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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Goal Setting: What’s on Your Fitness Bucket List?

Do you have a bucket list? Your bucket list includes many dreams and aspirations that may be obtainable but take some effort on your part to complete. Items on a bucket list could include (but are not limited to) visiting other parts of the world, furthering your education, and even going to see your favorite musical artist in concert. All of these things are great, but how can you create a bucket list of ideas for your health and wellness? The answer may or may not come to you right away, but given a little thought and strategy, you can begin a good, realistic fitness bucket list.

Setting Your Fitness Goals

ThinkstockPhotos-497641362.jpgMy fitness bucket list was created using SMART goals. SMART goals were first developed in the early 1980s by George Doran in Management Review magazine as a way to be more effective in goal-setting strategy situations. The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound. To tie this in with your bucket list, think about goals that may be a little adventurous or challenging, but not too easy. I would avoid having goals such as “go to the gym” and “stop eating cake” and include goals such as “climb Machu Picchu by the time I’m 40 years old” and “complete a marathon in less than two hours.”

What are your dreams and aspirations? Including fitness and wellness goals on your bucket list can have a positive impact on your health. Keep it fun and don’t forget about your short-term goals as a barometer to determine whether you are progressing toward completing your bucket list objective.

Get Help from a NIFS Personal Trainer

So, create your bucket list today. Refer to a NIFS HFS or personal trainer for assistance in taking the right, necessary steps toward your goals. Although your list can be private, sharing it with others can help hold you accountable. If you are comfortable in doing so, please share 1, 2, or 3 of your bucket list items below.

As always, muscleheads evolve and rejoice.


Set your goals and get started! Schedule a free fitness assessment with a NIFS Trainer!

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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 fitness Thomas' Corner goal setting health personal training wellness

NIFS Crucial Conversations: I Took My Life Back (Part 2)

What does it take for someone to make the critical changes in their life to regain control and live the life they have always wanted to live? This is one question Katie and I tackle in part 2 of Katie’s journey to health, wellness, and happiness.

Katie_After_3.jpgWhen I last left you in part 1, we learned a great deal about where Katie has been, her struggles, her mindset, and her life just a few short years ago. Katie painted a pretty good picture of what she was dealing with every day. Now let’s see what Katie did about it! Let’s learn about what it takes to take a life back.

Conversation with Katie, Part 2

“Among the hundred small changes you have to make, it adds up to Big Change.”

Tony: When was the moment you knew something was different and there was a transformation happening?

Katie: Probably about six months into working with my GT group was when the change became real to me—the “a-ha” moment. I had quit my job and found one that was a much better fit with my personal and professional goals. Once I had the structure and support of group training, I was making better choices for myself in all aspects of my life—nutrition, habits, activities, exercise. I was getting positive reinforcement weekly from my coach and group. I could see it and feel it. Somewhere in there, among the hundred small changes you have to make, it adds up to Big Change, and I realized that’s where it happens.

Tony: What were some of the things that made the biggest impact in your change process?

Katie: Looking back now, I see several things in the GT program that made a major impact for me:

  • Katie_After_2.jpgThe work we do helped me understand that change is incremental. For me, the biggest change was realizing I had to make changes in my habits, and change is something you have to chip away at every. Single. Day. Knowing that there will be setbacks, and things won’t happen overnight. And that’s why I don’t set New Year’s resolutions. Sure, I set short- and long-term goals with my coach and myself, but I don’t set one giant resolution on January 1. Every day is a resolution.
  • Accountability and support in the group is HUGE for me. HUGE. One of my GT pals calls us her “gym family.” It might sound dorky, but it’s true. We listen. We support. We encourage. We build each other up. We help each other when things are tough. We are there to support each other when we need a hand. We are a team. And while no one in group is food-policing me, I am in-my-head accountable to my team and coach.
  • The overall Group Training program at NIFS and all it offers is unique. I am not aware of any program like this at any other gym. GT provides you with a structure, a framework, ongoing personal attention to structure a program that helps achieve your specific goals, guidance, and a group of like-minded people to support you.
  • Coach Tony gave me the help I needed with behavior change. The GT program allows me the personalized time with Tony to dig into my behaviors, and figure out what I need to do to change to more positive behaviors. I needed to learn how to deal with hard things and be successful at doing that so I could apply those in life. Coach Tony is an expert on movement, but he fundamentally understands the behavior element that is so important for fitness professionals working with clients—this is about not just showing up to work out a few times a week. It’s about, as he always says, “getting right in the head”—healthy body and healthy mind. And he told me this on day one after a depressing BOD POD®—that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Exercise is not a punishment. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone, and with the personal attention I get from my NIFS coaches, I was able to figure out what I did need. They know to push me when I need it.
  • I needed accountability without being nagged. I’ve always loved being part of a team. So I needed a group of people that I knew could support me when I was having to make tough decisions about letting other things go in my life. I needed people who would cheer for me whether or not I could do something, to rebuild my confidence. I needed a group of people to make working out fun and make me laugh! Who looks forward to going to the gym? I do. Why? My GT friends.
  • This is what I call a “whole-person” approach to fitness. GT does not bring people in and put us through crazy hour-long workouts five days a week. Yes they are hard, but functional movement, foam rolling, and correctives are as important as progressing on a bench press or doing 50 burpees. We have access to the kind of expertise with the NIFS trainers, Functional Movement Screens, and other tools to keep us healthy.

