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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Pivot: Ways to Adjust Your Mindset and Grow During Quarantine

GettyImages-637192394During these unprecedented times of self- and mandated quarantines and stay-at-home orders, it can be easy to slip into a negative mindset accompanied by fear of the unknown and worry about how you are going to get through this. Self-quarantine does not have to be void of self-improvement. Social media is drenched with ideas and strategies to keep up your physical fitness at home with a million bodyweight workouts and DIY fitness equipment ideas. I’m partial to the elite content that the NIFS pros are providing daily, obviously, but there is no shortage of methods out there to keep moving at home. But what about emotional and mental fitness, and how to continue the work on YOU that makes us strong individuals inside and out?

A motto that I live by daily is to focus on how you choose to react to an unavoidable situation and not let the situation itself dictate your response. Many things are out of our control, but we can control the way we react. I’m sure you’ve seen that poster sometime in your life, and I think it is the only way you can actually control a situation you find yourself in. This fight against COVID-19 is no different; the situation itself is out of our control, but the way we choose to react and manage the situation is.

Strategies for Mindset Pivot

So how can we PIVOT our mindset and continue our self-growth through this crazy situation? I have a few strategies that you can put in place right away, starting with the mindset PIVOT.

Be Grateful

List and define the things that you are grateful for right now. Obviously, this is not an ideal situation we are all going through, but what are the things that you have or that are going on in your life that you are so thankful for? Here are a few of mine:

  • I’m healthy.
  • My loved ones are healthy.
  • I’m still able to remain employed and help others.
  • I have a safe and comfortable home.
  • I have ample food.

I’ll bet as soon as you put pen to paper and write out those things you are grateful for, you will begin to pivot to a more positive mindset.

Laugh

Find ways to laugh daily. Maybe it’s listening to your favorite comedian or catching a comedy on Netflix. Laughter can change a mindset pretty quickly and will focus attention away from the troubling news we face these days.

Connect

Spend time with your family that is with you and reach out to those who are not. You have some time now to really connect with the people you care about the most. Play a game with the kids, call someone you haven’t talked to in a while, send an email, or Skype. There are so many ways you can connect with others. Stay connected; you have the time now.

Move

There are a number of ways you can remain active at home. As I stated before, there is no shortage of drills and workouts you can do with little and no equipment online and on social media. Follow your NIFS Pros on IG and Facebook and be sure to check out our blogs for a ton of fitness strategies you can do at home:

Be sure to PLAY as well, an aspect of fitness that often gets overlooked. Play and smile!

Strategies for Self-Growth

Even though you may be a homebody these days, it doesn’t mean you have to stop the growth of who you are as an individual, professional, parent, sibling, and other identities that you carry with you. The list of things you can do to grow and not slow down during this time is long. Here are just a few to wet your whistle:

  • Read a book(or books) covering a topic you want to learn more about.
  • Listen to a podcast.
  • Watch a documentary, take a break from the world of fiction to gain knowledge of an interesting topic.
  • Help the kids with their e-learning.
  • Evaluate and adjust those New Year’s goals you wrote down a few months ago.
  • Plan a future vacation and determine the steps needed to get you there.
  • Journal daily thoughts, kind of like a “captain’s log” type of thing.
  • Take a nap.
  • Keep moving (see above).
  • Hop on a webinar.
  • Declutter the house and give it a deep clean.

We are going to get through this and return to our lives outside of the house. A challenge to you is to be a better YOU than you were at the beginning of this pandemic. Taking action during this time to maintain a positive mindset and to continue to grow mentally and emotionally will set you up for success when you reenter the world. Control your reaction, take action, and we will come out of this situation better than ever!

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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: exercise at home resolutions attitude mental videos mindset illness prevention positive attitude viruses COVID-10 quarantine

Meal Planning for Kids

GettyImages-526785155The kids and grandkids are home! With them being home, this means you are having to provide breakfasts and lunches. For those that relied on schools to provide these meals, this can be a stressor added to the day. Maybe your kids received meals for free or at a reduced price. Maybe you are being expected to work from home, all while attempting to help your kids through e-learning and cook them lunch. There are an abundance of reasons as to why this may be tough. You are not alone. We are in this together- as a community. We will get through this.

First, find some time to plan. Kids are used to having a structured plan during their school day- anything short of this will lead to stressed and irrational children (which makes your life harder). Make sure this plan includes when the kids will wake up, have breakfast, start school, get an hour of activity/play time, eat lunch, and conclude their school day. Knowing their schedule will help you prepare your schedule. Consider having your lunch break at the same time as theirs.

