of researchers put together the most recent scientific evidence to come up with their recommendations for Americans. Here’s what they found, with some of the most important takeaway tips.

Strive for a Balance Over Your Lifespan

The new guidelines shift away from recommending foods you should or shouldn’t eat, and instead emphasize the importance of a balanced overall eating pattern. Here are the specific recommendations:

  • Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. Eating patterns are the combination of foods and drinks that a person eats over time.
  • Focus on variety, nutrient-dense foods, and amount.
  • Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake.
  • Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
  • Support healthy eating patterns for all.

Watch Sugar, Fat, and Sodium Intake

The new guidelines also put a cap on sugar, saturated fat, and sodium that can lead to heart disease and obesity, and are easy to overeat. The limits are as follow:

  • Less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars.
  • Less than 10% of calories per day from saturated fats.
  • Less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium for those over age 14.

A couple issues that have arisen after the release of the most recent guidelines is the lack of straightforward numbers for sugar and saturated fat. For example, most people are not aware what 10% of their calories would be from sugar and saturated fat (most sources from sugar are in sodas and juice drinks, and saturated fat is from red meat). Instead, an easier recommendation for the public to follow would be to drink more water instead of sugary drinks, and to eat vegetarian meals two to three times per week instead of red meat.

Moderation Is Key

My-Nutrition-Coach-outline-no-back-1.jpgOverall the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans are a helpful tool in reinforcing what we already know: a balanced diet with all of the food groups in moderation is the best one to follow.

If you need help planning your meals or knowing what to eat, consider a personal nutrition coaching session or using the My Nutrition Coach app daily.

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

Topics: nutrition calories hydration sodium sugar

Weight Loss Made Easier with Nutrition

Over 1 billion people from around the world are attempting to lose weight at any point in time. That is a BILLION! If losing weight was an easy task, that number would not be so staggering. Trying to lose weight and keep it off is challenging, so what are some ways that have been proven time and time again to be successful? Here are 5 tips to try when you want to see the scale moving in the right direction. ThinkstockPhotos-179019551.jpg

Eat breakfast daily.

The common phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” isn’t false. Starting your day with a balanced breakfast has been shown to help individuals eat less throughout the day and lose weight. It helps to jump-start your metabolism and allows it to work more efficiently during the day. Aim for three food groups for a balanced meal, but anything you can grab is better than skipping.

Don’t drink your calories.

When you eat food, whether it is a banana or potato chips, your body gets a sense of fullness. However, when you drink liquids your body doesn’t experience that same feeling. Therefore, it’s very easy to drink a lot of empty calories and not realize that those calories are adding up. Some examples are regular sodas, sweetened tea or lemonade, juice drinks, and flavored coffee beverages. A typical soda has around 150 calories; therefore, eliminating one per day would equal a 15-pound weight loss over one year without changing any eating or exercise habits.

Make sure you are eating enough.

This might sound crazy to some, because if you are trying to lose weight shouldn’t you decrease your calories? This is true; however, everybody has a different metabolic rate and requires a certain amount of calories to work properly. Decreasing your calories by too much, hoping to lose weight faster, can make weight loss more challenging. The easiest way to see what your body’s resting metabolic rate is to get a BOD POD assessment (contact the NIFS track desk at 317.274.3432, ext. 262, to schedule). Another rule of thumb is to make sure you are eating at least 1,200 calories every day. The best way to know this is to start keeping track of your calories with a food diary app.

Learn your body’s hunger and fullness cues.

Not knowing or understanding how much food your body needs can be the most challenging part of weight loss. Learning your body’s hunger and fullness cues is the key to weight loss. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning you are ravenous or starving and 10 meaning you are uncomfortably full, aim to eat a meal or a snack at a 3. At this point your body is ready for fuel but not so overly hungry that you make poor decisions or consume extra calories. Check in about halfway through the meal to see what number you are. Stop eating when you are at a 7. This guarantees you are satisfied but not overly stuffed. Knowing another meal or snack will be coming in another 3 to 4 hours is helpful. If you eat to a 9 or 10, you might not be hungry again for 8 hours!

Eat filling foods.

When you want to lose weight, the challenge can be feeling satisfied. The best way to get that feeling is to choose foods that will fill you up and keep you full, all while allowing the body to work harder to break down your foods and in turn burn more calories. These foods are high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts. It also includes high-protein foods such as lean meats, low-fat dairy like Greek yogurt or string cheese, eggs, beans, and nuts. Making sure fiber and protein are included at each snack or meal means you are staying satisfied.

