NIFS Healthy Living Blog

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

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

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

Questions for Health and Happiness

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

Question: Are you tired most days?

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

Question: Are you hungry?

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

Question: Are you stressed out?

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

Question: Are you unhappy with your current body composition?

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

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

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

Question: Are you unhappy in your relationships?

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

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

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

Question: Are you ready for a change?

ACTION: Stop talking about it, and take ACTION!

Time to Do Something for Your Health and Fitness

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

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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 goal setting health assessments mindset lifestyle happiness making changes

Fitness Training Types: Find Your Method

bands-1.jpgIf you take a few minutes to google the various types of fitness training out there, you will come up with a list of about 10 different ones, and then 10 more different variations of each of those. And each year more and more “fitness trends” come out, making it quite confusing for the consumer as to what to choose and where to start. It can be confusing and even frustrating choosing what is right for you and your body.

And to take it a step further, maybe the results you want that you aren’t getting are because you need to try something different. Maybe that different thing does not have to be some crazy, drastic change in gyms, your diet, or everything in your life. In fact, maybe it’s just a workout style that suits you better. Each product you see today—like CrossFit, Orangetheory, and Dailey Method to name a few—all follow a specific training method. And what works for one person doesn’t always work for the next.

I have narrowed it down to five categories of training methods, so let’s take a look at what each one is, and I’ll help you narrow down your focus.

Circuit Training

High intensity–style workouts that incorporate both aerobic exercise and strength training. These circuit workouts can be done with or without equipment.

    • Target: Building strength and muscular endurance. These workouts tend to keep you on the higher end of your heart rate zones and are usually designed in stations for time, with little to no rest in-between.
    • Goals: The circuit training method of exercise is good for those people who are looking for weight loss, are in a time crunch, or are looking for overall general fitness, a total-body workout, and toning. Many say this is where you get the most bang for your buck because you can get the results you are looking for in less time.

Aerobic Training

This type of training is generally summarized as meaning “with oxygen” or cardio training.

    • Target: These workouts tend to target the cardiovascular system, mainly the heart and lungs. In most cases it’s associated with running, biking, swimming, jumprope, step class, and other cardio-based exercises. This style of training helps to increase your cardiovascular endurance and open the gap in your heart rate zones.
    • Goals: The aerobic training style is good for those looking to lose weight, for specific training programs like marathons, for athletes looking to increase performance and endurance as well as recover appropriately, and for those trying to reduce the risk of chronic illness like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Heart Rate Training

ThinkstockPhotos-520046406.jpegThis type of training is specific to each individual and their personal zones. You can read more here about HR training, but this training method is focused in on zones like fat burn, cardiovascular endurance, peak performance, and recovery. In many cases, HR training is viewed as the all-around best training method there is.

    • Target: Heart rate training helps to increase endurance and sustainability in workouts by allowing you to peak and recover in a way that is specific to your body. Training zones are identified by doing a VO2 test.
    • Goals: For anyone and everyone! Typically people training for endurance races like Spartans or marathons, or athletes honing in on max results and recovery, for the person who is totally burnt out after each workout, and all the way to people who are on medications that affect their heart rate.

Flexibility Training

Contrary to what I know everyone is thinking, it’s not just yoga! Forget the general stereotype of moms walking into the gym with lattes, flip-flops, and their yoga mat; this training style is probably the most important, yet the most neglected. It incorporates corrective exercises, stretching (both static and dynamic), and movements from head to toe.

    • Target: To improve flexibility, mobility, range of motion, balance, and better posture.
    • Goals: Another method of training that is for everyone! If you are not a yoga person, it’s time to start! Yoga folks, dancers, runners, meatheads: this is for you, too! Flexibility training is for every single person who wants to enhance their training in any way.

Strength Training

deadlift-3.jpgStrength training typically is done with heavy weight but can be done with lighter ones as well. This style of training is directly associated with Newton’s law: mass x acceleration = force.

    • Target: To increase muscle strength.
    • Goals: Perfect for those looking to put on mass; can be good for those who don’t have a bunch of time to train; also good if you desire to move heavy things.

What should you do from here? If you are stuck in a rut or want to find the method that is going to be most effective for you, take some time to define your goals, figure out what is realistic for you, and take into consideration your past exercise experience. All these things play into what will work as well as what you like to do while in the gym.

