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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Big Bang Theory: Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Training?

GT-newWhen you think of the term “economy,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? Money would probably be number one, and maybe government and the idea of debt would more than likely come to mind next. There is another economy that should be as well known, and that is your training economy. Simply put, your training economy is the rate of return that you get from the methods and practices of your current training program.

How much time do you spend in the gym or working out? Are you getting the results you set out to achieve? Are you getting the best ROI (return on investment, as they say in business)? Time is one of our most valued commodities, and how you spend your time working toward your health and fitness can determine whether you are on your way to bankruptcy (injury, lack of results, etc.) or getting the most out of your biggest investment.

First and foremost, in my opinion, if you are spending more than two hours in the gym, you are making friends, not gains. If that is your thing, that’s great, but you can never say “I don’t have the time to get the results I want.” Save the Instagram photos and tweets for vacation, and WORK when you are in the gym. Most importantly, you will want to get the most out of the time (there’s that word again) you have committed to training and being the best you that you can be. There are two surefire ways to get the biggest return on your investment while in the gym: 

1. Have a plan of attack.

Needless to say, the plan (or program) is a very important step in ensuring that the time you are working toward the goals you defined is purposeful and bringing you closer and closer to that outcome. This plan should be specific to the goal you are striving to achieve, and should adhere to sound principles. This plan should be progressive. A great coach told me once that you can’t put your tie on before your shirt. Master the basics before moving on to more advanced movements. Read more about this investment step in my previous posts, Do You Even Lift Bro? Weightlifting for Beginners and Alice and Chains.

2. Emphasize “big bang” movements in your program.

Performing what are widely known as “big bang” movements is the second way to get the biggest return on your investment of time. Big bang movements are categorized by including multiple joints, including multiple planes of motion, and incorporating variable loads during the movement. Here are five of my favorite biggest “bang for your buck” movements.

  • Squat and press: Combining both upper and lower body, squat and pressing patterns, and loading the anterior core; the Squat and Press exercise provides a whole lot of BANG! 
  • Ultimate Sandbag Rotational Lunge: As your body moves in one plane of motion, the load of the sandbag will be moving in another. This awesome big bang movement will not only challenge your stability, but it also hits both the lunge and hinge patterns at one time. What a bargain! 
  • Turkish Get-ups: One of the most all-encompassing movements on the planet. The Get-up combines mobility, stability, and strength all in one package. This movement takes some practice before loading it, so take the time to master it to get the most out of it.
  • Crawling patterns: You have to crawl before you can run, right? Crawling patterns are a great way to target the entire system while performing something that is innate to us humans. Try out different variations to continue to stress the body in different ways.
  • Dead lift: Considered by some to be the “beast” of all movements, the dead lift is a huge, multi-joint-pulling motion of awesomeness. We all at one time in our day must bend over to pick something up. The dead lift prepares us for that. 

Getting the most out of your most precious gift, TIME, should be a priority in your fitness programming. Utilizing big bang movements can help you get the results you are looking for without burning the clock.

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


Topics: fitness center training weightlifting strength exercises

The Right Attitude to Get You Moving

ThinkstockPhotos-179777962-1“Start somewhere today. Don’t put it off. You can do something, no matter how ‘small’ you think it is in terms of your long-term goal. Every step you take is one you’ll be thankful for when you get there. Remember: You're lapping everyone who’s still on the couch.” —Caressa Sharp

You see the quote above? It screams at you to get moving, doing something. In this post we talked about doing 95 percent of the work. Have you tried? If so, bravo. If not, why not?

In my quest to make you enjoy your workouts, it seems you may need more encouraging. Okay; if you started, there’s no need to be chastised. You’re on your way. Just keep at it! Let me talk to you, those who have not moved off the couch.

During one of my son's middle school open house, I made an interesting observation: The teachers with the best attitude had many posters about positive attitudes, while the dull, monotone teachers had none. My take from this is to surround yourself with so much good attitude, including words, pictures, and people.

Group Training May Be the Answer

The people you workout with can pull you along. The problem just may be finding them. At NIFS, there is a great group of active older adults “kickin’ their own butts” as I like to say (I even told them this and they laughed).

We have started small group training for this very reason. I am looking for members who are searching for a training partner or group to help them get moving. If you are interested, please contact me.

Bottomline we want to find you and help you get healthier. DEMO classes are a great way to see if a training group would be just the kick in the pants you need. Any task done with a friend or partner is much easier accomplished—even if those people aren’t exactly your “best buds.”

