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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Nutrition and Fitness Accountability to Get You Through the Holiday Season

ThinkstockPhotos-524163310.jpgIt’s the time of year that no one wants to talk about. But let’s face it: Christmas decorations have been out in stores for over a month, and the holidays are just around the corner. And for many across the nation, the holidays are one of the most dreaded times for unhealthy eating and putting on unwanted excess weight. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Don’t let this time of year scare you. Instead, view it as an opportunity to meet the weight management challenge for a better you!

Tips for Finding Balance at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Beyond

The holidays are hard, and I would never deny that. Travel bogs you down with fast food on the road and in the airport; visitors come to the house to stay for a week at a time and you have to do all the cooking of holiday meals; and those delicious goodies that seem to appear only once a year are ever-present on the counter yelling, “EAT ME!” So with all this, how do you stay on track? Allow me to share a few ideas that come to mind for having a successful holiday season with your eating and exercise.

  • Find a nutrition balance. While I am not encouraging you to go out and have five of your favorite cookies every day, I am going to say it’s okay to have one. The key to being successful and not overdoing it with what you put into your mouth is balance. There are times through the holidays that the red velvet cake is staring you in the face, and if you do decide you are going to eat it, then create a balance. What are you going to say no to instead? A few tips: don’t eat the entire piece; leave some on the plate. Eat slowly and allow yourself to feel full rather than killing it in two bites. Drink water with it or milk that has some nutritional value. The more water you drink, the more you will feel full, allowing you to scale back on the cake intake.
  • Find a workout balance. You also need to find balance in the gym. You know those people who head to the gym for a three-hour workout on Thanksgiving morning? You don’t have to be that person. If you have a good balance of both exercising on a regular basis through the holidays and eating appropriately, you won’t need that 3,000-calorie burn before the big feast.
  • Have a plan. Making sure that you have a plan is essential to your holiday success. I have found when there is no plan in place ahead of time, it becomes a free-for-all, which leads to overeating. Make a plan before the holidays start and create goals that are both realistic and attainable for yourself. If you know you have travel coming up or you know that you are hosting for a week, come up with a plan that makes sense for how often and how long you will be able to work out each day, as well as what you will be eating and potentially cooking for guests.
  • Stick to the plan. Having a plan can be the easy part, but sticking to that plan is the challenge. Make sure that you commit to your goal: if you said you were going to work out three to four times a week, do it! If something comes up and you can’t get to the gym, do something at home. The biggest thing is to not allow yourself to make an excuse. You may have to get up a little bit early before the guests arise for your homemade waffles, or make sure the hotel that you are staying at has a gym. Whatever you need to do to stay on track, make it happen.
  • Have some accountability. Figure out what type of accountability works for you. Maybe it’s coming up with that plan with a friend or family member. Or maybe it’s tracking it through a fitness tracker, signing up for a personal trainer, or joining a program the gym is putting on. Whatever it may be, find what works for you and commit to doing it.

NIFS Game of Inches Can Help!

If you are looking for some accountability through the holiday season, we have just the thing for you! Whether your goal right now is to put on muscle mass or to shed some inches, this program will suit your desires! NIFS is introducing a new program called Game of Inches.Game-of-inches-logo-final.jpg

The Game of Inches will help to keep you on track as you compete in one of two challenges:

  • Challenge #1—Gain Challenge: Work to at muscle building to put on mass through the holidays.
  • Challenge #2—Loss Challenge: Work to lose inches through the holidays.

For both challenges, measurements will be taken with the Fit3D scanner and an accumulation of specific measurements will determine a winner. To accompany the scans, each program participant will receive weekly newsletters containing videos to keep you focused and working hard! Each week videos will be sent containing workouts, nutrition tips, an exercise of the week, and a warrior challenge to finish it off.

