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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Top 3 Tips for Staying Healthy in College

collegeEven though it’s been a few years since I graduated, it still feels like I was just walking through campus and living in the dorm. I absolutely loved college, and while many people gained the freshman 15, I took advantage of the opportunity to live on my own for the first time and make lots of healthy habits that I still follow today. Just because I created healthy habits doesn’t mean I didn’t have an amazing time.

For me, living a balanced life full of fun is essential for being healthy. Here are my top three tips for staying healthy your freshman year and beyond (that leave room for plenty of college-style fun and experiences).

1. Keep a Routine

I am a routine type of girl, but I have come to learn that having a routine is not just a “me” thing. The human body was designed to function on a schedule and to have a routine. Everyone can have a different routine, but I found that I functioned best when I went to bed a little earlier than most people and woke up a little earlier. Of course, I would stay up later on weekends to participate in events, hang out with friends, and attend socials and parties, but I would give myself a curfew (typically midnight) so that I could get some sleep and still feel great the next morning (even after having a great time the night before). The most important thing is to figure out what works for your body and stick to it. 

2. Take Advantage of the Rec/Fitness Center

Most colleges and universities have a fitness center or are affiliated with a fitness center for students to use. Guys, this is a no-brainer! Just go to the rec center or fitness center. These places offer tons of group fitness classes, personal training sessions, and weight and cardio equipment for you to do your own workouts, and they are usually open for the majority of the day. Stop making excuses; find a friend and hit up the rec/fitness center. You’ll thank me once you do!

3. Walk It Out

I went to a small university, so the farthest thing away on campus was typically a 10-minute walk. That’s it! I would only use my car if I had to take a large load somewhere or if I was leaving campus, which was very rare. Walking is amazing for the body because it gets the body moving, but it doesn’t put a lot of stress on the muscles and joints. Walking as your form of transportation is a habit that you can start during your college days and then continue throughout the rest of your life! Seriously, just walk. You’ll feel great and those freshman 15 pounds will stay far away. 

Of course, there are tons of other things you can do to stay healthy in college; these are just a few for you to start with! 

Let’s hear from you below in the comment section. What are some of your favorite ways to stay healthy?

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.

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Topics: healthy habits fitness center walking sleep college

Top 5 Tips for Morning Workouts

466265051As a natural-born morning person, many people frequently ask what my secret is for bursts of energy before the sun rises. While I may naturally be a morning person, there are a few things that I do in order to guarantee a successful morning workout because, believe it or not, there are times that even I find it hard to drag my bod to the gym to start my day.

Here are my top 5 tips that will prepare you for a successful morning workout.

1. Plan it into your schedule. 

Personally, I can’t just wake up and “wing it” when it comes to my workouts. I need to have something planned ahead of time. Whether it’s meeting a friend for a workout, taking my favorite group fitness class, or planning out a treadmill run, taking the guessing game out of my morning workout gives me something to look forward to and helps me mentally prepare the evening before.

2. Lay out your clothes and anything you need for the next day the night before.

Even though I may be a morning person, it still takes me a bit longer to do things first thing in the morning. Also, if I have my clothes (shoes, socks, and undies included!) already laid out, I feel like there are no excuses keeping me from the gym if I wake up feeling a little less than motivated. If I am going somewhere after the gym (like straight to work), I make sure to have all bags packed, ready to go, and laying by the door so I don’t have to do any extra work when I first wake up.

3. Pack/plan breakfast.

For me, I always eat a little bite of something before my early morning workouts. Despite my little pre-workout snack, I am almost always starving by the end of my morning workout and I’m ready for an actual meal. Packing a breakfast (something like overnight oats or hard-boiled eggs and fruit) allows me to get the nutrients I need to start my day so that I keep that energized feeling going throughout the day. Having a healthy breakfast packed and ready to go also helps me avoid less healthy yet ultra convenient breakfast options.

4. Go to bed early.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I honestly think it’s the most important thing on the list. Sleep is so, so important, and if you stay up late or get inadequate sleep, you won’t be doing your body any favors. Getting enough shut-eye will ensure that you are strong for your morning workout and in a great mood throughout the rest of the day.