Get active, stay active, live better!

Yes! I want to try small group training

This blog was written by Kris Simpson, NIFS Personal Trainer. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.


Topics: staying active group fitness group training attitude

Pop Quiz: Check Your New Year’s Health and Fitness ReSOLUTIONS

ThinkstockPhotos-163054981Are you excited about your progress thus far in 2020 toward those goals you set back in January?

In a recent post, I discussed Redefining New Year’s Resolutions, and I truly hope that some of the information hit home with you when you determined your course of action this year. 

So how have you fared thus far in accomplishing what you set out to do this year? If you are like most Americans, you would probably answer that question with the frowning-face emoticon. :(

Health and Fitness Goal-Setting by the Numbers

Let’s take a look at some numbers: 

  • Only about 4% of Americans write down their goals.
  • 45% of people make new year’s resolutions.
  • Only 8% of Americans will succeed in their new year’s resolutions
  • Check-ins to gyms drop 10% beginning as early as February (according to a two-year Facebook study). 

Unfortunately, the statistics are against us when it comes to seeing our new life solutions (if you read my earlier posts, you know I hate the word “resolutions”) come to fruition. So I ask you again: How are you doing in the first couple of months in 2020 in accomplishing those promises you made yourself? 

Just like any other health and fitness assessment, it’s beneficial to reevaluate your progress in completing those things you felt were pretty important back in January. So let’s take care of some reasons for why you may not be on track to completing your yearly goals. 

Reasons (or Excuses) Why Resolutions Fail: Do Any of These Sound Familiar?

  • Didn’t write down your goals.
  • That positive mindset you started off with has fizzled and you have traveled back to “Negativetown.”
  • Went back to poor sleeping and recovery habits that snowballed into other poor behaviors because you tend to make bad choices when you are “tired and wired.” 
  • Maybe you didn’t see fast enough results, and during one of your negative self-talks you figured, “What’s the big deal about enjoying that third piece of cake?” Keeping with that mindset, you repeated the above.
  • Don’t have enough time. (This one is my favorite!) You have the same amount of time in the week that more successful people have. So it’s not about time; it’s about prioritization. If you were to say “I suck at managing my life,” that makes a lot more sense than “I don’t have enough time.”

How Do I Get Back on Track?

Hurdles and setbacks are inevitable in anything that we hope to accomplish. The trick is to realize what is not working and do something better! Your life will not change until you change something you do on a daily basis.

  • Assess your wellness and prioritize. Your overall health and wellness encompasses every aspect of your life, and each one exists in a delicate balance. With a strong structure of these aspects, you can weather any storm; but if one is out of alignment, you could topple over. Determine which aspects may need some work and focus on them. 
  • So maybe goal writing isn’t for you. Choose one powerful word to say to yourself every day. It works; trust me.
  • Bottom line: Find a way to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Create a ritual and stick to it.
  • Manage your time. Quick math here: There are 24 hours in a day. If you work 8 hours, and if you get 8 hours of sleep, you have 8 remaining hours. How are you spending those hours? Remove the unproductive things, such as surfing the interwebs or watching TV, and use that time working toward your goals.
  • De-clutter. If your car, office, and house are full of stuff piled up all over the place, it can make managing your life much more difficult. I will give one example: If your kitchen countertops are full of stuff, how amped are you going to be to cook dinner? Clear out the junk to make room for the jewels! 
  • Get a workout buddy to hold you accountable, not one that will take the day off with you at the first sign of struggle. If you need one, let me know, I will be there for you!
  • Binge cook: Plan your food, cook your food, and eat your own food!

Don’t let the statistics get you down. You can make 2020 great by being a better manager of your life. Reassess, realign, and reenergize yourself toward achieving your best year yet!

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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. This blog as been updated. Original blog was posted on


Topics: healthy habits fitness center goal setting accountability

Thomas’s Corner: Nuts About the Nutrition in Nuts

ThinkstockPhotos-178017024Nuts, basically one of the original food groups and predating even the most basic diet, have been a part of human existence since the beginning, and there is good reason. They taste good and are loaded with nutrients. The properties and benefits of nuts vary based on each individual nut, with some options being a little healthier than others.

Nuts Are Healthiest Without Embellishment

There are some ground rules that I would like to set regarding healthy nuts. 

Try not to add chocolate to the equation. Although chocolate has its good qualities, we also know that added calories would diminish our gains from the nuts.

Salt, like chocolate, has added value in taste but is not recommended for individuals who are heart conscious. For that matter, I don’t recommend added anything, whether it be chocolate, salt, sugar, etc.

