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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

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

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

What’s in a Name?

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

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

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

Four Ways to Join the Resistance Against Inactivity and Poor Nutrition

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

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

We can win the battle and take everybody to the promised land of feeling better and living longer, happier lives. Join these 10 teams as part of the Resistance and be an agent of change in someone’s life. If we band together, we can help so many in the battle against disease, unhappiness, and feeling lousy. Join the fight TODAY!

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


Topics: NIFS nutrition staying active healthy habits weight loss Slim It to Win It whole foods obesity wellness

5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Winter Fitness on Track

GettyImages-157353513.jpgIt happens every year. As the new year rolls around, we set our new fitness goals and get excited to get started on them and “make this year the year!” But with winter still here through the end of March, many of us end up with the goal to get fit, but with no motivating factors to flip the switch in our brains to get out of hibernation mode. It gets easier in the spring and summer, when we can start to change up the environment we work out in, the workload at the office might be lighter, and there is more daylight before the sun goes down. But what do we do until then?

As someone who used to go through this same cycle myself, let me shed some light on what seems to be a depressing beginning to this blog. Although there are multiple methods to keep your winter fitness going, that can tend to become overwhelming. So I would simply like to share five things that can help keep you on track during those dark winter days.

1. Get Your Baselines

So you have a goal to get fit, but how do you know that you’ve progressed? Even if you think you know where you are in your fitness, it’s always good to get assessed; you might be further along than you thought, or you might find something you need to address before getting started.

Assessments such as the Functional Movement Screening (FMS), which takes a look at range of motion and stability before doing exercises with a load, or the Fundamental Capacity Screen (FCS), which assesses power and strength capacity, are important before starting a workout because they help you establish where your body’s abilities are currently. Scores from these assessments can also zero in on areas to improve with corrective exercises to keep that area safe from possible future injury.

Other assessments to look into include the BOD POD, to check body fat percentage, as well as the Fit3D, to get a 3D scan of all of your body’s measurements.

2. Plan Your Workouts

This one is a game changer. How many of you have walked into the gym before and wandered around pondering all of the things you “could do” that day, or jumped on one weight machine, then meandered to the next one you saw available, then found yourself ending up on a cardio machine because that seemed like the best thing to get your heart rate up for a bit? Then all of a sudden, you look at your watch and you’ve been at the gym for almost 3 hours?

Now, for those of you gym members who already plan and are training for something sport specific, don’t fret. I understand the time you carve out to fit everything in. However, for all of you who have no idea what you should do until after you walk into the gym, this is your missing link to getting the most out of your workouts.

Whether it’s a plan as simple as attending certain group fitness classes during the week, or getting with a trainer to set up a plan for you that works during your week based on your goals, a game plan for when you get to the gym will not only make you accomplish more in a shorter amount of time, but it also eliminates the excuse of not going because there’s not as much to think about anymore. For more information on how you can sit down with a trainer to get started on your FREE strategy session and get a workout plan set for you as a NIFS member, click here to contact us. For our downloadable group fitness schedule, click here.

3. Set Up Your Environment

We all know that “too cold to get out of bed today” mentality that tends to set in during those cold winter days. To combat this, set yourself up for success by setting the thermostat timer to warm your house right before you wake up, so the need to curl up and stay warm is eliminated. Maybe make a change to a more enjoyable and uplifting tune to wake you up in the right mood rather than the normal ping. Setting out your workout clothes the night before or even having them in your gym bag and already in your car will help set you up for a stress-free day.

4. Continue to Stay Hydrated

Although it might be more appealing to drink an ice-cold glass of water during the heat of summer, the need to stay hydrated is imperative all year round. Drinking water not only prevents dehydration from the dry air that winter brings; it also helps your organs and cells continue to function well, assists in regulating body temperature, and boosts your immune system to help fight off common cold and flu sicknesses.