5. Remember how great you will feel AFTER.

You know that feeling you get after a super-sweaty workout—energized from the inside out, that slight shake in the muscles as a little reminder of the hard work you put in, and you look at the clock and realize most people haven’t even eaten breakfast yet! For me, that feeling of “getting it done” before the day has even started is invaluable. Now, when you come home exhausted from a draining day at work, you can kick back and relax without a hint of guilt.

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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: healthy habits motivation workouts attitude

Healthy Eating in a Hurry

stacked-fridgePicture this for a minute, if you are so kind to indulge me. It is 7am on any given Monday, and you hop out of bed, just realizing that you are late for your morning rituals (probably because you hit the snooze seven times). You rush to get ready for work, dress quickly, and run out the door just as fast (skipping breakfast in the process).

You run into the office and jump right into the stress that is referred to as “Monday,” trying to feel as if you have caught up to the day, but you really haven’t. You bust butt all day to get things done hour after hour until your weekday is complete. Then, it is off to the gym to brutalize your body, performing the latest and greatest YouTube training session that results in you lying flat on your back, defeated.

But you forgot one thing: You forgot to eat! Or, you stopped by the nearest vending machine or drive-thru, leaving you feeling like crap and tired, so you can dart home to crash so you can start the cycle all over again tomorrow. Or, you got home and ate everything but your hand because you were so ravenous you couldn’t be stopped. These scenarios are not going to lead to positive balance of your life, and certainly will not provide the health and fitness goals many of us are after.

Sound familiar? I hope not, but for a lot of people it probably does. Due to lack of planning and preparation in the scenario above, the individual described is starving and doing some pretty big harm to both the physical and mental being. You can get back to healthy eating by adopting a practice affectionately known in my house as “Binge Cooking,” or weekly food prep. This usually is completed on a Sunday, and takes only a few hours of the day, especially if you streamline the process and have a solid plan of attack.

The ultimate goal of binge cooking is to ensure ample food to cover you throughout the week. You will find that in doing so, not only will you be eating so much better (which is step 1 in any fitness and health-related goal), you will create more balance and find a lot more extra time to focus on bigger and brighter aspects of your life.

We will cover more of this balance-creating blueprint in future posts; now let’s talk cooking! Here are some tips that will make your weekly food prep go much smoother and quicker and be much more enjoyable!

Get Your Mind Right

You have to believe that this is a great opportunity to be healthy and create positive change in your life. If you enter this process feeling it is only a chore, the chance of you faltering and giving up increases exponentially! And I bet your food won’t taste as good, either!

Get the Menu Planned

Know what you want to eat, and what will be the most appropriate for you to eat for each meal, before starting your cooking. Of course this will ensure that you will have food for each meal, but it will also make the cooking process more efficient. You can be doing two things at once, or cutting up everything at once instead of hopping all over the place. Have a plan, and work the plan.

Get the Food

You can’t cook without food, so make it a priority to hit the grocery store and pick up the supplies you will need. I am not going to tell you what to pick up, but I would recommend choosing whole foods as your staples and staying away from processed items. Have your list handy so you don’t forget anything, or pick up items you don’t need.

Get the Right Hardware

Great cookware is awesome to have available, but really anything will do; just have the necessary tools ready to go. Referencing your menu and food list will point you in the right direction as to what you need to prepare all of your food choices. Have it ready, and be ready to use it!

Get the Proper Storage

After all the prep work and cooking are complete, you are going to need to store the food so it is ready to go when you are. Think individual portions when loading your storage containers for all of your meals. With that being said, because portion sizes tend to be too large for most, have more small containers than large. It will help keep you on track as well as make storing and carrying easier. Spend some time on this step; it will be one of the most important!

Get Help

If you are thinking to yourself, “This all sounds great for you, but you don’t have any kids.” You are right, I don’t. Make them part of the process. From the get-go, they can help you plan the meals, go shopping with you, and help prepare and store the wonderful foods you have created together. There are some huge positives happening there: learning about proper nutrition, budgeting, being amongst other humans, and most importantly spending time with the people you care most about.

