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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Turn Your Healthy Eating and Nutrition Resolutions into Habits

GettyImages-154906518How many of us are guilty of making a New Year’s resolution and then struggling to stick to it by the time February rolls around? Even with the best of intentions, most of us have trouble maintaining the changes that start off so strong on January 1st. Often these promises to ourselves are centered around our overall health and well-being.

As a dietitian, I see people’s January nutrition goals come and go. What is the reason for this? Practice makes perfect! Recent research has shown it can take anywhere from 18 days to 254 days to form a new habit—66 days on average! We can’t just jump into a marathon and expect to win. We have to take small steps to get to where we want to be.

The Top Resolutions for 2020 Money and Healthy Habits

A survey of 2,011 U.S. adults (Ipsos, 2019) found that “manage finances better” and “eat healthier” come in at a tie for top resolutions heading into 2020—just in front of “be more active” and “lose weight.” Other resolutions scoring high included “improve mental well-being,” “improve social connections,” “learn a new skill,” and “be more eco-friendly.” Each of these resolutions comes across as somewhat daunting, right? Even as a dietitian, “eat healthier” is somewhat overwhelming to me! What exactly should you do to eat healthier and where do you start?

Let’s make 2020 a great year! Instead of biting off more than you can chew, resolve to tackle a few smaller goals that will help you achieve a bigger goal down the road. Pick just one or two smaller actions to take and solidify those habits before moving on to the next step.

Steps to Keeping Your Healthy Eating Resolution

I’ve put together a few ideas on how to help keep that healthy nutrition resolution going strong throughout the year—check them out below!

In 2020, I resolve to

  • Eat dinner at home three times a week.
  • Eat dessert twice a week—instead of every night!
  • Split entrees with a friend or family member when out to eat.
  • Find an alternative to my usual favorite Frappuccino.
  • Carry a reusable water bottle and drink 64 oz of water daily.
  • Eat a piece of fruit at every meal.
  • Opt for a glass of wine only on the weekends.
  • Bring healthy snacks to work.
  • Create a healthy grocery shopping list and stick to the list.
  • Cut out red meats and processed meats (bacon, lunch meats, sausage).
  • Create a support system—they often have good ideas on how to manage family gatherings, restaurants, new foods to try, etc.
  • Make each Monday a Meatless Monday!
  • Cut out added sugars.
  • Fuel up with a healthy snack before a workout and recover with a healthy snack.
  • Get an air fryer and make your own “chips” and “fries” at home.
  • Recruit a workout buddy.
  • When going out to eat at your favorite chain restaurant, look up the menu and nutrition facts before you go and decide what you’ll have before you arrive.
  • Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast.
  • Go to bed an hour earlier than you usually would.
  • Try a new food every week. Swap chickpea pasta for your normal pasta, try using olive oil in place of butter for cooking, or sample a plant-based milk in place of heavy cream in your coffee.
  • Recreate your plate and make veggies and fruits the main component of your meals—second helpings are a must!
  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast: opt for a little protein with a carbohydrate, like oatmeal with peanut butter.
  • Skip the soda!

Write down the one or two actions from this list that you would like to tackle. And keep in mind, if you start working on those actions on January 1, you will have to actively think about this on a daily basis before it becomes habit—remember, 66 days! Keep in mind that you may need even more time than the other person who picks the exact same goals to get into that healthier habit. Move at your own pace. If something isn’t working, ask for help. And persevere—when you slip up (we are all human), just hop right back into the swing of things. You’ve GOT THIS!

Happy Holidays!

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This blog was written by Lindsey Hehman, MA, RD, CD. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

 

Topics: nutrition healthy habits resolutions healthy eating

Scrooged: Growing Older Is Getting Old (Three Keys for Aging Better)

shutterstock_119305324Getting old sucks. That’s right, I said it: getting old sucks. I might be the only one in the fitness world to say it, but it does. I know I’m supposed to be positive about the inevitable passing of time and what each of us face in our journeys—and I’m positive it is not fun at all. No matter whether you are turning 20 or 70, we are all getting older and it is getting old! If you can’t tell by now, I am a bit grumpy about some of the aspects that each passing birthday has in store; and much like Ebenezer Scrooge, I say, “Bah humbug” to it all!

