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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Healthy Habits: Swap the Bar for the Barre!

GettyImages-680250948Creating healthy habits is a challenge for most people. Doesn't sitting at a bar with a glass of wine sound much easier than going to the gym and taking a barre class after work? In the moment, YES; but which is more beneficial for your health and longevity?

NIFS is passionate about educating gym-goers to create healthy habits, and our staff is here to help members achieve that. As NIFS’ new Group Fitness Coordinator, I am excited to bring Barre Fusion to the NIFS group fitness schedule, and love motivating others to take this class to feel all the benefits. 

So What Is This Workout? 

Barre Fusion classes are getting a lot of hype these days for providing amazing results—not just physically, but also mentally. This workout is designed to strengthen and tone all areas of the body while also providing length in a balanced format through breath. The class aids in small movements to target the stabilizing muscles in the body, which are often untrained in a standard workout. Strengthening these muscles is proven to benefit with core strength and balance as well as prevent injury.

The pace of the class is quicker than a yoga class, creating a cardiovascular aspect through quick transitions but still focusing on the elements of flexibility and breathing that you'd find in a yoga class. By training the body in this format, you are also improving your mindfulness, which will lead to wanting to live a life filled with more healthy habits.

Lisa Williams, avid Group Fitness attendee, says, "This is one of my new favorite all-over workouts! I absolutely love it! With the small movements we do, you can feel a burn in your muscles that you know are getting stronger each class. It also helps tone, as I have already noticed a change in my outfits from it! I also like the variety of the class. Although the flow is the same, you don’t continually do the same exercises. I never leave the class feeling like I didn’t get an amazing workout! I suggest all to try it!"

What Is a Habit?

A habit is a routine or pattern you adapt to. Some habits have negative effects; and some have positive effects. It's often easy to read about what we should be doing, but actually getting out of our comfort zone to create a new habit is a challenge. 

So How Do You Change Habits? 

Create new ones, but ease into it. Stopping anything cold turkey can often just lead to reverting back to that habit. Finding a healthy habit you enjoy and slowly incorporating it into your life is key. For example, do you enjoy going to a bar after work for the atmosphere of the music and people? Maybe start by swapping "the bar" one day a week for "barre." Coming to a group Barre Fusion class will create an atmosphere of music and people, but in a healthy format. Not only that, the calories and sugar often found in drinking are proven to cause health problems, while working out is proven to lead to healthy results.

So the choice is yours! Join NIFS for a healthy option, and try a group fitness class for free! To check out the Group Fitness schedule and all NIFS has to offer, click here.

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This blog was written by Brittany Ignas, B.S. in Kinesiology, 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, Stott Pilates Certified, and Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio healthy habits yoga group fitness workouts nifs staff music mindfulness barre

Sleep Deficiency Hinders Weight Loss, So Try Better Sleep Habits

GettyImages-155284174.jpgDo you wake up feeling tired? Well, you’re not alone. One in every three Americans does not get the recommended sleep needed for optimal health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sleep deficiency is known to cause weight gain, but also contributes to a whole list of more serious health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and diabetes, just to name a few.

Why Sleeping Is So Important for Weight Loss

Believe it or not, each and every day the most important thing that you do all day is sleep. Yes, you heard right! Sleep quality and duration are so important that they directly affect everything else you do in life.

“We are nothing but slaves to chemical processes,” says W. Christopher Winter, MD, in an article for Livestrong.

Nearly one third of our lives are spent asleep. During sleep, it is peak time for our bodies to repair muscle and release hormones that control natural processes, including appetite. All this is being done without any conscious energy being consumed.

Consequently, a deficiency in the sleep column affects everything; more specifically, it cuts weight loss and exercise performance by nearly 20%. This spirals into a decrease in hormone production, (which occurs when we sleep), and ultimately affects our daily eating pattern. Popular studies show that weight gain occurs because more calories are consumed on the following day, because of lack of hormone release. Therefore, a continued deficit during the night will only lead to months and years of unnecessary weight gain. On the flip side, if you aren’t already experiencing weight gain, you may just be unable to lose weight at all. So you don’t have weight gain, but no weight loss occurs, either.

Practice Better Sleep Habits

The best advice is to practice better sleep habits, getting optimal rest and avoiding insomnia.

