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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Thomas's Corner: Off the Beaten Path—Outdoor Fitness Options

Sunny days and warm summer weather are now upon us. It’s hard to complain about a pretty day, except when you are confined to an indoor lifestyle or job. Outdoor fitness is exactly what you need to get rid of the summertime blues, but I’m not talking about running or boot camp. Indianapolis is packed with fitness activities just waiting to be discovered. Parks throughout the city are highlighted by fitness trails, open fields, and accessibility. The opportunities are only increasing as we, hopefully, move toward a more health-conscious society.

In this blog we are going to think outside the box and explore some outdoor fitness options that are not only good exercise, but also fun and stimulating.

ThinkstockPhotos-178092126Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding, a mode of recreational transportation, has been around much longer than you might think. When it was first invented is undetermined, but evidence of its existence dates back to early exploration of the Pacific Ocean in the late 1700s by Captain James Cook. 

Fast-forward a few hundred years and you will see paddleboarding nearly everywhere, including rivers, lakes, and oceans. Because it enables you to take in scenery and nature, paddleboarding can be both calming and serene. On the other hand, in some windy conditions, paddleboarding is completely challenging, giving the rider a great workout. Riding the tide for extended periods of time provides plenty of balance, core stability, and endurance opportunities for the aquatic enthusiast.

For paddleboarding in Indianapolis, visit local shops such as Rusted Moon Outfitters to see demonstrations and buy gear to satisfy your paddleboarding needs. If you are a beginner and would like lessons, another local company, Salty Dog Paddlesports offers not only training sessions, but also more advanced yoga classes on paddleboards!

Geocaching

Geocaching is a relatively new outdoor recreational activity that combines old-school orienteering and treasure hunting with modern GPS technology. The concept of geocaching is not new; following clues and landmarks to find hidden treasure has been around for a long time. 

In this modern-day search for “x” on a treasure map, individuals use clues via internet videos or posts to find hidden packages or containers yielding log books to sign your name, often a small prize, or even another clue to find your way to another hidden site. The treasures aren’t necessarily huge in size; the excitement comes from successfully navigating your way to the treasure. After the site is discovered, it is neatly hidden away so that another geocacher may discover it. 

Because it usually takes place outdoors in rugged terrain and involving hiking and walking, a geocacher’s main needs include comfortable clothes, shoes or boots, and a functioning GPS system. Most cell phones have GPS built in already, so becoming a geocacher is even more convenient than you think. Geocaching is happening in Indiana, and the Indiana Geocaching website is dedicated to it. There is plenty of information regarding upcoming events and links to other national geocaching clubs. Channel your inner Indiana Jones while you are actually in Indiana!

Disc Golf

One of the fastest-growing recreational sports and activities, disc golf is quickly becoming more than just a niche hobby. The concept of disc golf, obviously, is derived from traditional golf, including the terminology. Disc golfers typically throw one of their many discs (each one has specific characteristics, not unlike drivers, irons, and putters) from a tee box toward a basket on a pole. Score is kept with eagles, birdies, par, and bogeys. 

Sprinkled throughout Indianapolis are several disc golf courses that offer a variety of challenges and an opportunity to experience some of the many scenic neighborhood parks that otherwise may go unnoticed. There is even a disc golf organization (Indianapolis Disc Golf Club) that holds several notable tournaments, bringing in top competition in the area and the Midwest. 

Like all skill-based activities, disc golf requires practice time. This is easily countered by disc golf’s relatively easy concept, cost effectiveness (discs are around 10 to 15 dollars, while courses are free), and inviting atmosphere.

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If you are bored with your current situation or just want a fun activity for you and your pals, there are definitely some excellent options to keep you active and your brain stimulated. Whether you want to take on some waves with your paddleboard, track down a series of clues while geocaching, or take a stroll through the park while disc golfing, the landscape for outdoor activity is ever changing. Be adventurous this summer and try a new outdoor sport or activity today!

