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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

How to Eat Red, White, and Blue on the Fourth of July

GettyImages-181065096Here are some recipes for patriotic healthy eating. Bring one of these red, white, and blue creations to your Fourth of July holiday barbecue so that you will have the most patriotic dish to celebrate Independence Day!

Patriotic Veggie Platter

Arrange the following veggies in the shape of a flag with rows of red and white veggies on a large baking sheet. Place a yogurt-based dill or ranch dip in a blue bowl in the corner.

  • Red veggies: Red peppers, grape tomatoes, radishes
  • White veggies: Cucumbers, cauliflower

Independence Fruit Bowl

Toss strawberries, blueberries, starfruit, and watermelon in a bowl and sprinkle with unsweetened coconut flakes.

Red, White, and Blue Popsicles

1½ cups blueberries
1 cup raspberries
2 cups limeade

Divide blueberries and raspberries among freezer-pop molds. Pour limeade over the berries. Insert sticks and freeze until completely firm, about 6 hours. Makes 10 popsicles.

45 calories, 0g fat, 12g carbohydrates, 0g protein.

Fruity Fourth Quinoa Salad

¾ cup wild rice
½ cup quinoa (red if available)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup raspberry vinegar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup halved, pitted fresh sweet cherries
1 cup blueberries
2 stalks celery, diced
¾ cup diced goat cheese
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add wild rice and cook for 30 minutes. Add quinoa and cook until the rice and quinoa are tender, about 15 minutes more. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool to the touch; drain well.

Meanwhile, whisk oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the rice and quinoa, cherries, blueberries, celery, cheese, and pecans and toss to combine. Serve at room temperature or cold.

I hope you have a happy, healthy, and delicious Fourth of July!

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

Topics: nutrition healthy eating recipes holidays grilling

It’s Summertime! Stay Safe in Your Outdoor Exercise

GettyImages-914977726Just like the Fresh Prince says, “Summer, summer, summer time….Time to sit back and unwind!’’ We’ve waited for this time for months, where there is no more snow and plenty of sunshine. Long days of outside fun, no kids in school, road trips and vacations—what more could we ask for?

But, baby it’s hot outside! Don’t let the heat cause you to lose your momentum. You can still keep working hard during the summer time; you just have to adjust a little. Keeping the following summertime fitness tips in mind will help you continue to get stronger and healthier.

Try water workouts.

Choose water workouts and aqua fitness, and make a splash as you get fit and strong. You can even improve your performance in the heat by lowering your body temperature in the pool before heading outside.

Use the shade.

It’s smart to move your workouts to a different location to avoid overexposure to the sun. If you are a runner or a biker, try a route in a wooded area.

Get proper hydration.

Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise. The last thing you want when exercising is for the summer heat to take over. Avoiding caffeine, which forces water out of our systems, is also a good idea. Here are some more tips for getting hydrated.

Choose your clothing carefully.

It is important now more than ever to wear clothing that will move sweat away from your body and help it evaporate quickly. White or light-colored clothing reflects the heat better than darker clothing.

Monitor your heart.

The heat places greater stress on your heart. Be sure to keep an eye on your heart rate as you work out in the heat. Take a break if it starts to spike or get too high.

Beat the heat.

Try beating the heat with an earlier workout time. UVAs are the strongest between 10am and 3pm. Make every effort to minimize your workout outdoors during those hours.

Sunscreen is a must.

Use a stronger SPF just to be safe. It’s important to protect your skin.

Stop if you’re feeling faint or sick.

If you are feeling faint or sick, stop working out immediately. Sit down in the shade, drink water, and always have a nourishing snack available.

Know the symptoms of heatstroke.

Heatstroke is a serious threat that can be fatal. Symptoms include high body temperature (104 degrees or higher); absence of sweating with hot, flushed, or red/dry skin; rapid pulse, difficulty breathing; strange behavior, hallucinations, confusion, agitation, or disorientation; and seizure.

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Hit the gym.