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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 fitness yoga circuit workout training flexibility strength core strength goals heart rate strength training methods aerobic

NIFS Member Profile: Cody Hunter Crushes His Fitness Goals

Cody_ today.jpgCody Hunter_Before.jpgAs the new year is here, we start forming new goals for the next. I would like to share a story of a member who has worked incredibly hard through 2015 and 2016, has crushed all of the weight loss and fitness goals that he set and then some, and who has transformed himself completely in front of everyone who has seen him.

Cody Hunter joined NIFS two years ago in 2014, with overall goals of losing some weight, being healthier, looking more fit, and feeling better about himself. When Cody started working out at NIFS, he weighed close to 290 pounds. His current weight is in the 190s, and his most recent BOD POD has shown him down to 7% body fat*! Cody has proven to all of us how goal-setting and turning fitness into a lifestyle, rather than a chore, can be not only attainable, but also rewarding! Read below for Cody’s thoughts on his own journey, as well as tips if you are just starting out or need some motivation for your own.
 *individual results vary, and are not guaranteed.

How did you get started on your fitness journey?

When I was in high school and during my youth I was always on the bigger side. I played offensive and defensive line in football and that meant that I was a bigger player as well. Throughout the first part of my college career I ballooned to my biggest point. I just got to a point where enough was enough and decided to start my journey. I knew that I could be a better person if I was happier with myself in my own body.

What was your exercise regimen when you first started out?

When I started I was working out 5–7 days a week, working on my cardio and lifting. I would play a lot of basketball and then lift afterwards.

Did you make any nutritional changes? If so, what was your game plan?

When I first started working out I was stricter with my diet than in the past, but not as much as I should have been. I decided that I would drop all sweets, soda, and junk food. After making these changes and really focusing on fueling my body with the correct food and nutrients, my weight started to fall off.

How did you maintain these habits? Did you have any struggles along the way?

After going as long as I did without sweets, it was fairly easy for me to keep on a fairly regimented diet. I saw the results and knew that if I kept doing what I had been doing, I would only get better. I definitely had struggles. Everyone has the cravings for sweets, but I just knew that if I stayed strong and made the right choices, good things would happen.

Did you have any help with accountability (family, friends, etc.)?

My family, friends, and coworkers were all very helpful with keeping me in line with my regimen. At family get-togethers my mom would always make sure that the sweet was something that I didn’t really care for, so there was no temptation for me to have any. My friends and coworkers would do their best not to eat anything bad around me, to not make me feel left out or tempted to break my diet.

Have you conquered any specific goals since you started your fitness journey?

My first goal was to run a 5K. I accomplished that, and then I was talked into signing up for the Mini-Marathon. I trained a lot for that and was able to complete that as well. Over time I have done three half marathons in total and I have dropped about a half an hour on my time since my first one.

What are your current goals to help stay motivated?

I have been doing CrossFit training for about 4 months now and it has been really great. I wanted to have something that would present me with constant new goals and challenges; something that would really get me into the best shape of my life.

What advice do you have for anyone out there who might feel like they are ready to make that change?

My advice would be to just do it! I had many days where I felt that I just couldn’t keep going or that I wasn’t really seeing any real results. I just kept going and kept moving forward, trusting that hard work and sacrifice would pay off. My life has never been better and I have never felt healthier than I do now.

***

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If you are looking to just do it and begin making that change in your life, make an appointment with a NIFS trainer for a free fitness assessment to help guide you in making your goals. Or, check out NIFS Ramp Up to Weight Loss Program to help you get started!

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

 

Topics: NIFS exercise fitness nutrition fitness center weight loss member mini marathon accountability CrossFit goals 5k BODPOD new year

It’s Not Too Late: Put Your Fitness Goals into Action!

ThinkstockPhotos-520041601.jpegHopefully you are off to a solid start on your 2017 goals. I would venture to say that many are as we are still in the first month. But if you haven’t started to put those goals into action yet, it’s not too late! Setting the goals is the easy part; starting them and following through with what you want to achieve is the challenge, or mountain, in front of you.

Goal-Setting Questions to Ask Yourself

Before you begin looking at some steps to take to put your goals into action, you first must ask yourself some important questions. Take a few moments to ask yourself these:

  • What are my long-term goals and are they realistic?
  • What short-term goals do I need to put in place in order to achieve those?
  • And hopefully you have already started, but if not, what are my action steps to get started?

