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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

How Many Calories You Are Consuming When Dining Out?

GettyImages-523697434In 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act, it was required that all chain restaurants, groceries, and convenience stores post their calories for customers to see. Some started right away, and you might have noticed them pop up at Starbucks or McDonalds over the years. However, on May 7, 2018, it finally took effect that all food sellers with more than 20 locations now must have the calorie postings visible, with access to all nutrition information available upon request.

Why This Change Is Such a Good Thing

Americans currently eat and drink a third of their calories away from home. The purpose of putting the calorie count on the menus, display boards, and digital screens was to help Americans make more informed choices and hopefully choose healthier options that are available. The FDA has shown that since menu labeling began, consumers have decreased the number of calories ordered by 30 to 50, which could mean a 3–5-pound weight loss in a year.

Tips for Better Nutrition When Dining Out

If you currently dine out, here are some tips to help make the best decision when ordering:

  • Think your drink. The drink you choose can add up to 500 calories to your meal, yet doesn’t affect how full you will feel when you drink it. Instead, look for calorie-free drink options. Water and unsweetened iced tea are the best; however, occasionally you can choose a diet soda or sugar-free lemonade to go along with your meal. This new labeling will also list the calorie content for alcohol, so make sure to include those calories when planning a balanced meal.
  • Load up on veggies. Consider swapping the traditional side of fries, chips, tots, etc. for a vegetable. Salads, raw veggie sticks, or a hot vegetable option when available will keep the meal high in fiber and lower in fat and calories.
  • Choose a protein. Protein helps keep you full and satisfied, so if you don’t want to be reaching for a snack an hour after your meal, be sure to have a protein source at every meal. Anytime you can choose a lean protein like poultry, seafood, and lean red meat, it’s even better!
  • Go for the whole grain. Protein isn’t the only thing that will keep you full; so does fiber. Choosing a whole grain when available is another must for staying satisfied longer. Choose a whole-wheat pizza crust, brown rice, or whole-wheat pasta or rolls when they are offered.
  • Practice portion control. Many meals eaten out are so large that you can easily save half and have it for another meal or split the meal with your dining partner. Keep in mind portion sizes: one serving of meat should be the size the palm of your hand, sides are around the size of a tennis ball, and added fat like butter is the size of the tip of your thumb.
  • Try mindfulness. So many times when you dine out, it’s for a quick and easy meal or a celebration or social event. During these times you could be distracted and not paying attention to your hunger and fullness levels. Take time to pause between bites and assess whether you are full and can save some of the meal for later.

Take advantage of the new labeling as a way to help you stay informed about your choices. Look over the menus and choose a reasonable meal that will let you leave the restaurant happy with your choice!

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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 weight loss calories dining out restaurants

Low-Calorie Cinco de Mayo Recipes

GettyImages-507532058A lot of Americans see Cinco de Mayo as a reason to celebrate with all-you-can-eat chips and salsa, margaritas as big as your head, and lots of calorie-laden Mexican foods. Instead of the high calorie, high price route try these recipes and tortilla chip alternatives.

100-Calorie Super-Skinny Margarita

3 oz. Sparkling ICE Lemon Lime flavor (or any calorie-free sparkling lemon-lime water)
1½ oz. tequila
Juice from 1 orange
Juice from 1 lime
Shake all ingredients and pour over ice. Serve with a lime wedge.

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
¾ tsp salt
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 cups sliced onion (about 1 large)
1 Tbsp lime juice
8 corn tortillas, warmed
Lime wedges, cilantro, sour cream, avocado and/or pico de gallo for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally, then slice crosswise into strips.
  3. Combine oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat with the spice mixture. Add bell peppers and onion and stir to combine.
  4. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
  5. Roast on the middle rack for 15 minutes. Leave the pan there and turn the broiler to high. Broil until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are browning in spots, about 5 minutes more.
  6. Remove from oven.
  7. Stir in lime juice.
  8. Serve the chicken and vegetables in warmed tortillas accompanied by lime wedges and topped with cilantro, sour cream, avocado, and/or pico de gallo, if desired. One serving equals two fajitas.