Second, plan for lunches and work with a "cycle menu." This means you determine 4-5 different lunches, then schedule one per day. Once you go through all 4-5, cycle back through them. This offers the kids variety but makes the planning, storage, and preparation easier on your part. To make it even easier, have the same meals they are having. There is no need for you to take time to prepare various foods.

Last, stick to the plan. Remember- you are in charge of WHAT and WHEN the kids eat; the kids are in charge of how much they wish to eat at a given meal.

If you are having a difficult time obtaining food for your kids, visit https://www.indy.gov/activity/covid-19-school-district-food-support. The IPS school district is providing ALL kids with free a breakfast and lunch until April 3rd (which will likely be extended). The meals are first come first serve and available to all children, regardless of school district. Follow the website above to find the nearest pick-up point.

Kid Meal Ideas

  1. Turkey + cheddar roll-up, frozen berries, yogurt, and trail mix.
  2. Hummus (can easily make homemade from canned chickpeas), pita bread, grape tomatoes, carrots, and grapes.
  3. Cheese quesadilla (made with whole grain tortillas), guacamole, salsa, strawberries.
  4. Broccoli mac and cheese (made with whole grain, chickpea, or lentil pasta), orange.
  5. Grilled cheese and low-sodium tomato soup.
  6. Homemade pizza on whole grain thin crust served with steamed veggie of choice.
  7. Tuna or chicken salad served on whole wheat crackers or bread, apple slices, carrots.
  8. Peanut butter and jelly (tip: make own “jelly” with smashed berries to reduce sugar) on whole grain bread, celery sticks, yogurt

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If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our Registered Dietitian, Sabrina Goshen by e-mail at SGoshen@nifs.org.

Topics: nutrition kids menu planning

Nutrition Tips During COVID-19

GettyImages-11629356151. Stock up on nutritious foods from all food groups.
Think shelf-stable or frozen foods. Shelf-stable, nutrient-packed options include whole grain rice, chickpea- or lentil-made pastas, tuna, beans, nuts, legumes, protein pancake mixes, oats, nut butter, protein bars, low-sodium canned vegetables, and canned fruit in water. Frozen foods include pre-frozen bags of fruits, vegetables, and Greek-yogurt bars. Fresh options that can be frozen include sliced bananas, chicken, turkey, beef, seafood, bread, and tortillas. Eggs are also a great fresh option that keep well in the fridge for 3 weeks.

2. Fuel your body by eating regular, nutritious meals and snacks.
This will help to meet your caloric, vitamin, and mineral needs.

3. Stay hydrated
Drinking at least half your weight in ounces. If you have a fever, you will want to drink much more.

4. Have a menu plan
In case you do become quarantined or are socially distancing yourself, the plan should include enough daily meals and snacks to meet each family member’s caloric needs for 4-6 weeks. When planning those meals, try to incorporate all food groups into each day (vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and protein) and plan each portion size. Here is an example for 1 person:

  • Breakfast: ½ cup oats with ½ cup berries (use frozen), 2 tbsp peanut
    butter, and 1 tbsp chia seed
  • Snack: 1 granola bar with 1 hard-boiled egg
  • Lunch: Stir fry (use low-sodium canned vegetables or frozen vegetables,
    brown rice, and canned or frozen meat of choice)
  • Snack: 1 peanut butter and jelly sandwich (freeze bread, then unfreeze
    a loaf for each week) with 1 serving baked chips.
  • Dinner: ¾ cup chickpea pasta served with ¼ cup tomato sauce, 1 cup
    steamed vegetables (use frozen vegetables or fresh vegetables with a
    longer fridge life), and ¼ cup cheese (freeze shredded cheese then
    unfreeze as needed)
  • Dessert: 1 frozen yogurt bar

5. Seek community resources as needed. Many communities are coming together to help people obtain food. For Indy and surrounding communities, visit https://www.indy.gov/activity/covid-19-food-support , for food support initiatives.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our Registered Dietitian, Sabrina Goshen by e-mail at SGoshen@nifs.org.

Topics: nutrition meal planning viruses

My 7-Day Experiment with Hot/Cold Contrast Showers for Recovery

GettyImages-533891978Nowadays, it seems that many people are trying to find that next great gadget to help put them over the top. Whether it’s the fitness world, life at home, or the day-to-day grind at the office, people seem to be peddling some kind of shortcut or cheat code to help aid performance in some way, shape, or form. I know I can’t go a day without scrolling through Instagram and seeing an ad for some new, expensive toy guaranteed to solve whatever problem I seem to be having that day.