NIFS members can sign up at the NIFS track desk located in the fitness center. All signups and scan-ins must be completed between November 6–12, and a subsequent scan out will take place between January 1–7. For this program we are asking that members “pay” by donating canned food items for Paw’s Pantry. Nonmembers can also join! For a fee of only $95, nonmembers will receive the scan-in/scan-out and all videos accompanying the program. In addition to this, the fee includes full access to NIFS and everything NIFS offers during the 7 weeks of the program between the start and end dates. Nonmembers interested in signing up can stop by the NIFS service desk to register.

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Questions? Please contact Amanda Bireline ([email protected] or 317.274.3432, ext. 219).

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

Topics: NIFS fitness nutrition fitness center holidays accountability challenge weight management workout Thanksgiving muscle building christmas

A NEAT Way to Burn More Calories (Part 2 of 2)

In the first part of this blog series you learned about NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) and how it can impact the number of calories you burn each day. From James Levine’s article, you can conclude that NEAT can burn an average of 330 calories per day in healthy individuals, and up to nearly 700 calories per day in others. 

You have probably started thinking of ways you can add more NEAT into your day for weight loss or weight management. The most common suggestions are parking farther away, taking the stairs, or getting a desk you can stand at. Those are all great suggestions, but in this blog I will provide some other ideas that you can fit into your day.   

5 Ways to Burn More Calories at the Office or During the Workday

  1. Have walking meetings. Instead of sitting at a coworker’s desk to discuss work, try walking around the office or outside to discuss work. You may find that ideas and communication come easier to you than when you are sitting. 
  2. Drink more water. First, it will help you stay hydrated, which is good for your health. But secondly, it may help you get up from your desk more by increasing the number of times you have to go to the restroom. You could even plan time to get up and visit the water fountain. 
  3. Invest in an activity tracker. These trackers, such as the Fitbit, can provide you with an estimated number of steps and calories burned each day. With this tracker you can set a goal for yourself. This can help motivate you to get up from your desk and move to help you reach your number of steps or number of calories you need to burn each day.ThinkstockPhotos-533536853
  4. Walk during your lunch break. Walk instead of driving to restaurants nearby if you are going to eat out. If you packed your lunch, walk to find a nice spot to eat instead of just eating at your desk. Getting up and moving will help you increase calorie burning, and going outside will give you fresh air and vitamin D from the sun.
  5. Get your coworkers involved. Create a team goal or competition. You could schedule a few times each day when everyone in the office needs to stand up and move/walk for about 5 minutes. If you are trying to make it a competition, you could have a challenge each day to see who can get the most jumping jacks or pushups throughout the day.

5 Ways to Burn More Calories in Your Leisure Time

  1. Be active while watching television. If watching television is part of your daily leisure time, try adding in small activities to complete while watching your favorite show. You can fold laundry or organize and pay bills. You can get up and sweep or vaccum the floor on commercial breaks. You can even prep for dinner by chopping vegetables as you watch your favorite show!
  2. ThinkstockPhotos-200358726-001Play with your kids or pets. They are bundles of energy that can help get you on your feet and moving. Play a game of tag, basketball, or soccer with the kids. If you have pets, use toys that they like and keep them (and you) active. 
  3. Take a short walk after dinner. Instead of sitting down to watch TV or laying down for bed, try going on a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. 
  4. Have an active date. When meeting with friends or family, you can try to make the date active by riding bikes to your destination. You could also choose to do something active like mini-golf or visiting a state park. One fun idea is visiting a ceramics studio and creating or painting pottery. 
  5. Keep up your household and landscape. Everyone wants a beautiful and clean home. So try staying organized and keeping up with daily cleaning and organizing. You can try planting new flowers, washing the car, or repainting the front fence. 

***

Now that you have some ideas for staying active and burning more calories, you can start adding more NEAT into your daily life and start burning an extra 330 to 700 calories each day!