Tracking your water is a great way to aid in staying hydrated, and there are so many tools out there to use! For me personally, if I’m drinking it out of a pretty bottle, I’m more prone to fill it up and drink more. If you’re like me, here’s a great option one company has come up with to help you track your water intake in style! Zak Designs HydraTrak water bottle is an affordable, practical, and stylish bottle that includes bands to roll up and account for every full bottle of water you drink that day.

5. Accountability, Accountability, ACCOUNTABILITY!

I saved this one for last, because although all of the above tips are just as important, having something to hold you accountable is what’s really going to set you apart from the rest and keep you on track to reach your goals.

Accountability can be molded into different forms—whatever works best for you. Some find accountability in simply writing their progress on a calendar or taking measurements along the way. Others find it in someone else who can either coach them through their journey, such as a program, or be along for the ride and have similar goals, such as a workout buddy. That’s why gyms create programs for their members, such as the NIFS programs Slim It to Win It, Mini Marathon Training, Ramp Up to Weight Loss, etc. We know how important and how empowering it is to have that extra person there with you from day one, working to reach those same goals, among all of the obstacles that life throws at us. Even more so, your coach is ready to guide you every step of the way and check in on your progress to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success! Try telling that person you stayed home from your session because "…it was cold and I just wanted to snooze a little longer before getting up.” You might rethink that snooze option on your alarm next time!

Whatever your goal might be—weight loss, triathlon training, simply staying active for three days out of the week, etc.—we all have to deal with the business and daily distractions of life. Sometimes those distractions come with setbacks…and that’s okay. What counts is having strategies in place to help you overcome those humps and keep you from falling completely off the wagon!

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This blog was written by Rebecca Heck. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: winter fitness weight loss group fitness accountability NIFS programs Slim It to Win It BODPOD functional movement Mini-Marathon Training Program new year fit3d assessment workout buddy

The Challenge with Challenges: NIFS Slim It to Win It 2018

Slim-It-logo2.jpgIt’s that time of year when millions of people around the world start looking for that next “best” thing to give them the body they have always dreamed of. Aggressive physical challenges, cleanses, elaborate diets that usually involve the removal of a food source (and result in you craving it even more); people will take some drastic steps to help erase the past year of poor nutrition and lifestyle decisions.

Unfortunately, the successes of these different “new year, new you” initiatives are short-lived, and many people will be looking again for another fix a year from now. Why is this so? I can list many reasons why weight-loss challenges don’t work and do not provide long-term, sustainable results. In a previous post I explained why mindset is crucial to fitness success, so it truly starts there. But what are some other reasons why New Year challenges don’t deliver? Most are…

  • Too much
  • Too fast
  • Too easy to quit

Many contests or challenges demand that you take too much out of your diet or exercise way too much. They also usually want to see these changes made and results achieved too fast. Lastly, many fail to provide ample accountability, encouragement, and motivation, making it too easy to quit. So does this mean that all contests, challenges, or programs are doomed to fail? Not if they are done right!

Slim It to Win It is one of NIFS’ longest-running programs, and has been helping so many people for just shy of a decade. We here at NIFS are super proud of the life-changing results that SITWI has been able to provide hundreds of individuals here in the Indianapolis area. So how do we do it?

Not Too Much

NIFS coaches focus on small behavioral changes piled onto one another during an 8–10-week period. We don’t want anyone changing too much too fast; that is proven to be an unsuccessful practice. Focusing on one or maybe two changes at a time is a proven method that we teach our teams. Slow and steady wins the race, and we want to provide our people with the tools to continue building a healthy lifestyle long after they have completed the program.

Too much exercise, especially from the get-go (and with those who might have been less than active leading up to the program), is another mistake our coaches do not make. With two training sessions a week to start, with supplemental workouts provided, our teams get the right dose of exercise at the right time.

Not Too Fast

Once again we focus on sustainable changes and results over the course of eight weeks and beyond. The journey is not over on March 11; it’s really just beginning. NIFS coaches work toward the individual’s specific goals over many weeks—not pushing to see drastic changes in a very short amount of time. It’s just not safe, and it just doesn’t last!