While sometimes it can be tempting to explore those avenues, I usually tend to stay the course and preach the basics when it comes to performance and recovery. Have I slept 8 hours? Have I eaten whole foods? Did I have a sip of water that day, or was it an IV of caffeine instead? Despite all this, recently I found myself continuing to run across the concept of cold showers, or contrast showers, and how they can be used to aid recovery.

I saw articles about athletes like LeBron James using them for recovery. I read articles from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning examining their benefits, both physically and psychologically. I saw them pop-up as topics on a few podcasts that I listen to frequently. So finally I decided, “Why not? I’m going to do a 7-day experiment on myself and give these contrast showers a try!”

What Is a Contrast Shower and How Can It Help?

First, a little background. A contrast shower alternates between bouts of hot and cold water for a total time of anywhere between five and ten minutes. Some of the purported benefits of this cold thermogenesis include the following:

  • Improves blood flow and nitric oxide delivery, especially within the brain.
  • Reduces systemic inflammation.
  • Supports the connection between the brain and the digestive system by strengthening vagal tone.
  • Improves appetite regulation.
  • Improves insulin sensitivity.
  • Improves mood, focus, and attention.

What Happened When I Tried It

In my case, I chose the 10 seconds of hot, 20 seconds of cold version. I alternated between these 30-second segments 10 times for a total of five minutes. Here’s the breakdown of what ensued:

Day 1

I was terrified. I was starting my early morning with a cold shower. However, I cheated a bit and started with 30 seconds of lukewarm water before flipping it straight to hypothermia-inducing temperatures. And it took my breath away when I finally did. I used my arms as a shield. I think I actually screamed at one point (haha). Once I was through two or three cycles, though, it was a lot less shocking. Still not fun, but definitely more manageable.

Day 2

The first two or three rounds were still brutal. My breathing accelerated and I’m pretty sure I was making weird noises too. By round four, I started turning around, 360 degrees, during the cold portion. It helped a bit, purely from a distraction standpoint. The last two rounds I stood stock-still, focusing on my breathing. When I got out, and even 5, 10, and 15 minutes afterward, my mind felt very clear. I felt a little more energized. But maybe that was because I was grateful it was over!

Day 3

This time I rocked it out at the end of my day. Similar to the first two days, the first two rounds were a struggle. However, finding two really good songs to jam to was extremely helpful. I didn’t have to focus as much on how many rounds were left; instead, I just waited for the songs to end. Also, dancing in the shower, albeit somewhat risky, was a heck of a good distraction!

Day 4

I’m probably losing it by day 4, because I was actually looking forward to it today! I liked the clarity it seemed to bring. I liked the way I felt physically afterward. And as alluded to before, picking a killer playlist is key!

Day 5

I almost ditched my 7-day experiment today. Mentally, I was not feeling up to it. But afterward, I’m glad I stuck with it because I felt very refreshed. I could stand under the cold water while staying still and not screaming, even on round one!

Day 6

Today I focused on making sure some of the more temperature-sensitive areas, like the top of the head, underarm, and chest, were hit throughout. This was quite the curveball! That take-your-breath-away temperature hit me like a tidal wave. I was so alert afterward, though, that I almost forgot to make my morning cup of coffee. I was wired and ready to go at 4am!

Day 7

Mama I made it! I went into this one hoping to alleviate some soreness I had from a workout the preceding day. Afterward I still had some stiffness, but it was markedly different. This was at the end of my day, and transitioning from the contrast shower to holding a warm cup of tea and reading a book was incredibly relaxing. While I was alert, I wasn’t amped up. I felt refreshed and focused. And it sure didn’t stop me from falling asleep the second my head hit the pillow about an hour later.

Final Thoughts

By the end of the seven-day experiment, I was oddly “hooked” on the whole contrast shower concept. Although this is anecdotal evidence, I felt calm, focused, and alert after each shower. I noticed small improvements in self-reported soreness as well. And if nothing else, it was a heck of a wake-up call at 4am before work!

It remains to be seen just how much cold thermogenesis can aid in recovery post-exercise, as the current research (and here) is equivocal. But as with many recovery methods, there is something to be said for the perceived improvements in soreness or pain management. In other words, if you think that it’s working for you, then it will. If you think that it’s a waste, then it probably is.

