NIFS Healthy Living Blog

NIFS Member Kelly Dodds, 50 and Fierce, Hits a Marathon Goal

Kelly-Doddsnew.jpgHave you ever thought of doing something big for those special birthday milestones? I can easily recall all the excitement that came with my 16th birthday, for behind-the-wheel freedom, being able to call myself an adult at 18, and we all know the free feeling of legality when turning 21. Then there are those later-year birthdays, such as 30, 40, and 50, that tend to be looked upon as a negative thing with the “it’s all downhill from here,” mentality.

In the last few years, however more men and women have taken it upon themselves to look at these latter milestones as a time to accomplish a longtime goal or to cross off an item from their bucket list. Personally, I am enjoying this new outlook and challenge! I would like to share with you an experience from one of our own NIFS members, Kelly, who decided to take up the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World as she turns 50 this month.

The Dopey Challenge is a four-day event in Orlando, Florida, that consists of four races within four days: a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, a half marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday, and a full marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday. Sounds pretty crazy, right? Well let me be the first to tell you, Kelly not only completed it but also did far better than she expected. She crushed her goals and was able to complete all four races injury free. And throughout the different races, she felt stronger than she had ever anticipated. But don’t just hear it from me; read on below for her personal account of this crazy experience.

Could you give us a little background about yourself?

“This past year has been a year of milestones for me. My husband, Kevin, and I celebrated 25 years of marriage last July. We also celebrated 10 years as Kristen’s parents (same day). In addition to being a wife and mother, I have worked at the NCAA for 16 years. I am also active in my church, teaching Sunday school and helping with our youth group. Exercise is something I definitely need for balance. I started running about 20 years ago. I had just turned 30, and although I was not overweight, could still visibly see a need for exercise. To start out, I was mainly doing cardio on a stair-stepper we had in our garage, but one Saturday I decided to go for a run to mix it up a little. I was hooked. Before I knew it, I completed the Mini-Marathon (the first of many half marathons) and eventually completed my first marathon at age 40.”

What made you decide to sign up for the Dopey Challenge?

“I had heard about the Dopey Challenge soon after it began in 2013. I had done two marathons, so with my 50th birthday on the horizon, I thought it would be the perfect challenge. There was only one person that I mentioned it to who did not think it was a crazy idea: my husband. (I guess you start to think alike when you have been married for so long.) That made the idea of doing it even more enticing—something that we would do together. I could hardly wait.”

What did you do in order to prepare for the series of races?

“I signed up for the Dopey in April and knew that I wanted to lose some weight and gain some strength. At the time, I did do strength training twice a week on my own in my home, but felt I wasn’t getting much benefit out of it. I decided to see what NIFS had to offer and came across the Ramp Up to Weight Loss program. That is where I met Masie. She came up with a great program that helped me reach my goal. Rebecca and Angie were also instrumental in my journey. I learned so much and they were always my biggest cheerleaders. After that, I continued with a maintenance program at NIFS and followed a running schedule developed by Hal Higdon specifically for the Dopey Challenge. Masie tailored my workouts so that I would be a stronger runner. It worked, as I was running faster and finishing stronger. I could not believe the difference since April.”

Were there any setbacks during training or doubts about achieving your goals? If so, how did you deal with them?

“The training was harder than I anticipated. Getting the back-to-back runs completed is the biggest part of the training, so there really is not much flexibility. By mid-November I was so tired of running all the time. The weather was turning colder and the holiday season didn’t help. Physically I was fine, but mentally I was exhausted. For my last long run it was cold, rainy, and windy. I was soaked and my legs burned. I just reminded myself that it is not supposed to be easy and it would be over soon. It really is such a mental thing.”

How was the trip? What happened during your weekend there?

“The trip began perfectly. I hit my personal goal times for the 5K and 10K and was feeling great. We enjoyed the parks after both races, basking in the sunny, 70-degree weather. However, the weather was looking threatening for Saturday with storms. Sure enough, on Friday night we got an e-mail stating the half marathon would be canceled as it would be too dangerous. They would give us our medals for the half after the marathon. I could have cried. I worked so hard and was so excited about doing all four races. But there was nothing I could do about it. I knew I had to get those miles in.