I think the tried-and-true saying works best here, and that “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Take some relatively easy steps to ensure your nutrition stays the course throughout the week (and weekend, for that matter). You will find when you plan well for the big things, such as your nutrition, the smaller things will take care of themselves. When attempting to create some balance in your life, tackle the big things first!

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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: nutrition healthy habits healthy eating

Learn About Cardiovascular Health During American Heart Month

heart-1There is no better time to get your cardiovascular health on track than right now, during heart health month! February is American Heart Month, and a time that the CDC is trying to help us be aware that heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure are the number-one killers of men and women. Heart disease can be scary, and although not 100% preventable in all cases, it is reassuring to know that there are thing we can do to prevent it.

Who Is at Risk for Heart Disease?

Let’s start by taking a look at understanding who is at risk for heart disease and how it can play out in your life. First off, the number of preventable deaths has gone down in recent years, but is still at an alarming number. What most of us know is that if we have a close relative who has died from cardiovascular disease, it does put us at a higher risk for getting it later in life.

Here are some things maybe you didn’t know:

  • Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from preventable heart disease.
  • Health disparities based on geography also contribute to it (in previous years, deaths due to heart disease were highest in the south and lowest in the west).
  • Race can affect your risk level. Nearly half of African American men and women have some form of heart disease, and the American Heart Association also tells us that African Americans are more likely than any other ethnic group to have high blood pressure and to develop it earlier in life.

Many of these things can be prevented by healthier habits and management of conditions.

Preventing Heart Disease

The good news is that there are some things that we can do to help prevent heart disease. Being active and exercising on a regular basis is one of the biggest things that can help! Exercising for 30 minutes a day on most days of the week and maintaining a healthy weight makes the payoff even greater. You want to have a healthy mixture of both cardiovascular exercise as well as weight training and strength training to keep yourself in tip-top shape.

Another big contributor that can help is to not smoke or chew tobacco. Chemicals in tobacco damage the blood vessels of the heart, narrow the arteries, and could lead to a heart attack.

Eating a diet that is heart healthy is also important. Foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help reduce your potential risk factor as well as keeping to a low-fat diet and eating good sources of protein like chicken and fish. Getting enough sleep and keeping a low level of stress is one of the most manageable factors in heart health.

And lastly, be sure to get regular health screenings to monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and sugar levels to steer clear of diabetes and other health issues.

Managing Cardiovascular Disease

FEAR NOT! If you already have cardiovascular disease, there are still things you can do to help slow down the progress of it. Though things may seem a bit more difficult after suffering a heart attack, coronary heart disease, a blocked artery, or other cardiovascular problem, it’s vital to your health to work on many of the things listed above. Even with heart disease, things like exercising on a regular basis, maintaining healthy eating habits, keeping a healthy body weight, not smoking or using tobacco, and watching those “numbers” at the doctor’s office can significantly aid in your heart health.

Be sure to consult your cardiologist before putting an exercise plan into place in case you have any restrictions, but get started on your new way of life ASAP! And most importantly, be aware of your condition, take time to learn about it so that you can manage it the best way possible.

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


Topics: healthy habits heart disease cardiovascular

American Heart Month: Preventing and Living with Cardiovascular Disease

There is no better time to get your heart health on track than right now, during heart health month! February is American Heart Month, and a time that the CDC is trying to help us be aware that heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure are the number-one killers of men and women. Heart disease can be scary, and although not 100% preventable in all cases, it is reassuring to know that we can help ourselves to keep it away.

Who Is at Risk for Heart Disease? heart

Let’s start by taking a look at understanding who is at risk for heart disease and how it can play out in your life. First off, the number of preventable deaths has gone down in recent years, but is still at an alarming number. What most of us know is that if we have a close relative who has died from cardiovascular disease, it does put us at a higher risk for getting it later in life.

Here are some things maybe you didn’t know:

  • Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from preventable heart disease.
  • Health disparities based on geography also contribute to it (in previous years, deaths due to heart disease were highest in the south and lowest in the west). Race can affect your risk level.
  • Nearly half of African American men and women have some form of heart disease, and the American Heart Association also tells us that African Americans are more likely than any other ethnic group to have high blood pressure and to develop it earlier in life.

Many of these things can be prevented by healthier habits and management of conditions.