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This blog was written by Masie Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: staying active exercise at home weight loss calories hydration weight management exercise at work workplace fitness

A NEAT Way to Burn More Calories (Part 1 of 2)

Exercising regularly is great for improving health and wellness. Exercise can help relieve stress and feel good about ourselves. However, some people are finding that exercising regularly is not helping them lose the unwanted weight that most of us carry. How can that be?

Who Has Time for 60 Minutes of Cardio Per Day?

While exercise is essential for health, you can’t rely on it to be your sole calorie-burning tool. According to “A NEAT(Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) Approach to Weight Loss,” written by Fabio Comana, “We need to burn 2,000 calories each week through physical activity in order to lose weight.” That would equal about 286 calories each day. That may seem like a small number, but in reality it is quite large. You would need to complete about 60 minutes of cardio each day of the week. 

If you are willing to put in the work, you will be successful. However, most of us have other responsibilities that can limit our time in the gym or exercising. So how are we going to burn the excess calories that we are not burning through exercise? 

ThinkstockPhotos-80966263Most of the calories you burn per day happen throughout the entirety of the day, from when you wake up to when you go to sleep. So what if you increase the calories you burn throughout the day, as well as exercising about three days per week, to help you achieve your weight-loss or weight-management goals?

Factors That Affect How You Burn Calories

Recently a research article written by James Levine discussed the idea of NEAT. In Levine’s article, he defines NEAT as “the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than sporting-like exercise.” This includes everything that you do during the day that does not include your planned exercise sessions. In order for us as a population to burn more calories throughout the day, we need to increase our non-exercise activity. 

According to Levine, there are different factors that play a huge role in the amount of NEAT an individual can achieve throughout the day. Following are two major factors that can affect how NEAT a person can be. 

Occupation: If your job requires you to sit for most of the 8 hours you are there, you will have a lower NEAT for that day. Now if your job requires you to stand, walk, and lift throughout the day, your NEAT will be higher than the person who sits at work. This factor may be out of your control, but in a follow up blog, I will provide a few fun ideas to help you achieve more NEAT in the workplace. 

Leisure time: After work, if you are more likely to sit and watch television until you go to bed, your NEAT levels will remain relatively low. However, if you decide to clean the house or mow the lawn after work, your NEAT will be higher for the day. In the follow up blog, I will also provide you with a few fun ideas to do during your leisure time that will help increase your overall NEAT. 

The impact of increasing your non-exercise activity is huge for your health and weight loss or maintenance. Levine’s article concludes that NEAT can burn an average of 330 calories per day in healthy individuals, and up to nearly 700 calories per day in others. That is a huge difference and could be the deciding factor in your weight-loss goals. 

Keep an eye out for the second part of this blog, where I will provide you with 10 ideas for how to be more NEAT during the day. Stay tuned!

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This blog was written by Masie Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio staying active weight loss calories weight management workplace fitness

Why Do These Stairs Kick My Butt? The Convenient Cardio Workout

ThinkstockPhotos-477523863This is a pretty common question that comes to mind for me. I work out 6 days a week, but still that mild ascent up four flights of stairs to the copy room seems to get me every time. 

Generally I would put myself into the “decently fit” category, but it seems that after climbing stairs I am quite winded and sometimes my legs are burning. This very thing has inspired me and a coworker to add running some stairs into our weekly workout. 

Here are some reasons why, if you’re looking for something to add into your routine for a good cardio/leg workout, you should add stairs as well!

  • Great cardiovascular exercise. Like all cardio exercises, running stairs is good for heart health! Your heart and lungs will be strengthened and can help you get to your goals. Cardio exercise is proven to help reduce high blood pressure and other health-related issues.
  • Strengthens legs and tones butt while engaging other muscle groups. Running stairs helps to strengthen many of the muscle groups, but noticeably the butt and the thighs. While climbing, your glutes, hips, and quads are engaged as well as the small muscles within those areas. Other areas of your body that see benefits are core, upper body, ankle joints, and the muscles surrounding your ankles and shins.
  • Easy to find places to do them. Whether you travel, like to work out outside, come to the gym, or want to work out at home, stairs are usually an option! It’s not hard to find a set of stairs to run, and there are lots of places around that have several sets that would be good to run up. (Here are some exercises you can do when you travel, including stairs.)
  • Helps keep the weight off. Stair running is in the category of moderate to high-intensity cardio exercise. With the amount of intensity that you can give to this, the return can be high caloric burn. As you climb higher and faster, your heart rate will begin to increase, your legs will be working harder, and you will increase your oxygen intake. All of these things aid in boosting your metabolism, and with proper eating habits and hard work you can drop a few pounds.