Rejoice and Evolve,

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

Topics: summer balance endurance core outdoors golf sports hiking

Tips for Healthy Eating at Summer Barbecues

Summer is perfect for being active outdoors and grilling some healthy items for cookouts. Getting together with family and friends is a wonderful way to spend a weekend afternoon and evening. Unfortunately, some barbecues can turn into really unhealthy meals quickly. Here are some simple tips to ensure you keep up healthy eating while enjoying a cookout. ThinkstockPhotos-475200404

  • Better your burger. Consider topping your burger with fresh and flavorful veggies such as onions and tomatoes versus higher-fat options like mayonnaise and cheese. Also, grab a whole-wheat bun to increase the fiber, or a sandwich thin to keep calories lower. Seek out lower-fat ground beef to make your burgers, such as Laura’s Lean Beef, or grab a turkey burger to grill. 
  • Select sides wisely. Coleslaw, potato salad, and macaroni salad are typical staples of most cookouts. However, these mayonnaise-based options are loaded with fat and calories that aren’t necessarily the best for a balanced plate. Choose a serving the size of a tennis ball to keep portions in check, or choose oil-and-vinegar or yogurt-based dishes if available. 
  • Fill up on fruit. This time of year is full of almost every fruit in its peak season. Load up on filling berries, cherries, and melons. Make a giant fruit salad or kabobs, or toss some peaches or pineapple on the grill and top with nonfat vanilla yogurt. If fruit pies are on the menu for dessert, choose the option with a bottom crust only and stick to one slice!
  • Don’t forget the veggies. A lot of times veggies are completely forgotten at a barbecue, but these can be super tasty and easy to fix when done on the grill. Zucchini, squash, eggplant, mushrooms, and peppers are great on the grill and can easily be made into fun kabobs. Corn on the cob is technically a starchy vegetable, but it’s still a vegetable! Just be cautious with the amount of butter and salt that you load on top of it. Instead, try grilling it in foil with a touch of olive oil and squeeze a lime on it before eating. You won’t even miss the butter and salt!
  • Be careful not to burn your meat. Two compounds found in charred and overcooked meats are known carcinogens. Always make sure to clean your grill to get rid of preexisting charred food bits before you start grilling, or grill on top of foil or a grill mat. Another great idea is to marinate your meats before throwing them on the grill. Not only will it increase the flavor, but it can reduce the presence of the carcinogens. Grab a meat thermometer and make sure beef, pork, fish, veal, and lamb reach 145 degrees and poultry reaches 165 degrees.
  • When you are finished, go play. Challenge the kids to a game of cornhole or horseshoes. Start tossing the ball around or choose another outdoor game. The point is to not just to jump around and “burn off” dinner, but to get up and moving and away from the tempting chips and other snacks!

My-Nutrition-Coach-outline-no-backLooking for a simple way to keep track of your diet? Want more immediate help and feedback on food choices and portions? My Nutrition Coach is a new app that gives you the ability to track your nutrition and receive daily feedback, suggestions and information from NIFS dietitian, Angie Scheetz.

Learn More

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

Topics: nutrition healthy eating calories summer disease prevention paleo

Fabulous Farmers’ Markets Make Healthy Eating Easy and Fun

ThinkstockPhotos-460495043One of my favorite things to do once it is summer in Indiana is to visit the various farmers’ markets around town. As a dietitian I am a sucker for the fresh fruits and veggies, but I also love the homemade desserts, candles, pasta, kettle corn, fresh flowers, and other wonderful items you can find.

Here are my top five reasons why visiting your local farmers’ market is a must.

  1. Support for the local community: Since the produce is grown and purchased locally, the money remains in the community and stimulates the local economy. Also, when you shop at the farmers’ market, you are cutting out the middle man, and the product is generally less expensive than if you purchased it in the grocery store. 
  2. Eating foods that are in season: Farmers’ market produce is picked ripe and sold soon after picking. Supermarket produce, on the other hand, can take up to two weeks to travel from the farm to the store, even when it is in season. The produce tastes richer and more flavorful, and the nutrients are better retained. Check out the downtown City Market website for which products are available during the months the market is open.
  3. Healthy eating is good for you: The average American eats 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, as opposed to the current recommendations of 9 servings per day. Picking up multiple servings of fruits and veggies and incorporating them into recipes, meals, and snacks is a great way to get closer to the 9-serving-per-day-goal. This will guarantee you are meeting your recommended vitamin and mineral requirements, increasing your daily fiber intake, and acquiring cancer-fighting antioxidants, too. Locally grown produce is lower in pesticides and chemicals, also. 
  4. You can talk to the farmers who grew the food you are about to eat: You can meet the farmers who grew your food, ask when it was picked, how it was grown, and ways to prepare it. When else do you get the opportunity to learn so much about what you are putting in your mouth?
  5. There is certain to be one that fits your location and schedule: I love being able to go to the City Market farmers’ market on my lunch break downtown and sample the hot, fresh kettle corn; pick up sweet corn; and get homemade cookies on Wednesday afternoons. Saturday mornings, it’s off to the Carmel farmers’ market to purchase a walking waffle, homemade pasta, and a whole assortment of fruits and veggies for the week. To find out the location of a farmers’ market close to you, check out the USDA website.