In a previous post, “This is 40,” I mentioned how quickly some physical attributes can change, and not in a good way. I recently purchased some readers (which are currently aiding me to write this blog) because my eyesight is beginning slip, I guess. I sometimes make a bunch of noises when I get-up, and it takes a few steps to get upright. The other day I went for what I used to consider a short run, and had to stop three times to stretch out. When goofing around with my nephews, I have to first ask myself, “Will this activity result in me hurting myself?” before I participate. Bah humbug, right? And yep, I’m still pretty grumpy about the whole thing!

You Will Be Visited by Three Goals

Okay, now that I’m done complaining about it, what can you do to help growing older go more smoothly? In the coming weeks, you will be visited by three goals that can change your life. These three different goals cover the concepts and strategies that can help minimize some of the effects of getting older. What are these goals, you ask?

  • Eat well.
  • Move more.
  • Recover better.

Wait, you’re telling me you’ve heard of these goals before? (Hopefully you’re picking up on my sarcasm!) That’s right, there’s no crazy new idea here. But no matter how we in the health and fitness world try to gift-wrap the keys to living long and living well, you all still don’t do it. Crazy, right? Who knew shutting your pie hole, getting off your butt, and resting properly could have positive effects on your health and longevity? So why aren’t more of us doing these simple things that can change the game forever?

Gear Up for a Better Christmas Future!

During the visits from these goals, they will walk you through the how and why of each goal and the steps to take to be better as you age and not the other way around. Recipes, videos, and workouts will all be part of these visits, covering an array of strategies that can help.

It’s not too late! You can change; we can change! Listen to the messages these goals have for you during each visit, implement them, and say “bah humbug” to getting old and say “Whoopee!” to being awesome for life!

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

 

Topics: holidays recovery goals healthy lifestyle aging

Thomas’s Top Ten: Healthy Holiday Inspirations

IMG_8604Holidays are times when you can relax and reflect, spend time with friends and family, and indulge in copious amounts of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, and pie. Well, maybe don’t eat so much pie. But we do have plenty of reasons to not only be grateful, and to be inspired for the future.

Top Ten Things That Inspire Me

You probably have a hundred things you are excited about for the next decade. I have compiled my personal Thomas’s Top Ten list of things I am inspired by and that make me smile.

  1. Good health: There’s a lot to say about good health, such as being able to do things you like to do, go places you want to visit, and experience everything life has to offer. Being in the fitness industry predisposes a person to being health-minded, but it’s not an easy road and definitely something not to be taken for granted.
  2. Good friends: Spending time with friends is important. Like good health, this isn’t always easy and sometimes there are roadblocks along the way. I believe my favorite place on earth is wherever my best friend is at that time.
  3. Pets: If you have pets, you instantly have a built-in best friend. When treated well, these little animals can give you love and affection after a long day at work, or give you the inspiration to go out and exercise when you are tired.
  4. Sunshine: Sunshine is such an important aspect of life that it comes in at number four on my list. Without the sunshine, there is no life. Go out on a sunny day and see for yourself. There is something to be said for rainy days too… without rain, there would be no trees, flowers, or rivers.
  5. Fresh air: I am grateful for fresh air, even if it’s cold and crisp. Being able to breathe well is something to be thankful for because it isn’t easy for everyone. Fresh air can improve your sleep as well as overall well-being.
  6. Clean water: Having a clean water source and plenty to go around is a beautiful thing. All too often, we take having clean water for granted. Our bodies need water to function well—and being able to stay outwardly clean doesn’t hurt, either.
  7. Good sleep: Sleeping is where we recharge our batteries. After a long day of work and play, our bodies need sleep to rebuild muscle and alleviate mental fatigue. Also, sleeping in on the weekend is okay!
  8. Books: I am very grateful for not only the ability to read, but also all the books that inspire me in life and work. Even further, books allow not only for education, but also relaxation. There is something to be said about someone who enjoys being an active participant in their entertainment. Also, you can multiply your happiness when you share your books with your friends.
  9. Music: Sometimes people can associate music and songs with nearly every aspect of their lives. You can almost define certain life events with music (what was your high school spirit song, or are there any songs that you remember from elementary school?). Also, music helps inspire and motivate people to exercise. Over the years, music may change, but the effect is still the same.
  10. Mountains: This can be taken both literally and metaphorically. Mountains are amazing. Thousands of years old, stoic, and everlasting, mountains can be a destination for relaxation (vacation), exercise (hiking), and relaxation. Thinking outside the box, a “mountain” can represent your own personal goal for the coming year. I am thankful for mountains because they are the ultimate reason for pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

