NIFS Healthy Living Blog

10 Winter Fitness and Wellness Tips

ThinkstockPhotos-619079130-1.jpgAs much as no one wants to admit it, the winter months are in front of us. Even though I grew up in a northern snow belt along the Great Lakes, cold weather is not my thing. In fact, I really don’t like anything about it. And often along with the winter blues comes a decrease in health and fitness due to the lack of motivation. To counteract that feeling, let’s look at ten tips that can help you be healthier this winter.

  1. Work out. I know it’s easy to lose motivation to keep working out when it’s cold out, it’s dark by 5, and you have to put on your snow boots and warm up the car before going to the gym. But working out actually helps to build your immune system and keep you healthy. So make sure that you build those workouts into your schedule.
  2. Eat well. It’s important to make sure that you stick to clean eating, especially through the holidays. All the additional sweets, snacks, drinks, and other goodies that come with the holidays are sometimes hard to resist; do your best to stay focused on your goals.
  3. Drink lots of water. Being sure that you have proper hydration is always important regardless of the time of year. Carry around a water bottle everywhere you go and make sure you keep drinking.
  4. Cover your head in outdoor workouts. If you do decide to work out outdoors, be sure to wear a hat or something to cover your ears. Making sure you stay warm and don’t catch a cold will be vital to your winter wellness success. (Here are some more tips for dressing warmly for winter workouts.)
  5. Get some sun if possible. Studies show that getting your vitamin D is essential. If you can dress appropriately, try to get outside on a nice day or plan that beach vacation during the cold winter months.


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  6. Wash your hands. I know this is the standard thing you see in every public bathroom or on the back of the stall doors. But for real, wash your hands to help prevent you from getting the flu or other illnesses going around. Catching something could really set you back in getting in your workouts and healthy eating.
  7. Set a goal for the spring. Have a goal in place as the winter months start so that you can keep it on the forefront as something to work toward.
  8. Get a trainer or workout buddy. There is no better time to treat yourself to some additional accountability. Hire a trainer for the winter months or find that accountability partner to keep you in check!
  9. Watch your intake. You must be mindful, especially around the holidays, of what you are taking into your body. Also, keep in mind that drinks add a lot of unwanted calories, so watch what enters the black hole!
  10. Join something. The options are endless…group exercise, HIT classes, group training, a training program of some sort, co-ed sports…the list can go on. Find something you like and sign up to keep you engaged.

Whatever emotions the winter months may bring you, use these tips to be successful with your winter fitness and wellness!

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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 winter fitness nutrition fitness center goal setting equipment group training accountability NIFS programs hydration HIT outdoors personal training wellness vitamin D

Get Family and Friends Involved in Your Fitness Goals

ThinkstockPhotos-78717030.jpgIt can be hard trying to change your lifestyle or fitness on your own. It can be even harder if you don’t have support from your family and friends. You family and friends can play a key role in your fitness journey, so why not get them involved and gain their support? Including them in your journey can help your motivation and help you enjoy the path to your fitness and health goals.

How to Get Friends Involved

Hanging out with friends keeps your life full of happiness and fun. Your friends are people who share common interests with you. It can be difficult to continue to connect and have fun with friends when you decide to change your lifestyle. So why not get them involved?

Identify whether there are unhealthy activities you and your friends like to participate in. Examples can include eating out every weekend, drinking excessively, or even being sedentary together. Then as group, brainstorm new ideas for activities you can try together. Together you can discover which new activities are enjoyable and which activities don’t suit your new lifestyle, and you can help one another's accountability to stick with it. Make it fun!

How to Promote Family Fitness Involvement

Having family support is great to help you accomplish your fitness goals. Even better, now you are helping them to lead healthier lifestyles, too. It can also make it more fun.

The best resource/tool that I have found that offers ideas and tips is Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. It offers resources on nutrition and physical activity, and tips on how to be successful. The Presidential Active Lifestyle Award challenge is another great resource. It offers guidelines for children and adults to complete together.

Here are a few ideas of fun activities you can do as a group in the Indianapolis area:

Mix up the activities but be sure to do something on a regular basis. All types of physical activity can benefit your health and fitness so grab a friend or your family and get going!