The storms were supposed to move through by 9 a.m., so my husband and I decided that we would run the 13.1 miles on the running trail at our resort. The distance is marked and I also had a GPS on my watch, so I knew I could feel confident about the miles. We got up the next day and headed out in the rain to do our half. I wore exactly what I had planned to wear, including my Dopey Challenge bib.

As I approached the running trail I could hear shouting. I then saw the most incredible sight. There were dozens of people out there running. Most had their Dopey Challenge bibs on, some even had costumes. One lady was carrying her American flag. Runners that were finished stood on the side to cheer on those of us still running. As we ran and passed each other (over and over again—we had to do 11 laps) we were high fiving and congratulating one another. There was more buzz and excitement than I have ever experienced at a half marathon—ever. (We later learned that this phenomenon was happening at all the Disney resorts, and actually started on Friday night after the announcement.) As I ran that morning, the miles flew by. I had a ball. Most importantly, I could now look forward to the marathon—including the celebration—knowing I got all 48.6 miles done. The marathon went as expected, although it was pretty chilly—40 degrees the entire time. But I finished strong and missed my personal goal time by only 3½ minutes. It was an extraordinary feeling to cross that finish line.”

What are your exercise plans for the future?

“I am continuing my program here at NIFS. Now that the races are over, my strength training will change so that I can focus more on getting my body-fat percentage down. I am back to running regularly and am looking forward to the Mini-Marathon this spring. I would like to do another marathon soon. My husband and I are already talking about another one we could do together. Although I don’t see any more Dopeys in my future, I have not ruled out doing a 50K someday. Maybe for my 60th? We shall see…”

***

We are so proud of Kelly and all of her accomplishments! We had the pleasure of working with her during most of her training before her big race weekend and developed so much admiration for her continuous dedication to her running program. Kelly displays that go-getter attitude that is contagious! I hope this experience can be that motivational nudge you need to make one of your goals a reality this year. Don’t wait any longer; this year can be that year, and NIFS has so many programs that can help get you there! Click here to find out what we offer.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Rebecca Heck, Group Fitness Coordinator and NIFS Trainer. To find out more about our bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS running weight loss mini marathon half marathon 5k marathon

NIFS Member Profile: Cody Hunter Crushes His Fitness Goals

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

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

How did you get started on your fitness journey?

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

What was your exercise regimen when you first started out?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your current goals to help stay motivated?

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

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

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

***

Ramp-up-logo-finalNO-SPACE.jpg

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

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

 

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

From Mini-Marathon Participant to Ironman: NIFS Leader Nick Iaria

Nick-Before.jpgnick-after.jpgLongtime NIFS Mini-Marathon Program leader Nick Iaria shares his personal story about the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program, his fitness changes, and his path to completing an Ironman triathlon.

How long have you been involved in the NIFS Mini-Marathon Program, and what made you decide to join?

I joined in 2009 as a participant, not a leader. I was a part of the run/walk group, and up to that point in my life had never completed a distance over 5 miles. Since 2010 I have been a group leader in the run/walk group and have transitioned to different time-specific groups over the years (11-minute, 10-minute, etc.).

I found out about the program from my then girlfriend, now wife, who was an intern at NIFS, and she was joining as a run/walk leader. I think I joined not just because of her, but because I was interested in finding out if I could do it. I don’t think I would have just gone out of my way to train for it on my own. I needed the knowledge and experience that NIFS gave in the training program format to get me started.

Since being a part of the program you have gone from the run/walk group to, in 2017, leading the 8:30 pace group. How did you manage to increase your speed?

I would like to say I did X and then Y and that led me to Z, but that isn’t how it worked. I am not sure what path got me here, but I think I just had a desire to improve and to continue just for the purpose of continuing. I do think that a large improvement came in the form of my mental training over the years that became a critical step in enhancing my physical development, which led to an increase in speed. It was never really my goal to get to a certain pace or speed; it just kind of happened.

Another key ingredient is core body strength. By improving the strength of my midsection and upper legs over the past two years, it has helped in pushing through the “I want to slow down” or “full-out quit” moments. The mental/physiological improvements I have made within myself—where I believe more in myself and I learn to listen to my body and learn from past mistakes during runs or events where I didn’t do the right things along the way—has been a key part of my success. I don’t take anything as a failure, just a learning opportunity for the next time.