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

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

Topics: nutrition healthy habits healthy eating summer clean eating organic foods

Summertime Sizzle: Adding a Fitness Challenge

Summer_Showdown_sun2-1Cue DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince because it is summer time—FINALLY! This is the time of year when we get to enjoy more sun and more fun, and smiles and laughter are abundant.

With the energy level rising as the temperature rises, we tend to look for new and fun ways to challenge ourselves somehow in our lives: decluttering the house (a must, by the way), updating the landscape, spending more time with the kids, or taking on some kind of physical challenge to help keep you moving forward. 

Tons of events are popping up all around with the arrival of the nice weather, designed to challenge any and all fitness levels. Finding the physical challenge that is right for you is a fantastic way to spice up your current fitness routine and challenge your limits, perceived or actual. 

Besides some of the obvious physical benefits from creating and completing a fitness challenge, such as improved body composition and an increase in strength and endurance, accepting a fitness challenge can provide so much more. Here are just a few.

Inspires You to Return to Your Drive Toward Excellence

It can be easy to lose some fire over the course of a long year. Even the most committed fitness enthusiast (yours truly included) can be unable to find the drive sometimes to stay vigilant in striving to improve. Taking on a new challenge can provide the spark that will reenergize your commitment to excellence.

Establishes a Timeline

One important characteristic of a well-stated goal is to have an established timeline to reach it. Without a specific date for completion, it is not a goal; it is a dream. If the challenge is on a certain date, and you have 6 weeks to train for it, you have yourself a well-defined timeline. This will not only allow you to complete your current challenge, but also hammers home this important concept of a timeline for future goals.

Incorporates New Movements and Modes of Training

If you are planning on taking on a challenge that you have never done before, there’s a very good possibility that you will have to perform brand new movements and adopt a new training idea. This could be just what your body and mind need to push your limits to create new ones.

Creates Powerful Personal Bonds with Fellow Athletes

The power of working with a group of likeminded individuals is colossal and life changing. When you take on a challenge together, the relationship that will be formed is long lasting and built on mutual respect. I have seen countless strangers join together to complete an event or training program, only to become the best of friends and continue to work toward improvement.

A Challenge for You: NIFS Summer Showdown

Now that you’ve learned some benefits of establishing and completing a fitness challenge, let’s define one, shall we? Starting on June 22 here at NIFS, the Summer Showdown challenge returns. New and improved, this program nails all of the benefits discussed above. Not only do you get to choose your team, you get to choose the level of the challenge you wish to complete. 

The NIFS team has designed a whopper of a challenge for you this year. New to the Summer Showdown will be mass test-in and test-out events where all participants will complete the challenge together at the beginning and end of the program. At the test-in event, all teams will be given specific wristbands to wear throughout the showdown. After you get tested in, you will spend 6 hyped weeks training to improve your test-in time. You will be meeting with your team twice a week to work on all of the aspects of the challenge so that you can crush your previous score and improve your fitness. 

All of your hard work will lead up to the finale, where you will once again complete the challenge with all of the participants of this year’s Summer Showdown. Learn more about the Summer Showdown challenge here.

I took on the Level 3 challenge last week and finished in 25:40. It was a blast, and super challenging, just the way I like it!

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

Topics: goal setting group fitness workouts accountability NIFS programs challenge summer training

Summer Health Tips and Fitness Ideas

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

Indianapolis Attractions for Active Fun

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

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

Health Tips to Keep in Mind

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

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

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

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

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

5 Tips to Stay Hydrated While You Exercise This Summer

It is finally summertime! You are looking out of the window from your office and can hardly wait to get outside for your workout after work or on your lunch break. Unfortunately, summer comes along with hot and humid conditions that can have a terrible effect on your body if you have not properly hydrated.476485117

It is important to consider the effects that the sun and warmer temperatures can have on your body and your performance, and to be sure to get appropriate hydration. The heat index chart, which shows where the combination of heat and humidity becomes dangerous, is a great resource in determining whether it is a good idea to go outside to exercise.

Here are five helpful tips to keep you hydrated and healthy as you exercise outdoors this summer.