Maybe after answering these questions you realize that you need to tweak your goals a little bit or potentially the path to get there. Take time to do that and set yourself up for success!

Steps for Reaching Your Goals

Now that you have answered some defining questions, let’s take a look at some steps that will help you take those goals and make them successful.

  1. Set your eyes on the target and keep them there! It’s easy to get distracted or thrown off track if you begin to slip up and become unfocused from your goals. By keeping your eyes at the center of the target, the goals are much more achievable from there.
  2. Figure out what steps are needed to hit the bull’s-eye! You may need to break down the larger steps into daily goals, or action steps. When the larger goal is broken down into smaller ones, it makes it easier to get to the top. Imagine trying to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower. If you skipped every other step, it would be a lot harder to get to the top than if you took each step one by one!
  3. Follow through with those action steps. Make sure you find out what helps you to be accountable and follow through with the steps that are in place. If you have a blockade in the way, go around and find what the next action steps to take are.

Be sure to evaluate as you go. If you need to make changes, do it! Things will come up and alter your course. Just take some time to evaluate as you go and make sure that you are headed straight for that bull’s-eye and don’t get off the path!

***

Mini-logo-2016-final-1.jpgMaybe one of your goals was to complete your first 5K or spring half-marathon. Now is the time to put those goals into action. Join us for our NIFS Mini-Marathon and 5K Training Program that starts the last Wednesday of this month.

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

Topics: fitness goal setting goals 5k Mini-Marathon Training Program

Sprint into the New Year: Do’s and Don’ts of Sprinting for Fitness

ThinkstockPhotos-610859290.jpgThe New Year is just around the corner and many will be out to improve themselves on many levels in 2017, with health and fitness usually being number one on the list. If losing weight, increasing lean muscle tissue, and sculpting a lower half that will certainly turn heads, while all at the same time improving your heart health is what you are looking for, I have one answer. The use of sprints in the world of fitness and sport performance is nothing exceptionally new, but can be new to you. Actually, sprinting (fast, short bouts of running) was used to stay alive long before we used it as a mode of training.

Author Mark Sisson has spent a great deal of time spreading the message of the importance of sprinting to overall health, and that it was a huge part of daily life for our early ancestors. He believes, and I like his theory, that primal humans (represented by a caveman known as Grok) owed their fitness to three important concepts:

  • They walked great distances during their hunting and gathering trips.
  • They lifted heavy things such as building materials and large animals.
  • They sprinted for their lives from time to time from wild animals, and chased down game for their paleo dinner.

So Mark says, walk a bunch, lift heavy things (and set them back down, of course), and sprint once in a while, and fitness will find you. I think he nailed it. There isn’t much difference between a sound fitness program and what I just described. So why is sprinting so important and beneficial?

The Benefits of Sprinting

There are easily a hundred benefits of sprinting. This acute stressor can have many positive effects on your body. Here are just a few benefits of adding sprint work into your training:

  • Sprinting can be used across all fitness levels.
  • Sprinting doesn’t take a lot of time to do.
  • Sprinting burns fat.
  • Sprinting improves endurance.
  • Sprinting improves insulin sensitivity.
  • Sprinting is a fun and easy way to get and stay lean.

When implementing sprinting into your training, there are some pretty important steps to follow. To help you get started, here are a few tips that will get you on your way to sprinting more in 2017.

Step 1: Prepare Your Feet and Mobilize Major Joints

Feet: https://nifs.wistia.com/medias/7w84n4t9px

Mobilize: https://nifs.wistia.com/medias/l6m3ft8v72

Step 2: Perform a Proper Warmup

Warmups: https://nifs.wistia.com/medias/x6i393bxk3

Step 3: Ease into Sprinting

When starting your sprinter program, follow a progressive level of intensity and volume. You do not want to start out with all-out sprints for 100 meters for sets of 5 to 10. That is a surefire recipe for an injury at worst, and failure to perform the movement properly at best.

A great tip I picked up from Eric Cressey is to start by sprinting uphill first before moving to the track or any flat surface. This will help with proper mechanics and decrease the chances of injury because you are less likely to overextend. Your timed intervals should start at a 1:2 work-to-rest ratio and gradually ramp up to a 1:1, and even a 2:1 ratio. For example, do :20 of max work followed by :40 of rest, then repeat for the desired number of sets.

