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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

NIFS Personal Trainer Takes on a Triathlon Challenge

Crystal-1.jpgOne of my greatest passions is health and fitness. It has always been a part of my life, from studying it in school to choosing it as my career path. This year I have decided to try something that I have not done before: a triathlon! I’m excited to share with you my career as a personal trainer and health fitness instructor and my journey in training for the Indianapolis Go Girl Triathlon that will take place August 26.

Taking Time to Achieve My Own Goal

As a fitness professional, one of the ways that I measure success is when I’ve helped an individual or group reach their goals. Knowing that others obtained their dream is more rewarding than reaching my own personal goals. Getting to know a client’s strengths and weaknesses, and guiding them to overcome hurdles that they never thought they could achieve, is so gratifying. As a client seeks my advice and help, I believe it’s just as important that I practice what I’m teaching while working to connect it to current research and trends in the fitness and health realm. With all these different things on my plate, sometimes my own training and goal achievement gets pushed aside.

When considering what my own personal goals were for this year, I decided it was time I took on a new challenge for myself, completing my first ever triathlon. At first, the idea intimidated me because several thoughts came to mind:

  • “That’s a lot of cardio.”
  • “What if I drown in the open water?”
  • I’m not a swimmer.”
  • “I can’t even float.”

I instantly felt afraid, and the thought of a new challenge that I’d never considered doing crept up on me. On the other hand, that’s what also has enticed me to take on this race. Doing something that I’ve never done before actually excites me, and it’s what pushed me to make the decision to give it a try. I have decided to fully accept that challenge and have a coach help lead and guide me to reach my goal.

The Impact of Attitude

In addition to my adventurous and ambitious personality, the experience of surviving leukemia as a child has allowed me to take a look at life from a different perspective—a second opportunity in this world. I believe that your mind is one of the most powerful influences on your daily decisions; what you feed your mind, your thoughts, self-talk, “fight-or-flight” reactions, and which outside influences you believe all play a part in who you choose to be on a daily basis. The bottom line is this: When you tell yourself you can or can’t do something, you make that decision right then and there, because it all comes down to your will to take the next step outside your comfort zone and take action.

I look forward to sharing with you my experience of taking on this challenge and training for a triathlon, and I encourage you to follow my series on this blog.

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This blog was written by Crystal Anne Belen, personal trainer and health fitness instructor at NIFS. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS triathlon nifs staff challenge Indianapolis goals personal trainer

Fabulous Farmers’ Markets: Nutrition and Healthy Summer Fun

ThinkstockPhotos-492361906.jpgOne of my favorite things to do during summer in Indiana is to visit the various farmers’ markets around the Indianapolis area. As a dietitian I am a sucker for the fresh fruits and veggies, but I also love the homemade desserts, candles, pasta, kettle corn, fresh flowers, and other wonderful items you can find.

The Top 5 Reasons to Shop at Your Local Market

Here are my top 5 reasons why visiting your local farmer’s market is a must.

  1. Support the local community. Since the produce is grown and purchased locally, the money remains in the community and stimulates the local economy. Also, when you shop at the farmers’ market you are cutting out the middle man, and the product is generally less expensive than if you purchased it in the grocery store.
  2. Eat foods that are in season. Farmers’ market produce is picked ripe and sold soon after picking. Supermarket produce, on the other hand, can take up to two weeks to travel from the farm to the store, even when it is in season. The produce tastes richer and more flavorful and the nutrients are better retained. This handout for Indiana allows you to see which produce is in season so you can plan ahead for meals and shopping on your next outing. If you don’t live in Indiana, check with your local government websites to see if they have a similar calendar to help you make the best local eating choices.
  3. It’s good for you. The average American eats 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The current recommendations are 9 servings per day. Picking up multiple servings of fruits and veggies and incorporating them into recipes, meals, and snacks is a great way to get closer to the 9-serving-per-day-goal. This will guarantee you are meeting your recommended vitamin and mineral nutrition requirements, increasing your daily fiber intake, and acquiring cancer-fighting antioxidants. Locally grown produce is also lower in pesticides and chemicals.
  4. You can talk to the farmers who grew the food you are about to eat. You can meet the farmers who grew your food, ask when it was picked, how it was grown, and ways to prepare it. When else do you get the opportunity to learn so much about what you are putting in your mouth?
  5. There is certain to be one that fits your location and schedule. I love being able to go to the local farmers’ market close to work on my lunch break mid-week to grab items to get me through the rest of the week. Saturday mornings it’s off to the farmers’ market closer to my house to purchase goodies for the weekend and first part of the next week. To find out farmers’ markets close to you, check out the Farmers Market Directory on the USDA website.