  • Start with controlling your sleep environment by setting it at the appropriate temperature. Experts suggest trying between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Try eliminating all computers and television sets from your room as well, since any source of light tends to disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Aim for consistency rather than trying to catch up on hours you might have missed the preceding day.
  • Don’t be afraid to take short naps when feeling fatigued. These should be anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes long to help improve alertness, performance, and mood.
  • Lastly, never consume caffeine in the afternoon because it has the ability to stay in your system and interrupt the natural onset of sleep several hours later (See our blog on giving up caffeine).

The final verdict is in. A poor amount of sleep greatly hinders weight loss and sets you up for other health problems. So do yourself a favor: turn out the light, tuck yourself in, and get some much-needed Zzzs.

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

Topics: healthy habits weight loss sleep weight control insomnia sleep habits quality sleep

My NIFS Slim It to Win It 2018 Team: The Resistance

Tonys slim it.jpgThe NIFS 2018 Slim It to Win It is in full swing with the energy high and the gym packed with like-minded people working so hard to reach their desired health and wellness outcomes, which include weight loss. All 11 coaches are firing up their teams and leading the way to behavioral changes, good nutrition habits, and of course, cutting-edge and fun training sessions. I have been so inspired by both the participants and the coaches for this year’s program that it takes me a bit to wind down following an action-packed day here at NIFS!

What’s in a Name?

At the beginning of the program, each team is tasked with giving themselves a name—usually something that embraces a motto for the group, or pays homage to the team’s coach by cleverly using their name somehow. It is a very important step that not only gives the team a chance to show off their creativity, but also helps build unity in the group and solidifies a purpose that all in the group embrace and work toward. And when a group of people is working toward a common goal, the question is no longer “if” but “when” they will succeed. The name of the team I am honored to coach is “The Resistance!”

Our name is inspired by a message I learned some time ago from Martin Rooney of Training for Warriors at one of the many conferences where I have seen him speak. He spoke about how we as fitness professionals have to be the Resistance in the battle fighting obesity and inactivity. I heard the message loud and clear, and as a good soldier I work very hard to carry out those steps to help people avoid debilitating diseases and conditions.

But here’s the thing: you don’t have to be a fitness pro to be a part of the Resistance in this battle that the fast food, digital entertainment, and booze industries are currently winning. We can help each other battle against habits and behaviors that lead us down the road to a hospital or worse.

Four Ways to Join the Resistance Against Inactivity and Poor Nutrition

Are you up to the challenge of being a part of the Resistance? Here are four powerful ways you can join the fight:

  • Take action. Nothing is ever accomplished without taking action. Choose to be an agent of change and do something about it! TALK is cheap; ACTION pays the bills, so to speak. To be a part of the Resistance requires all of us to stop holding back, for whatever reason, and take the steps necessary to help.
  • Lead by example. I am from the old school when it comes to this concept, and believe that you have to walk the walk to truly inspire people to be the best version of themselves. I don’t think the “do as I say, not as I do” approach is very effective in this situation. Think of it this way: you probably wouldn’t have a bankrupt accountant do your taxes, right? When others see and witness that you practice what you preach, they are more apt to follow.
  • Recruit others. This battle will be a long and difficult one; we are going to need more soldiers to spread the message and reach more individuals. We have an awesome tool to help recruit others; feeling great and high energy is contagious! When you start to make positive changes and begin to feel great, your energy will spread like a wildfire, and you will want to tell more and more people how things can be if they join the Resistance and make those healthy lifestyle choices. Every person who dumps the fast food for whole foods, is a win for the Resistance. Every person who chooses to go for a walk with their family instead of binge-watching another season of The Office on Netflix is a win for the Resistance and you can help make that happen for others and with others.
  • Share your story. One of the most powerful ways to be a part of the Resistance is to share your story of battling against the forces that consume so many. We all have a unique story and perspective that can possibly resonate with someone and create change. When those who are struggling hear your story and realize that change can happen because it happened for you, that can inspire them to take that first step in creating change. And then, they begin the cycle again by taking action, leading by example, recruiting others, and sharing their story!

We can win the battle and take everybody to the promised land of feeling better and living longer, happier lives. Join these 10 teams as part of the Resistance and be an agent of change in someone’s life. If we band together, we can help so many in the battle against disease, unhappiness, and feeling lousy. Join the fight 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: NIFS nutrition staying active healthy habits weight loss Slim It to Win It whole foods obesity wellness

Caffeine Free: Breaking the Habit

GettyImages-911432182.jpgLike most people, I’m busy: full-time job, kids, a house… and in my “spare time,” I’m a high school tennis coach and play a lot of tennis. A few years back I started having issues with exhaustion (go figure). Right around 4pm I would just be overcome with complete, hit-the-couch, exhaustion. The only way to make it through the rest of my busy day seemed to be one more caffeinated drink.