You may find that the best thing to do is simply to stay inside the gym to get your workouts in during the summer. It’s a great time to work on form, increase intensity with no worry of heat exposure, and plan out a new, exciting routine.

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

Topics: summer hydration water sunscreen outdoor exercise aqua fitness

You Got Shoe Game? Choosing the Right Athletic Shoes for Your Workout

GettyImages-905973914Believe it or not, shoes do serve a higher purpose than just to make a fashion statement—especially when you’re choosing shoes to wear to the gym. Now, my first example is rather obvious, but it gets the point across. Would you ever enter the gym for a workout wearing high heels? That’s for you to answer, but there are safety issues that arise from wearing stilettos to the gym. More specifically, footwear is of concern if any of the big lifts such as squatting, running, jumping, and weightlifting are programmed into your workout.

Let’s start by laying the ground rules. Given that your footwear is the avenue by which you gain momentum necessary for movement, it is extremely important to be conscious of your goals, your workout, and your footwear. After all, the only object in contact with the floor is your shoes! A wide variety of shoes are made for different surfaces and sports; however, they fall into three basic categories: performance footwear, running footwear, and cross-training footwear. Let’s take a deeper look at each specific type of athletic shoes.

Performance Footwear

First, the broadest category of shoes is performance footwear. This includes shoes engineered for nearly every specific sport, indoors or outdoors. Each shoe is carefully designed for specificity of sport as well as durability of surface, especially at the elite and professional level. A good example is basketball shoes, which are usually high-tops to help prevent ankle sprains. Soccer cleats, track spikes, football and softball cleats, and others all have spikes that can dig into the playing surface to make cuts sharper and aid in injury prevention.

Other specific shoes occasionally seen in a gym setting are powerlifting shoes and Olympic lifting shoes. Powerlifting shoes are low and flat, with a solid sole that is good for deadlifts because it puts you closer to the floor. It also allows you to push through the whole foot throughout the entire lift. Conversely, Olympic lifting shoes are made with a slight heel to allow athletes better mobility during lifts such as a squat and snatch, where lack of mobility would decrease performance drastically. They are also designed with a solid surface for the sole, tailored to the demands of the sport.

Running Footwear

The next type is the running shoe. Keep in mind that not one foot is the same size or shape, perhaps not even your other foot. Therefore, sizing can be difficult.

A standard running shoe tends to be manufactured with more cushion than other shoes, which in turn allows for less force on the hip and knee joints when running. The shoe design should offer sufficient traction needed to grip the surface and optimum weight distribution in order to ensure safety. They are ergonomically designed to absorb the ground-force reaction when the mid-foot strikes the ground, instead of sending the shockwave up the shin to the leg, commonly known to cause shinsplints.

Cross-training Footwear

Last is the training shoe, also known as the cross-trainer. This shoe is the most versatile of the three and can be used for small amounts of running, jumping, and lifting, but is mainly used to do lateral movement as well as plyometric workouts. Because the shoe is primarily a lower shoe with good support, it is made so you cannot easily roll your ankle or twist your knee when planting your foot into the ground to change direction as quickly as possible.

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Choosing the right equipment for your workout is very important, so know the different types of shoes and choose the ones that are best for the activity that you will be doing.

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

Topics: running equipment workout sports powerlifting shoes cross-training footwear

Managing Athletic Injuries and Setbacks with Goal-Setting

GettyImages-672323222Having something come up that changes your routine or throws off your groove can be frustrating or disheartening because, let’s be honest, we all have things that we want to do. Looking at this from an athlete’s point of view is a little different than that of the general public.

Athletes have essentially three seasons all compressed into one, that being the pre-season, in-season, and off-season. In each of these seasons, an athlete has personal goals that they want to meet alongside the team goals. Some of the personal goals might be to hit a certain weight on a lift in the off-season, or to reach a certain statistic during the in-season. Reaching this personal goal is extremely self-rewarding and makes an athlete strive for more; but what happens when an athlete gets injured?