Health Benefits of Nuts

“Now wait a minute, this sounds like a lot of work,” you may say. This is where you are mistaken. Eating nuts can be an enjoyable way to get variety in your diet and healthful nutrition. For instance, almonds, cashews, pecans, brazil nuts, macadamias, pistachios, hazelnuts, and walnuts boast tons of benefits, including but not limited to fighting inflammation, improving digestion, raising immunity, lowering LDL, fighting cancer, and even making coffee taste better.

Nutritional Information About Nuts

Nuts can differ in size, shape, texture, and taste, but overall, they are fairly similar in calories per ounce and fat. The pistachio weighs in pretty light on the calorie scale at about 160 calories and 14 grams of fat per 50 nuts, while the Brazil nut is 185 calories and 18 grams of fat for 5 to 6 nuts. The healthy properties of the Brazil nut, though, outweigh the difference in that they contain a fair amount of selenium (which, in recommended doses, has been linked to fighting certain cancers).

With all the benefits nuts pose for our health, it is easy to see why they belong in the Mount Rushmore of edibles. Do yourself a favor and accentuate your diet… because nuts are taking over!

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

Topics: nutrition Thomas' Corner healthy eating disease prevention immunity protein heart disease

Running with Scissors: The Art of Stupidity in Fitness

ThinkstockPhotos-462463965A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) looked at the winners of the past Darwin Awards. These awards are given to people who die in an idiotic manner, thereby insuring the long-term survival of the human species by removing themselves from the gene pool.

The study examined 318 cases. Of them, 282 (or 88.7%) were men. These results support the emerging “Males are Idiots Theory” (MIT). The authors were at a loss to explain the reasons for males dominating the art of stupid death, but they offered that men are more willing to take unnecessary risks simply as a rite of passage, for male social esteem, or perhaps just for bragging rights. It is also believed that alcohol had a lot to do with the outcomes (duh!).

Macho Man Cuts Off Own Head

My favorite Darwin Award went to Polish farmer Krystof Azninski, who in 1996 cut off his own head while trying to prove how macho he was by one-upping his friend who had just cut off his own foot with a chainsaw. Azninski won. And lost.

The bout started while drinking (again, duh). They began hitting each other over the head with frozen turnips. But when Azninski’s friend cut off his own foot, Azninski felt compelled to respond.

As kids, we were all warned about the dangers of running with scissors: “It’s all fun and games until someone pokes an eye out.” When you’re 4 years old, that gruesome image stays with you and vividly comes back every time you hold scissors. Running is the last thing on your mind, at least for most people.

But there are some who never listen and seemingly never learn. Tell them the stove is hot and they’ll end up with a second-degree burn because they had to prove it to themselves. Their universe is a lot different than ours, and if we were able to listen in on the conversation in their heads, we would twitch in disbelief. Logic? What logic?

Fitness and the Male Ego

What does this have to do with fitness? Well, while walking around the gym, I twitch a lot because I see bad technique. I see really dumb exercises. And worse, I see really dumb exercises done badly—and you guessed it: mostly by men. In this environment, I assume alcohol is not involved, so it must be something else. Let’s try the male ego.

Maybe it’s a guy thing, but very few males will seek out proper lifting instruction, and there are some who will not even accept it when it is offered. Their pride won’t let them consider that they may be doing something wrong, and they are not going listen to another male tell them that they are. Female trainers, in this situation, stand no chance in helping these men regardless of their qualifications and experience.

Females, on the other hand, are not invested in false pride and are more interested in exercising correctly. They have no unrealistic expectations of strength and are pleasantly surprised when strength arrives. Their major concern is that they simply want to lift correctly and avoid injuries, and are therefore more willing to listen and follow through on instructions. Because of this, they progress better toward their goals and suffer from fewer injuries on the way.

I see the gym’s version of Krystof Azninski round-backing deadlifts, knees collapsing inward while squatting, totally missing the point of the Olympic Lifts (which is power development, not conditioning), engaged in a death struggle under the bar while benching, not having the strength and proper technique to handle the weight they’re using on any exercise, etc. The point is they are more interested in demonstrating strength than actually developing it.

Running with scissors, running with dumbbells; it’s all metaphorically the same. It’s all fun and games until you poke out an eye, rupture a disc, blow out a knee, or turn a shoulder into hamburger.

Guys, take pride in “doing it right.” Let results come to you naturally; don’t chase them. Stop running with scissors, and for god’s sake put down that chainsaw!