Here are some ideas for stair workouts for runners. Give it a try for a few weeks and see how you feel. From personal experience, don’t give up…it will be pretty challenging in the beginning, but I encourage you to stick with it!

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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: cardio workouts muscles endurance weight management stairs

NIFS’s New Healthy Eating App: My Nutrition Coach

My-Nutrition-Coach-outline-no-back-1Choosing the right foods for healthy eating can be a challenge. Life is busy and sometimes the thing that gets left behind is a well-balanced meal or snack. We want to help you change that! Studies show that individuals who have to be accountable for their food choices lose more weight and keep it off than those who attempt to do it alone.

Often when you are motivated to make a weight loss change, the first thought is to cut out your favorite foods that you are worried you eat too much of. Or you start eating salads every day for lunch and dinner. 95% of people who lose weight will gain it back. The successful 5% of people learn how to eat a balanced diet that includes ALL foods!

My Nutrition Coach is a new app specifically created to help our members develop a healthy plan for food choices, while also providing consistent support to help educate and develop good lifelong habits. 

How to Use the App

When you sit down to eat, just snap a picture of your meal. You can also add your beverage, your mood, and your hunger level. At midnight your entries will be uploaded, and the next day you will get feedback and suggestions from me, NIFS Registered Dietitian Angie Scheetz. Videos, handouts, and suggestions for how to reach your personal wellness goals will also be sent your way, giving you more resources to achieve your nutrition and fitness goals. nutrition-screen

Quick and Effective Nutrition Feedback

This program is quick and easy, and on average should take only 5 minutes per day, but the support, feedback, and resources you will receive throughout the program are equal to a personal, weekly nutrition consultation in traditional programs.

Don’t underestimate the role that proper nutrition plays in your health and fitness. If you are interested in signing up for this program or want more information, please email me at [email protected] or call me at 274-3432, ext. 239. I look forward to working with you!

 Learn More

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

 

Topics: nutrition weight loss healthy eating NIFS programs weight management

10 Healthy Habits of Fit People

Let’s get real: getting healthy and fit (and staying that way) doesn’t happen by accident. In my seven years in the fitness industry I have seen quite a bit—enough to know what works and what doesn’t. The people who are able to reach their healthy, happy weight and maintain it end up developing very similar habits to one another. These healthy habits aren’t anything crazy or extreme, but they consistently allow individuals to lead a healthy lifestyle for years and years.

Today I’ve compiled these habits of healthy people so we can all adapt our own habits to be our healthiest selves.

ThinkstockPhotos-4713112341. Start off with a breakfast to FUEL your day.

Remember learning that breakfast was the most important meal of the day? While I believe that all meals are important, breakfast definitely is a meal you shouldn’t consider skipping. Studies show that eating breakfast helps to improve focus, satiety, and energy levels throughout the day. 

So what does that mean for you? You’ll be more productive at work, will work harder during your workouts, and you may have reduced cravings and hunger later in the day. Sounds like a win, win, win to me! 

2. Drink lots of water.

The body is made up of 60% water! Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help maintain your body’s fluid balance so that nutrients can be transported throughout the body. That means you will more quickly reap the benefits of the healthy foods you eat!  

Drinking water throughout the day helps you feel full. It may sound crazy, but many people mistake thirst for hunger and end up overeating. 