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Check out NIFS's all new Ramp Up to Weight Loss membership to get you started! This program offers 14-weeks of workouts with one of our certified trainers, meetings with our dietician, free access to the My Nutrition Coach App, and fitness assessments to help you plan and track your progress. Click below to learn more.

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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: fitness winter fitness healthy habits motivation weight loss accountability outdoors Indianapolis

Staying Motivated in Your Winter Workouts

Being someone who loves to run, especially outside, I understand the challenge of trying to keep up my motivation during those “indoor months” that have suddenly crept upon us. As is typical for the winter season, Americans report exercising less frequently. And according to a recent study, just from October to November, adults who reported exercising 30 minutes, three or more days a week, fell 3 percent.

122397958So how can we stay motivated for winter workouts? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Try something new that you have been putting off. Have you ever walked by the Zumba® class and thought, “Hmm, that looks like fun. Maybe I should go in and give it a try? Nah, I’ll go outside and run instead.” Or what about that spin class that you’ve been eyeing since you started coming to the gym? Find a class or an indoor fitness challenge that you have been interested in trying and have just continued to put it off.
  2. Build a personal workout calendar. With the hundreds of apps out there these days, this should be one of the easiest things to do. There are several that you can look up online, but check out the Workout Plan app if you need a good place to start. If you are a NIFS member, you can utilize our fitness assessment and exercise prescription at no additional cost. If you work out at another gym, see what services they have to offer to help you come up with a plan that’s right for you. No matter what you choose to do, have a plan in place and follow it to keep yourself on track.
  3. Find activities that you enjoy. One of the keys to staying motivated throughout the winter is to find things that you enjoy doing. You have to pick things that interest you and keep you wanting to come back to the gym. Maybe there is a program that you watch on TV every Tuesday night. Try coming during that time and watching it on one of the cardio machines. Or consider a weight training program or yoga that you have been putting off all summer long.
  4. Get a workout buddy. Finding someone to work out with you will really help those long winter months go by faster. If you have an accountability partner to meet you at the gym, that will help to get you there consistently.
  5. Sign up for a race. There are plenty of indoor events that you can sign up for, or register for a race during the spring to keep you in check. I know there are indoor triathlons within the Midwest that are a fun challenge to try if you have never done one before. You can always sign up for a race in a warmer state as well and make a little trip out of it.
  6. Try other outdoor activities. With all this being said, we don’t need to become hermits and lock ourselves indoors until May. Give some things a try that you haven’t done before, like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, and running. These things can all be just as fun if you are dressed properly!

I hope this list has given you some new ideas for exercising during these winter months! Find something to keep you motivated and continue to train hard. Don’t let yourself become one of those statistics in the study by letting exercise fall by the wayside during the cold months.


Mini-logo-option-2Need a running buddy? The 25th Annual Mini Marathon & 5K Training Program starts January 21–May 6, 2015. Cross the finish line with us this Spring! 

Training is at 6pm at NIFS downtown. Register today online!

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

Topics: NIFS exercise winter fitness motivation workouts winter skiing snowshoeing

8 Essential Winter Clothing Pieces for Runners and Walkers

177522302Winter can be brutal when it comes to getting out the door for a run or walk, however having the right apparel can leave you barely noticing how cold it is outside. With the improvements in the quality of winter gear that popular running apparel companies such as Craft and Pearl Izumi have made, you will hardly notice the cold once you get going!

I visited Runners Forum to take a look at some of the new apparel that they have in stock this year and was very impressed with all they have to offer for this winter. After speaking with the store manager, we came up with 8 essential items you must have before you hit the streets on those cold days:

1)     Running Shoes- No matter what the season it is critical that you are running in a shoe that is right for you. Not having a proper shoe specific to your body mechanics can lead to injuries or discomfort during the run or walk.

2)     Wicking Base Layer- A long sleeve shirt that is efficient in wicking the moisture away from your body is important for both function and comfort. This piece is responsible for moving your sweat away from your body and out to the additional layers to keep you dry and warm.