Tortilla chip alternatives for salsa and guacamole dipping:

  • Cucumbers
  • Cocktail shrimp
  • Zucchini sticks
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Carrot sticks
  • Rice crackers
  • Lentil chips

If you choose tortilla chips, stick to a serving, which is 12 chips!

If you want to celebrate the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on May 5 this year, throw together these improved-nutrition recipes with fewer calories, see these other tips for healthy eating at parties, and enjoy!

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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 healthy eating recipes calories holidays

Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste (from a NIFS Dietitian)

GettyImages-639303956Every day Americans waste a lot of food. One statistic states that we throw away up to 40 percent of the food that is purchased! This is usually due to the fact that even though food costs are rising, no other nation spends less on the food supply. Since food is so abundant, especially with the warehouse options like Costco for grocery shopping, it makes it easier to not value the food and therefore toss more in the trash.

Tips for Reducing Wasted Food

Here are some simple and practical tips to help you contribute to reducing food waste in America.

  • Shop smart. This is the easiest and most practical one to follow. When you go grocery shopping, don’t buy too much food! This might mean going to the store more frequently or just buying less each time you go. Plan your meals and snacks and then make a list. When you get to the store, actually stick to the list.
  • Practice portion control. This one is tough! Following portion sizes is a challenge since we tend to over-serve ourselves; however, if you are eating the correct portions, then the food isn’t being wasted. A typical serving of a side dish, from potatoes to vegetables, is ½ cup and meat is 3 oz. Start measuring every so often to keep portions and calories in check and get the right nutrition.
  • Save and EAT leftovers. If you are sticking to proper portion sizes, chances are you will have leftovers of food. Use this opportunity to have lunch or dinner ready for the next day instead of eating out or struggling to come up with an idea of what to cook. If you did eat out and brought home a doggy bag (since restaurant portions can be very large), be sure to eat your leftovers within a day or two.
  • Use an app to help. Handpick is a useful app that allows you to put in what items you have on hand and it will generate a recipe for you to make. There are thousands of recipes to choose from, so chances are one will appeal to your taste buds.
  • Use expiration and sell-by dates as guidelines. These dates refer to food quality and not food safety. A food doesn’t automatically turn bad on the exact date that is printed. This is just a guideline. When eating a product after the date listed, use your senses. Go by your smell, sight, and taste.

Keep Track of How Much You Throw Away

Try to start implementing some or all of these tips so you can decrease your personal food waste. Each week take an inventory of how much you had to toss and try to make it less the next week. You will end up saving money and calories, and maybe moving closer to being a zero-waste home.

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

Topics: nutrition calories apps food safety portion control grocery shopping food waste zero-waste saving money

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!

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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

Step Class: Step Up to a New Level of Fitness!

Step-new.jpgWhether you are 18 or 80, man or woman, looking to lose weight or simply maintain, step class just might be the perfect addition to your fitness program. Have you ever considered taking a step class? Perhaps you have found yourself thinking, "I'm not coordinated enough," or “that's too intense for me (or not intense enough"). Well, give me two minutes to change your mind.

Does It Burn Calories?

The bottom line is, stepping up and down off of a raised platform burns calories. In fact, it burns a lot of calories. According to Self magazine, stepping up and down off of a raised platform burns more calories than doing jumping jacks, split lunges, power squats, or speed skating for the same length of time. A great exercise for weight loss? YES! Great way to maintain weight? YOU BET!

Am I Coordinated Enough?

Maybe you’re thinking that you lack the required coordination. But the reality of it is, if you can march in place, you can do step. The basic step is just that: basic. Up, up, down, down. Of course that move would get boring pretty quickly, so we add music, rhythm, and variations on that basic move. While it helps to have a little rhythm (can you clap your hands to the beat of a song?), anyone can step. It might take a few classes to really get the hang of it, but it is quite doable, and FUN! Don't be intimidated!

There is a first time for everything. At some point, every single person in the class, including the instructor, attended their very first step class. I’m not gonna lie, you probably won't pick up every single thing in the first class you take, but let's face it: what would be the fun of mastering it in the first hour? Half the fun is seeing yourself improve, seeing your cardiovascular fitness level improve, and becoming more efficient overall (more work with less effort). Step will get you there!