When the focus is more on speed, retention of critical lifestyle practices and education will suffer, leading to the “cramming effect.” Do you remember cramming for that chemistry exam in high school? If you are anything like me and most people, you probably didn’t retain a great deal of that information. We want our team members to keep the life-changing information so they can continue to use these best practices to maintain their success.

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 9.39.17 AM.pngNot Too Easy to Quit

Positive accountability truly is a key ingredient in a successful lifestyle-change process. A strong support group will provide the needed accountability and motivation to keep at it, even when you want to hang it up and return to old behaviors that got you in the situation you are in. During SITWI, you have a whole team cheering you on and providing support, because everybody is going through a similar battle.

A group of motivated, like-minded individuals can be unstoppable in the pursuit of its goals. Not only will you be relying on your team to pick you up at times, they are going to need you right back. And speaking from experience, there is no better feeling than when you make a difference in someone’s life, or help them see their true capabilities. You can be that to someone!

The idea of a New Year, starting over, or making some improvements can be very exciting. This excitement can lead to creating real change or a repeat of the past, keeping you in the cycle of thinking it will be better next year. Remember, mindset matters most, but a strong call to make changes followed by taking action to create that change are the next best steps. Let Slim It to Win It help you take action.

Learn More about Slim It to Win It

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 motivation weight loss accountability challenge Slim It to Win It behavior lifestyle change

NIFS Slim It to Win It Weight-Loss Competition 2017: Back and Better!

Slimit16pic2.jpegNew year? Yes. Weight-loss goal? Yep. Team competition? Sign me up! It’s time to get ready for our 7th annual team weight-loss competition, Slim It to Win It! If you are looking for an opportunity to participate in team training that provides accountability, nutritional guidance, and an uplifting environment that is designed to help you succeed, this may be your thing!

Slim It to Win It Details

Slim It is an 8-week group training program geared toward seeing you be successful in fat loss. Throughout the eight weeks of training, you will experience what we hope to be a transformational period. Check out the program details:

  • 8 total weeks of group training.
  • Training dates: February 5 to April 1.
  • 16 scheduled 60-minute workout sessions per week with a NIFS coach.
  • Must attend 14 out of 16 group training sessions to be eligible for prizes, track your food in MyFitnessPal, and complete both the pre- and post-competition BodPods.
  • Nutritional guidance through tips, recipes, food tracking, and meal-planning suggestions.
  • Teams of 10 people (up to 4 of whom can be guests to NIFS).
  • Group camaraderie and motivation.
  • Pre- and post-competition BodPod assessments included.
  • Accountability through encouraging, fun, and safe team training!
  • Two participants will be randomly selected to use, at no cost, the My Nutrition Coach app.

Sign Me Up!

Slim-It-logo.jpgHere are the details of how to get registered:

  • Come to the NIFS service desk between January 14 and 28 to register, or call 317-274-3432, ext. 216.
  • Fee is $40 for NIFS members (fee will be waived if you get a nonmember to register also!) and $185 for guests—this includes full membership access for the duration of the program.
  • Upon payment you will receive a label to place your name on the signup board with your preferred coach and training times. SPACE IS LIMITED SO REGISTER EARLY.
  • Schedule your pre- BodPod with a NIFS trainer between January 29 and February 4.
  • Training begins the week of February 5 and runs through April 1.
  • Post BodPod assessment will take place April 2–8.
  • Grand finale: April 10.

Prizes! Who Doesn’t Love Prizes?

The team that loses the highest average percentage of body fat will win the Slim It to Win It competition! Winners will receive three months of free membership upon eligibility above. Also, the top male and female losers will win three months of free membership to NIFS. And lastly, runner-up male and female top losers will receive two months of free Personal Nutrition Coaching with NIFS Registered Dietician Angie Mitchell.