 Minilogo2017_small.jpg

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM AND GET REGISTERED TODAY!

EARLY BIRD PRICING THROUGH NOVEMBER 29, 2016!

 

 

Why do you enjoy running?

Until recently I have never considered myself a runner; I always considered myself a jogger. However, the stronger and longer I go, the more I feel like a runner. I enjoy it because I can do it whenever (early morning, evening, etc.) and wherever (outside in the elements or inside on a treadmill, etc.). I don’t need anything besides a good pair of shoes and sometimes some good music to get me started or keep me going. It is something I can do alone or with other people. It is versatile as I can go different speeds or distances, and it is easy to track both with different forms of technology so I can track my results as I go.

Last year you were a Mini-Marathon Ambassador. What did that mean, and why do you love the Mini-Marathon so much?

I felt really honored to be a part of the program’s first year. There was an amazing group of 32 other people from all walks of life with different Mini experiences. Getting to interact with them and being able to help others who had questions or needed advice on the Mini made this year’s race that much better when I rang the PR bell at the finish.

My love for it came with my first time back in 2009. I was in a car accident (not my fault) 2.5 weeks before the race and had 5 stitches put in my knee. They were taken out the Monday of race week. I went back and forth all week about whether I should even do it, and that went all the way up to the morning of the race. For some reason I thought I could deal with the pain and still go out and run/walk the full 13.1 miles, but only made it through 4 miles. I knew I had to walk in order to finish and I WAS GOING TO FINISH. Walking the next 9 miles was really fun (and a bit painful) to be walking and interacting with all the different walkers and groups on the side of the road/track cheering us all on. My experience would have been different if I wasn’t walking and taking it all in. Plus, I ended up posing for one of the photographers on the track and ended up on one of the 2010 Mini advertisement posters, so that was an unintended perk, too.

What advice do you have for individuals just starting out or thinking about training for a half marathon?

If it is something that interests you or if you are looking to see how far you can push yourself, I know that feeling. I went way outside my comfort zone recently when I signed up for a full Ironman triathlon (that’s 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and 26.2 miles of running). It was way outside my comfort zone since I had never swum that far, never biked that far, and had only completed 26.2 miles twice previously at an average completion time of around 6 hours, and it was a struggle just completing the 26.2 miles, so combining all those into one day seemed unattainable. But I told myself there is only one way to find out, and with the support of my friends and family, I signed up, got a triathlon training program, and on October 9 I reached my goal and crossed the finish line.

So, that is my advice: If you are thinking about it, then you probably already want to do it, but just need that confidence or something that helps you to convince yourself that you can reach that goal. I know that you can do it, no matter your level of experience or age. I would say join a program like I did when I joined the NIFS program back in 2009. It will help in learning what to do and when to do it, plus it will help provide that accountability from start to finish for you. The finish line doesn’t care if you run, jog, walk, or roll across it; it only cares that you cross it.

***

Congratulations, Nick, on a wonderful accomplishment! And thank you for your continued dedication to the NIFS Mini-Marathon and 5K Training Program. If you have been thinking about competing in the Mini-Marathon or any other spring half-marathon, or training for a 5K, registration is now open for these NIFS programs. Sign up here!

 Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

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

Topics: NIFS running triathlon mini marathon NIFS programs 5k Mini-Marathon Training Program Ironman

Fitness Goal Setting: Why You Should (and How NIFS Can Help)

ThinkstockPhotos-487716564.jpgYou hear it all the time: “Set your goals—it’s that time of year again!” I can assure you that this will not be the last time you hear about goal setting, either. The types of goals that you can set are endless: professional goals, personal goals, financial goals, exercise goals, and the list goes on. Well, goal setting is actually something vital to being as successful as possible, and has some extremely significant benefits to keep you focused and accountable, as well as help you measure progress. These benefits apply to all types of goals, so let’s take a closer look at why you should participate in goal setting.