The recovery from the sprint is just as important, and I would recommend using your heart rate to tell you when it is time to go again. Waiting until your heart rate is 110bpm or lower before starting your next bout is a good general rule. I am also a huge fan of using your heart rate both as a measure of intensity and for determining your rest. You would rest until your heart rate recovered to 110–120bpm before starting your next set. The bottom line is that there will be no first-place ribbon waiting for you at the end of your sprint, so know your limits and use a progressive program when implementing sprinting.

Step 4: Mix It Up with Different Types of Sprinting

Treadmill: https://nifs.wistia.com/medias/bsjs720s4a

One of the best things about sprinting is that there are several ways to sprint, and sprinting is relative to you. If you give everything you’ve got into a sprint, that is where the work is done, but it doesn’t mean you will be breaking any land speed records (unless your last name is Bolt). Your sprints don’t have to be rep after rep of 100m dashes; it just has to be a near max effort for a few reps or a short period of time. Those who claim they just got done completing 20 sprints were probably not maximally sprinting. If you intersperse a couple periods of higher effort levels with periods of lower effort levels, you will be in good shape (pun intended).

Here are some other sprinting options:

Sprinting can be a fun and very effective training tool in both fat burning and performance. I can’t stress enough the importance of a proper warmup and easing into higher-intensity sprints. Stay healthy so you can stay moving! (And if you have injuries, see this blog for tips on working through it.)

Ready for another challenge in 2017? Train with us in our Mini-Marathon and 5K Training Program! Starts July 25th!

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FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM AND GET REGISTERED TODAY!

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: fitness injuries sprinting paleo heart rate warmups new year joints

Posture and Fitness (Part 2): Anterior Pelvic Tilt

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

What Is It?

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

What Causes It?

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

Why Is It Bad for Fitness?

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

How to Fix It

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

Muscles to Stretch

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

Muscles to Strengthen

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

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

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

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

Nutrition and Fitness Accountability to Get You Through the Holiday Season

ThinkstockPhotos-524163310.jpgIt’s the time of year that no one wants to talk about. But let’s face it: Christmas decorations have been out in stores for over a month, and the holidays are just around the corner. And for many across the nation, the holidays are one of the most dreaded times for unhealthy eating and putting on unwanted excess weight. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Don’t let this time of year scare you. Instead, view it as an opportunity to meet the weight management challenge for a better you!

Tips for Finding Balance at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Beyond

The holidays are hard, and I would never deny that. Travel bogs you down with fast food on the road and in the airport; visitors come to the house to stay for a week at a time and you have to do all the cooking of holiday meals; and those delicious goodies that seem to appear only once a year are ever-present on the counter yelling, “EAT ME!” So with all this, how do you stay on track? Allow me to share a few ideas that come to mind for having a successful holiday season with your eating and exercise.

  • Find a nutrition balance. While I am not encouraging you to go out and have five of your favorite cookies every day, I am going to say it’s okay to have one. The key to being successful and not overdoing it with what you put into your mouth is balance. There are times through the holidays that the red velvet cake is staring you in the face, and if you do decide you are going to eat it, then create a balance. What are you going to say no to instead? A few tips: don’t eat the entire piece; leave some on the plate. Eat slowly and allow yourself to feel full rather than killing it in two bites. Drink water with it or milk that has some nutritional value. The more water you drink, the more you will feel full, allowing you to scale back on the cake intake.
  • Find a workout balance. You also need to find balance in the gym. You know those people who head to the gym for a three-hour workout on Thanksgiving morning? You don’t have to be that person. If you have a good balance of both exercising on a regular basis through the holidays and eating appropriately, you won’t need that 3,000-calorie burn before the big feast.
  • Have a plan. Making sure that you have a plan is essential to your holiday success. I have found when there is no plan in place ahead of time, it becomes a free-for-all, which leads to overeating. Make a plan before the holidays start and create goals that are both realistic and attainable for yourself. If you know you have travel coming up or you know that you are hosting for a week, come up with a plan that makes sense for how often and how long you will be able to work out each day, as well as what you will be eating and potentially cooking for guests.
  • Stick to the plan. Having a plan can be the easy part, but sticking to that plan is the challenge. Make sure that you commit to your goal: if you said you were going to work out three to four times a week, do it! If something comes up and you can’t get to the gym, do something at home. The biggest thing is to not allow yourself to make an excuse. You may have to get up a little bit early before the guests arise for your homemade waffles, or make sure the hotel that you are staying at has a gym. Whatever you need to do to stay on track, make it happen.
  • Have some accountability. Figure out what type of accountability works for you. Maybe it’s coming up with that plan with a friend or family member. Or maybe it’s tracking it through a fitness tracker, signing up for a personal trainer, or joining a program the gym is putting on. Whatever it may be, find what works for you and commit to doing it.