My-Nutrition-Coach-outline-no-back.jpgIf you are one of the 1 billion people trying to lose weight, don’t do it alone. NIFS has many options to help you reach your goals*. Check out the Ramp Up to Weight Loss program, personal nutrition coaching sessions and My Nutrition Coach daily food tracking app, for more information.

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

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

 

Topics: nutrition weight loss calories breakfast protein fiber

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

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

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

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

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

5 Ways to Burn More Calories in Your Leisure Time

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

***

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

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

 

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

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

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

Who Has Time for 60 Minutes of Cardio Per Day?

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

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

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

Factors That Affect How You Burn Calories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topics: cardio staying active weight loss calories weight management workplace fitness

Top 5 Nutrition Apps for Health and Wellness

ThinkstockPhotos-469002238Sometimes you need a little help when it comes to your nutrition and diet choices. Even though we think we know what to do when it comes to our diet, it can be helpful to have some extra assistance with tips, tracking, and suggestions. There are thousands of apps out there that you can easily download to your phone.

I have searched through many nutrition apps and found the top five that you should definitely use to help with accountability to your wellness and weight-loss goals.

eaTipster

eaTipster was created by the Dietitians of Canada, and it delivers daily healthy eating tips to your mobile devices. The app addresses common food and nutrition questions and concerns, and provides tips to increase healthy eating, support a healthy weight, and fight chronic disease. You can add tips to your favorites to read them later. Then you can share the tips with friends via Facebook, Twitter, email, and text. One nice perk of this app is you can set daily reminders to receive the tip at a time that fits your routine. 

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a community-oriented site designed to help you lose weight and track fitness goals. The mobile apps let you keep these features at your fingertips wherever you are. You can input or edit your goals, enter your caloric intake (food) and output (exercise) on the go, and add new food data to the library if it doesn't already exist. There's also a progress screen that lets you track your weight and view a graphic representation of how you're doing as you work toward your goals. 

The food database includes over 5,000,000 options and is one of the few free food tracking apps that is this easy and user friendly. Due to its popularity, you can sync MyFitnessPal with other devices and apps such as FitBit, Jawbone Up, and Garmin. The recipe importer allows you to go to any recipe on the web and easily import it and track it. One of my favorite components of this app is that it tells you more than just total calories. You can easily track your sugar grams, calcium, iron, and other vitamins and minerals to guarantee you are getting your needs met.

Fooducate

Fooducate helps you shop and eat healthily by allowing you to quickly pull up nutritional information about food products from barcodes, as well as by helping you make sense of nutritional labels. Fooducate displays a letter grade from A to D, along with a quick summary of nutrition information in plain language, as well as healthy alternative suggestions. If you cook your own meals or eat out, you can also manually enter a meal's nutritional information. In addition, the app also doubles as an intake, calorie, and exercise tracker. This app easily allows you to see what extras are in foods such as added sugars, food colorings, artificial sweeteners, and more, which can be challenging to know without reading every single ingredient. 

HealthyOut

The HealthyOut Healthy Meal Finder app helps you stay on track even when you're going out or ordering delivery. The app helps users find healthy restaurant dishes and prepared grocery items nearby, and supports a wide variety of diet plans. The app comes with a wealth of diet and food filters, allowing you to filter by cuisine, ingredients, or type of dish. You can also view detailed nutritional information on each meal where available. It's a great option when you don't have the time to prepare a healthy meal of your own. The popular “Not a Salad” feature allows you to find a dish that can be just as healthy as the typical salad. HealthyOut is great if you travel a lot or just want to know the best options at your favorite neighborhood restaurant choice.

My Nutrition Coach

My Nutrition Coach is a new app launched by NIFS that allows users to record their food throughout the day and automatically build a daily profile of their diet. The app platform uses photo journaling and meal and exercise input to make tracking quick and easy. At midnight, the profile is passed to my dashboard, where I provide evaluation and feedback on that 24-hour timeline. The information is private, secure, and convenient. Members will receive an email when their daily response is ready for viewing. Users are encouraged to login to the website or app to view responses and graphs that detail their personal ratings and progress.

Your NIFS dietitian will supply you daily feedback, suggestions, and information in the form of handouts and videos based on your daily profile. All you need to do is snap a photo of your meals.

Any one of these apps are sure to help you stay on track with you fitness and nutrition goals. Download one today and get started!

***

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

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

Topics: fitness nutrition weight loss calories accountability technology

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