We look forward to walking with you on this journey for 2017!

For more information, visit nifs.org or contact Amanda Bireline or call the service desk at 317-274-3432, ext. 216.

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

Topics: NIFS nutrition motivation weight loss group training accountability workout Slim It to Win It BODPOD

Crucial Conversations: I Have 99 Problems, But My (NIFS) Gym Isn’t One

karen8.29.16.jpgFor the next installment of Crucial Conversations, a series where I have a chat with some very inspirational individuals and share it with all of you, I speak with a woman who needs no elaborate introduction. That’s because not only is she pretty well known around these parts, but also because she wouldn’t have it.

She is about the business of being fit and staying fit, no frills or fancy Instagram posts, just the business, and business is good. I am referring to longtime NIFS member Karen. I had the opportunity to ask Karen a few questions about being an “ageless warrior,” what keeps her motivated, and why she continues to make NIFS her fitness home. Join me as we uncover some of the things that make this amazing individual tick!

Tony: Tell me a little about yourself.

Karen: I was born in Indianapolis in 1958 and attended Arlington High School. During my time at Arlington I ran track and field and played volleyball. I got married in 1983, and my son was born in 1984.

Tony: Besides being a high school athlete, have you always been generally healthy, fit, and active?

Karen: I used to do workout videos, when they were popular, with my young son. At the young age of 25 I was diagnosed with high blood pressure [hypertension] after the birth of my son. This was hard for me to process due to my healthy lifestyle and healthy nature. It was something that I would have to deal with for the rest of my life. I began to feel restless and my life was becoming too mundane. I hated only being able to go to work and go home every day. At this point in my life I began to become depressed. I felt that I was not accomplishing anything in my life.

Tony: How did you make the change to pull yourself out of the rut you were in?

Karen: My son was in school and doing after-school activities, and my husband was heavily involved in church, and as a firefighter he was gone from home at least two days a week. I wanted to have something of my own; I wanted a place to go to meet and talk to people, a place where I could better myself every time I was there. I felt that the only place it could be was the gym. During this time I had fallen even deeper into depression, but by April of 1994 that would all change. My husband began working out at NIFS, and I would ask him where he was going to work out and he stated NIFS. He eventually purchased a membership for me, and it was the greatest gift he ever gave me. I joined NIFS and I have been a member for 22 years.

Tony: So how did you get started?

Karen: I began to look into going to group fitness classes. Every time I became stronger and the classes became easier for me, so I would begin going to more advanced classes. I started with step, spinning, and boxing, but my true transformation began when I began taking HIT class and group training. I was in the first Slim It to Win It competition, and to compete with other members was very exciting. Each time I would look for the next challenge to accomplish. I felt my body getting stronger and my endurance was increasing; I was feeling better about myself and my life, and I was looking forward to each limit I could cross.

Tony: What has created the most change for you?

Karen: I would have to say that my change came with the challenges I faced to make myself better in the gym. I began noticing these changes when I was able to go farther and longer than I could before. I felt this process could never end; if I worked at it, I would be able to surpass all of my limits, and with each and every class I knew there would be a new challenge for me to defeat. I’ve been able to make new friends, and for me exercising is a way of life. I am the result of hard work, I am in great shape for someone who is 57 years old, and I feel that my medical issues are very minor due to the effort and time that I have put in at NIFS. It has also allowed me to deal with stress, and it gives me a generally positive outlook on life. I would like to thank all of the trainers who have helped me along the way with my transformation, especially Tony Maloney.


I had the pleasure of meeting this amazing lady the first day I arrived here at NIFS eight years ago, and have had the continued honor to work with her in so many different capacities. From BOSU class, HIT, Slim It to Win It, and group training, Karen has seen and done it all, and has not just done it but done it well! She took on a nickname I gave her a few years back: “Grumpy”; but those who know her know that she is far from it. But she is focused, and when there is work to be done, she is all business.