I’m not a coffee drinker, so my drink of choice to get going in the morning was an AdvoCare energy drink called Spark®. I loved my Spark®, probably as much as most people love their coffee. I personally had no issue with using stimulants to keep me going through my day, but that changed one day recently on my drive home from work.

The Impact of Stimulants on the Brain

While listening to Fresh Air on NPR, I heard a discussion on sleep with sleep scientist Matthew Walker. Part of the talk discussed the effects of caffeine on the brain and how it alters the natural functions of the brain, including the buildup of adenosine. Adenosine is a chemical in the brain that builds up throughout the day, edging you to sleep. Caffeine comes into the brain and masks the effects of adenosine on the brain so that you are fully awake. One problem is that adenosine continues to build up, so when the caffeine wears off, you have additional levels of adenosine in your brain. This creates the effect we know as caffeine crash.

This made me think about what I had been putting in my body and the fact that I was using caffeine to mask the real issue I was having: not enough sleep. This one show made me rethink how I was treating my brain and how I had allowed caffeine to creep solidly into my everyday habits. It also reminded me that I was disregarding the need for one of the most critical things needed by the body and brain, sleep.

Giving Up Stimulants and Getting More Rest

Three months ago, I quit caffeine drinks cold turkey: no Spark®, colas, or energy drinks. In addition, I put the theory to the test and began carving out eight hours for sleeping each night. At first it took a bit more structuring, but now I don’t allow myself not to get a full night’s rest.

The results have been pretty amazing to me. In the first few weeks after quitting caffeine, I can honestly say that I was not tired. My energy levels were good all day and I was tired at the right time in the evenings, leading up to a decent bedtime and better sleep. I have also lost the cravings I had for those caffeinated drinks, which is an added bonus since I didn't have to worry about ordering more Spark® each month.

Many will tell you there are pros and cons to quitting caffeine but for me its one of the best things I have done for my health recently. Cutting caffeine has allowed my brain to function the way it was meant to, without a stimulate to interfere. For me, that is a step in the right direction.

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This blog was written by Trudy Coler, NIFS Communications and Social Media Director. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: healthy habits nifs staff sleep energy caffeine brain

Game of Inches: 5 Tips to Help You Stay Committed to Your Fitness Goal

Goalnew.jpgSome people in this world are really good at staying committed to something they have started, but there are many others who struggle with meeting a goal or expectation that they have set for themselves, then actually following through with it to completion. It can be a challenge to hit those markers if you cannot seem to stay committed to something, which in turn leads to discouragement, a sense of failure, and feeling defeated.

The 5 Goal-Setting Tips

If you find yourself needing to restart your fitness plan all the time, take a few minutes to read these 5 tips that will help you to achieve what you want.

  • Track your stuff. A handful of things are lumped into this category when I say your “stuff”: food, workouts, weight, body fat, measurements, and the list goes on. Tracking fitness—where you started and what you are doing—will allow you to see progress over time and keep you committed to what you originally started.
  • Write down your goal. After you have your goal(s) written down, post it someplace that you can be reminded of it constantly, such as on the fridge, on the mirror, in the car, or at work. Find a place that it will stare you in the face and not allow you to bury it in the “someday” fitness bucket list file.
  • Establish some accountability. This looks different for each individual. Maybe it’s an actual accountability partner who is invested in your goals, or maybe it’s being accountable to yourself through writing stuff down, keeping a fitness journal, or using a fitness tracker to push yourself. Whatever it is that will keep you accountable in the times that you are struggling to get done what you need to do, be sure to find that and begin implementing it right away to see yourself succeed.
  • Join a fitness challenge. Many gyms or even wearables have fitness challenges throughout the year that you can take part in. Be sure to find one and sign up for it right away. These challenges are typically built to get you into the gym a certain number of times per week or keep you on an exercise schedule. Don’t be afraid to fail; sign up for one and keep yourself going! NIFS is currently getting ready to launch a fitness challenge called the Game of Inches. Whether your goal is putting on mass or weight loss, you can participate in this 10-week program for a chance at some cool prizes! And the best part is, you don’t even have to be a member.
  • Make it a habit. One of the best ways to ensure that you meet your personal fitness goals or expectations is to make them healthy habits. When something is a habit in your life, it’s not forgotten or pushed off to the side. Make exercise a habit in your life so that it won’t be compromised when your schedule gets hectic or your responsibilities increase.