The Emotional Impact of Injury

Many things happen when an athlete gets injured, but the initial feeling will be some kind of negative emotion, such as disappointment, sadness, or for a more extreme case, depression. These are just a few examples that an athlete can experience on the initial realization of sustaining an injury. An athlete can feel these emotions because it is messing with the goals that they set prior to this injury, just like anyone who had something that didn’t go as planned.

Now that the injury has occurred, and most likely a negative emotion is setting in, there are steps that an athlete can take to help with the rehabilitation process. This process is something that I have some first-hand experience with because I suffered an injury that required me to have surgery and 2–3 months of rehab afterward. These steps are something that I found helpful to keep me on track and stay motivated toward my goals when I was healthy.

Set SMART Goals and Keep Talking to Your Team

I did have that initial negative emotion of disappointment and sadness, but that soon faded once I accepted it, and I had new priorities. I made goals for myself and put on hold my goals from when I was healthy. Having these new rehab goals gave me a new focus, and not on my current situation. The goals that I made were “SMART” goals. What SMART stands for is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. The “specific” part should answer Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. “Measurable” is to be able to track your progress and set benchmarks along the way. “Attainable” is having that belief in yourself and that this goal is possible. “Realistic” are the goals that you are willing and able to work at. “Timely” is setting a date for when you want to complete your goal. If you don’t set a date, there won’t be any urgency.

Along with using the SMART goal strategy, I also talked to people and teammates about how things were going. I feel it is essential to talk to someone; you can feel like you are doing this alone because you are on your own schedule and not participating with all of the team activities. An isolated feeling comes, and it can make you feel distant from everyone else. But talking to a teammate, the trainer, or a friend can make you feel like you are still a part of the team and contributing in some aspect.

Goal setting is extremely important for anything you do. It’s more important when it comes to fitness goals. If you don’t write out your goals where you can see them, you’ll forget what you are trying to accomplish. Along with that, the urgency will fade and you’ll start to rationalize with yourself that you can put off one day, and one day becomes one week, and so forth. Having goals will help with any setbacks that come along because if there is one day that doesn’t go as planned, knowing your goal finish line will still keep you on track.

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

Topics: depression goal setting attitude injuries post-season off-season athletes smart goals

Finding the Right Workout Program (with Some Help from NIFS)

GettyImages-641793510When I discuss working out and fitness with others, one question that I normally ask is, “What are your goals?” and “What does your training look like?” Most times, there will be two responses. The first is from people who are casually exercising without a plan. If you are currently this type of person, don’t get me wrong, it’s good that you are being active, but what if I told you that there is a quicker way to achieve the results that you want?

The second response I often hear is from people who write their own programs. At times they get frustrated because they’re not seeing the results that they want. I love seeing people take the initiative to chase their fitness goals, but why leave results on the table when you have great resources at your disposal?

Three Tips for Choosing an Exercise Program

In general, here are three things I consider when I decide what programming to follow.

  • Solidify your goals. I am a big proponent of writing down your goals and posting them somewhere that will constantly remind me of them. I like to post my goals on the refrigerator and on social media; this helps hold me accountable as I have a tangible reminder of my goals and the intangible support from others.
  • Cross-reference available material. I make it a point to cross reference several sources or training methods to see whether a program will really add to my ability to achieve my goal. Always make sure you ask “why” you are doing something as well. Understanding the deeper meaning behind my programming motivates me to work harder, knowing that I have invested myself in something worthwhile.
  • Make sure it’s FUN! I am much more likely to stick to my programming if I find it enjoyable. Myriad training styles will help you accomplish your goals, so pick the one that you will enjoy and adhere to.

NIFS and Your Fitness Goal-Setting

NIFS offers several ways to help you get a jump-start on achieving your goals. The staff members and personal trainers at NIFS are degreed individuals in the exercise science field and have a variety of certifications; they use this knowledge to program workouts that are effective and fun. With an extensive knowledge of exercise physiology and biomechanics, their ever-growing toolbox is full of ways to get you closer to your fitness goals. Having an expert by your side is always an advantage!