Yes! I want to try a HIT class!

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 exercise depression fitness center motivation member group training HIT Slim It to Win It Crucial Conversations student athletes hypertension making changes

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

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

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

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

Stories from the Team

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

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

Slimit16pic2.jpegOr Haley Pratt:

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

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

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

Five Questions About Your Eating Habits

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

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

Bonus Takeaways

 The Heart Throbs have some bonus takeaways for you:

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

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

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

Topics: NIFS nutrition healthy habits weight loss healthy eating Slim It to Win It carbs

NIFS Weight Loss and Slim It to Win It Participant: Misty Mercer

*NAME: Misty Mercerpizap.com13994687304371


I made the decision for my 30th birthday to become a healthier person. I am now a 31-year-old formerly overweight attorney turned power lifter.


Weight Loss program

Slim It to Win It


I had been overweight since childhood, and to be honest I assumed that I would always be overweight. However, when I turned 30, I sort of did a life evaluation. I realized that with the exception of one area, I had a great life and that I had achieved and done many things that I would not have thought possible before doing them. The one area where life wasn’t all that great was my health. On my 30th birthday, I weighed around 275 pounds, and that was light compared to the 315 pounds that I weighed at my heaviest. While I didn’t have any major health issues, I knew that it was only a matter of time before problems began to appear. I just didn’t feel good.

At that point I made the decision to improve my health, and to do that I knew that I needed to lose a lot of weight. I also knew that I couldn’t do it on my own, and that’s why I searched for a gym where I could get the help and education I needed. That search led me to NIFS. NIFS’ focus on fitness and health at all ages was what I was looking for.

When I joined NIFS in October 2012, the person who did my guest workout suggested that I try the Weight Loss program. The program sounded like the right fit for me since I wanted both nutrition counseling and fitness instruction. The one-on-one focus of the program is what especially drew me to it. When I completed the 14-week Weight Loss program it was around the time that the Slim It to Win It program was beginning, so I moved into that program to continue my progress.


What I enjoy most about NIFS are the exercise prescriptions. I have never been able to really enjoy group workouts, but I am also not keen on developing my own program or using a commercial program. The exercise prescriptions developed by the fitness specialists are great in that they allow me to work out on my own with the knowledge that the routines were developed specifically with me in mind. Additionally, if I have a question or problem, I have someone, the fitness specialist, I can talk to.


I have learned how to powerlift (weightlifting using deadlift, back squat, and bench press). I am continually surprised by how much I have progressed since starting the program.


The free weights.


When I began the Weight Loss program on November 1, 2012, I weighed 272 pounds and was at 57% body fat. I am now down to 162 pounds and 25% body fat*.

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

I competed in my first powerlifting competition in March 2014 and set a 14-pound personal record on my deadlift (264 pounds).


My primary area where I struggle is my diet. When I started, I didn’t want to go "on a diet." I wanted to learn healthy eating skills that I could use for the rest of my life. I really struggled at first because I wanted everything I ate to be perfect, but that wasn’t sustainable for me. The nutrition counseling sessions that were a part of the Weight Loss program were excellent in helping me realize that the perfect nutrition plan was one that I could remain on for the long term and that would incorporate a balance of healthy foods as well as the occasional treat.

In order to keep me eating a balanced diet, I track my progress in a food journal. Also I am always experimenting with new foods and techniques. I plan my meals in advance and pre-cook meals on the weekend that I can freeze for later.


I stay motivated by continually challenging myself. My goal is to always set some type of personal record when I go to the gym, regardless of whether it is lifting more weight, running a faster mile, or just stretching a bit further than I did last time.


Get to know the NIFS employees. They are great people and are always willing to help you out.

NIFS Weight Loss Memberships give you the extra tools you need to take off pounds and keep them off without compromising your health*. These programs focus on healthy eating, exercise and accountability. We recommend starting with our 14-week Ramp Up to Weight Loss Program.