If you have been struggling to meet your fitness goals, following these simple steps will get you back on track, and staying on track, in no time. Find out what works best for you and make it a habit.

Game-of-inches-logo.jpgNIFS’s Game of Inches Helps You Meet Your Fitness Goals

Register for Game of Inches at the NIFS track desk, complete your Fit3D scan between October 15 and 21, complete the 10 weeks of training, and scan out between December 31 and January 6. Non-members are welcome too! For $130, you receive full access to the NIFS facility for the duration of the program. 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-place prizes will be awarded for both the inch loss winner and the inch gain winner.

For questions, contact Tony Maloney: tmaloney@nifs.org.

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

Topics: fitness healthy habits goal setting weight loss accountability NIFS programs challenge tracking fitness Game of Inches

Nutrition and Healthy Habits: How Much Caffeine Do You Consume?

Many people depend on early-morning caffeine to “jump-start” their bodies. Others consume caffeinated beverages throughout the day when they are stressed or tired to keep their bodies alert and functioning. However, caffeinated foods and beverages should not replace the healthy habits of regular, balanced meals and snacks or adequate sleep.

ThinkstockPhotos-5146474021.jpgAlthough caffeine provides an “energy boost,” the stimulant can also cause anxiety, restlessness, constriction of blood vessels, and an elevated heart rate. For these reasons, limit caffeine to 400mg a day.

Below are some common beverages, foods, and over-the-counter medications that contain caffeine. Caffeine content in coffee varies widely depending on the variety of coffee bean and the method of preparation used.

Caffeine Content in Milligrams (mg) for Common Foods and Medications

Coffee (8 oz.)
(The amount of ground coffee per cup is a key variable.)
Brewed: 65–120mg
Instant: 40–110mg
Decaffeinated (instant or brewed): 2–4mg
Starbucks Coffee (12 oz.): 279mg
Coffee drink with one shot of espresso (12 oz.): 113mg

Chocolate (1 oz.)
Dark: 5–35mg
Milk: 1–15mg

Cola Beverage (12 oz.)
30–60mg

Coffee/Chocolate-Flavored Dessert (1/2 cup)
Ice cream: 18–126mg
Frozen yogurt: 0–25mg

Tea (8 oz.)
Brewed: 20–90mg
(The longer it steeps, the higher the caffeine content.)
Instant: 24–31mg

Cocoa (8 oz.)
Average: 80mg

Chocolate Milk (8 oz.)
Serving: 2–8mg

Caffeine-Containing “Energy Drinks” (8.3 oz.)
Serving: 3–32mg

Caffeine-Containing “Energy Bars” (68g)
Average: 50 mg

Stimulants (per tablet)
Vivarin or NoDoz
Average: 100–200mg

Pain Relievers (per tablet)
Average: 32–65mg

Other Ways to Stay Awake During the Day

If you find yourself reaching for over 400mg of caffeine per day to stay awake and energized, try some of these healthy alternatives to caffeine:

  • Do not underestimate the power of a quality night's sleep. If you generally feel well rested in the morning, you are likely meeting your slumber needs. If not, be sure to turn the TV off before falling asleep and avoid looking at bright devices that can keep your brain waves stimulated. 
  • Another key is to maintain a consistent sleep/wake schedule even on the weekends.
  • Exercise is another way to ensure a good night’s sleep and being more awake during the day.
  • Try more natural ways to wake up.
  • Finally, go outside for brief sunshine breaks. Exposure to bright light helps regulate your body's rhythms.

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

Topics: NIFS nutrition healthy habits hydration sleep caffeine coffee milk dietitian

NIFS Heart Throbs: 5 Healthy Habits for Weight-Loss Success

team.jpgThe Slim It to Win It* (SITWI) program is off and running again for another year of life-changing results and lifestyle modifications to maintain those changes. SITWI, in its fifth year, is NIFS’ equivalent to the NBC show The Biggest Loser. But unlike that show, the highly trained coaches at NIFS work in and around the real-world challenges that face the participants in the program to get true and long-lasting results. I am honored and very excited to be part of this great program again after a few years away, and look forward to witnessing all of the successes had by all those working hard in the program!