STEP_COM-2018.jpg

Is It Too Intense?

You might be thinking that step would be too hard or too intense for you. While step is designed to be a challenging cardio workout, the intensity level can be adjusted in a number of ways to meet the needs of each participant.

  • The height of the platform is not uniform; with use of individual risers at each end, the platform can be set as low as just a few inches off the floor (or as high as 8–12 inches).
  • Another easy adjustment, which your instructor will show you, is to limit your range of movement with each step. As you become more comfortable with the format, you will be able to add intensity by increasing range of motion with the steps, and by adding arm movements to further increase your heart rate. Because of this, the challenge never ends. There is no plateau.

Is It Not Intense Enough?

On the flip side, maybe you are thinking step is not intense enough. Perhaps you’re thinking that only girls take step, or that you are too fit to benefit from it. Regardless of your fitness level, step can be a very challenging cardiovascular workout. It is a well-known fact that the US military utilizes step aerobics to improve our troops' agility, coordination, and endurance. If it's tough enough for our soldiers, then it's tough enough for me! In addition to step, I also teach Insanity, total-body conditioning, and kickboxing classes. Step meets or exceeds these other formats in intensity level and calories burned per hour.

Step is the perfect group fitness format because it accommodates all fitness levels. (And if you haven't tried group fitness, well that's a whole other conversation.) But in short, try it! The camaraderie and accountability among the participants, the music, and the FUN factor will have you hooked!

So, are you ready to take your fitness regimen to the next STEP? See you in class soon, soon, soon!

Yours in fitness,
Rachel

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This blog was written by Rachel Pfeiffer, ACE and AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor, and proud NIFS Step instructor since 1999. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio weight loss group fitness calories aerobic step class

Weight Loss and Weight Management: Take It Off, Keep It Off!

GettyImages-639584130.jpgI love what I do…seeing people succeed with their weight-loss goals is one of the most rewarding feelings as a dietitian. However, it can also be very challenging when I see clients revert back to old habits and struggle to keep the weight off that they worked so hard to remove. While this is a common struggle for many, there are small steps that you can take to try to prevent this from happening.

I took some time to research the regular habits of people who have been successful in keeping off weight on a regular basis. After checking out some different articles on highly successful dieters, I want to share what I have found to be the best things to keep the weight off for good.

  • Keep a food journal. Individuals who keep food logs tend to eat 40 percent less when writing it down as a result of the accountability to themselves. Also, a recent study found women who kept a food journal lost 6 pounds more than those who didn’t. Some excellent online food tracker sites or apps include My Fitness Pal and Lose It!. Try one of these to start keeping a food journal of your intake and habits.
  • Practice portion control. As a society, we are terrible at “eyeballing” portions. The secret to success is consistently measuring food items to make sure you are eating the same amount you are journaling. The simplest way to do this is to use measuring utensils to dish out your meals and associate common items with certain portions. For example, a serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards, a baked potato should be the size of a computer mouse, ½ cup of pasta is the size of a tennis ball, and a teaspoon of oil is the size of one dice. You can also use things like the palm of your hand and your thumb for references.
  • Don’t skip meals. Lots of people think if they skip a meal they will be decreasing the total calories they are taking in for the day. In reality, the opposite usually happens. When someone skips a meal, they typically end up overeating at a different time of day to compensate for missing out on the food that their body needed. Also, whenever you skip a meal it makes your metabolism work at a slower rate, and therefore makes it harder to lose weight. Eating balanced meals and snacks throughout the day is the best way to stay on track.

The more you follow these rules, the higher chance of success you will have in keeping off the weight. So once you have hit that goal weight that you have been working so hard to achieve, take these weight management steps to keep it off.