An Inexpensive Way to Stock Up for Healthy Eating

Whether you are picking up items for tonight’s dinner or for the whole week, the local farmers’ market is an inexpensive, healthy alternative to the grocery store. Try to get there early to get the best variety and options. Not all vendors accept credit cards, so be sure to have cash on hand. Finally, bring along your own reusable grocery bag to put all of your goodies in so it is easier to carry home your fresh, delicious finds.

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

Topics: nutrition healthy eating summer Indianapolis vegetables antioxidants local eating

Indianapolis 500 Winners Drink Milk—For Tradition and Recovery

ThinkstockPhotos-450325179--new.jpgWith the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 approaching, a lot of traditions and stories are being shared. As we head into the month of May and all of the events leading up to race day on May 29, the one that as a dietitian I am most intrigued about is, “Why does the winner drink milk?”

I love a glass of cold milk: cow’s milk, soy milk, chocolate milk, almond milk, cashew milk…it doesn’t matter to me. But after a hot and sweaty trip around the oval 200 times, I’m not sure that would be my drink of choice.

The History of the Indianapolis 500 Milk Legend

Here is some history on the interesting choice of beverage for the winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” year after year. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway writes this:

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Louis Meyer regularly drank buttermilk to refresh himself on a hot day and happened to drink some in Victory Lane as a matter of habit after winning the 1936 race. An executive with what was then the Milk Foundation was so elated when he saw the moment captured in a photograph in the sports section of his newspaper the following morning that he vowed to make sure it would be repeated in coming years. There was a period between 1947-55 when milk was apparently no longer offered, but the practice was revived in 1956 and has been a tradition ever since.

It is also interesting to note that the American Dairy Council pays a sponsorship of $10,000 to the winner of the race if they sip milk after their victory. Two drivers skipped the milk in recent years. In 1993 Emerson Fittipaldi opted for orange juice, and in 1981 Bobby Unser also refused. 

Milk for Workout Recovery

We have known for years that chocolate milk is the gold standard in recovery after strength training, so why not grab a glass of cold calcium-packed milk after a grueling workout? Even though it is seen as a strange tradition, it is the perfect recovery fuel after hours spent in a hot car.

The benefit of the chocolate (or any flavor) milk is the additional sugar to help replace what was just burned during the workout; however, even if it is not flavored, the carbohydrates in white milk are beneficial. Chocolate milk does have the perfect ratio of carbohydrate to protein, so if that is available it would be the best choice. Keep in mind that non-dairy milk such as almond, cashew, and hemp do not have the protein component that is key for recovery. 

The good news is that milk isn’t just for winners of the Indy 500. Anyone can benefit from this delicious beverage after a workout. Grab your favorite kind soon!

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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: Indianapolis recovery protein milk

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.

Learn More

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 outdoors Indianapolis

Wonder Woman: The Indy Women Fitness 2015

IWF2015As a fitness professional, I have had the honor and the privilege to work with some amazing women over the past decade. Strength, passion, and a focus on excellence are just a few of the characteristics that I have witnessed women displaying day in and day out, and I have gained strength and motivation from them. So when I was asked to join some of the strongest fitness minds on the planet to celebrate and inspire some of the women of our wonderful Indianapolis community, it was a no-brainer. I’m IN!

Using What You Learn

I have been attending seminars and fitness summits for some time now. I love them, because I absolutely love to learn. I have gained so much from attending different events, but mainly I have learned that you have to be a lifetime learner, no matter what you do vocationally or personally. 

Inspiration and motivation are served up in buckets at these events, and you can’t help but get amped up about the impact we as fitness pros have on people. I always return from summits refreshed, revived, and ready to rock. My Group Training warriors know when I go to these events and prepare for when I return from them. They know that we are going to take it to the next level and learn some very cool ideas. I just can’t wait to get back and share what I have learned. I believe that when you catch fire, you just can’t help but to spread it. 