1: Goals Help You to Move Forward—Energizer

Setting specific goals helps you to set your mind to something, to have direction, and to stay focused. They give you something to plan and work for, so when you begin to lose that motivation and focus, you are pushed quickly back on track. We all have those inner desires, and having goals allows those inner desires to move outward.

2: Goals Set You Up for Success and Positive Self Image—Confidence Booster

Having goals in place can definitely set you up for success and allow you the opportunity to boost your confidence and attitude. When you have specific goals and eventually are able to accomplish them, a part of you becomes proud of what you have done—and rightfully so! When you achieve those goals, you allow yourself to set even larger ones and boost the image that you have of yourself and what you can do.

3: Goals Help the Impossible Become Possible—Mountains Become Hills

We all have big dreams, and sometimes those dreams seem like they could never become reality. When you take the impossible goals that you have and create baby steps or smaller goals, that “impossible feat” suddenly becomes a small incline uphill, rather than a climb to the Everest summit. Setting goals and a realistic approach to achieving them allows you to really make something of what you truly hoped for.

4: Goals Help You Be Accountable for a Lack of Success—Accountability

Writing down concrete goals and setting a date of completion keeps you accountable. But in the event that something prevented you from accomplishing that goal, you can look back and learn from it. And it’s no secret that one of the best ways humans learn is from our mistakes. So instead of putting your tail between your legs if you don’t achieve what you wanted, allow it to be a teachable moment and grow from it.

5: Goals Stretch You—Make You Better

Putting specific and challenging goals ahead of yourself stretches you and makes you better. They push you out of your comfort zone, making you grow and realize how much you really are capable of doing. We all want to be the best possible versions of ourselves, and setting goals that challenge you allows you to do that.

So what are your goals? What is on that list in the back of your mind that you thought was impossible? Pull it out, strategize the stepping stones you need to take to get there, and start!

If one of those goals is to complete that 5K or half marathon you have thought was impossible, let 2017 be the year to achieve it! Let NIFS help you take those baby steps to achieve your goal through our Mini-Marathon Training Program. Our group training programs will help you take that goal and make it a reality! Early bird registration starts October 25th!

         Minilogo2017_small.jpg    early-bird-2017.jpg

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

Topics: NIFS exercise motivation goal setting group training mini marathon accountability attitude challenge goals 5k

How to Build Training Programs for Competitive Athletes (Part 2)

In part 1 of this blog, I explained training periodization, and talked about the first two macrocycles: off-season and pre-season. Now I’ll talk about the remaining macrocycles: in-season and post-season.

In-Season

ThinkstockPhotos-100324402.jpgOnce the competitive season begins, scheduling time to get in to lift is a lot more difficult due to the practices, games, and travel that are happening. To me, in-season lifting is sometimes undervalued in the competitive/athletic world because of the fact that the primary focus is to win games or matches, not lift weights. However, I believe that this is one of the most important (if not the most important) times during the year because of what lifting can do for the athlete throughout the competitive season and into the off-season.

The goal of in-season lifting is simple: maintain what you have built in the off/pre-season and make sure that no muscular imbalances develop. This is not a time to try and increase your squat or bench by 50 pounds. It is a time to make sure that your body stays healthy and you are able to preserve the muscle, strength, and power that you have built throughout your season. Doing this will not only keep you healthier for your sport, but will also set you up for better long-term development during the subsequent off-season. Think about it: If you lose the vast majority of strength, power, and muscle mass you’ve built over the in-season, you are basically starting at square one when the season is over. If you are able to preserve 85% of that strength and power, you are starting further along than you were the year before, which allows you to make bigger gains.

Recommendation:

Training Frequency: 2 days per week
Mode: Medium Sport Specificity
Volume: Low

Post-Season

When your competitive season comes to a close, there should be some time to relax and recover from it. Take time and reflect on how you performed and what you could have done to be better in different aspects of your activity. Start creating a plan on how to improve those things once your training ramps up again.

As for training during this period, it should still happen. Your body is still recovering, but you want to make sure you do not totally fall off the map by not doing any type of exercise or physical activity. This is a perfect time to play or participate in some other sports or change up your weightlifting routine. You basically have free reign on your choices under one circumstance: get away from your actual sport/complete lifting routine.