  1. Avoid exercising outdoors during the hottest hours of the day (generally between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.). This will make for a more comfortable training session and decrease your likelihood of becoming dehydrated.
  2. Carry water with you during your workout. Not only should you drink water in the few hours leading up to your workout, but you need to be drinking water during the workout as well. It is recommended to drink a cup of fluid every 15 minutes during your exercise session.
  3. Replace the fluid that you have lost. A good rule of thumb is to drink two cups of fluid for every pound that you lost due to water loss during the activity. If you have weight-loss goals, don’t be fooled into thinking that the weight you lost during the workout is a good thing. It is just water weight.
  4. Recognize if you are dehydrated. There are many symptoms that determine if you are becoming 153736610dehydrated, including feeling thirsty, tired, or dizzy; having a headache; and having dark-colored urine, to name a few. If you start to experience these side effects, you must rehydrate yourself before the situation becomes a medical emergency. Do not try to continue exercise if you feel you are becoming dehydrated!
  5. Be aware of hyponatremia! This occurs when you are consuming more fluid than you need during an activity, resulting in a low level of sodium in the bloodstream. Consuming a sports beverage rather than water during endurance activities can be beneficial to you if you experience this.

If you are looking for a half or full marathon training program for this fall, consider joining the NIFS Fall Marathon Training Program. It is geared toward preparing individuals to complete in the Monumental Marathon on November 7, 2015 in Indianapolis.

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

Topics: exercise summer hydration endurance outdoors safety

NIFS Staff in Action: 2014 Summer Showdown Challenge Sneak Peek!

SS2We know what crosses through many of your minds in the middle of the workouts that we provide to you through HIT classes, Group Training, and special programs at NIFS: “I bet he/she doesn’t even do this stuff he/she is putting me through!” With that in mind, it would not be fair of us to expect you to complete our Summer Showdown Fitness Challenge without us testing it out first!

For the Summer Showdown this year, we are sticking with basic fundamental movements that almost everyone can complete with no trouble. The challenge comes into play when we ask that you select a level and complete as many rounds as you can in a given period of time.

Beginner: 10 minutes
Intermediate: 15 minutes
Advanced: 20 minutes

Here is what we have in store for you this year:SS4

Complete as Many Rounds as Possible

50m Suitcase Carry

10 KB Goblet Squats

10 KB Swings

10 TRX Rows

10 TRX Chest Presses

10 Slider Mountain Climbers

As a staff, we had a great time completing the workout! Now you can rest assured that we can relate to what you are going through. If you have never participated in the Summer Showdown, don’t be intimidated. This is your year to pick your level and complete the challenge to give you that extra push this summer!

If you are looking for a a great summer challenge participate in Summer Showdown from June 23-July 25! Sign-up  6/9-6/20 on the bulletin board located in the fitness center hallway.

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

Topics: group training nifs staff NIFS programs Summer Showdown summer HIT

NIFS May Class of the Month: Boot Camp

Boot Camp. Immediately thoughts of drill sergeants, whistles, and large combat boots come to mind. This, however, is a different kind of boot camp.bootcamp

NIFS Boot Camp group fitness class is nothing short of challenging and exhausting. This total body workout will improve overall fitness and push participants to the next level.

Depending on the weather, Boot Camp meets outdoors on the NIFS back patio, or inside NIFS on the sprint lanes. Each session begins with a dynamic (or active) warm-up full of exercises that could be used as exercises on their own. When completing the class outdoors, expect to do tricep dips on park benches, do pullups on support bars, run up and down sets of stairs, and blast through plyometric jumps onto tall steps. If the class is indoors, a circuit-style workout using free weights and traditional callisthenic exercises makes up the routine.

bootcampBoot Camp is suitable for participants of a moderate to intermediate fitness level, and is great conditioning for adventure and obstacle-course–style races. Prepare to be challenged during this 60-minute workout.

Make sure to bring a water bottle, towel, and that “never-give-up” attitude when attending this class.

Join Steven on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6pm for Boot Camp. If the weather is nice, head out to the NIFS back patio to find the rest of the Boot Camp crew! During the summer, a special Summer Camp class meets on Saturday mornings at 8:30am.

Try NIFS Bootcamp class for FREE! Click here to request a pass!

bootcamp

Written by Tara Deal, NIFS Membership Manager, Group Fitness Instructor, and author of Treble in the Kitchen.

Topics: NIFS fitness group fitness workouts boot camp summer circuit workout