“Every day is a resolution.”

Tony: What are some of your biggest accomplishments since deciding to make a change? Brag for me a little!

Katie: It’s difficult for me to think about the scared person I was who entered my first GT session nearly three years ago. I was intimidated—but not for long. I only had to spend a few minutes with the trainers and group to feel welcome and know I would be encouraged, even though I couldn’t run a mile then, or hold a plank from my feet. Since starting GT I have:


  • I lost more than 60 pounds (more than 100 since I started my journey)*.
  • Resolved my back-pain issues—where traditional medicine and even PT to a degree failed after my herniated discs, GT did what I needed from a movement, strength, and weight-loss standpoint to really bring this debilitating problem to a resolution*.
  • Climbed a mountain.
  • Continue to make forward progress on my FM screening.
  • Finished two Tough Mudders (both with fellow GTers) and ridden the Hilly Hundred twice.
  • Conquered fears—I had and still have a little bit of a jumping fear, but my vertical and broad jumps continue to get better. There were so many movements I was unable to do three years ago. When I do them now, my GT teammates and Coach Tony recognize this and cheer me on.
  • I’m stronger! I continue to be able to lift heavier weight on bench press and leg press.
  • Conquered my fear of running by doing the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program.
  • Built and installed a flagstone patio on my own last summer. I hauled more than 3 tons of rocks. I had some help moving them, but did most of it on my own. It’s not about the patio—it’s about having the confidence and ability to do it! 

Tony: How is your life different now?

Katie: I am 41 but I feel better than I ever have mentally and physically. Physically, I have energy! My metabolic issues are no longer issues. My asthma is better. A recent doctor’s visit revealed excellent blood pressure, my LDL cholesterol is 47 and HDL is 87, and my resting heart rate is around 45 to 48*. I sleep well. I have the energy to live a full life—I’ve always had a full life, but before I was in survival mode. Now I have the energy to live my full life! To not just get through each day, but live each day—and do things I had always wanted to do but lacked the confidence or physical ability to do them. I get up everyday and practice self care, because that makes me a better friend, sister, dog mom, employee, and general citizen of the world. I feel like a fog has lifted and I live every day with intent. I had some significant losses in 2014, including the passing of my mother, and I had the tools and mental toughness to cope with them while maintaining my healthy habits. Finally, I have confidence. I am so grateful for all the support I get from Tony, Mike, and my fellow GTers.


I am so very proud of Katie for the success she has worked so hard for, and applaud her willingness to share her story in hopes of creating change in others who may be as lost as she once was. Inspiration is Katie’s middle name, and she takes her role as a “fitness ambassador” very seriously and is a leader of the Small Group Training groups she speaks so highly about. No matter the circumstances, change is possible, and you never have to do it alone.

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


GT-logo-revised.jpgInterested in trying Small Group Training? Contact Tony today to attend a free session!

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: goal setting resolutions group training functional training BODPOD obesity

Avoid This Goal-Setting Mistake When Making New Year’s Resolutions

GettyImages-836449540.jpgIt’s that time of year again when most evaluate their current year and set their sights on the upcoming one. Goals and plans of being more successful, losing weight, being more fit, and countless other hopes and dreams will be on the minds of so many individuals hoping for change and happiness. And although goal setting is not for everyone (nor does it have to be), for those who take part in this annual renewal and planning effort many fall victim to a huge mistake that will inevitably leave them in the same spot a year from now.