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Picking a program can seem daunting at first, but when you use the right resources, you will pave your pathway to success!

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

Topics: NIFS goal setting accountability nifs staff fitness goals workout plan

How Many Calories Are You Consuming When Dining Out?

GettyImages-523697434In 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act, it was required that all chain restaurants, groceries, and convenience stores post their calories for customers to see. Some started right away, and you might have noticed them pop up at Starbucks or McDonalds over the years. However, on May 7, 2018, it finally took effect that all food sellers with more than 20 locations now must have the calorie postings visible, with access to all nutrition information available upon request.

Why This Change Is Such a Good Thing

Americans currently eat and drink a third of their calories away from home. The purpose of putting the calorie count on the menus, display boards, and digital screens was to help Americans make more informed choices and hopefully choose healthier options that are available. The FDA has shown that since menu labeling began, consumers have decreased the number of calories ordered by 30 to 50, which could mean a 3–5-pound weight loss in a year.

Tips for Better Nutrition When Dining Out

If you currently dine out, here are some tips to help make the best decision when ordering:

  • Think your drink. The drink you choose can add up to 500 calories to your meal, yet doesn’t affect how full you will feel when you drink it. Instead, look for calorie-free drink options. Water and unsweetened iced tea are the best; however, occasionally you can choose a diet soda or sugar-free lemonade to go along with your meal. This new labeling will also list the calorie content for alcohol, so make sure to include those calories when planning a balanced meal.
  • Load up on veggies. Consider swapping the traditional side of fries, chips, tots, etc. for a vegetable. Salads, raw veggie sticks, or a hot vegetable option when available will keep the meal high in fiber and lower in fat and calories.
  • Choose a protein. Protein helps keep you full and satisfied, so if you don’t want to be reaching for a snack an hour after your meal, be sure to have a protein source at every meal. Anytime you can choose a lean protein like poultry, seafood, and lean red meat, it’s even better!
  • Go for the whole grain. Protein isn’t the only thing that will keep you full; so does fiber. Choosing a whole grain when available is another must for staying satisfied longer. Choose a whole-wheat pizza crust, brown rice, or whole-wheat pasta or rolls when they are offered.
  • Practice portion control. Many meals eaten out are so large that you can easily save half and have it for another meal or split the meal with your dining partner. Keep in mind portion sizes: one serving of meat should be the size the palm of your hand, sides are around the size of a tennis ball, and added fat like butter is the size of the tip of your thumb.
  • Try mindfulness. So many times when you dine out, it’s for a quick and easy meal or a celebration or social event. During these times you could be distracted and not paying attention to your hunger and fullness levels. Take time to pause between bites and assess whether you are full and can save some of the meal for later.

Take advantage of the new labeling as a way to help you stay informed about your choices. Look over the menus and choose a reasonable meal that will let you leave the restaurant happy with your choice!

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

Topics: nutrition weight loss calories dining out restaurants

Not a Workout Junkie? How About Swimming and Aqua Bootcamp?

Of course everyone knows that swimming is good for you. But what are the real benefits gained by jumping into the water?

Swimming Burns Tons of Calories147915512

How many, you ask? Well, here are some hard numbers:

Calories burned in 1 hour for a 155-lb. person:

  • Lap swimming, slow: 493 calories
  • Lap swimming, fast: 704 calories
  • We Water jogging: 563 calories
  • Treading water, moderate: 281 calories
  • Treading water, fast: 704 calories

Swimming Works All Muscle Groups

Swimming uses all major muscle groups. Remember, working big muscles burns big calories! This means you are strengthening your arms, legs, shoulders, and glutes, and it gives you a good core workout at the same time.

Swimming Is Low Impact on Your Body

Because you are suspended in the water, your joints don’t take the pounding they would on the ground or treadmill, plus the movement helps increase your range of motion. More range of motion means more muscle worked through that range, and yes, more calories burned!