This macrocycle does not last long, but it is an important one. You have been competing for months and want to avoid being burnt out on the sport you love, so getting away will be good. Do something different; just be active. After 3 to 4 weeks of light activity, you can begin your off-season program and start the quest to better yourself for the next competitive season.

Recommendation:

Training Frequency: 2 to 4 days per week (light activity)
Mode: Low Sport Specificity
Volume: Low-Medium

***

Overall, there is no exact science that is going to work perfectly every time when you are building your own training programs. You will always need to make tweaks, even to the best programs around. This blog provides the framework for developing a solid program, but the devil is in the details. You want to make sure that you have everything planned out as you progress through the competitive season. Some things may not go as planned, but that is okay. The ultimate goal is to make you the best athlete you can be in the sport or activity you are doing!

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Alex Soller, NIFS Athletic Performance Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: mini marathon training weightlifting programs athletes

How to Build Training Programs for Competitive Athletes (Part 1)

ThinkstockPhotos-dv484081.jpgWhen putting together a program for anyone, client or athlete, you always want to have an idea when you would like to peak, or be at your best throughout that calendar year. For Mini-Marathon runners, May is the time to be at your best. For football players, you want to be firing on all cylinders when August rolls around. The structure of your training should be based around when your season is going to begin, to make sure your body is prepared to last the duration of the competitive months. Regardless of when you are competing, your training should never remain totally the same throughout the whole year.

This concept of training periodization has been around forever. It was developed by a physiologist named Leo Matveyev around the 1960s. By definition, periodization is a preplanned, systematic variation in training specificity, intensity, and volume organized in periods or cycles within an overall program (see Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning). Periodization can build the general framework of how you might want to structure your workout programs through your training year.

For our sake, I am going to refer to these periods or cycles as macrocycles. Macrocycles are the biggest of the divisions of training timeframes throughout your competitive year. They can be filtered down to smaller variations (mesocycles—smaller, microcycles—smallest), but we will stick to the biggest ones for now. This will allow you to get a general idea about the main goals for each macrocycle.

There are four macrocycles that will be divided up throughout the year. These are the following:

  • Off-Season
  • Pre-Season
  • In-Season
  • Post-Season

In this blog, I talk about the first two macrocycles. In my next blog I will talk about the final two.

Off-Season

The off-season is always one of the best times of the year to train. This is a time when you can focus on building strength but also implement some training modes that you might not use during the other phases of development (for example, flipping tires, boxing, swimming, and so on). I also like to use this time to assess the success of the programs I have used over the past year to see what helped improve aspects of my teams and what did not (FMS testing, strength/power testing, energy system testing).

A lot of teams and individuals spend a fair amount of time in this macrocycle (12-16 weeks). Although your competitive season is a long time away, slacking during this phase could set you behind in the goals you want to achieve. Practices are usually very short or nonexistent, which leaves plenty of time for you to hit the weights to get your body ready.

Recommendation:

Training Frequency: 4 to 6 days per week
Mode: Moderate Sport Specificity
Volume: High

Pre-Season

The pre-season begins what is considered crunch time when it comes to preparedness in the weight room and on the playing field. The season is right around the corner, and the next 8 to 12 weeks will fly by. You will be competing before you know it.

During this macrocycle, training becomes a lot more sport specific than in the preceding cycle. The goal is to get the body ready for the exact situations and stressors that you will encounter during competition. As a strength and conditioning coach, I want to prepare the athletes’ bodies with exercises that will mimic and enhance their actions on the field. Examples include working on lower-body power with football players, increasing aerobic endurance with soccer athletes, or enhancing rotational power with golfers.

All in all, you just need to be on the field or court playing in order to get ready for the season. However, the smaller the learning curve the athlete has from off-season to pre-season conditioning, the better. Too much stress too soon (as for athletes who do no training over summer break) can lead to overuse injuries from ramping up the activity levels too fast. Remember to take into account the fact that you are training more for your sport at this time, so do not overdo it in the weight room. Make sure you have adequate recovery time in order to get the most out of your previous months of training.