The biggest mistake most people make when developing their goals for the New Year is the failure to define the behavior that is needed to accomplish that given goal. We are great at defining what are considered outcome goals, but we make the unfortunate mistake of stopping there and not defining behavioral goals. What is the difference between the two? Let’s take a look and define the two, understand the need for both, and learn some tips to make your New Year’s resolutions stick.


You might have heard about using the acronym SMART when writing a goal. But just in case you haven’t, here is SMART defined. A well-written goal should be

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

I will add another term to this: a goal should also be meaningful. The particular goal should have some significance to you and your life. This is an important aspect to consider when deciding where and how to spend your time and effort.

Now that you’re all caught up, I’ll define both outcome and behavioral goals.

Outcome Goals

An outcome goal is just that: it is the outcome you want to obtain in a certain time frame. These are defined usually by numbers such as a weight goal, or specific levels to be reached in your profession, or even starting a retirement fund. These all have specific end products to be reached, and unfortunately most people stop right here.


  • I will lose 20 pounds by April 1.
  • I will make $75,000 this year.

Behavioral Goals

A behavioral goal is a series of actions that will eventually lead you to the achievement of your outcome goal. This plan of attack to get to the outcome you defined is essential to see the results you hope to obtain. The experts at Precision Nutrition consider behavior goals to be goals that you have control over. You ultimately do not have control of your body’s cells or how fast they metabolize fat. Nor do you have complete control over whether your boss pays you the $75,000 you feel you have earned. You do have control over the actions that can get you to that outcome you have defined. Adopting behaviors that lead the way toward your goal is key in obtaining the results you are after.

Examples (expanding on the outcome goals listed above):

  • I will lose 20 pounds by April 1.

I will add more vegetables and protein sources to each meal.

I will eat slowly and mindfully at each meal.

My dining out of the house will be limited to one time per week.

I will limit processed foods and choose mainly whole-food options for every meal.

I will exercise 5 times a week for 60 minutes each session, mixing both resistance and aerobic-based movements.

  • I will make $75,000 this year.

I will acquire a certification or more education in my field.

I will spend more time on big tasks or projects.

I will organize my day to maximize productivity by defining a daily schedule and sticking to it.

I will surround myself with goal-orientated, like-minded individuals every day.

I will ask big questions.

Bonus Tips For Success This Year

I think the biggest step you can take to success in this upcoming year is taking it one step at a time! For example, so many of us want to overhaul our entire diet to get to that goal of losing 20 pounds by April 1, only to fall short because we could not sustain the behavior, or the sheer amount of change at one time was just too much. This could lead to failure, which could lead to a backslide, putting us right back where we were to begin the year.

Implement one behavior for a few weeks, and once you have success with that one behavior, add another one, but not until you are successful with the first one. Create a snowball effect of behaviors and you increase the chance of success in the new year.

Getting started is usually the hardest part. Let us help, sign up for a free Fitness Assessment today!

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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: goal setting resolutions weight loss accountability goals behavior new year's making changes

Summertime Sizzle: Adding a Fitness Challenge

Summer_Showdown_sun2-1Cue DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince because it is summer time—FINALLY! This is the time of year when we get to enjoy more sun and more fun, and smiles and laughter are abundant.

With the energy level rising as the temperature rises, we tend to look for new and fun ways to challenge ourselves somehow in our lives: decluttering the house (a must, by the way), updating the landscape, spending more time with the kids, or taking on some kind of physical challenge to help keep you moving forward. 

Tons of events are popping up all around with the arrival of the nice weather, designed to challenge any and all fitness levels. Finding the physical challenge that is right for you is a fantastic way to spice up your current fitness routine and challenge your limits, perceived or actual. 

Besides some of the obvious physical benefits from creating and completing a fitness challenge, such as improved body composition and an increase in strength and endurance, accepting a fitness challenge can provide so much more. Here are just a few.

Inspires You to Return to Your Drive Toward Excellence

It can be easy to lose some fire over the course of a long year. Even the most committed fitness enthusiast (yours truly included) can be unable to find the drive sometimes to stay vigilant in striving to improve. Taking on a new challenge can provide the spark that will reenergize your commitment to excellence.

Establishes a Timeline

One important characteristic of a well-stated goal is to have an established timeline to reach it. Without a specific date for completion, it is not a goal; it is a dream. If the challenge is on a certain date, and you have 6 weeks to train for it, you have yourself a well-defined timeline. This will not only allow you to complete your current challenge, but also hammers home this important concept of a timeline for future goals.