As of today though, I’m currently riding a 17-day streak of contrast showers! Stay cool, everybody!

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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: recovery contrast showers inflammation blood flow mood cold thermogenesis

Vitamin C: How Much and Which Sources Are Best for Boosting Immunity?

GettyImages-993119894During cold and flu season, we try to do all we can to prevent illness or speed up how fast we recover from illness. One such strategy many employ is the use of Vitamin C for a natural remedy. Several products are marketed as immune system boosters because they contain large amounts of Vitamin C. Do these products really work? We set out to investigate!

What Vitamin C Can Do for You

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is not made by our bodies. We must take in this vitamin in our diet. It is needed for not only immune function but also for these uses:

  • Form collagen (skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels),
  • Repair and maintain bones and teeth
  • Heal wounds and form scar tissue
  • Aid in iron absorption

It can also help prevent cancer as an antioxidant by blocking damage that we are exposed to from air pollution, cigarettes, and UV rays from the sun.

Vitamin C deficiency is extremely rare today, but in the mid-1700s scurvy in sailors was very prevalent. Those at risk of low vitamin C intake are smokers, those with medical conditions that affect absorption (cancer cachexia), and individuals with little variety in their diets.

How Much Vitamin C Do You Need?

The recommended Dietary Allowance for men is 90 milligrams per day and 75 milligrams per day for women. Fruits and veggies are the best source of vitamin C—especially citrus fruits. It can be destroyed by heat, so cooking slightly reduces your intake. However, most of our best sources of vitamin C are consumed raw naturally, and we usually do not have to worry about this. To get a better idea of how to meet your daily requirement with food, here are the vitamin C contents of some common fruits and vegetables that are good sources:

  • Red bell pepper (½ cup, raw): 95mg
  • Orange, 1 medium: 70mg
  • Green bell pepper, ½ cup raw: 60mg
  • Broccoli, ½ cup cooked: 51mg
  • Cantaloupe, ½ cup: 29mg

In short, you can skip the megadoses of Vitamin C at the pharmacy.

Can Vitamin C Treat or Prevent the Common Cold?

In the 1970s, research was released that suggested Vitamin C could successfully treat or prevent the common cold. Several studies since then have been inconsistent and have resulted in some confusion and controversy. To date, the most compelling evidence comes from a 2007 study that showed preventative treatment in the general population did not affect cold duration or symptom severity. However, in the trials involving marathon runners, skiers, and soldiers exposed to extreme physical exercise or cold environments daily as well as the elderly and smokers, there could be somewhat of a beneficial effect. It was concluded that taking Vitamin C after the onset of illness did not appear to be beneficial. Furthermore, at doses above 400mg, Vitamin C is excreted in the urine. A daily dose in the 1000–2000mg range can cause upset stomach and diarrhea.

If you want the benefits of Vitamin C, it is best to consume the recommended Dietary Allowance daily, before the start of symptoms. Ideally, you will get Vitamin C from your food instead of a supplement; you will also get several other important nutrients in addition to your Vitamin C. Remember to make half of your plate fruits and veggies at every meal or blend up a quick smoothie for an easy on-the-go snack, slice up peppers and dip in hummus, or ask for extra veggies on that sandwich, pizza, or salad.

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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 eating immunity vitamins supplements fruits and vegetables viruses Vitamin C

Do’s and Don’ts in the Gym: Videos from NIFS Fitness Instructors

March is typically a make-or-break month for many folks as it relates to reaching their health and wellness goals for the new year. The resolutions are losing steam, weather tends to sway fitness decision-making, and focus begins to shift a bit away from what brought them to the gym in the first place. My message to many at this time of year is to continue to WIN EACH DAY! By that I mean have more checks in the win column than in the loss column. It’s natural to slump a little—we haven’t seen the sun in a month, for crying out loud. But continue to focus on doing those things that constitute WINS and limit those things that would be considered a LOSS.

NIFS Instructors Share Their Observations in the Gym

This is also a great time of year to hit a few reminders of what you should and should not do in the gym I asked the experts (the highly trained NIFS instructors): What are some things you see gym-goers do that needs immediate attention and correction? Along with a few of my own, here is what the team had to report on the common things we see in the gym that you should and should not do.

Screen Shot 2020-03-09 at 4.37.04 PM

Tony: Control the Weights

  • Not controlling the weight of an exercise throughout the entire ROM.
  • Dropping the weight unsafely.
  • Holding on and hunching over a climb mill.
  • Standing the wrong direction in a squat rack.