It’s also important to drink water because when you stress and work your muscles in the gym, they are losing water. If you aren’t drinking enough water, your muscles will get tired faster and you may not be able to work as hard. So drink up, buttercup!

3. Set a deadline.

People are more efficient and more likely to reach their goals with a deadline in the picture. Having a deadline helps to eliminate procrastination and makes the goal seem more tangible and realistic. Having a deadline doesn’t mean you can start being “unhealthy” after you reach your goal, but it simply allows you to have a checkpoint to work toward. Once you reach your goal and deadline, reevaluate and set a new goal! It’s all about progress, not perfection, and there is always something we can improve on when it comes to health and fitness.

4. Don’t leave your healthy-eating goals to chance. 

I rarely say NEVER or ALWAYS, but this is an exception to that rule. Never assume that there will be a healthy option when you eat away from home. Always be prepared. Check out the restaurant menu ahead of time, pack healthy snacks, bring a lunch, bring a healthy dish to share, or eat something small before so you aren’t starving. You are in control of your health. It’s not anyone else’s responsibility to make sure there is something nutritious for you to nosh on.

5. Remain consistent.

Consistency is key. We all have days where we skip a workout or overindulge, but as long as healthy is your default, there is no need to sweat it! What matters most is what you do most of the time, not what you do sometimes. So, if choosing healthy (moving your body, eating whole foods, and drinking lots of water) is your sometimes, you may want to switch your mindset.

6. Eat whole, real foods.

Make it your goal to have most of your nourishment come from unprocessed, real foods that are as close to the source as possible. What does that mean? Check out the ingredients. If you are eating a handful of almonds for a snack, the only ingredient should be just that: almonds! Whole foods fill your body with more vitamins and minerals, the nutrition we need to stay healthy on the inside.

7. Fill your home with healthy, nourishing foods.

This tip piggybacks onto the previous piece of advice. If you fill your home with whole foods, they suddenly become a more convenient option than the processed stuff, and less healthy options are eliminated from the picture. If you surround yourself with healthy, delicious food choices, you are more likely to pick those foods when preparing a meal or eating a snack.

8. Take your workout with you.

 Many people travel frequently for work, to visit family, or for vacation. While traveling can make it less easy to fit in your workout, it’s definitely not an excuse to slack off in the fitness department. Talk with your trainer about a travel workout option, pack a resistance band or TRX strap, or pack a workout DVD that doesn’t require any equipment at all! There are endless resources for fitness on the go; it just takes a little planning ahead of time.

9. Learn to be politely picky when eating out.

I have learned that I can find something healthy to eat at almost any restaurant. Many times, the option I choose is not listed on the menu. It can be intimidating to ask for special options at a restaurant, but you will be surprised at how accommodating your server and the restaurant want to be. Be polite when you make requests, and your tummy will be happy with the healthy and delicious outcome!

10. Dedicate time to mental health.

Whether you practice yoga, write a journal, meditate, see a therapist, or have another way of dedicating time to your mental health, it is just as important to make time for this type of exercise as it is to make time to go to the gym. Having a healthy mental state will help you stay on track with your fitness goals and will allow you to balance your busy and crazy life with ease. Find the method that works best for you and stick to it!

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This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, contributing writer, group fitness instructor, and author of healthy living blog Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: nutrition healthy habits goal setting snacks breakfast mental weight management water

Thinking of Going Vegetarian?

Have you been considering a vegetarian diet? Approximately 3.2% of the American population currently follows a meat-free diet, with 0.5% of those following a vegan diet, which includes no animal products at all. This is very small when compared to India, where an estimated 42% of the population follows vegetarianism.

Veggie

So why would you consider going vegetarian? There are many reasons, but the most popular are for health reasons, to help preserve the Earth’s natural resources, and for animal rights.

Essential Nutrients for Meat-Free Meals

When some individuals decide to eliminate meat and other animal products from their diets, they might not be getting all of the essential nutrients that are important. So here are some nutrients to make sure you are getting in to guarantee your diet is balanced.