Recommendation:

Training Frequency: 3 to 5 days per week (depending on practice time/schedule)
Mode: High Sport Specificity
Volume: Medium-High

In part 2 of this blog, I’ll go through the other two macrocycles: in-season and post-season.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Alex Soller, NIFS Athletic Performance Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

 

Topics: mini marathon training weightlifting programs athletes

NIFS Crucial Conversations: Stephanie Whittaker Conquers Cancer

Stephwarriorhighlight12.13new.jpgWorking with phenomenal people is one of my favorite perks as a fitness professional. I often share that I have the best job on the planet because I get to spend time with just fantastic people. Witnessing the successes, the defeats, the comebacks, and the emotional victories is why I do what I do.

I began working with one of these remarkable individuals about six years ago, and knew right away that she was going to accomplish great things, and make me a better person along the way. Stephanie Whittaker, among so many other warrior-like attributes, has slain the big C, packed on a bunch of muscle, and been a leader in so many programs at NIFS. I had the honor to sit down with this amazing lady and ask her how she has come so far, what are some of her accomplishments, and what is the mindset needed to do it all.

Tony: What, if anything, motivated you toward fitness and wellness?

Stephanie: Seven years ago, NIFS was the starting point for regaining my health. I had recovered from surgical procedures and finished treatments for thyroid cancer and melanoma. Grateful for all that modern medicine had accomplished, it was now my turn to do whatever I could to restore my health and well-being.

Tony: Tell me about some of the struggles you faced at the beginning and throughout your journey, and what helped you overcome them.

Stephanie: One of the biggest struggles was accepting how deconditioned I was (overweight with zero stamina) and not getting overwhelmed by my goal of returning to my former state of health and activity. I remember my first spin class so vividly. I couldn’t keep up with the workout; my only goal was to stay on the bike that day. I was gasping for air and seeing stars, but I stayed on the bike! One of the reasons I could stay on the bike was the welcoming encouragement and energetic support of the instructor (Steven Kass).

Tony: What do you think has had the biggest impact on your transformation?

Stephanie: My ladder of progress over the next year included regular spin classes, participation in Slim It to Win It, and the Mini-Marathon Training Program. I then mustered the courage to challenge myself and try a series of Small Group Training (SGT) classes with Tony. This was my “game changer.” Prior to starting SGT, I went through a battery of physical testing, mobility assessment, and the BOD POD® calculation of my lean-to-fat ratio (oh, great!). The results were sobering; although I was not pleased with my starting metrics, Tony put that information into perspective and provided guidance to help me set achievable goals. If you don’t know the starting point, how can you measure success?

“The group training environment is one of support, encouragement, and celebrating the fun of completing a 60-minute workout that you never would have done left to your own devices.”

Now to the fun part: Group Training has been part of my life for six years. Twice a week I am one of Tony’s “Warriors,” and every Saturday I am one of Mike Bloom’s “Crew.” This is my fitness family. The group training environment is one of support, encouragement, and celebrating the fun of completing a 60-minute workout that you never would have done left to your own devices.

Over the past year I have incorporated personal training sessions focusing on Olympic lifting techniques with Aaron Combs and am making good progress. These skills translate to my group training workouts and overall improved fitness. I also continue with spin class twice a week.

“I have become comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Tony: Brag time! Tell me about some of your achievements during this time.

Stephanie: First of all, a regularly scheduled fitness evaluation (yes, more BOD POD®) and continued goal setting keeps me on track and moving in the right direction. The numbers don’t lie.

*Starting metrics: 32.8% body fat; Functional Mobility Screening results = 9. I could not do a pull-up; my flexed-arm hang with chin above the bar was 10 seconds.

*Metrics as of December 2015: 20.7% body fat; Functional Mobility Screening results = 19. Pull-ups = 6 consecutive.

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

Tony: What message would you like to pass along to all those out there working to be the best version of themselves?

Stephanie: I am personally accountable for how I live, choices I make, and how hard I work to fulfill my goals and expectations. I approach each of my workouts with a mindset of getting to my “edge” and working that edge. Over time that edge advances. I have become comfortable with being uncomfortable—not injured, but going beyond my comfort level to push my mental and physical boundaries. This is how I have transformed into a more confident, vibrant individual who celebrates life each day.