A Preview of the Event

Unlike any other event in our great city, the Indy Women Fitness 2015 event is designed for women of all fitness ages (from enthusiasts to those just starting out) to come and learn, train, and be inspired on their journey to greatness. The event will be held July 18, 2015 at NIFS. One of the keynote speakers for this event, Molly Galbraith, puts it best by saying that “unleashing the inner wonder woman” inside all women will be a side-effect of attending this event. Molly is the co-founder of Girls Gone Strong and dedicates her life to the education and empowerment of women everywhere; I really look forward to meeting and working with her.

Mike Robertson, our other keynote, will be breaking down many fitness misconceptions and teaching how to transform cookie-cutter exercise programs into individual-driven programming. I have attended one of Mike’s presentations and walked out of it having gained so much in so little time. Mike’s partner in crime, Bill Hartman, will be covering “Butts & Guts”; I love that title, by the way. Bill will be speaking the truth about what strategies and principles are actually effective in building “strong abs and a shapely posterior.” These two guys are fountains of knowledge and are sure to lay it all out for you.

The NIFS Presenters

Our very own Kris Simpson dives into those daily habits that women may fall into which negatively affect posture and increase pain. Kris will cover strategies to help you shoulder the load of your daily tasks to maximize productivity in the real world and in the gym. One of the super members of NIFS, Buffy Linville, will be discussing the habit of a new normal and ways to stop sabotaging your health and fitness. Buffy is a complete story of health and fitness success and will explore what has worked for her and what will work for you.

As for me? Presenting and public speaking is something I truly enjoy! Since I have been attending different seminars and summits over the years, it has been my ultimate goal to be one of those presenters and be considered good enough to rub elbows with the best in my field. Through many opportunities leading up this July 18th event, I have been honing my skills for this awesome chance to join a team of great presenters and impact our community. It truly is a dream come true to take this first of many steps to be one of those great presenters I have revered for so long. 

I am so excited to cover what an effective, movement-based, and fun program will look like for any woman at any level of fitness. Consistent with what I love to do, we will start the session moving and not stop till that bell rings! We will cover everything from warm-up to metabolic finishers and grab a taste of everything. By no means will this session be exhaustive, but will certainly cover the crucial basics of any program.

If you are a woman searching for some direction, new to fitness or looking to take your health and performance to the next level, you won’t want to miss this event. Join me in the excitement of learning, training, and being inspired to be a better you! Early bird pricing runs through June 18, 2015 and you will receive $100 off the registration cost.

Get Registered

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: NIFS fitness NIFS programs education Indianapolis women

The Road to the NFL Goes Through Indy [Infographic]

Road-To-NFL-Goes-Through-Indy
Topics: Indianapolis physical test shuttle run BODPOD football Combine

Old-School Weightlifting Gym Etiquette

rack-your-weightIf you dont follow my rules, Ill personally drag your butt to the front door and out to the sidewalk!

Larry Been, gym owner (1963)

In recent years, there has been a lot of focus on old-time strongmen and bodybuilders, trying to discover how their training and nutrition developed high-quality physiques and tremendous strength without the drugs and expensive supplements of more modern times. This search for the secrets and wisdom of the weightlifting past spans decades, and even generations, dating back to the late 1800s and early 20th century and coming forward to the pre-steroid ’60s, my generation of lifters.

I started lifting weights when I was 10 years old in 1957. My uncle brought home pieces of scrap steel from his factory job that I used for dumbbells and barbells. When I was 12, I got my dad to buy me a 110# York Barbell set (which, of course, I added to). I made do with that until I turned 16 and was finally able to drive to downtown Indianapolis and join my first weighting gym, Larry Been’s Olympia Club located at 16th and Alabama.

Larry’s gym was the home for such characters as Peter Lupus, the actor who played the strongman on the Mission Impossible TV series; Dick the Bruiser and friends (professional wrestlers), noted local bodybuilders of the day; and strongmen who were competing in a new sport called powerlifting.

It didn’t matter your race, wealth (or lack of it), age, or lifting ability. It was a small, eclectic group of societal misfits who shared a passion for weight training and strength. Larry Been was the ringmaster.Such a group of strongmen with egos to match required rules that were fair and simple to understand. Everyone knew that they had to share the space and equipment by being conscious of how their actions affected the others around them. Here were the rules:

1. Unload your bars and re-rack your dumbbells and weight plates.

It just makes sense. For safety reasons, weights, bars, and dumbbells could not be left laying around on the floor for people to trip over. But more importantly it was a shared courtesy to not force someone to have to unload your bar or put your “toys” away. If you moved a bench, you moved it back. If you took dumbbells from their rack, you returned them to their proper spot. Weight plates had their own horns on the weight tree. This was simply the gym version of the Golden Rule.