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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: NIFS weight loss calories accountability weight management dietitian

Which Fitness Assessment Is Right for Me? Part 1: VO2

V02 Assessment: A Wealth of Fitness Information for Training

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 1.05.29 PM.pngFitness trends come and go, but heart-rate training is something that has been around for a long time; and due to its validity, I have a feeling it will not be leaving anytime soon. In fact, some places base their entire programming around your heart rate. And knowing your heart-rate training zone is actually a very useful tool for anyone—from the marathon runner to the three-times-a-week boot camp attendee!

Maybe you have felt totally spent after a workout, or on the flip side, you have been at the gym for an hour and don’t feel very productive. Knowing your heart rate training zones can help you to train both harder as well as smarter. So become more efficient in your training by increasing your work capacity and decreasing the time it takes to do it.

Benefits of Knowing Your Training Zones

Take a look at the top 3 benefits of knowing your training zones:

  • Maximize performance. Train in your zones that are based on real numbers.
  • Know how to recover. Recovery is one important element to exercise that many miss. A V02 test will give you your recovery time in order to be efficient in things like intervals and rest.
  • Train harder and smarter. If someone told you that you could become more fit in less time, wouldn’t you jump onto that boat? Knowing your zones allows you to be more efficient in your training

What Does This Assessment Show Me?

In other words, how efficiently does your body utilize oxygen and get it to the working muscles?

  • Four different training zones (low-fat burning, moderate-endurance, high-cardio training, and peak-cardio training zones).
  • V02 Max (your personal cardiovascular fitness level based on your age and gender).
  • Recovery (both heart rate zone as well as time it takes you to recover from peak performance).
  • Aerobic threshold (the window in which your body stops using oxygen efficiently and begins to rely on another energy system for the duration of the exercise—typically won’t last long).
  • Anaerobic threshold (the point at which lactic acid builds up in the body faster than it can be removed; the point at which you do not have enough oxygen to sustain exercise for long periods of time).
  • Total calories burned (the V02 gives you the total amount of calories you burn during each training zone if you sustained that pace for the entire workout).

With all this being said, I would tell anyone from the regular everyday exerciser to the most elite athlete that getting a V02 assessment is something that is beneficial for your training. The cost is $100 for NIFS members and $115 for guests.

To schedule your V02 assessment, contact the NIFS track desk at 317-274-3432 ext. 262, or fitness@nifs.org.

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

Topics: fitness cardio calories endurance recovery heart rate V02 vo2 max assessment

Is Metabolism the Reason You’re Having Trouble with Weight Loss?

ThinkstockPhotos-505722820.jpgWe often hear people talk about their slow metabolism being the reason they cannot lose weight. While this may be true for some individuals, it does not apply to the majority of the population. If you have never actually had blood work done saying you have a slow metabolism, this more than likely is not the issue. Instead of blaming the metabolism, you have to look at the basic “recipe” for weight loss.

Two Ways to Lose Weight

As you might know by now, weight loss is caused by putting the body in a caloric deficit. Being in a caloric deficit means that the number of calories burned by the body has surpassed the amount of calories consumed by the body. This simple definition of a caloric deficit helps further explain the two popular methods in which you can obtain caloric deficiency.

  • Option 1: Consume fewer calories than required by the body for optimum energy output.
  • Option 2: Burn off more calories than consumed by the body.

Factors Affecting How Many Calories You Burn

Now let’s take a look at the things that affect your energy expenditure.

The first thing that affects total energy expenditure (TEE) is your resting metabolic rate (RMR). RMR is defined as the energy your body requires for normal daily functioning without movement. This is your body’s set energy output on a daily basis.

TEE also takes into consideration something called the thermic effect of food (TEF). This is described as the energy required to break down the food you consume. Thermic effect of food usually makes up 10–15% of your energy expenditure.

The rest of your TEE is made up of your movement with intentional and non-intentional exercise or non-exercise physical activity (NEPA). NEPA can make up anywhere between 15–50% of your energy expenditure. If you are sedentary for a majority of the day, you may be burning only 15% of your energy expenditure; when you remain active for a majority of the day, you may be burning up to (but not limited to) 50% of your energy expenditure as compared to your RMR.

Looking at BOD POD Results

To put this into perspective, here is my BMR and TEE that I received from doing my NIFS BOD BOD.