***

The proof is in the pudding. It takes hard work to accomplish the things you hope to achieve, not just in fitness, but in anything in life. I would never sugar-coat that to anyone; it does take work to do things the right way, and there is no magic pill. Stephanie is a reminder of what hard work looks like, and is an inspiration to those who have or are battling cancer and other powerful diseases. Never give up, never give in, and never take a day for granted are just a few mantras Stephanie lives by. I am honored to have had the opportunity to spend time with her all these years and look forward to witnessing not only her physical accomplishments but her leadership success as well!

Want to get started on your own path to success? Try a small group training class on us

Yes! I want to try small group training

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

Topics: NIFS fitness center weight loss cycling mini marathon Slim It to Win It weight training Crucial Conversations cancer

Interview: NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program Leader Andrea Kelley

mini-blog.jpgAs we approach NIFS 26th Annual Mini-Marathon & 5K Training Program, I wanted to take some time to interview Andrea Kelley. Andrea is a past Mini program participant and has since been involved in some of our other programs here at NIFS, as well as becoming a group leader for us. Sit back and enjoy reading about what this program can do for you.

What made you decide to join the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program?

When I first signed up for the program, I was new to running and wanted to push myself. I figured the Indianapolis Mini would be a good start, but I didn’t have a clue how to train. I found out about the NIFS training program and it made my goal feel so attainable, even for a newbie like me. This year I will complete my fourth Mini-Marathon and my eighth half marathon.

What benefits did you get through training with your group at NIFS?

I think the number-one benefit for me with training in a group is accountability. When my group is expecting me to show up, I am much less likely to listen to that little voice in my head that wants to skip the run. Also, I think group running provides the motivation to keep going, as well as an opportunity to learn from others who have been there before you. You’ll never meet a runner unwilling to give advice.

What was your favorite part about being in the training program here?

The social factor! I’ve made so many friends through the NIFS training program and running in general. The post-run snacks are pretty good, too.

What did you learn about yourself through running?

Running has provided me so many virtues, but one of the biggest I’ve learned is that I can’t reach the finish line unless I start. The idea of training for a half marathon for the first time was intimidating, but I would have never known what I was capable of if I didn’t give it a shot.

What has motivated you to continue running and sign up for more races?

The feeling of accomplishment I get from crossing those finish lines is unlike anything else I’ve ever felt. It’s so addicting. Also, I’m a competitive person, so if I beat my time from the last race, even better.

What made you decide that you wanted to become a group leader for the NIFS Mini Training Program?

I remember learning so much and being so motivated by my group leader (Angie Fiege) when I first participated in the program, and I wanted to hopefully do the same for someone else. I love being able to cheer on the program participants as well as motivate them when they’ve had a hard run. I’m looking forward to my second year as a group leader and can’t wait to meet my pace group!

***

Mini-logo-2016-final-2.jpgMaybe this has inspired you to take the next step and join our program. REGISTER NOW!  Training starts Jan 27th. We are excited for another year and hope that we can help you achieve that goal that seemed nearly impossible before! See you at the start line.

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

Topics: motivation running group training mini marathon half marathon accountability NIFS programs

Using Real Food to Fuel Endurance Workouts

ThinkstockPhotos-476098644.jpgOne of my main rules of thumb when helping clients with their food and nutrition choices is to choose more real foods. So why is it that when you are training or working out for over an hour, you hear about the importance of sugary and packaged drinks, gels, and bars?

Replacing Nutrients Lost During Endurance Workouts

As you sweat and use your body’s energy stores, it is important to replace those with glucose (sugar) and electrolytes (sodium and potassium). The easiest thing to do is to grab a bottle of Gatorade or package of GU as you head out for your long walk or run. However, if you want to decrease the amount of processed and packaged foods in your diet, real food can work, too.

You need to choose a carbohydrate that is easily digestible. A quick and easy calculation to know how much you need to consume is ½ to 1 gram of carbohydrate per minute of exercise. So for a two-hour training session, you would aim for between 60 and 120 grams of carbohydrate throughout that time. The addition of the carbohydrates allows your body more readily available fuel, and therefore you can perform better and train longer.

Which Whole Foods Should You Eat for Better Performance?