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

Call Masie Duncan Weight Loss Membership Coordinator, at 274-3432 ext. 273 or email to find out about more about our Weight Loss Memberships options.

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This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, NIFS Membership Manager and a group fitness instructor. Author of Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: nutrition weight loss NIFS programs weightlifting Slim It to Win It

NIFS SLIM IT TO WIN IT: Team Tank the Plankers!

Another year of Slim-It to Win It and team “Tank the Plankers” are holding strong! Five of the biggest highlights for the team are the following:steph-team-pic

  • Over half of the team has 100 percent attendance.
  • Everyone can hold a plank for at least 45 seconds.
  • Everyone has completed their food logs and made adjustments according to Angie’s feedback.
  • Everyone has completed their Functional Movement Screen and started completing their correctives.
  • Everyone has a great attitude every day.

Along with all of these great things, the team has completed  a wide variety of workouts successfully. One workout that was recently completed was the Partner 100 workout using the  TRX. The workout runs as follows. One partner completes one lap around the indoor track while  the other counts up to 100 reps of the exercise before proceeding to the next one. The exercises completed are listed here:

  • 100 TRX Chest PressSlim-It-logo2
  • 100 TRX 2-count Mountain Climbers
  • 100 TRX Rows
  • 100 TRX Squats

Although it was a very challenging workout both mentally and physically, everyone conquered it and even had a little energy left at the end to finish up with a sled push relay on the sprint lanes!

I will be sad once the program concludes because I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to work with this fun and hardworking group twice a week, but I also cannot wait to see how much progress they have made with all of their health and fitness goals going into this program.


Training with a group is a proven strategy for sticking with a workout routine and is more economical than one-on-one training. If you are interested in trying a small group or large group training session contact Tony Maloney today to get started!

This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser, NIFS Heath Fitness Instructor. Learn more about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: nutrition group fitness group training nifs staff functional training NIFS programs Slim It to Win It TRX

NIFS SLIM IT TO WIN IT: Team “No Judgment”

Hey there, Fit Family! This is my second year coaching a team, and I have to say it has been just as exciting as the first. Team “No Judgment” has been working hard since week 1 with excellent attendance, high energy duringSlim it team workouts, and amazing attitudes. These characteristics fit right into the formula for success.

What excites me the most about my team is that they are driven to succeed and see real fat-loss results.

Inspired by Martin Rooney’s Metabolic Training

Martin Rooney said it best: “To be successful in life you must commit. If you freeze, you lose. There should be no halfway in anything you do.” Rooney is a fitness professional whose work focuses mainly on metabolic training, which relates to the idea of improving the work capacity of our cardiovascular system in a way that works more efficiently. I like to train this way because it helps you burn fat, build muscle, and improve stamina all at the same time! My team will tell you, it is challenging and requires a lot of hard work, but it’s also gratifying to complete each and every workout.

Another reason for training the metabolic system is that the majority of the exercises are dynamic and involve movement patterns that are common in our daily routine. An example would be the squat pattern because it mimics standing up from a chair or getting in and out of a car, which we all do on a regular basis.

The Fun Factor

Lastly, training the metabolic system should be hard, but it should also deliver a fun factor as well. You’re more likely to repeat a single workout when you leave the last workout having fun and feeling great about your accomplishments. So don’t forget, metabolic training is efficient and effective, and while it’s not easy, it can be Slim-It-logo2fun!

Lastly, good luck to all other Slim-It to Win It teams as we have one week left. The finish line is near! Try your best to stay committed to your teams, your goals, and most importantly yourself!

Regardless of fitness level or goals, almost every member at NIFS could benefit from Group Training or enrolling in a NIFS program. I highly recommend taking the leap! If you are interested in trying a small group or HIT training session contact Tony Maloney today to get started!

This blog was written by Cara Hartman, NIFS Heath Fitness Instructor. Learn more about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS fitness weight loss workouts NIFS programs metabolism Slim It to Win It