3)     Insulating Layer- This layer is generally fleece lined and continues moving moisture away from your body. It has the added responsibility of trapping body heat you are producing to keep you even warmer.image001-2

4)     Wind and Water Resistant Jacket- For the most dreary days that involve sleet, rain and snow, a high-tech jacket can make a huge difference in your comfort level. Not only does it protect you from these elements, but it too will continue to wick away moisture from your body and trap your body heat.

5)     Gloves and Socks- Also preferably in moisture wicking, these are crucial for keeping your fingers and toes warm and dry playing a huge factor in trapping your body heat. Additionally your fingers and toes are at a high risk of becoming frostbit on the coldest days so this is a piece that you can not afford to go without.

6)     Running Tights- Since your legs are doing a majority of the work, you are producing a lot of heat in this area. Tights will be most efficient in holding in heat, but if tights are not your style, than a light insulated running pant will be your best bet.image002

7)     Winter Hat or Headband- Similar to your toes and fingers, your ears are at a high risk for frostbite. Cover your ears and head to avoid this as well as add warmth to the area for comfort.

8)     Reflective Gear- In the winter, the days are shorter which means many of your runs may start or finish in the dark. To be safe, wear as much reflective clothing as you can so that you can be visible to cars and others. Many winter clothing pieces are indeed reflective but a reflective vest is a good substitute.

Mini-logo-option-2Cross the finish line with us this Spring! The 25th Annual Mini Marathon & 5K Training Program starts January 21–May 6, 2015. Training is at 6pm at NIFS downtown.

Visit our website or contact Stephanie Kaiser for more information.

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

Topics: winter fitness running walking marathon training mini marathon workout reflective gear weather layers 5k

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Setting Your 2015 Race Goals

Race-goalsIf you’re like me, cabin fever is already starting to set in, and we are barely into the winter season. This is the time of year that I start to think about what races I want to focus in on for the upcoming year. I find it a great way to stay motivated and focused on my training when it’s not my favorite time of year to train.

I always consider three main questions before I pull the trigger and sign up for my first “big” race, and plan out my training program accordingly. Evaluating these things has helped me to create realistic and attainable race goals for the upcoming season, and I hope that it can do the same for you.

1. How is my year looking?

There are years where training for races can be a top priority, and others where it may be secondary or on down the line depending on what else is going on. I try to think forward and determine how much time I can and want to realistically dedicate to race training with everything else that is going on in my life. Some things to consider when thinking about this include your work schedule, vacation schedules, interest in other hobbies, taking classes, and family obligations, among many other things. Knowing these things and thinking about them as they relate to training can help you get a grasp on what you can fully commit to. Obviously, sometimes other things come up, so always know it is okay to deviate from the plan when life happens.

2. Where is my fitness today?

A late fall or holiday race can be a great reality check for how you are doing with your training currently. Even if you are a little rusty, doing a race around this time of year will really tell you where you are at (whether you like it or not). If you have stayed in stride and had a great fall season, maybe it is time to consider pushing yourself a bit harder this spring by trying to go faster in your next 5K or racing a longer distance. Knowing where you are at in your training today will help you make a realistic goal for next year.

3. Was I healthy this year?

This may be the best question you ask yourself. Racing is a great way to accomplish a personal goal or get in touch with your competitive side. It is easy to get so caught up in a race goal that you neglect to take care of yourself and your health suffers. Looking back over the last year and thinking about any injuries or other health issues that may have been an effect of your training can help you to make an educated goal for the next year. Maybe you were injured because you did not have time to train correctly for that marathon, or you had a terrible diet because you spent so much time training that you ate anything that was convenient and easy to get your hands on. Maybe you are currently injured and will have to start back into racing a bit more slowly than normal. These are just a few examples of how training can negatively impact your health, but I suggest considering these things when planning for your upcoming race season.

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Setting a goal now is a great way to get your year started off right and help get you through the winter training months with a realistic focus and plan. Whether you are thinking of completing your first race, training for the same race you run each year, or looking for new racing opportunities, setting a realistic and attainable race goal with an appropriate training plan is the key to success.