What Inspires You?

What ideas are on your Top Ten list? I’m sure there are many I have failed to list that are as important or possibly more important than the ones I have listed. Take a few moments and jot them on a piece of paper. That’s how I started this blog!

Looking forward to a New Year and new decade is an exciting prospect. NIFS will be looking help you reach your goals, motivate you, and educate you with the most knowledgeable and expert advice available. Happy holidays and have a GREAT 2020.

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the other NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: Thomas' Corner holidays inspiration new year healthy living

Productivity Hacks: Ditch the Productivity Shame Guilt Trip

GettyImages-601357430Welcome to the final installment of the productivity series. If you need a second to catch up, check out these posts regarding action (productive) vs. motion (busy), the Ivy Lee Method for prioritizing, and the Pomodoro Technique for time management. But if you’re all up to speed, we’ll dive right in!

Feeling Ashamed of Falling Short

Up to this point, I’ve covered topics and methods that are all geared toward the act of being productive. But what happens when you fall short of the productivity goals that you set for yourself?

Maybe you’ve stared down at the to-do list on your desk and asked yourself, “How did I only get this much done today?” Maybe you start to beat yourself up, or scold yourself like a parent would their kid. If you’ve ever found yourself in this position, you are not alone. Many high achievers have described themselves as having an “internal cattle prod” when it comes to their own productivity, constantly pushing themselves to do more and go further, until finally they reach an unsustainable pace. Researchers have coined the term productivity shame in regard to this phenomenon. But why do so many of us experience this feeling with regard to work?

A Productivity Expert on the Causes of Productivity Shame

Jocelyn K. Glei is an author, lecturer, and host of the podcast Hurry Slowly. She researches and presents on ways to optimize productivity and creativity, and how to be more resilient in the workplace and in our daily lives. She describes productivity shame as “a toxic substance that slowly corrodes your ability to take any joy in your work.” She cites examples that may sound all too familiar to some, such as committing to a workload that you intuitively know is unrealistic. Or maybe you set an incredibly challenging goal for yourself (not inherently a bad thing) but you fail to set up a structure for support or accountability, then berate yourself for failing to reach that goal.

Glei has run into this numerous times with students in her class and those with whom she consults in the workplace. She cites potential causes as our instant-gratification culture, one that is fueled by social media and technology. If we have to wait for something to download because the internet connection is weak, if our Instagram post doesn’t get a certain amount of likes right away, if we have to wait longer than 2 minutes in a drive-thru line, its nearly to the point where some feel accosted by these things. It’s downright annoying. Over time, we may slowly be wiring ourselves to expect this same level of speed when it comes to our creativity and productivity—which only sets us up for failure.

Tips for More Realistic Productivity

So how can you combat productivity shame? How can you be more realistic in both the workplace and in your daily life when it comes to your to-do’s? Here are a few techniques you can use today to avoid productivity shame:

  1. Limit your to-do List to only the absolutely necessary things. Try the Ivy Lee Method the night before, but limit it to your big-ticket items, and no more than two or three. The more on your list, the more likely that guilt will creep in at the end of the day.
  2. Set aside designated time within your day to work only on those two or three big to-do’s. If you work in an office, have a closed-door policy for an hour. If you work from home, set a timer, put the phone in a drawer out of sight, and close out unnecessary tabs on your computer. Those small, seemingly insignificant distractions add up in a big way.
  3. Find an accountabili-buddy. This can be someone in the workplace or your personal life who can act as a check-in for you on the way to your goals. Having a physical means of accountability can help you stay on track, whether it’s a project at work or a side hustle at home.
  4. Get up and move! Sometimes a short workout or even a walk can stimulate ideas, clear your mind, and spur creativity.