So what foods can you use for marathon training or any other training that takes more than an hour? The most researched foods and easiest to digest are bananas and raisins. One banana and ¼ cup of raisins each has 30 grams of carbohydrates, while 8 ounces of Gatorade has 15 grams of carbohydrates. Other real food options are the following:
  • Medjool dates: 2 = 35 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Applesauce squeeze packets: 1 = 20 to 25 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Salted boiled potato or sweet potato: 1 =30 grams of carbohydrate. Once you cook the potato, you can put it in a plastic baggie and then tear off a corner and squeeze it out like a GU package during your workout. You can do the same thing with mashed bananas.
  • Sugary, low-fiber dry cereal: Check the label, but for Fruit Loops 1 cup = 27 grams of carbohydrate.
  • White bread with honey or jam: 1 piece with 2 TB. = 45 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Pretzels: 25 mini = 30 grams of carbohydrate.

Everyone’s body is different, and as with other training fuels, practice is key. Try out different foods and combinations to see how your body responds. Never try something new on race or competition day. Individualize your plan with foods that you like and will look forward to having during your workout.

If you are considering training for an upcoming event such as the Carmel, Geist, or Mini Marathon and need help with your nutrition plan, contact Angie Scheetz, RD, at ascheetz@nifs.org. Or, join our Mini-Marathon Training Program

REGISTER NOW! for the 2016 NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program. Remember training with a group is a proven way to succeed in your running goals. Training starts Jan 27th. 

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

Topics: nutrition running marathon training mini marathon endurance whole foods carbs

What’s Your 2016 Running Fitness Goal? Consider Marathon Training

ThinkstockPhotos-100454471.jpgI am not someone who is really into New Year’s resolutions. I prefer to use the term “goal” when thinking about next year. When looking ahead, everyone is always trying to make some sort of health and fitness resolution (which for some is awesome and works), but we all know that come the end of February to mid-March, many have fallen off the bandwagon already.

But I feel that when we have certain goals in mind, we typically tend to stick to them more. So, if you have on your bucket list or Yearly 2016 Goals to complete a half marathon, let NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program help keep you on track!

Running is one of the most popular fitness activities these days. With thousands of races going on around the nation each year, popularity and interest continue to grow. 2015 is killing it with weekly themed races around every corner. If you are not a runner and your 2016 goal is to start running, begin with a 5K; or if you are an experienced runner, work to increase your time in a race, or increase the distance of a run.

Top Tips for New Runners

If you are a new runner, there are some great tips put out by Runner's World to help you get started. Here are the top 10 things (with a little personal addition from me) they suggest to help:

  • Buy the right pair of running shoes. It’s absolutely hands-down worth your investment!
  • Be patient. Don’t freak out about getting a certain time; be patient and focus on completing the race instead of trying to set a pace that might be impossible to complete.
  • Don’t forget rest days. Rest is often neglected, but it’s one of the most important aspects of staying healthy during training. Read this earlier blog on the NIFS page about the importance of recovery.
  • Join a running group. This helps to keep you accountable and committed to your training plan.
  • Make it a habit, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. The toughest part of any exercise routine is to stay committed. Do your best to schedule it into your day.
  • Build your distance gradually. If your goal is 3 miles and you don’t currently run, take your time to build to 3 miles—it’s a process!
  • Mix in some things other than running. Running exclusively can have the the opposite of the effect you want and leads to injury. Be sure to cross-train as well as do some strength training.
  • Make goals that are achievable. You want to be sure to set goals that you can reach and be successful at.

TIME TO TAKE ACTION: Join the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program

This program is geared to help both members of NIFS and non-members complete their 5K or half marathon. Program participants are given a specific 14-week training program to follow, which will prepare you for the Mini, the Geist Half Marathon, or the Carmel Half Marathon or a combination of the races. The program is for people of all levels: walkers, joggers, and runners!

Each Wednesday night during the 14-week program, runners will complete their long-distance run with a group. There will be pace groups to help you stay on track for your goal time. Recovery snacks and drinks are provided at the end of each Wednesday training session.

REGISTER NOW! for the 2016 NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program. We would love to have you join us!

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

Topics: running marathon training resolutions mini marathon half marathon goals