  • Protein: Essential for growth and maintenance. Food sources include beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, and soy products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers). Milk products and eggs are options for lacto-ovo vegetarians.
  • Iron: A primary carrier of oxygen in the blood. Food sources include iron-fortified cereals, spinach, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, turnip greens, molasses, whole-wheat breads, peas, and some dried fruit (apricots, prunes, and raisins).
  • Calcium: Important for building bones and teeth and maintenance of bone strength. Food sources include fortified breakfast cereals, soy (tofu, soy-based beverages), calcium-fortified orange juice, and some dark green, leafy vegetables (collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, and mustard greens).
  • Zinc: Necessary for many biochemical reactions and helps the immune system function properly. Food sources include a variety of beans (white beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas), zinc-fortified breakfast cereals, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and milk products for lacto vegetarians.
  • Vitamin B12: Necessary for cell division and growth, and strengthens the immune system. Food sources include milk products, eggs, B12 fortified foods (breakfast cereals, soy-based burgers, veggie burgers, and nutritional yeast).

Additional Recommendations for Vegans

476027891Vegans who do not have fortified foods and ovo-vegetarians who do not have fortified milk substitutes should consume the following daily:

  • 3 to 5 teaspoons vegetable oil (for calories and essential fatty acid)
  • 1 Tablespoon blackstrap molasses (for iron and calcium)
  • 1 Tablespoon brewer’s nutritional yeast for B vitamins, especially riboflavin and B12

Build Meals Around Low-Fat Proteins

Some final advice is to build meals around protein sources that are naturally low in fat, such as beans, lentils, and quinoa. Don’t overload meals with high-fat cheese to replace the meat.

Many foods that typically contain meat or poultry can be made vegetarian. This can increase vegetable intake and cut saturated fat and cholesterol intake. A variety of meat-free products look (and may taste) like their non-vegetarian counterparts, but are usually lower in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol.

Most restaurants can accommodate modifications to menu items by substituting meatless sauces, omitting meat frm stir-fry dishes, and adding vegetables or pasta in place of meat. These substitutions are more likely to be available at restaurants that make food to order.

To find out more about personal nutrition coaching at NIFS, follow this link. If you would like to schedule a personal nutrition consultation to help you decide whether switching to a vegetarian diet is the right choice for you, contact me at [email protected].

Find out more about nutritional coaching

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

 

Topics: nutrition weight management vegetarian protein vegan

Taking a Step Forward: A Fitness Lesson

stairs-2What has become of our society and fitness? We hear reports all the time that state that the obesity epidemic is only getting worse. In the not so distant past, say around the time our grandparents or great-grandparents were our age, obesity was pretty rare. The average woman would eat seemingly 4,000 calories per day and stay relatively thin. By today’s standards, that same person could be eating 1,800 calories per day and be 20 pounds overweight. What gives?

People Are Moving Less

The short and easy answer is that we are becoming lazier. I do not disagree with that statement, but we should also look at how our environment promotes a sedentary lifestyle. Modern conveniences have abetted the downfall of fitness levels around the world. The invention of the elevator caused people to take the stairs less and less (or not at all); the invention of the microwave oven allows us to barely lift a finger to prepare a meal, and the invention of the TV remote control, although great, makes it so we do not have to get up and walk six feet to push a button on the TV set. I don’t feel it necessary to throw these inventions under the bus, but fitness-conscious individuals do have options—good options that can improve health and burn more calories.

Thinking back on what it was like for our grandparents or great-grandparents, fitness and working out wasn’t really even necessary because there were many chores around the house or farm that required manual labor. Need water? Carry two buckets of water across the field every day. Need food? Hoe, sow, and reap the field. Need new clothes? Take a 2.5-mile walk into town and back. They did not need a gym membership to stay fit.

Today’s modern conveniences and sedentary work environments have made it so we barely move any more than we need. Calorie burning slows when the body’s lean body weight (fat-free weight) decreases, affecting the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). This decrease, in turn, causes us to pack on extra, stored body-fat weight.