To learn more about how a NIFS personal trainer can help you with injury prevention, click here.

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

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Topics: fitness fitness center injury prevention injuries personal training

Top 3 Tips for Staying Healthy in College

collegeEven though it’s been a few years since I graduated, it still feels like I was just walking through campus and living in the dorm. I absolutely loved college, and while many people gained the freshman 15, I took advantage of the opportunity to live on my own for the first time and make lots of healthy habits that I still follow today. Just because I created healthy habits doesn’t mean I didn’t have an amazing time.

For me, living a balanced life full of fun is essential for being healthy. Here are my top three tips for staying healthy your freshman year and beyond (that leave room for plenty of college-style fun and experiences).

1. Keep a Routine

I am a routine type of girl, but I have come to learn that having a routine is not just a “me” thing. The human body was designed to function on a schedule and to have a routine. Everyone can have a different routine, but I found that I functioned best when I went to bed a little earlier than most people and woke up a little earlier. Of course, I would stay up later on weekends to participate in events, hang out with friends, and attend socials and parties, but I would give myself a curfew (typically midnight) so that I could get some sleep and still feel great the next morning (even after having a great time the night before). The most important thing is to figure out what works for your body and stick to it. 

2. Take Advantage of the Rec/Fitness Center

Most colleges and universities have a fitness center or are affiliated with a fitness center for students to use. Guys, this is a no-brainer! Just go to the rec center or fitness center. These places offer tons of group fitness classes, personal training sessions, and weight and cardio equipment for you to do your own workouts, and they are usually open for the majority of the day. Stop making excuses; find a friend and hit up the rec/fitness center. You’ll thank me once you do!

3. Walk It Out

I went to a small university, so the farthest thing away on campus was typically a 10-minute walk. That’s it! I would only use my car if I had to take a large load somewhere or if I was leaving campus, which was very rare. Walking is amazing for the body because it gets the body moving, but it doesn’t put a lot of stress on the muscles and joints. Walking as your form of transportation is a habit that you can start during your college days and then continue throughout the rest of your life! Seriously, just walk. You’ll feel great and those freshman 15 pounds will stay far away. 

Of course, there are tons of other things you can do to stay healthy in college; these are just a few for you to start with! 

Let’s hear from you below in the comment section. What are some of your favorite ways to stay healthy?

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.

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Topics: healthy habits fitness center walking sleep college

NIFS Ramp Up to Weight Loss Program Participant: Brian Kumle

Brian4NIFS would like to highlight Brian Kumle, one of the recent graduates from its 14-week Ramp Up to Weight Loss Program. This program provides individuals looking to lose weight with the extra tools that they need to take off pounds and keep them off—without compromising their health—by focusing on healthy eating, exercise, and accountability. The program includes one-on-one training sessions, coaching sessions, fitness evaluations, appointments with our registered dietitian, and guidance along the way. Read about what the program has done for Brian.


I’m a designer here in Indianapolis, originally from Leo, Indiana. I graduated from Herron School of Art and Design last year.


I joined this program because, at the time, I was the heaviest and most out of shape I’ve ever been in my life. I was an athlete in high school and regret each day that I haven’t maintained a body even close to what it was. So I needed a change and to go outside my comfort zone.


I really enjoyed the variety of the workouts and having a little fun doing them. I don’t respond well to being just ordered around, and Emily was very helpful in not only teaching me technique and purpose, but also maintaining a chill AND hardworking atmosphere.


Something that definitely surprised me was how much body fat I lost in just 14 weeks*. It wasn’t astronomical, but it was more than I expected.


Love/Hate: The sled push or the medicine ball ab circuit was a love/hate relationship.


I got a great start in losing the body fat and gaining a bit of muscle*. I also learned a ton of exercises that will definitely help me going forward and make working out exciting.


Reverting back to old habits on the weekends and struggling to get the ball rolling again after that as well as having to work AFTER work. I learned that even a highly intense 30-minute workout is better than nothing, and that even if I can’t work out on a day, I can still control what I’m putting into my body.


Just thinking of what I will look/feel like in a month, 3 months, 6 months, a year if I keep working harder and harder. And, of course, looking in the mirror.


Just a lot of thanks for all the guidance and resources the program and Emily provided me. THANKS!

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

Ramp Up to Weight Loss program  LEARN MORE

This blog was written by Emily O’Rourke BS, HFS, Weight Loss Program Coordinator at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here

Topics: exercise nutrition motivation weight loss NIFS programs