I am coach of “The Heart Throbs” this year, a group of 10 individuals who come to the program with a common goal of reducing body fat and learning to practice habits and behaviors that will keep them healthy and fit throughout their lifetimes. They came to the right place! But why the name Heart Throbs, you ask? Other than being a pretty good-looking group, over half of the people in the group have dealt with or are dealing with a heart issue and have overcome that obstacle to continue to fight and become the individual they want to be.

Stories from the Team

Take Amy Anderyck (Year One overall champion, by the way). Here is a snippet of her story:

I was born with an ASD heart defect. It was a hole the size of a quarter. It's not uncommon for babies to have them at birth, but they usually close up themselves after a bit. Mine never closed. So when I was 5 years old my parents took me to Birmingham, Alabama, to meet Dr. Albert Pacifico, who was the best pediatric vascular surgeon in the country at the time. He did a great job with my repair and I am able to lead a happy, healthy life without any restrictions. I am thankful for my parents and the doctor. 

Slimit16pic2.jpegOr Haley Pratt:

I was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome as an infant, but my structures were too small to take care of anything as a baby. I had my first ablation at age 4, which was still very young to operate, but there was no choice. I went on living life normally as an active child. The doctors told me I would never be able to play organized sports, have life insurance, or pilot a plane. I am here to say that I conquered the first two (even got a full-ride scholarship to play volleyball at Lynn University) and someday would love to get my pilot's license.

Two years ago, I did have another scare where I had a tachycardia episode that felt exactly like what I was used to growing up. I wondered how this could happen after 15 years. It ended up being inappropriate sinus tachycardia, which sometimes comes and goes on its own. I am on a beta blocker and have a looping monitor implanted for the time being, but I will be able to quit both soon. I have a healthy heart and nothing can stop me from achieving my goals!

The team’s inspirational stories are too many to list in one blog post, but I assure you that they rival the two stories shared above. It takes a lot of courage and strength to look something like that in the face and overcome it. I am so proud of Haley, Amy, and the rest of the Heart Throbs, and I am humbled that they chose me to lead them to a healthier and better life!

Five Questions About Your Eating Habits

At our first meeting, we spoke about what it took to get results in reducing body fat and body weight, or eliminating medications or staving off type 2 diabetes. I suggested that of the top three things that can lead you down the path to success—mental health, nutrition, and exercise—exercise was a distant third. Exercise should be the fun stuff; it’s the first two that are the tough ones. The Heart Throbs would like to ask you 5 questions about how you are eating that could help you develop those important habits that will lead to success:

  • Are you eating slowly? It takes a minimum of 20 minutes for the brain to signal to the stomach and the rest of the body that you are full. If you eat fast, you usually eat more.
  • Where are the protein-dense foods? Eating protein with every meal will help with recovery, building muscle, and feeling full. Protein consumption soon after a training session is a great habit that will help in all facets of your fitness. Some examples are meat, fish, eggs, plant protein, and yogurt.
  • Are you eating veggies with every meal? Prepare them any way you like, and shoot for few portions each meal. Veggies should account for the bulk of your carbohydrate intake for the day.
  • Where are the carbohydrates? Carbohydrates (grains, beans, starches, fruit) have gotten a bad rap in recent years, mainly due to the increased intake of highly processed and unnatural carbohydrate sources. Carbs are important, especially after a training session, and help supply the body with energy it needs to run various systems of the body. Portion control is key here (1 to 2 cupped-hand-sized servings), as well as timing (after training) to get the most out of your carbohydrates.
  • Are you eating fat? Fat in your diet is important, and although the discussion would be too extensive for this piece, this idea does come with a bit of blowback. So let me put it like this: In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the “experts” labeled fat as the enemy and worked hard to eliminate it from the American diet (remember the SnackWell’s aisles?). What happened to America? It got fat. Choose healthy fats (oils, butter, nut butters, nuts, and seeds) and spread them out through the day.

Bonus Takeaways

 The Heart Throbs have some bonus takeaways for you:

  • Experiment to find what works for you. It has to work for you to be sustainable!
  • Don't try to overhaul; add one habit every couple of weeks.
  • Identify any nutritional deficiencies that can be found through a blood test and work to correct them.
  • You can't change your life unless you change something you do every day.