My first day at the gym, I was used to training at home with no one else to answer to. I left 45# plates on each end of a bar and started to walk away from the bench. I felt the crushing grip of Dick the Bruiser grab my shoulder; his arm slipped around my neck and I found myself being walked back to the bench in a headlock, being told to unload the bar. Yes sir, Mr. Bruiser! Needless to say, I never left plates on any bar, anywhere, ever again.

2. Between sets, watch others lifting around you in case they would need a spot.

The experienced lifters knew that when limits were being pushed or beginners were just learning to lift, things could go wrong very quickly. The sense of brotherhood grew when you knew you could count on those around to help keep you out of trouble. Safety was a shared group responsibility. If someone didn’t assist, they would find themselves stuck under a bar for quite awhile if they missed a bench press rep. No one would help them, just to make a point, for some people have to learn the hard way.

3. Weights are not allowed to be dropped.

It was believed that if you were strong enough to lift a weight off the floor or out of the rack, you should be strong enough to return it to its place of origin. If you couldn’t, then the weight was too heavy for you and that was a rookie mistake that should never happen again. Therefore, if you dropped a weight, you were looked down upon as a lesser man in the gym. This rule served to protect the equipment, the floor, the safety of other lifters, and the lifter himself. In fact, the appearance of rubber-coated weight plates and dumbbells, and rubber flooring, occurred in gyms for those rare times a weight was accidentally dropped—not to encourage lifters to drop weights because they were either too lazy to lower them correctly or as a sad cry for attention. “Look at me, I just lifted a really heavy weight!” Don’t be that guy, for that would be headlock time.

Old-school lifters knew that lowering the weight under control improved strength and muscle growth. They couldn’t explain it, but after years of trial and error it became a “gym truth.” Arthur Jones, the inventor the Nautilus equipment and the Nautilus training system, expanded the research of “negative reps” during the ’80s. Recent research has shown that the negative portion of muscle action produces greater gains in strength and muscle size than just focusing on contraction. Therefore, the decision to drop weights makes one miss an important opportunity for greater gains for the time and effort spent lifting.

4. Do not tie up equipment. Allow others to work in.

Again, the logic is simple. If you want to tie up equipment, go home to your own gym. If you don’t have your own gym, you’d best learn to share the “toys” in the sandbox. The answer to the question, “Can I work in?” was “Sure.”Any other answer was frowned on, and good luck working in with anyone else in the future.

There were a few other rules about lockers, food and drink out in the gym, guests, and monthly payments, etc., but these rules were the biggies, which simply boiled down to respecting the lifters around you, not being a pain in the ass, and knowing what it meant to be a responsible man in the gym.

In today’s gym environment, it is amazing how a just few irresponsible people can spoil the gym experience for everyone else. In fact, they are just spoiled brats with an attitude toward others that will adversely affect them in other areas of their lives. Old school gyms had an immediate and very effective correction: headlock and out the door.

I heard something the other day that I found very interesting. The X-Box generation has their own problems with online gamers causing similar problems for others and that they have their means of chasing them off. Sort of an X-Box version of Dick the Bruiser: “Hey jerk, GAME OVER!

We can learn a lot from old school about training and nutrition. But it starts with understanding the gym culture and the individual’s responsibility to fellow lifters; to the owner, who provides the equipment and the space to train; and most important to themselves, for gym environment allows them the opportunity to grow physically, mentally, and in a sense, spiritually as well if they use it correctly.

Thank you, Bruiser!

Rick

For beginning weightlifting tips, see this post.

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

 

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Topics: equipment muscles weight lifting weightlifting Indianapolis

Healthy Eating on a Budget

469650455One of the biggest reasons people give as to why they aren’t eating healthy is the cost of foods, specifically fruits and vegetables. However, a study found that adults could eat the recommended servings of produce for $2 per day. Here are some ways that you can save money on your next visit to the grocery store!