 

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Cross the finish line with us this Spring! The 25th Annual Mini Marathon & 5K Training Program starts January 21–May 6, 2015. Training is at 6pm at NIFS downtown. Register today online!

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

Topics: winter fitness motivation goal setting running

Indoor Cycling Is a Good, Fun Winter Workout

There is nothing like hopping on a bike and riding nowhere. If this sounds dull and boring to you, you have never ridden with me. I teach RPM®, the Les Mills Indoor Cycling Program. Cycling is a great way to balance your workout and helps build leg strength and cardio fitness. With the weather turning cold, this is the time to try indoor cycling. Honestly, it can be terribly boring when done on your own, but a group class always makes it better and the workout factor is not one to be missed!

A Lower-Impact Workoutindoor cycle

My love/hate relationship with running is what brought me to indoor cycling. I love the feeling of the burning in my lungs and the pride of finishing in a sprint up the driveway, but my ankles and shins are not always fans of the inevitable high-impact movements associated with running. A few years ago I was fighting injuries from running and my doctor recommended I ride a bike as an alternative workout. This worked really well until it got cold. That is how I ended up in my first RPM® class.

Honestly, I was dreading the thought of doing it. The concept of sitting on an uncomfortable seat in spandex going nowhere was less than appealing. But I dragged myself there and am so glad I did! I found I could achieve the same physical feeling of running without all of the high impact. High-impact activities have their own benefits and I enjoy them; I just need balance in my workout, and RPM® gives that to me and can provide it for you as well.

Join the Fun of Indoor Cycling

RPM cycleDuring these cold months, do yourself a favor and try out a Cycle or RPM® class. The worst part is getting used to the seat. But after that, all you will notice is the strength building in the legs and the cardio party in your heart. Put that all together with epic music and you’ve got one heck of a workout. Outdoor riders, you may find that you miss the scenery, but the instructors are all pretty entertaining in their own ways, so you won’t be bored. We may not be physically relocating, but we are moving forward with our fitness level. Take a class regularly and you may find your outdoor rides and runs are a little easier next summer! I know mine always are.

Check out the Group Fitness Schedule and pick a class time. Come a little early so the instructor can get you set up on the bike properly. As with any group fitness class, try the class three to five times before deciding if it is for you. Have fun and ride it like you stole it!

Not a member yet? Request a FREE CLASS PASS!

This blog is written by Tasha Nichols, the NIFS Fitness Center Group Fitness Coordinator and Les Mills National Trainer and Presenter.

Topics: winter fitness cardio group training cycling Les Mills

Ready, Set, Row! The NIFS Staff Rowing Challenge Is Back

Get ready for the 2013 Annual Staff Rowing Challenge here at NIFS! If you are looking for a little bit of friendly competition as the winter rolls in, be sure to sign up with a team this year! The competition is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is sign up for a team; row, row, row; record your meters; and watch the boats on the string-line in front of the rower to see if your team is winning the race!

WARNING: This competition can be pretty intense (all in fun), so bring your “A” game!

For those of you who participated last year, you probably remember how it all turned out in the end. For those of you who didn’t, here are the results from last year:

2012 Team Total Meters Rowed

  1. Tony: 730,336
  2. Rick: 483,377
  3. Adam: 413,370
  4. Ben: 325,370
  5. Mike: 242,032rowing NIFS
  6. Cara: 213,230
  7. Tasha: 206,304
  8. Brad: 199,438
  9. Josh: 90,726
  10. Alex: 84,505
  11. Christy: 83,793
  12. Steph: 77,543
  13. Thomas: 59,297

             Do you know the right way to row?
             Watch our video with Tony and Alex!
             They will show you the proper form before
             you get started!