Incorporates New Movements and Modes of Training

If you are planning on taking on a challenge that you have never done before, there’s a very good possibility that you will have to perform brand new movements and adopt a new training idea. This could be just what your body and mind need to push your limits to create new ones.

Creates Powerful Personal Bonds with Fellow Athletes

The power of working with a group of likeminded individuals is colossal and life changing. When you take on a challenge together, the relationship that will be formed is long lasting and built on mutual respect. I have seen countless strangers join together to complete an event or training program, only to become the best of friends and continue to work toward improvement.

A Challenge for You: NIFS Summer Showdown

Now that you’ve learned some benefits of establishing and completing a fitness challenge, let’s define one, shall we? Starting on June 22 here at NIFS, the Summer Showdown challenge returns. New and improved, this program nails all of the benefits discussed above. Not only do you get to choose your team, you get to choose the level of the challenge you wish to complete. 

The NIFS team has designed a whopper of a challenge for you this year. New to the Summer Showdown will be mass test-in and test-out events where all participants will complete the challenge together at the beginning and end of the program. At the test-in event, all teams will be given specific wristbands to wear throughout the showdown. After you get tested in, you will spend 6 hyped weeks training to improve your test-in time. You will be meeting with your team twice a week to work on all of the aspects of the challenge so that you can crush your previous score and improve your fitness. 

All of your hard work will lead up to the finale, where you will once again complete the challenge with all of the participants of this year’s Summer Showdown. Learn more about the Summer Showdown challenge here.

I took on the Level 3 challenge last week and finished in 25:40. It was a blast, and super challenging, just the way I like it!

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, Health Fitness Specialist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: goal setting group fitness workouts accountability NIFS programs challenge summer training

10 Healthy Habits of Fit People

Let’s get real: getting healthy and fit (and staying that way) doesn’t happen by accident. In my seven years in the fitness industry I have seen quite a bit—enough to know what works and what doesn’t. The people who are able to reach their healthy, happy weight and maintain it end up developing very similar habits to one another. These healthy habits aren’t anything crazy or extreme, but they consistently allow individuals to lead a healthy lifestyle for years and years.

Today I’ve compiled these habits of healthy people so we can all adapt our own habits to be our healthiest selves.

ThinkstockPhotos-4713112341. Start off with a breakfast to FUEL your day.

Remember learning that breakfast was the most important meal of the day? While I believe that all meals are important, breakfast definitely is a meal you shouldn’t consider skipping. Studies show that eating breakfast helps to improve focus, satiety, and energy levels throughout the day. 

So what does that mean for you? You’ll be more productive at work, will work harder during your workouts, and you may have reduced cravings and hunger later in the day. Sounds like a win, win, win to me! 

2. Drink lots of water.

The body is made up of 60% water! Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help maintain your body’s fluid balance so that nutrients can be transported throughout the body. That means you will more quickly reap the benefits of the healthy foods you eat!  

Drinking water throughout the day helps you feel full. It may sound crazy, but many people mistake thirst for hunger and end up overeating. 

It’s also important to drink water because when you stress and work your muscles in the gym, they are losing water. If you aren’t drinking enough water, your muscles will get tired faster and you may not be able to work as hard. So drink up, buttercup!

3. Set a deadline.

People are more efficient and more likely to reach their goals with a deadline in the picture. Having a deadline helps to eliminate procrastination and makes the goal seem more tangible and realistic. Having a deadline doesn’t mean you can start being “unhealthy” after you reach your goal, but it simply allows you to have a checkpoint to work toward. Once you reach your goal and deadline, reevaluate and set a new goal! It’s all about progress, not perfection, and there is always something we can improve on when it comes to health and fitness.

4. Don’t leave your healthy-eating goals to chance. 

I rarely say NEVER or ALWAYS, but this is an exception to that rule. Never assume that there will be a healthy option when you eat away from home. Always be prepared. Check out the restaurant menu ahead of time, pack healthy snacks, bring a lunch, bring a healthy dish to share, or eat something small before so you aren’t starving. You are in control of your health. It’s not anyone else’s responsibility to make sure there is something nutritious for you to nosh on.

5. Remain consistent.

Consistency is key. We all have days where we skip a workout or overindulge, but as long as healthy is your default, there is no need to sweat it! What matters most is what you do most of the time, not what you do sometimes. So, if choosing healthy (moving your body, eating whole foods, and drinking lots of water) is your sometimes, you may want to switch your mindset.