  • Don’t shop when you are hungry. A study from Cornell University found that shoppers purchased 19 percent more food and bought 45 percent more high-calorie snacks than those who had a snack prior to going shopping. This is an easy way to save 19 percent off your bill by having a handful of almonds, a piece of fresh fruit, or a string cheese before your next trip to the store.
  • Buy in season. Your produce will be cheaper if you purchase it during the time of year that it is most plentiful. Use this growing guide to see what produce is most abundant at which time of year. Also, take advantage of local farmers’ markets to get the best deals on locally grown produce. Use this map to see when and where the closest Indianapolis-area farmers’ market to you is. During the winter months, you can purchase frozen fruits and vegetables and they are just as nutritious and less expensive than fresh!
  • Buy in bulk. It makes sense that when you buy more of something, the individual unit price will be less per product; and this is true with food, too. So instead of buying single apples or oranges, purchase bags of them. Or, instead of the single-serving packets of oatmeal, grab a container of oats. Over time the savings will add up. The other option is to join a warehouse club like Sam’s or Costco that offers savings for purchasing in bulk.

There are lots of other ways to save money while practicing healthy eating, such as shopping at discount stores like Aldi, clipping coupons, and buying plain items and flavoring them yourself. The goal is to try as many of these options as you can so that you see the benefits to your health and your bank account!

For tips on packing healthy lunches, read this post from NIFS Dietitian Angie Scheetz.

This blog was written by Angie Sheetz, NIFS Registered Dietitian. Read more about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating HIT Indianapolis

Summer Health Tips and Fitness Ideas

Summer is finally finding its way back to Indiana! If you haven’t already, it is time to get outside and get moving! Indianapolis provides an abundance of outdoor activities that work well for promoting healthy lifestyles.

Indianapolis Attractions for Active Fun

Here are five ways for people to be active in Indianapolis this summer:

  1. ThinkstockPhotos-185469754web.jpgPerhaps the hottest attraction promoting physical activity in downtown Indianapolis this year is the new Indiana Pacers Bikeshare. With 250 bikes around the downtown area at your disposal, enjoy a day of physical activity and sightseeing in downtown Indianapolis by renting a bike and taking it for a spin on one of the local trails. I personally enjoy riding the Cultural Trail down to Fountain Square, among the many trail options available right downtown.
  2. Rent a kayak and enjoy some time out on the water while earning some physical activity points! Kayaking is an excellent form of exercise that can be learned easily at any age and enjoyed at varying levels of fitness. If you have never been kayaking before, do not be intimidated. Kayaks are available to rent around the city, including in Eagle Creek Park.
  3. Try a triathlon! Any age is a good age to try a triathlon for the first time. Here at NIFS we host a training program geared toward completing the Eagle Creek Sprint Triathlon for women both new and veteran to the sport. One of our participants was 68 years old when she completed her first triathlon with success!
  4. Take your kids or grandkids to the park and play. Being active with young children is great for everyone and is an excellent way for you to sneak in some physical activity. Consider that you may not be able to keep up with all of the moves that the kids are doing and stay within your capabilities while participating in the activities that they are doing.
  5. Consider training for a road race! You don’t have to be a top-notch runner to go out and try to run or walk your first 5K or marathon. NIFS is hosting a marathon training program geared toward completing the monumental marathon for those of you who have ever considered running a marathon. It is never too late to check that goal off your bucket list!

Health Tips to Keep in Mind

Being active in the outdoors during the summer adds another level of concern that you should keep in mind when selecting and preparing for your outdoor fitness activities.

  1. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your time spent outdoors. With the heat and humidity that come along with the Indiana summer, your body will lose the water that it needs at a rapid pace. Drink-waterDehydration can lead to heat illnesses, so it is important to stay hydrated and drink water even if you do not feel like you are thirsty. Read more about this in our 5 Tips to Staying Hydrated While you Exercise this Summer blog.
  2. Be cautious of extreme temperatures and avoid being outside for extended periods of time during these times. Hot temperatures can be dangerous, even if you are not exercising, so save your outdoor physical activities for later in the evening or earlier in the morning when the temperature is cooler and the sun is not beating down on your back.
  3. Wearing clothing that is lightweight, light in color, loose fitting, and moisture wicking will help you to stay cooler in warmer conditions.
  4. Apply sunscreen when you know that you will be outside. Whether you are working in the yard, walking the dog, or playing a round of golf, the sun has the same impact, so apply sunscreen to prevent damage to your skin.

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

NIFS new Fall Marathon Training Program begins July 20th-November 2. Get Registered Today!

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Topics: NIFS staying active fitness center triathlon NIFS programs summer hydration Indianapolis