Preventing Heart Disease

The good news is that there are some things that we can do to help prevent heart disease. Being active and exercising on a regular basis is one of the biggest things that can help! Exercising for 30 minutes a day on most days of the week and maintaining a healthy weight makes the payoff even greater. You want to have a healthy mixture of both cardiovascular exercise as well as weight training and strength training to keep yourself in tip-top shape.

Another big contributor that can help is to not smoke or chew tobacco. Chemicals in tobacco damage the blood vessels of the heart, narrow the arteries, and could lead to a heart attack.

Eating a diet that is heart healthy is also important. Foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help reduce your potential risk factor as well as keeping to a low-fat diet and eating good sources of protein like chicken and fish. Getting enough sleep and keeping a low level of stress is one of the most manageable factors in heart health.

And lastly, be sure to get regular health screenings to monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and sugar levels to steer clear of diabetes and other health issues.

Managing Cardiovascular Disease

FEAR NOT! If you already have cardiovascular disease, there are still things you can do to help slow down the progress of it. Though things may seem a bit more difficult after suffering a heart attack, coronary heart disease, a blocked artery, or other cardiovascular problem, it’s vital to your health to work on many of the things listed above. Even with heart disease, things like exercising on a regular basis, maintaining healthy eating habits, keeping a healthy body weight, not smoking or using tobacco, and watching those “numbers” at the doctor’s office can significantly aid in your heart health.

Be sure to consult your cardiologist before putting an exercise plan into place in case you have any restrictions, but get started on your new way of life ASAP! And most importantly, be aware of your condition, take time to learn about it so that you can manage it the best way possible.

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

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Topics: healthy habits heart attack disease prevention heart disease cardiovascular

Should You Work Out When You’re Sick?

482395581This is the time of year when everyone seems to be getting sick. A head cold, the flu, a constant cough, a sore throat, chest cold, sinus infection…you name it, it’s around. I know when I am under the weather, one question that comes to my mind is, “Should I work out, or should I just let my body rest for a few days?”

For the avid exerciser, a few days may seem like months taken off your performance. There are lots of ways to look at this topic, and truly I think it depends on what type of illness you have. But let’s take a look at a few things to help you determine whether working out while you are ill is a good idea or a bad one.

Definite No:

  • If you have a fever, you should definitely skip the workout. When you have a fever, raising your internal body temperature through working out can make you even sicker, so stay home and lay low. Typically, you are contagious for 5 to 7 days when you have a fever, so steer clear of the gym.
  • If you are vomiting or have diarrhea, do not work out. This is the time that it’s most important to stay in bed and rest.
  • According to an article in Men’s Fitness, if you are starting to feel sick and end up feeling worse after you complete your workout, cut back and take a break.

Possibly Yes:

  • If you have a runny nose or just a sniffle, it’s most likely okay to work out. The Mayo Clinic says exercise may even make you feel better by opening up your nasal passages and help relieve nasal congestion.
  • Dr. Neil Schachter, a physician from Mt. Sinai Medical Center, has a good method to help determine whether you can work out. It’s called the Neck Check. If your symptoms are above the neck, including a sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, and watery eyes, you are okay to exercise. Exercise does raise the body’s immune system, helping to defend it and fight off illness.

The most important thing to do is listen to your body. If you cannot do something, then it is important to stop and don’t try to force yourself to keep going. Know that it is okay to not work out for a few days if you are sick; sometimes resting the body is the answer. Oftentimes the human body gets run down, lowering the immune system, and causing you to get sick in the first place.

If you do choose to work out, just play it smart. Maybe consider a walk instead of a hard run, or a light bike instead of heavy weightlifting. The most important thing is to get healthy again so you can get back to your routine, so do what your body is asking you to do!

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

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Topics: healthy habits workouts illness immunity

Healthy Living: Just Be Yourself

126868686For people new to fitness, creating a healthy body image can be as challenging as creating a workout or diet plan. What do we consider healthy and why?

Unfortunately, for the majority of our lives, Americans have been shown and told through various media what it means to be healthy. This heavy load of misguided information can lead individuals down the road to anorexia, depression, low self-esteem and unhealthy choices. The obsession with body image can be overwhelming, but with good advice, a smart goal set in mind, and a positive attitude, you may have a clearer path to fitness prosperity and healthy living.