6. Eat whole, real foods.

Make it your goal to have most of your nourishment come from unprocessed, real foods that are as close to the source as possible. What does that mean? Check out the ingredients. If you are eating a handful of almonds for a snack, the only ingredient should be just that: almonds! Whole foods fill your body with more vitamins and minerals, the nutrition we need to stay healthy on the inside.

7. Fill your home with healthy, nourishing foods.

This tip piggybacks onto the previous piece of advice. If you fill your home with whole foods, they suddenly become a more convenient option than the processed stuff, and less healthy options are eliminated from the picture. If you surround yourself with healthy, delicious food choices, you are more likely to pick those foods when preparing a meal or eating a snack.

8. Take your workout with you.

 Many people travel frequently for work, to visit family, or for vacation. While traveling can make it less easy to fit in your workout, it’s definitely not an excuse to slack off in the fitness department. Talk with your trainer about a travel workout option, pack a resistance band or TRX strap, or pack a workout DVD that doesn’t require any equipment at all! There are endless resources for fitness on the go; it just takes a little planning ahead of time.

9. Learn to be politely picky when eating out.

I have learned that I can find something healthy to eat at almost any restaurant. Many times, the option I choose is not listed on the menu. It can be intimidating to ask for special options at a restaurant, but you will be surprised at how accommodating your server and the restaurant want to be. Be polite when you make requests, and your tummy will be happy with the healthy and delicious outcome!

10. Dedicate time to mental health.

Whether you practice yoga, write a journal, meditate, see a therapist, or have another way of dedicating time to your mental health, it is just as important to make time for this type of exercise as it is to make time to go to the gym. Having a healthy mental state will help you stay on track with your fitness goals and will allow you to balance your busy and crazy life with ease. Find the method that works best for you and stick to it!

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This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, contributing writer, group fitness instructor, and author of healthy living blog Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: nutrition healthy habits goal setting snacks breakfast mental weight management water

Five Things to Do Before EVERY Workout

5-things-to-do-newI consider myself a group fitness junkie. While I either teach or complete a group fitness class most days of the week and feel very comfortable and confident taking a wide range of classes, I remember the days when I was SUPER nervous about stepping foot into unfamiliar territory.

To this day, there are five things I do as preparation before every single group fitness class to help ensure that I get the most out of my workout and have a blast while doing it!

1. Map it out.

If I am attending a new-to-me class at a studio I have never been to, I make sure to figure out where the studio or fitness center is a day or two before the class. I also call to ask about parking. Many fitness centers have their own parking lots, but some rely on street parking or reimburse you after you pay. Are there showers? If not and you need to shower, it’s good to know this ahead of time so you don’t wind up in a bind! It’s a huge stress reliever and timesaver to figure out those details ahead of time.

2. Pack my bag and pick out my workout gear the night before.

As an avid morning worker outer, laying out my clothing and gear the night before is crucial, so that I don’t forget anything while I’m a bit groggy at 5 a.m. That being said, I pick out my clothes and gear the day before even if my workout isn’t in the morning! I find that it makes it easier to get there and it’s one less thing to worry about when I’m already a little nervous about trying a new-to-me class. I also do this with classes I have been to over and over again. I would hate to forget something or run late because I couldn’t find something that I needed. 

3. Arrive early.

Maybe it’s just me, but I like to “get in the zone” before a workout. Arriving at a class 10 to 15 minutes early allows ample time to speak with the instructor (if I’m new or have an injury he or she needs to know about), get out any necessary equipment, meet my neighbors, relax, and get a good spot!

4. Set a mental and personal goal.

If you’ve attended a yoga class, most classes ask you to “set an intention” for your practice. I have found that this is a great habit to get into for any fitness setting, whether it’s a boot camp class, BODYPUMP, yoga, Pilates, or small-group training. Setting a goal at the beginning may seem intimidating at first, but I find that it really helps me keep focus when my body is tired and my mind wants to give up on the last couple of reps.

Some example goals that help me get the most out of my workout are the following: 

  • Having fun.
  • Pushing through one more rep when I want to give up.
  • Increasing the weight I lift by a certain number of pounds.
  • Listening to my body and modifying if necessary.
5. Hydrate! 