2012 Team Average Meters Rowed

  1. Ben: 46,481
  2. Adam: 45, 930
  3. Rick: 30,212
  4. Tony: 26,083
  5. Cara: 21,323
  6. Brad: 16,620
  7. Tasha: 12,894
  8. Alex: 12,072
  9. Thomas: 11,859
  10. Christy: 9,310
  11. Mike: 9,309
  12. Steph: 7,754
  13. Josh: 7,560
This year we are adding a little bit of a twist to the program that will be sure to make the race even more exciting and competitive than it has been in the past. Here are the ground rules for the program this year:
  • Choose your team and sign up with a Health Fitness
    Specialist at the track desk for your team starting November 18.
  • Between November 25 at 6am and December 24 at 2pm, row!
  • There are two ways to utilize your meters rowed this year. In the tracking binder located at the track desk, record your meters rowed immediately following your rowing session, either for your team or against another team. Your meters rowed can only count for one or the other.
  • All rowing must take place at NIFS to count toward your team total.
  • Your HFS will move your team boat along the line to show how well your team is doing against the others.
  • There will be two winning teams that will have bragging rights as champions for the year: the team with the most total meters rowed and the team with the highest individual average.

Sign up before Monday 11/25! We are looking forward to another exciting race this year! If you have any questions about the program, contact Stephanie Kaiser at sgreer@nifs.org or 274-2432, ext. 226.

This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser. Click here to learn more about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS winter fitness fitness center nifs staff rowing

Running Apparel and Equipment: Some Tips for New Runners

Fall is a great time to get out and run. For those new to running, entering a sporting-goods store can result in a high-priced swipe of the credit card upon exiting. If you do not know the difference between your running apparel needs and wants before you go shopping, you are likely to end up in this situation.Running apparel

Let’s talk about what I consider to be the top three most important purchase categories that you will need when starting a running program.

Proper Running Shoes

The most important thing that you will need before starting a running program is a good pair of shoes. This is the single best investment you can make upfront to start a training program on the right foot. I highly suggest purchasing your first pair of running shoes from a running apparel store such as the Runner’s Forum. They have staff on hand that have been trained to determine which type of shoe is best for you to train in based on your running mechanics. They will watch you run, analyze your mechanics, and ensure that you are getting into a shoe that is right for your stride, which can prevent injuries that result from wearing improper shoes.

You should expect to spend between $70 and $130 on a good pair of running shoes. This is the one area that I truly believe is a critical investment.

Proper Running Clothing

It goes without saying that having clothing for running is a must, but you do not necessarily need to spend a ton of money to get what you need. Companies such as Nike and Under Armour put out excellent running apparel that is high quality, functional, and stylish, but with the big-name brands generally comes a high price. On the other hand, stores such as Target  carry similar items for about half of the price and these products will do just fine for your training if you are not willing to pay top dollar.

Be sure you are equipped with the right clothing for the season you are training in. For warm-weather training you will want light, loose-fitting, moisture-wicking, and breathable clothing. Sunscreen and hats are also recommended to avoid sun damage. When it is cold, you will want to wear a few layers:

  • The first layer should wick moisture away from the body.
  • The second should insulate to keep you warm.
  • A third water-resistant layer can be added to keep your first two layers dry when needed.

Winter hats and gloves should also be a part of your winter wardrobe to avoid frostbite. Additionally, women should be sure to purchase a sports bra that they feel comfortable in and that provides them with adequate support.

A Runner's Watch

Having a watch is very important; however, the brand is not as important. You can spend anywhere between $10 and hundreds of dollars based on all of the bells and whistles that it has. Personally, I prefer the Timex Ironman Triathlon watch because I can store various workout splits on it and keep track of my intervals during a workout. This watch costs around $40, but it does not give you distances or current running pace like the GPS Garmin watches do. I will say that the GPS watches can be an excellent tool for the beginner who does not have a gauge on their pacing, but these watches tend to be very pricy.

When gearing up, be sensible with your spending based on your budget and your needs, but be sure to consider the tips I've discussed. The roads are always open and they do not discriminate based on who you are or what you are wearing. You can walk out your door onto the road wearing upwards of $500 invested in your shoes, clothing, and watch, but that is not going to determine how successful you will be in reaching your running and fitness goals. You are responsible for that!

Our Mini Marathon Training Program starts up in January, but it's never too early to register! Click here for online registration and information.

This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser, NIFS Certified Health Fitness Specialist. Meet our bloggers.