Give a few of these a try, and see if that inner guilt trip voice of “shoulda-woulda-coulda" quiets down for a bit.

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This blog was written by Lauren Zakrajsek, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, and Internship Coordinator. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: staying active accountability productivity time management positive attitude Productivity Hacks priortization

10 Simple Ways to Stay Healthy While Celebrating the Holidays

GettyImages-1056454610’Tis the season for swapping Christmas cookies, candy bowls, Hanukah dinners, holiday parties, and New Year’s Eve libations. We’ll take this month to refocus on a 10 simple ways to keep your body properly nourished and healthy this holiday season while keeping in mind that it is okay and certainly encouraged to partake in the 2019 holiday season festivities. New Year’s Resolutions are a great time to start new habits, but why not get a head start?

  1. Embrace seasonal foods. Your favorite strawberries may now be upwards of $5 for a small container, but December is a great time to try out pomegranate and pears. Root veggies, squash, and kale are also easy on the budget and packed with nutrients. (See some recipes here.)
  2. Fit in a body-weight workout. If you can’t make it to the gym, create a circuit at home, or take along some simple workout equipment for travel when visiting friends and family. Head out for an unofficial 5K run, run up and down your stairs, take the dog for a snowy walk, or take commercial breaks to a new level by doing squats and push-ups for the entire break. Alternatively, make a plan to carve out just 15–30 minutes per day to get in a walk around the neighborhood—no matter what the weather might bring!
  3. Start your day off right with breakfast. Front-load your nutrition at the beginning of the day—often the easiest meal to focus on and one that can stay consistently healthy. Oatmeal, yogurt with fruit and nuts, egg (or tofu) scramble, and smoothies are great “go-to” meals.
  4. Try the Plate Method. While you fill your plate with holiday favorites like green bean casserole or mashed potatoes (made with a generous portion of heavy cream and butter), make sure that half of your plate always has some type of vegetable on it. Try roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, asparagus, or green beans for easy sides.
  5. Observe bedtime. Try and stick to a normal sleep routine to give yourself energy to tackle your holiday parties, keep your focus on your health goals, and avoid snacking at 3 a.m.
  6. Have a game plan. What was your biggest obstacle the year before in sticking to your goals? Holiday parties? Make sure to take your own healthier sides. Are there Christmas cookies on the counter and you’re grabbing one every time you walk by? Make a small batch this year and plan to keep them out of sight. Also try portioning out ahead of time. Wrap up each cookie and label it with the day of the week you plan to eat it.
  7. Give healthy stocking stuffers. Give the gift of healthy eating—stuff kids’ stockings with items like clementines or Cuties, nuts, and popcorn instead of Reese’s Cups, M&M’s, or fun-size chocolate bars.
  8. Focus on the moments. Put down your phone at mealtimes and any “down time” you might have. Put together a puzzle, go for a relaxing walk, read a book, and make conversation at mealtimes.
  9. Stay hydrated. 8-12 cups of water/day is recommended. Carry a water bottle around with you—it’s easy to forget to hydrate during the cold months, but it’s crucial to helping control those cravings and to keep your body running in tip-top shape.
  10. Pick a habit. Pick one specific habit to choose and one to lose! Focus on a specific goal. Instead of the more general “lose 10 pounds,” focus on action steps to get there like “Work out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 30 minutes at the gym” or “Plan to make at least HALF of lunch and dinner at every meal a type of vegetable.” Instead of cutting out sweets completely, make a plan that says, “ice cream happens on Friday nights only.” Or focus on physical activity habits, screen time habits, etc.

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This blog was written by Lindsey Hehman, MA, RD, CD. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: winter fitness healthy eating holidays circuit workout Thanksgiving traveling christmas seasonal eating