It’s so important to drink enough water, especially when being active. I make sure to set out my water bottle the night before with all of my other gear, and I take a few sips while I head into class. It is ideal to drink about 20 oz. of water 2 to 3 hours before class, but if you wake up and work out first thing, do what you can. Drink another 10 to 15 oz. of water 30 to 60 minutes prior to class, and attempt to drink around 8 oz. of water within a half hour of exercising. Trust me, your body needs it! 

Ready to try a group fitness class at NIFS? Not a member? Try a class for free today!

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This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, contributing writer, group fitness instructor, and author of healthy living blog Treble in the Kitchen.


Topics: goal setting group fitness workouts hydration

Pop Quiz: Check Your New Year’s Health and Fitness ReSOLUTIONS

ThinkstockPhotos-163054981Are you excited about your progress thus far in 2018 toward those goals you set back in January?

In a recent post, I discussed Redefining New Year’s Resolutions, and I truly hope that some of the information hit home with you when you determined your course of action this year. 

So how have you fared thus far in accomplishing what you set out to do this year? If you are like most Americans, you would probably answer that question with the frowning-face emoticon. :(

Health and Fitness Goal-Setting by the Numbers

Let’s take a look at some numbers: 

  • Only about 4% of Americans write down their goals.
  • 45% of people make new year’s resolutions.
  • Only 8% of Americans will succeed in their new year’s resolutions
  • Check-ins to gyms drop 10% beginning as early as February (according to a two-year Facebook study). 

Unfortunately, the statistics are against us when it comes to seeing our new life solutions (if you read my earlier posts, you know I hate the word “resolutions”) come to fruition. So I ask you again: How are you doing in the first couple of months in 2018 in accomplishing those promises you made yourself? 

Just like any other health and fitness assessment, it’s beneficial to reevaluate your progress in completing those things you felt were pretty important back in January. So let’s take care of some reasons for why you may not be on track to completing your yearly goals. 

Reasons (or Excuses) Why Resolutions Fail: Do Any of These Sound Familiar?

  • Didn’t write down your goals.
  • That positive mindset you started off with has fizzled and you have traveled back to “Negativetown.”
  • Went back to poor sleeping and recovery habits that snowballed into other poor behaviors because you tend to make bad choices when you are “tired and wired.” 
  • Maybe you didn’t see fast enough results, and during one of your negative self-talks you figured, “What’s the big deal about enjoying that third piece of cake?” Keeping with that mindset, you repeated the above.
  • Don’t have enough time. (This one is my favorite!) You have the same amount of time in the week that more successful people have. So it’s not about time; it’s about prioritization. If you were to say “I suck at managing my life,” that makes a lot more sense than “I don’t have enough time.”

How Do I Get Back on Track?

Hurdles and setbacks are inevitable in anything that we hope to accomplish. The trick is to realize what is not working and do something better! Your life will not change until you change something you do on a daily basis.

  • Assess your wellness and prioritize. Your overall health and wellness encompasses every aspect of your life, and each one exists in a delicate balance. With a strong structure of these aspects, you can weather any storm; but if one is out of alignment, you could topple over. Determine which aspects may need some work and focus on them. 
  • So maybe goal writing isn’t for you. Choose one powerful word to say to yourself every day. It works; trust me.
  • Bottom line: Find a way to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Create a ritual and stick to it.
  • Manage your time. Quick math here: There are 24 hours in a day. If you work 8 hours, and if you get 8 hours of sleep, you have 8 remaining hours. How are you spending those hours? Remove the unproductive things, such as surfing the interwebs or watching TV, and use that time working toward your goals.
  • De-clutter. If your car, office, and house are full of stuff piled up all over the place, it can make managing your life much more difficult. I will give one example: If your kitchen countertops are full of stuff, how amped are you going to be to cook dinner? Clear out the junk to make room for the jewels! 
  • Get a workout buddy to hold you accountable, not one that will take the day off with you at the first sign of struggle. If you need one, let me know, I will be there for you!
  • Binge cook: Plan your food, cook your food, and eat your own food!

Don’t let the statistics get you down. You can make 2018 great by being a better manager of your life. Reassess, realign, and reenergize yourself toward achieving your best year yet!

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, Health Fitness Specialist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here. This blog as been updated. Original blog was posted on


Topics: healthy habits fitness center goal setting accountability

Defining Fitness Goals Is Like Wrestling with Jell-O (Part 2 of 2)

carrotIn my earlier post, I talked about asking questions to get at true motivations behind wanting to be more fit. 