Find Ways to Burn More Calories

My suggestion to anyone wanting to make a difference in their life is to start by being conscious of their environment. Taking the stairs can burn around 10 calories per minute (and here are some other easy ways to burn calories). Surprisingly, you can burn calories cooking, at a rate of 100 calories per hour (and this site will show you how many calories you burn doing other activities). Let’s face it, remotes will not go away, but we can do various exercises during commercial breaks, like squats, crunches, or pushups. You could even squeeze in a few exercises of yoga while watching your favorite game show.

When options arise, make the effort to challenge your body. Do this every day for the best results and encourage others (in a nice way) to take a step forward.

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

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Topics: fitness Thomas' Corner weight loss calories weight management

5 Thanksgiving Day Hacks

5 Thanksgiving Day Hacks [Infographic]

5ThanksgivingDayHacks

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: exercise calories holidays weight management workout goals Thanksgiving

Smart Snacking for Healthy Eating and Weight Management

184366974Some people think that snacking can sabotage your healthy eating and weight management plan. However, snacking keeps your energy levels up, and prevents you from becoming overly hungry, which can lead to poor food choices. Eating every three to four hours can also help regulate your metabolism, which ensures that you burn calories throughout the day. Strive for at least two small snacks per day, but try to limit yourself to 100 to 150 calories or less per snack.

Also, be sure your snack is balanced: it should offer complex carbohydrates for energy, protein for muscle building and repair, and a small amount of fat for satiety. You can ensure nutritional balance and prevent snack boredom by varying your daily choices.

The Benefits of Snacks

You may feel guilty about snacking, but snacks aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, mini meals several times a day can be beneficial. Here’s how:

  • Binge control: If eating several low-fat, whole-grain crackers, a few pretzels, a piece of fruit, or some raw vegetables keeps you from taking second or third helpings at your next meal, you may actually consume fewer total calories for the day.
  • Extra energy and nutrients: Traditional, made-at-home meals often lose out to busy schedules. A grab-and-go snack can be the difference between some nourishment and none at all.
  • Satisfaction for small appetites: Young children’s tiny stomachs can hold only small portions of food at a time. Older adults who are less active and who burn fewer calories also may feel comfortable eating smaller meals more frequently.

Healthy Snack Choices

Here are some great snack choices:

  • 6 oz. fat-free yogurt topped with 1 cup of berries
  • ¾ cup whole-grain cereal with nut and dried-fruit trail mix
  • 1 apple and 1 oz. low-fat cheese
  • 1 cup yogurt smoothie made with real fruit
  • 1 oz. baked tortilla chips with ¼ cup bean dip
  • 2 oz. low-fat cheese on 5 whole-grain crackers
  • 1 whole-wheat tortilla with 1 oz. melted cheese and ¼ cup salsa
  • 1 cup raw vegetables and 2 Tbsp. low-fat dip or hummus
  • 1 Tbsp. nut butter on a banana
  • 1 cup berries topped with ¼ cup low-fat granola cereal
  • ¼ cup whole-grain cereal and ¼ cup raisins with ¼ cup skim milk
  • ¾ cup pasta salad made with raw veggies, cheese, and low-fat dressing
  • ¼ pita pocket stuffed with raw vegetables and 1 slice low-fat cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat vegetable-bean soup
  • ½ turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • 1 handful almonds and ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup cottage cheese and ½ cup pineapple
  • ½ peanut butter/banana sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • ½ toasted whole wheat English muffin topped with a slice of tomato and low-fat cheese

For more tips on eating well and feeling great, especially after age 40, check out this post.

If you are interested in having your questions answered during a personal nutrition consultation, please contact me at [email protected] or 317-274-3432, ext 239. Learn more about Nutrition and Wellness services at NIFS.

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Topics: nutrition weight loss snacks metabolism weight management