Lauren: Deadlift

  • Tuck the chin in neutral spine
  • Use clips for safety

Thomas: Bicep Curl

  • The emphasis on bicep curl contraction is more pronounced when we isolate the muscle.  this can be done by avoiding movement and momentum from arm swinging by pressing the elbows toward your sides
  • Sometimes, more weight does not make the exercise better, but better movement patterns can make the exercise more effective and safer
  • An easy way to also accomplish this would be to press your back against the wall and perform the exercise

Ashley: Proper Plank

  • Hips in the air/not a flat back
  • Proper way is flat back, hips level, core tight

Tinisi: Proper Lunge

  • Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed and look straight ahead
  • lower your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle
  • Core tight

Keep Striving for Wins and Contributing to Your Fitness Community

We covered a great deal of information here—pretty important stuff for both proper technique and fitness community etiquette. As I covered in my post Culture Club: How to Be a Strong Member of a Fitness Community, we are all in this together! And a community of support and positive energy is a place we can all thrive in, and must all contribute to. I know that some of the new year perspective may have lost a little sparkle, but you are still on the right track. Just remember, have more WINS than LOSSES and you will continue to improve!

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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: fitness center resolutions workouts nifs staff videos new year's ettiquette fitness community technique instructors

Three Drills to Develop Athletic Agility

GettyImages-871413050Agility drills basically represent an obstacle. Athletes who can respond faster to starts, stops, and change of direction earlier than the obstacle will have a practical advantage on the playing field. This blog highlights three of my favorite agility drills that can be built into your team’s conditioning routines. The benefits of these runs, jumps, and cuts include increases in reactionary speed, coordination, footwork, and body awareness. Athletes need to be able to change direction rapidly under control without decreases in speed.

You will need a good strength base before doing any high-intensity agility drills. These three drills are great for giving athletes the ability to keep their eyes on the play while knowing what is around them. Adding teammates to the mix always makes it fun and competitive.

Enjoy the drills!

Screen Shot 2020-03-03 at 2.54.12 PMDrill 1: Offense/Defense—Partner Reaction Acceleration Tag

Setup: Cones are spaced 10 yards apart with a middle cone at the halfway point.

Number of Athletes: 2
Athlete 1: Offense (starts the drill); Athlete 2: Defense (reacts and chases)

Execution: Both athletes start on the ground head to head on the baseline. Athlete 1 starts the drill and is allowed two fakes before they must stand, turn, and sprint 10 yards. Athlete 2 reacts and chases Athlete 1 once they stand and turn and has 10 yards to catch and tag Athlete 1 in a sprint fashion.

Screen Shot 2020-03-03 at 2.54.22 PMDrill 2: Cat & Mouse—5-5 Shuttle Reaction Tag

Setup: Cones are spaced 10 yards apart with a middle cone at the halfway point.

Number of Athletes: 2
Athlete 1: Offense; Athlete 2: Defense
Athletes will face each on opposite sides 10 yards apart.

Execution: At the start of a whistle or cue, both athletes sprint a 5-yard shuttle 5–5.

Athlete 1 then tries to sprint past the midline as fast as possible before Athlete 2 tags him before passing the midline after they both do a 5-yard shuttle.

After the 5-yard shuttle, Athlete 1 can juke/cut, etc. to get to the midline to fake out Athlete 2 before being tagged. Athletes switch between offense and defense.

Screen Shot 2020-03-03 at 2.54.44 PMDrill 3: Shuttle Runs—Reaction 5-5-10 Shuttle

Setup: Cones are spaced 0, 5, and 10 yards apart.
Another set of cones is 5 yards apart on the baseline.

Number of Athletes: 3–4
Athlete 1: Shuttles (drill start); Athletes 2–4: Reactionary

Execution: At start of a whistle or cue, Athlete 1, facing the baseline, begins shuffling between the 5-yard cones. Athletes 2–4 stand facing the other way on the baseline waiting to react to Athlete 1. Athlete 1 can shuffle back and forth for a total of two times. However, within the two shuffle attempts, Athlete 1 can turn and sprint whenever. Athletes 2–4 must respond to Athlete 1 and turn and sprint. After Athlete 1 initiates the sprint shuttle, all athletes are now in a race to sprint a 5–5–10-yard shuttle.

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This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: team training sports speed athletic performance drills agility coordination proprioception footwork