The answers to those questions will fall into four broad categories: appearance, performance, feel or move better, and major health issues.

Goal: Looking Better

Appearance is the most common and strongest of all of the motivators. One of my Russian coaches thought of it as frivolous. He referred to it as “wanting to look better naked in front of a mirror,” but yet its power can never be underestimated. Bodybuilding strategies are the most common route, but the newer athletic-inspired approaches to training will also produce that desired appearance—with the added benefit of a more functional strength for daily life activities.

Goal: Performance

Performance means strength and conditioning for a purpose. That purpose may be for sports, military, police, fire, etc. However, in the general public, Special Ops–inspired training and functional training have become very popular in the belief that this type of training will help them reach higher levels of both strength and conditioning, and can be found in various programs like Boot Camps, CrossFit, and so on. Sport Performance gyms have also grown exponentially across the country in the last decade as parents invest in whatever it takes to improve their children’s athletic careers.

Goal: Feeling Better

Feeling better becomes the primary goal when the barnacles of aging reach critical mass. The idea of chasing body beautiful and seriously improving athletic performance fade as the need to “just keep moving comfortably in one’s body” dominates awareness. Wear and tear of the joints (arthritis), loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia), and serious body fat increases (caused by the great American diet combined with little activity) lead to a whole host of life-quality issues that exercise and diet can greatly improve.

Goal: Alleviating Major Health Issues

Major health issues require their own individual approaches to strength and conditioning. Experienced and well-educated experts know the correct approaches for their area of expertise, and the uninformed should not guess at them. Heart disease, MS, COPD, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and brain damage, for example, are very serious issues but life quality can be improved with the right guidance and proper effort.

When There Is More Than One Issue

As complex as individuals can be, you may find their situation to be a combination of the above categories, and therefore they must be ranked in order of importance. Training is also a process along a timeline, so there must be flexibility and the willingness to adjust the program as training progresses.

The “how” to train will be born within the answer to “why” someone is seeking fitness. For any real success, the “why” question must be answered honestly. As stated above (and worth repeating), a technically correct workout could be a total waste of time, money, effort, and perhaps could even be dangerous if the training program doesn’t match the individual’s needs and motivation.

One last comment regarding this issue. There have been many attempts throughout the years to create a universal definition of fitness, design workout programs to address each fitness component of that definition, and then sell the concept that if one truly wanted to be fit (by their definition), one would have to train according to their program. I am sure these attempts started out to be sincere efforts to make Jell-O solid, but morphed into profit-producing ventures with corresponding business agendas (see this post with more philosophy on separating good fitness and nutrition advice from bad).

Please remember, the Fitness Holy Grail is a myth. There is no one perfect workout and the definition of fitness is relative to who is asking and why. I suppose that in some situations that wrestling in Jell-O could be fun, but wrestling with Jell-O is not. First establish your goals and then clearly understand your motives. The proper training program will evolve as a natural result of that process.

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

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Topics: motivation goal setting functional training personal training fitness trends goals

Defining Fitness Goals Is Like Wrestling with Jell-O (Part 1 of 2)

jelloThe concept of defining fitness seems simple at first glance, but like Jell-O®, the definition of fitness appears solid on the surface until you grab at it and realize that impression was wrong. Both will get messy while they ooze in all directions.

Fitness is truly in the eye of the beholder—or more correctly, in the vision of the motivating ego. Something about one’s current status is unacceptable and the ego wants it changed. This fitness change generally becomes a quest to be bigger, faster, stronger, or prettier. Basic movement problems and health issues are other major driving forces to seek improved fitness.

What Is Your Goal?

Many times, when I ask clients about what they expect to get from their investment of time, money, and sweat in exercise, I usually get, “I want to be more fit, of course,” which to them is the universal hall pass for answering all fitness questions. They’re thinking, “After all, everyone knows what it means to be fit. Don’t they?” Well, they don’t and that’s the problem. Are we talking about serious weight loss, bodybuilding and shaping for esthetics, training for athletic and job performance, correcting serious medical issues or movement deficiencies, etc.?

Strategies for each goal are very different. A “good” technical workout may very well be the “wrong” workout for a particular goal because of individual needs. Therefore, before any program can be developed, everyone must agree on what exactly it means to be more fit and what goals they are try to reach. Without a target, it is easy to wander around aimlessly in the forest of fitness options with a bloody forehead from banging into the many workout trees.