TEE = RMR + TEF + exercise
RMR = 1,642 kcals 
TEF = 246 kcals (15%)
Intentional Exercise/ Non-intentional exercise = 246 kcals (15%) (1,642 x .15)
821 kcals (50%) (1,642 x .5)

Using the numbers above, on a sedentary day I would burn around 2,102–2,134 kcals (15%). On an active day, I would burn around 2,709–2,857 kcals (50%). On a very active day I could burn up to 3,415 kcals for the day. Now let’s say I eat around 2,200 kcals on a consistent basis. Eating 2,200 kcals on a sedentary day would put me in a caloric surplus, whereas eating 2,200 kcals on an active day would put me in a caloric deficit.

Sedentary day = 66 kcal surplus
Active day (including intentional exercise and NEPA) = 657 kcal deficit

So just by being more active throughout the day I would be able to take myself from being in a surplus to being in a caloric deficit, which is the basis for weight loss.

ThinkstockPhotos-154306165.jpgDo You Just Need to Move More?

Now ask yourself this: Are you having trouble losing weight because you have a slow metabolism, or are you just not moving and burning calories throughout the day? More than likely your caloric deficit difficulties are because of a lack of calorie burning due to a lack of movement throughout the day.

Being sedentary vs. engaging in intentional exercise and NEPA can make a world of difference as to whether you are achieving a caloric deficit. So if you don’t take anything else from this blog, remember this: weight loss usually requires a LIFESTYLE change instead of just engaging in intentional exercise. You must maximize your energy expenditure throughout the entire day to widen the gap between calorie consumption and total energy expenditure.

Schedule your BOD POD assessment today to find out your true numbers by calling 317-274-3432, ext. 262.

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

Topics: NIFS weight loss calories metabolism BODPOD

Coconut Oil: Good or Bad Nutrition?

ThinkstockPhotos-690357892.jpgCoconut oil definitely seemed like the food craze of the year in 2016. People were putting it on and in everything, from baked goods to coffee and lots of food choices in between. People were using it as moisturizer and hair cream; it was the cure for all! However, in June 2017 the American Heart Association came out with a statement advising against using this oil. So, should you ditch those giant bottles in your pantry, hold onto them just in case more research flips the advice again, or keep using it daily?

What Are the Arguments Against It?

The reason for the new report is that 7 out of 7 studies found that coconut oil, which we know is very high in saturated fat, raised LDL or bad cholesterol levels. They established no difference between it and other high-saturated-fat oils like butter and beef fat. Interesting to know is that coconut oil is 82% saturated fat versus 63% in butter and 50% in beef fat.

One reason coconut oil was touted to be so healthy and good for you was the high amount of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which the body can break down much more easily than the longer-chain triglycerides found in fatty meats, dairy, and oils. MCTs have been found in studies to raise heart-healthy HDL cholesterol and help with weight loss by increasing your metabolism, which is why so many people see the benefit of this oil. Keep in mind that it is a fat, which means it is very calorie dense. One tablespoon has 117 calories. Therefore, if weight loss is your main goal, you still need to calculate this in when coming up with an appropriate calorie count for you.

Use Other Plant-Based Oils

What we do know is that plant-based fats such as olive and vegetable oil, nuts, and avocados have been found time and time again to be heart healthy. These are the type of fats that should make up the majority of fat in your diet on a daily basis. Using these oils for cooking and baking should be a priority. Adding in other fats sparingly can be a part of a healthy diet.

Nutrition Advice Is Always Changing

The science of nutrition is constantly changing, so it is important to be aware of this. That’s why the policy of a balanced diet with everything in moderation is key. Even if every new research study showed the health benefits of coconut oil, that still doesn’t give you a pass to consume it in unlimited quantities. And remember, many of those wonderful uses are completely calorie free when you aren’t ingesting it!

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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 fat diet trends

Sink or Swim: Get More from Your Swimming Access

ThinkstockPhotos-95099348.jpgSalutations NIFS friends! Our facility has 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. Also, see Kris Simpson about HIT classes or Aqua Fitness over to the “Nat”.

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