NIFS Game of Inches Can Help!

If you are looking for some accountability through the holiday season, we have just the thing for you! Whether your goal right now is to put on muscle mass or to shed some inches, this program will suit your desires! NIFS is introducing a new program called Game of Inches.Game-of-inches-logo-final.jpg

The Game of Inches will help to keep you on track as you compete in one of two challenges:

  • Challenge #1—Gain Challenge: Work to at muscle building to put on mass through the holidays.
  • Challenge #2—Loss Challenge: Work to lose inches through the holidays.

For both challenges, measurements will be taken with the Fit3D scanner and an accumulation of specific measurements will determine a winner. To accompany the scans, each program participant will receive weekly newsletters containing videos to keep you focused and working hard! Each week videos will be sent containing workouts, nutrition tips, an exercise of the week, and a warrior challenge to finish it off.

NIFS members can sign up at the NIFS track desk located in the fitness center. All signups and scan-ins must be completed between November 6–12, and a subsequent scan out will take place between January 1–7. For this program we are asking that members “pay” by donating canned food items for Paw’s Pantry. Nonmembers can also join! For a fee of only $95, nonmembers will receive the scan-in/scan-out and all videos accompanying the program. In addition to this, the fee includes full access to NIFS and everything NIFS offers during the 7 weeks of the program between the start and end dates. Nonmembers interested in signing up can stop by the NIFS service desk to register.

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Questions? Please contact Amanda Bireline (abireline@nifs.org or 317.274.3432, ext. 219).

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

Topics: NIFS fitness nutrition fitness center holidays accountability challenge weight management workout Thanksgiving muscle building christmas

5 Ways to Keep Up with Workouts When College Stress Hits

ThinkstockPhotos-135551982.jpgWhen it comes to settling back into school, adjusting to the crazy schedule can become one of the biggest tasks. From classes each day, to group project meetings, to homework due dates and the dreaded semester exams, how are we supposed to find the time to keep ourselves healthy and fit?

In the summer you may have had no classes or potentially just one, leaving you with a hefty amount of extra free time to spend how you like. Getting back into those fitness goals that you wanted to accomplish wasn’t such a hard task. However, when school stress sets in, students find that that time gets cut short and they tend to give up on focusing on their own health.

Tips for Fitness in College

Here are a few tips to help you stay focused and driven to keep exercise in your daily schedule, without falling off the wagon, all while being successful in school:

Drink water throughout the day. We all know about the strategically placed dorm and community food/drink venues that are available at our fingertips when we are moving from class to class on campus. However, a lot of them tend to be full of extra sugar and unnatural ingredients. Simply remember to pack a bottle of water. There are many places across campus to refill it, and I would even challenge you to see how many times you can do that in one day! Drinking enough water will keep you hydrated and healthier. It will also assist in brain function to keep you focused during those long lectures and tedious late-night homework assignments you need to finish.

Keep a daily agenda. Whether it be just a few reminders on your phone or a hand-held planner, having something that tells you what you are doing throughout the day can only help keep you more organized. It can also help to keep you more accountable. If you have your workout scheduled and written down as a reminder, you are more prone to complete it. Find what works for you: a set time each day like after your last class, meeting a friend at the gym to work out together, or an alarm on your phone can be the secret to success.

Plan out your workouts. Knowing what you are going to be doing for your workouts is essential when it comes to saving time and being efficient in the gym. Take some time at the end of the week to plan out what you will be doing for the week to come. This not only saves you from walking around the gym wondering which exercise to do next, but it keeps you on task with something that you can build from and see more results. If you need help planning your workouts or some extra guidance, NIFS has qualified trainers who can sit down with you and help you plan out specific goals and personal training. They can also assess your movement through personal fitness testing and a functional movement screen, and then create a personal workout program that works for you. Click here to learn more about setting up your free fitness sessions with a NIFS trainer!