All-You-Can-Eat Fitness Can Lead to Gluttony

A trainer is also responsible for providing a more expansive view of exercise and fitness, which is generally beyond the fitness education and experience of most of their clients. This task is much like a waiter explaining a menu to a new restaurant patron. Although this step is necessary to arrive at the best program design, this additional client education can create another problem called the all-you-can-eat fitness syndrome.

As in the famous scene of the enormous man in the restaurant in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, when presented with the menu, he reads it very carefully, hands it back to the waiter, and says, “Yes.” When people become more aware of what fitness can provide, they want it all. But the body cannot do it all, at least not equally as well and certainly not all at once. If you remember the scene, the patron did eat the entire menu worth of food, but when offered a small after-dinner wafer, he exploded. Fitness gluttony has a price, as well, which usually comes in the form of poor results and, of course, the higher risk of dreaded injuries.

What Do You Really Want?

Whether you are a trainer responsible for the health, fitness, and safety of your client or an individual fitness enthusiast who has taken on the arduous task of training yourself, the meaning of fitness for that individual and for that moment in time must be clearly defined before an appropriate fitness program can be developed. The fastest shortcut to this meaningful foundation is by going directly to what is truly motivating the desire for change, the ego.

It is a rather simple process. Keep asking the following question until you arrive at the real answer: “What do you really want to get out of your investment of time, money, and sweat in exercise?

However, there are two rules: The answer cannot be, “I want to be more fit,” and each answer is followed by the question “why?” until a satisfactory answer is reached. This “why” will reveal what is actually motivating the fitness quest and will also serve as the motor to keep driving the quest when progress slows or when there are setbacks. The combination of “what” and “why” forms a strong foundation for developing an effective exercise program.

In my next post, I'll talk about the categories that the answers fall into, and how to start thinking about the right training program for each goal.

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

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Topics: motivation goal setting functional training personal training fitness trends goals

New Year, New Healthy Habits (I Hope)

453886289If you are anything like me, the new year comes with lots of “I’m going to do this (fill in the blank) better than I did last year,” or “I am starting a new workout plan for the year,” or maybe “My goal this year is to ________.” Then mid-February hits and all those New Year’s habits you planned to start, goals you were working toward, or things you were going to do better on have fallen off the radar.

Together, let’s make this year different than the ones in the past! There are hundreds of articles out there to help you come up with ideas if you are struggling to think of some. For example, Health.com has a list of the top ten healthiest resolutions.

Now let’s make those New Year’s resolutions and make them stick! I came up with some strategies for turning your resolutions into healthy habits.

  1. Have a plan. It is important to come up with a plan and put it in place. When you have a plan in place, it’s a lot easier to stay on track than just winging everything and putting it off. Take some time to come up with a weekly or monthly plan to stay on track in 2015.
  2. Program. Having a program in place helps you to stay focused, on track, and working toward a goal. There are lots of programs out there, or if you do not currently have one, the New Year is a great time to get started with one. NIFS offers personal program building from our Health Fitness Specialists.
  3. Commit. This is probably the one area that people struggle with most, and I think that one of the greatest ways to make your habits stick is to be committed! Once you commit to a plan or a schedule, make it a priority and always keep in the back of your mind the commitment you made. Share your goals with friends and family.
  4. Be accountable. Figure out what works for you in order to stay accountable. Maybe it’s keeping a calendar where you check off that you did your workout today; maybe it’s finding a friend to report to after your workout; or maybe you can use those wonderful smartphones that we all carry around to help remind you that you need to go to the gym! If you are struggling with getting to the gym on a regular basis, be sure to schedule in that time for yourself.
  5. Do not settle for failure. It is easy to not do your workout once or twice, and suddenly you notice it’s been several days! Don’t be okay with slacking; stay on track and be successful.
  6. Reward yourself. Who doesn’t like a reward? Don't confuse it with going crazy, but find some way to reward yourself. Maybe it’s one of those yummy sugar-free, no-calorie cookies or a new workout top. It does not matter, but find something that is a special treat for you for staying on track.

Now think of what has worked for you in past years. Use the strategies above and what already works for you to make changes that will stick for the new year to come.

Need help with a fitness plan? The best way to start is with a fitness evaluation. Schedule a free assessment with a NIFS HFS today then develop a plan that works for you!

Free Fitness Assessment

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



Topics: healthy habits goal setting accountability personal training