Swimming Is a Refreshing Workout Any Time of the Year

The water in the competition pool at the Natatorium is kept between 75 and 79 degrees, the back pool is kept at 85 to 88 degrees, and the diving well for aqua fitness classes is kept at 85 to 88 degrees.

In short, there are few exercises that can give you the workout swimming can. If you have not found a love for kettlebells, weight machines, or treadmills, take the plunge and see what swimming can do for you. You may find a whole new workout routine you enjoy and look forward to.

For additional health benefits read this article on Active.com, 9 Good Reasons Why You Should Get in the Pool.

Swim Drills Anyone Can Do

To get you started, here are some great swim drills you can try in the pool.

  • Stroke improvement drills (with pull buoy): The buoy is held above your knees and you work your arms and upper torso. You can also place the buoy at your ankles to feel your core and inner thighs work harder.
  • Kick drills (with or workout fins): Work on the leg/hip action while holding a kickboard. It may be slow without fins, but you get great singular-leg and cardiovascular work.
  • Side stroke: Lying on your side, down arm extended. Works your legs and core. Make sure you switch sides to get balanced work.
  • Intervals, fast length down the pool: Give yourself proper rest time to go fast on the successive intervals. As you improve, add to the number of intervals or go-down-and-back sprints.

If you are interested in lap swimming as part of your training, access to the IU Natatorium lap pool is now part of your NIFS membership! Click here for more info.

Also check out Aqua Bootcamp for A HIGH INTENSITY water fitness workout that gives you the CARDIO boost of the pool and the benefits of RESISTANCE training in the gym. If you are interested check in at the Natatorium desk before class or contact Kris Simpson at ksimpson@nifs.org or 317.274.3432 ext.211

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This blog was written by Kris Simpson BS, ACSM-PT, HFS, personal trainer at NIFS. To read more about Kris and NIFS bloggers click here.


Topics: fitness workouts swimming

Boot Camp: The Workout for All Your Fitness Goals

BootcampI want powerful legs! I want to increase my endurance! I want stronger and well-toned abs! I want toned arms! I don’t want to spend endless hours in the gym! Sound familiar? Chances are you have wanted these things at some point in your fitness journey. The great news is that all these are very possible to achieve, and you get them all in one stop.

You need Boot Camp!

What Is Boot Camp?

Boot camp is an amazing style of training that has proven to help people achieve their strength and endurance goals all during one session. Based on the training that our brave men and women of the military complete before defending our country, this style of training is meant to push you toward your physical limits. The beauty of boot camp is that it is an hour-long session filled with challenging workout moves to increase heart rate, which improves cardiovascular health while also strengthening and toning multiple muscle groups at once to create maximum fitness results.

This format of working out is constantly varied, so you never get used to a certain physical stimulus, making this type of training session even more beneficial for constant growth and improvement. Often, when we stick to the same workout routine for an extended period of time, our bodies adapt to that form of exercise and will stay in a constant state with no change. To avoid plateaus and boredom, all fitness pros believe that changing the modes and methods of exercise is a must. Bootcamp drills are also a lot of fun, using a wide variety of equipment, including partner work drills, and mixing up the setting of where the training takes place. All these aspects allow for a fun and challenging workout that will lead to great results.

Come check it out on the NIFS Group Fitness Schedule: Mondays and Wednesdays at 6pm with Steven! If you need a quick fix while at home, try his mini bootcamp workout below.

At-Home Mini Boot Camp by Steven Kass

  • 25 Deep Squats
  • 25 Push-ups
  • 25 Mountain Climbers
  • 25 Bicycles
  • 100 Jump Ropes

“Start with 1 set and work your way up to 4” says Kass. “That’s all you need for a good whole-body workout.”

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This blog was written by Brittany Ignas, BS in Kinesiology, 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, Stott Pilates Certified, and Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS group fitness boot camp endurance muscle building toning fitness goals