Topics: NIFS winter fitness running equipment

How to Beat the Winter Blues

The temperatures are still frigid, and there are days when it seems as if the sun doesn’t shine. This is the time of year when we can start to feel down and less motivated, and maybe start to develop a case of the winter blues.

It's easy for these negative thoughts to start creeping into our heads, but it is just as easy to kick these thoughts to the curb with these five simple steps.

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1. Stay Active

When the snow is blowing outside, the temperatures are below freezing, and the sun is not yet shining, it is easy to make excuses as to why you shouldn’t go to the gym. The thing is, you don’t have to go to the gym to be and stay active. You can complete a NIFS workout at home, throw in a fitness DVD, or embrace the cold weather and participate in a cold-weather sport such as skiing or snowboarding. Being active helps to relieve stress, elevate your mood, and increase your energy and metabolism throughout the day. All you have to do is get moving!

2. Eat a Healthy Diet

The foods that we put into our body have a huge effect on our mood and energy levels. Refined and processed foods are not full of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that our bodies crave. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins will give your body nutrients to give you the energy that you want and need to move through the day with ease.

3. Plan Something for the Future

Now this won’t provide you with instant satisfaction, but it will give you something to look forward to when the warmer months come. You can plan a trip, sign up for a race, or just plan a weekend with your friends. Having that “thing” in the near future to look forward to will be like the carrot dangling in front of you to keep you pushing through these dreary winter months and looking forward to something brighter.

4. Treat Yourself Now!

Planning something for the future is great to keep you going, but you should also reward yourself for your hard work, healthy eating habits, trying that new workout, acing the test, or whatever you have accomplished right now! Treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure, a new clothing item, time with your friends, a special event, or anything else that makes you happy. Winter can seem endless, but with little treats to look forward to, the dark and cold days will go by more quickly.

5. Soak Up the Sun

Even though the temperatures may be chilly, the sun still shines! Many people know that the sun is a great source of Vitamin D, but the sun also lifts your mood. The colder and shorter days during the winter months cause many people to spend more time indoors. A lack of sunlight can cause people to feel depressed or sad. Sunlight effects our mood by releasing neurotransmitters in the brain that effect mood (very similar to exercise!). Instead of cozying up in front of the TV, embrace the cold weather, bundle up, and spend some time outside. You can also soak up the sun simply by sitting near the window!

Using these five ideas, your winter will fly by and spring will be here before you know it!

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

Topics: NIFS exercise fitness winter fitness depression cardio nutrition staying active healthy habits exercise at home

NIFS Fitness: How to Dress for Running in Cold Weather

The weather in Indianapolis has been typical Indiana winter weather: COLD. Despite the near-freezing temperatures, the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program is logging miles outside in preparation for May’s big race. Running or being active outside in temperatures that are fairly icy may seem dangerous, but with the proper gear and clothing, getting out of the gym can be a great way to switch up your typical training routine.

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Tom BonDurant, co-owner of the Runners Forum, spoke at the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program orientation, providing runners with tips and tricks for staying warm and safe when running in freezing temperatures.

Layering Is Key

Tom shared his favorite key pieces of running attire to
mix and match that meet varying weather conditions throughout the year.

Layer 1: The base layer. The base layer can be long sleeve or short sleeve and should be composed of a wicking fabric. The wicking fabric will keep the body drier, which will allow the runner to stay warmer.

Layer 2: The mid/thermal layer. This layer typically consists of a fleece-lined jacket that either zips all the way or is a half zip. The zip allows the jacket to cover the chin and mouth, but can also be zipped down for some extra ventilation if the runner begins to get warm.

Layer 3: Outer shell jacket. This jacket is going to keep the elements out. It should also have reflective material on it for easy visibility when running in the dark.

In addition to these three layers, it is important to have warm and comfortable running gear on the bottom such as fleece-lined running tights, socks, wind briefs (for the guys), a hat, and gloves. With these basic layers covered, you will be prepared for the elements and running outdoors at any time of the year.

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

 

Topics: NIFS exercise fitness winter fitness running marathon training mini marathon half marathon health outdoors safety