Change Your Attitude

As cheesy as it may sound, the first thing you will want to do to reprogram your outlook is to list a minimum of 10 good things about yourself that have nothing to do with appearance. Then set some realistic goals, keeping in mind that you should not compare yourself to others in that we are all given a completely unique set of DNA and are different. Fad diets only work in the short term, provide little to no answer and can compromise your health by creating a “yo-yo” effect.

Tools for Getting Started on Your Fitness Journey

In moving forward with your program, there are some tools that can be very effective and healthy to get you on your way. For individuals wanting to know how many calories they should consume in a day, there is the Resting Metabolic Rate test (RMR for short). The RMR test can tell you if your calorie intake is too much or too little for what your body and goals require.

For the scale obsessed, I suggest a much healthier option, the BodPod, which measures body fat percentage and composition. Your body composition is linked to health; risky high body fat percentage is linked to various health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.

Yet another option could be meeting with a registered dietician (RD). An RD is educated and trained to help you excel in your goals using wiser diet and nutrition choices, along with exercise. Find out more about NIFS nutritional coaching options.

With all the pros of having a positive body image, including improved self confidence, lower stress and a healthier body, the only question is, “Why didn’t I start sooner?” Your first step to fitness prosperity lies right in front of you. Take a chance with a new outlook and just be you.

Start your new journey right with a free fitness assessment at NIFS.

Free Fitness Assessment

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

Topics: nutrition healthy habits motivation weight loss attitude

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

5 Reasons to Wear a Fitness Tracker

526115883Wearable fitness technology is definitely the latest thing in the health, fitness, and wellness industry. With several recent studies focusing on the negative effects of sitting and a sedentary lifestyle, it seems as if these wearable fitness gadgets are getting even more hype than ever. These gadgets can track the number of calories you burn, how many steps you take, every single move you make, and even the quality of sleep you get each night. Are these super-fit tech toys really the key to getting fit? Or is it best to stick to the advice of a trusted health and fitness professional?

While it’s always best to work with a certified health and fitness professional and your doctor when making changes to your activity level, wearing fitness tech gadgets definitely has a lot of benefits. Because I LOVE to be in the know with just about anything on trends, I had to get a fitness tracker of my own to see for myself. Here is what I learned.

1. Users become aware of their ACTUAL current activity level.

These fitness trackers give users a great picture of where they are with their current activity level. I will admit that when I started to wear my Nike Fuelband, I was pretty shocked to find out that even though I exercise or try to move my body in some way every day, there are days where I still struggle to reach the recommended 10,000 steps per day.

2. Goal setting is key.

While I was surprised to learn that I needed to step up my game (literally) in the number of steps per day I was taking, my fitness tracker made it easy for me to set realistic goals and track my progress. I know what my numerical goals are, and it’s easy for me to check my progress throughout the day.

3. Getting in an hour workout isn’t enough.

Okay, so I’m not advocating over-exercising here, but I am promoting getting up and moving around throughout the day. It can be so easy to get sucked into e-mail, a project at work, or whatever else you have going on in your day. When we get sucked into these projects, hours can go by without us taking a single step.

After using my fitness tracker to assess where my daily movement was and setting some personal goals, I know that I need to take movement breaks each hour in order to reach my goal. Not only are these movement breaks necessary to achieve 10,000 steps a day, but I have found that I’m more productive in the 50 to 60 minutes that I spend working on a task, and I am more focused after I come back from my movement break.

4. Community helps keep users accountable.

While this may not appeal to everyone, with many of the fitness trackers there is a community element involved. You can share your successes through social media and you can follow along with other people using the devices. Personally, I like to keep my information private, but I think this aspect can be great for some people!

5. Fitness trackers provide extra motivation.

Constant sight of the wristband is like a constant reminder of the goals that you set for yourself. For me, it’s motivating when I see the wristband and a reminder to follow through with the commitment that I made to myself.

While there are so many benefits to using these wearable fitness trackers, there are a couple of things to remember before you rush out to the store to purchase a tracker for yourself.