Incorporate HIIT into your busy days. High-Intensity Training (HIT) is a GREAT tool to use for those jam-packed school days where you don’t have much time. Days like that can elevate your stress level, which can have an effect on your blood pressure and fat retention. Workouts in the form of HIT training are shorter, with bouts of high heart rate and little rest in-between. They get the job done in less time, and are a great pick-me-up to burn calories and relieve some stress during your busy day. Click here to check out our HIT schedule and to try a class for free!

Find an accountability partner. If you feel like you are one who tends to start on something and not always complete it, an accountability partner is an awesome thing to have to keep you on track. An accountability partner can be anyone in your life who can commit to help keep you responsible for staying on track with your goals. For example, your best friend, roommate, classmate, family member, and even a coworker are all great options! This needs to be a person you converse with or see on a regular basis, so they can make sure to ask you regularly whether you trained that day or stayed on whatever new eating plan you may have started. This person can even have similar goals as you and work out with you, so you both can cheer each other on. This strategy will help increase adherence and get you closer to success with your goals.

Stay Focused on Fitness

So, while there are plenty of things that can distract you from staying on track, you can use these simple tips to keep focused! If you simply adopt a few new habits like the ones above, you will be more likely to keep on top of your fitness goals.

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

Topics: fitness stress workouts accountability HIT personal training college high intensity functional movement school

THOMAS’s CORNER: How Alcohol Can Affect Your Fitness Gains

ThinkstockPhotos-533242866.jpgThe curiosities of the human body never cease to amaze. Today’s topic is alcohol and its effect on fitness performance. Seems like a fairly straightforward and easy concept to grasp, but just as I find more details there seems to be more head scratching, mostly from the historical aspect and how we have evolved to today’s ideals.

It’s no secret that alcohol can trigger several spiraling ailments, ranging from liver disease to heart issues, in addition to the obvious weight gain and stunting of muscle development. That being said, with so much knowledge about the negatives of alcohol abuse, why would an individual not want to become independent of all the risks and dangers? The answer is not so easy to discern, but we can at least look at some of the more alarming facts.

The Health Impacts of Alcohol Abuse

The aforementioned alcohol-induced liver disease, also known as cirrhosis, is the result of abuse over a long period of time. Not everyone gets to the point of cirrhosis, but there are many other, smaller monsters that can arise (Kuzma, 2015) from your head to your toes:

  • Brain function can become unreliable.
  • Decision making abilities are limited.
  • Your looks can diminish due to blood vessel ruptures and swollen or puffy skin.
  • The heart works harder to do what it normally does.
  • Circulation is impaired.
And the list can go on for another paragraph. The fitness levels you strive for by working out like a maniac for hours at a time, several days a week (aka Gainz), are definitely compromised by the affects of alcohol.

One of the main things to remember is that alcohol acts as a diuretic, which can lead to fluid loss. Dehydration is not exactly the most welcoming environment for muscle development. Dehydration also leads to muscle fatigue. Earlier, I mentioned that you can gain weight from alcohol. This is twofold: number one, alcohol is not a calorie-free substance; and number two, we tend to eat more junk when we drink. They go nearly hand in hand. Finally, we see a hindrance in protein synthesis, the foundation of all our hard work toward Gainz. (Hanes, 2014)

Is a Little Alcohol Okay?

Now you may say, “Thomas, why does everyone keep saying that it’s okay to have a small amount of alcohol for good heart health?” Well, simply put, there are studies that have linked light/moderate alcohol consumption (like one or fewer drinks per day) with heart health. There are some catches, though. The studies found that the benefits did not help everyone; for example, those under 45 had less positive impact, younger women could have a higher risk for breast cancer, and people with hereditary alcoholism issues would not be advised to start drinking just because of this study (Gupta, 2008).

Educate Yourself About Alcohol Effects

Alcohol is not going away anytime soon. It’s part of many cultures around the world and has been for thousands of years. However, the people who are trying to get fit and stay healthy for life deserve to be educated on the topic so that they can give their body a better chance to succeed. 

Those with concerns about leaving alcohol behind can rest assured that fitness and wellness programming will not leave you behind, whether you are relieving stress, making friends, or aspiring for greatness.

For a better understanding of how alcohol affects your body, please contact the NIFS Registered Dietitian, Angie Mitchell.

Until next time… Muscleheads rejoice and evolve!

THOMAS LIVENGOOD

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

Topics: NIFS fitness Thomas' Corner alcohol gainz dietitian

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