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

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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 nutrition healthy habits weight loss healthy eating Slim It to Win It carbs

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

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

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

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

Conversation with Katie, Part I:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

***

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

Reducing Your Added Sugar Intake for Better Nutrition

ThinkstockPhotos-185151583.jpgIf you have read the news lately, I’m sure you have seen that the world’s obesity epidemic is most recently being blamed on sugar. This is with good reason, too. In 1922 the average American ate the amount of sugar found in one 12-ounce soda every five days. Now, that amount is consumed every seven hours. Sugar is in everything—not just baked goods and sodas, but also bread, peanut butter, soy sauce, and even hot dogs.

So how much should you be eating, and how do you spot what is naturally occurring, like the sugar in milk and fruit versus added sugar?

Naturally Occurring Versus Added Sugars

For the first time, the FDA is putting a number on the amount of sugar that is recommended for Americans. The goal is to keep the added sugar to no more than 10 percent of their diet. For anyone over the age of 3, that means no more than 12.5 teaspoons, or 50 grams per day.

However, if you flip over the carton of your daily Greek yogurt and see 15 grams of sugar, how much of that is added for sweetness and flavor and how much is from the lactose or milk sugar that is good for you?

Use this handy list to know how many grams are naturally occurring from either fruit sugar (fructose) in your fresh fruit, or milk sugar (lactose):

  • 1 cup milk: 13 grams
  • 6 oz. plain yogurt: 8 grams
  • Cheese, butter, sour cream, eggs: less than 2 grams
  • 1 cup fruit: 7 grams (berries) up to 17 grams (orange)

This can be confusing when just glancing at a label. In March 2014, the FDA proposed including added sugar, in grams, on food labels. Be sure to look at this new layout and be aware of your sugar intake.

How to Reduce Added Sugar in Your Diet

The easiest way to decrease the amount of added sugar in your diet is to choose more fresh foods that have not been processed or packaged. Swap the pre-made snack for a piece of fresh fruit and a handful of nuts. Take a look at your overall food consumption and find other easy swaps to help with weight loss and overall health!

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If you are one of the 1 billion people trying to lose weight, don’t do it alone. NIFS has many options to help you reach your goals. Check out the Ramp Up to Weight Loss program and personal nutrition coaching sessions for more information.

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

Topics: nutrition healthy habits weight loss healthy eating snacks artificial ingredients sugar dietitian My Nutrition Coach

Get Family and Friends Involved in Your Fitness Goals

ThinkstockPhotos-78717030.jpgIt can be hard trying to change your lifestyle or fitness on your own. It can be even harder if you don’t have support from your family and friends. You family and friends can play a key role in your fitness journey, so why not get them involved and gain their support? Including them in your journey can help your motivation and help you enjoy the path to your fitness and health goals.

How to Get Friends Involved

Hanging out with friends keeps your life full of happiness and fun. Your friends are people who share common interests with you. It can be difficult to continue to connect and have fun with friends when you decide to change your lifestyle. So why not get them involved?

Identify whether there are unhealthy activities you and your friends like to participate in. Examples can include eating out every weekend, drinking excessively, or even being sedentary together. Then as group, brainstorm new ideas for activities you can try together. Together you can discover which new activities are enjoyable and which activities don’t suit your new lifestyle, and you can help one another's accountability to stick with it. Make it fun!

How to Promote Family Fitness Involvement

Having family support is great to help you accomplish your fitness goals. Even better, now you are helping them to lead healthier lifestyles, too. It can also make it more fun.

The best resource/tool that I have found that offers ideas and tips is Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. It offers resources on nutrition and physical activity, and tips on how to be successful. The Presidential Active Lifestyle Award challenge is another great resource. It offers guidelines for children and adults to complete together.

Here are a few ideas of fun activities you can do as a group in the Indianapolis area:

Mix up the activities but be sure to do something on a regular basis. All types of physical activity can benefit your health and fitness so grab a friend or your family and get going!

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Check out NIFS's all new Ramp Up to Weight Loss membership to get you started! This program offers 14-weeks of workouts with one of our certified trainers, meetings with our dietician, free access to the My Nutrition Coach App, and fitness assessments to help you plan and track your progress. Click below to learn more.

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

Topics: fitness winter fitness healthy habits motivation weight loss accountability NIFS programs outdoors Indianapolis My Nutrition Coach