  • These trackers are not exact. While companies have done their best to ensure accuracy, nothing is perfect and you have to keep that in mind and leave a little room for error.
  • It’s also important to remember that simply wearing the device will not make you fitter or healthier. You must act on the goals that you set in order to see changes.
  • It’s also important to remember not to let the numbers take control of your life. If you find you are putting your fitness and workouts before your personal relationships or you are getting injuries from your workouts, you may want to step back a bit. It’s important to listen to your body and do what is truly making you happy.

I have loved wearing my fitness tracker, as it has helped me to gain activity throughout my day, which was my main goal. While I meet the required amount of exercise each day, I still do quite a bit of sitting, which is now being called the new smoking. Reaching my goal each day makes me feel good and motivates me to continue to work hard to stay healthy while enjoying life.

Be Active Stay Healthy!

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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: fitness healthy habits motivation goal setting walking equipment calories fitness trends

5 Tips for Healthy Living in College

184813283Nothing can replace my four years at Butler University. I made sure to enjoy myself and my friends, try new things, and study hard, so I know what a juggling act college can be. With so many organizations to be part of, parties to attend, events to host, and exams to ace, there are a lot of things on your college plate and it’s easy to put your health and wellness on the back burner.

Instead of just eating a couple of pieces of boring lettuce from the salad bar during meal time and missing out on a social life, I used a few simple tricks to keep the freshman 15 weight gain from creeping up on me.

1. Focus on making the best choice in each moment, not on being perfect.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when thinking about living a healthy life, but being healthy isn’t about exercising all the time and eating only nutritious foods. Being healthy is about being balanced and being happy with your life. There will be times when all of your friends want to go out for ice cream, skip a workout, or do something that may not be in your “healthy-living plan,” and that’s okay. One of the biggest lessons I learned in college was to go with the flow, make the healthiest choice for my body and mind in that moment, and enjoy every second of every day.

2. Stock the mini fridge.

Having a mini fridge was one of the smartest things I could have done during my college career. I made sure to stock it with fresh vegetables and hummus for snacking, fruit for breakfast, and almond milk to put in my coffee. Some easy dorm-room snack essentials to have on hand (even without the mini fridge):

  • Chopped carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower (I would chop this up at my parents’ house and bring it to the dorm with me!)123097912
  • Hummus
  • Nuts and seeds (cashews, almonds, and sunflower seeds are my favorite!)
  • Dried fruit
  • Natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • Portioned-out baggies of oats

3. Get involved in your campus fitness center with programs like First Year Fit.

The fitness center was where I spent my “me” time while I was in college. I loved experimenting with new classes, meeting people, and getting high on endorphins! Many campus fitness centers (NIFS included!) are hosting incentive programs to encourage new students to become gym members, try new classes, and get fitness into their weekly routine. The staff wants to help you get into your healthy living groove, so don’t hesitate to ask questions—that’s what they are there for.

4. Take the fruit.

Most campus dining halls have a bin of fresh produce that usually includes apples, bananas, and oranges. While I was in college, the dining hall staff really didn’t encourage removing foods from the dining hall, but grabbing a piece of fruit to go was okay. I always made sure to take one or two pieces to have on hand, in my bag, and ready to go as soon as hunger struck so that I had a healthy option to keep me focused and fueled through the afternoon. My tip is this: Always take a piece of fruit, even if you aren’t hungry at that moment and don’t want to eat it right then. Fruit can keep for up to two weeks without being refrigerated, and having that fruit nearby will give you an instant (and free!) snack to tide you over until mealtime.

5. Inspiration on YouTube

It’s not always easy to get to the gym, and when there is time to get there sometimes it’s hard to decide what equipment to use and what workout you want to do. This is where YouTube comes into play. I love following fitness professionals, healthy living bloggers, and my fitness center on YouTube for easy-to-follow workouts and motivation. Some of my favorites are NIFSindy, Jennifer DeCurtins of Peanut Butter Runner, and Livestrong.

NIFS 1st Year Fit program was designed to help keep students on a healthy track as you start a new chapter in your college career. This is a completely free program for IUPUI students who are NIFS members.

Get started today!

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: exercise nutrition healthy habits fitness center healthy eating weight management education