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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

An October Workout with 6 Spooky Exercises

Can you believe that Halloween is here? Last week in the grocery store checkout line, I was gently reminded that it is that time of year again by the hoards of chocolate bars and candy corn on the counter. I thought back to what I did last year, besides the typical handing out candy and trick or treating at some friends’ homes, and remembered something I could share with you: A SPOOKY WORKOUT!

Here are the six “Halloween exercises” for your spooky workout!

Scary Black Cat:

  • This is an exercise for the lumbar region of the back. Go down on all fours, being sure that your elbows and wrists are directly under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. Arch your back upwards, hold for three seconds, then let the lower back sag and hold for three seconds as well. Do five in each direction.
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Creepy Crawler:
  • Starting on all fours in a high plank position, you will bring your right knee up and out toward your right elbow as your left hand extends forward. Try to stay low to the ground as you alternate sides.

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Witch Ride:

  • Start with your feet staggered and your back toe on the ground. Hold a resistance band (attached to something higher than the level you are standing at) with both hands. Descend straight down, bringing the “broom” (band) by your side. Repeat ten times on each side.
     
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Full Moon:

  • Take a medicine ball and slam the ball on your right side. Then you will lift the ball overhead and slam it straight down, and finish by slamming the medicine ball above your head down on your left side.
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Pumpkin Swing:

  • Hold the pumpkin (kettlebell) with both hands in proper swing form. At the bottom of the swing, your forearms should touch the quads, allowing the bell to almost hit you in the glutes. Keeping the core tight, thrust the hips forward and tighten the glutes at the end of the swing.
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BOOty Lift:
  • Lay on your back with your hands by your side and your feet flat on the floor close to your butt. Squeeze the BOOty to lift your hips off the ground, making your body flat like a tabletop. Return to the starting position and repeat.

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I hope that you are able to enjoy this SPOOKY Halloween workout! DO NOT BE AFRAID! ENTER THE HALLOWEEN WORKOUT ZONE IF YOU DARE! After a good warm-up, try going through each round three times, and finish with a cool-down.

While you're getting in the Halloween spirit, check out these other posts:

Plan for a Safe Halloween
Fitness Tricks and Treats
Topics: workouts kettlebell exercises

Tips for a Healthy Halloween

GettyImages-1267397092Halloween is a day full of fun, costumes, treats, friends, and family! With all the food and candy, is it even possible to be “healthy” and still enjoy the festivities? The answer is YES. Take a look at these SPOOK-tacular tips to keep you and your family in good health.

Find a Balance

Halloween comes around once a year. It’s a time to feed your social and mental health, which may require easing up on the physical health guidelines for a moment. Remember, any decision you make for your physical health that comes at the expense of your social and mental health may not be all that great after all.

Let’s be honest, Halloween is FUN. The candy is FUN. Trick-or-treating is FUN. All this feeds our mental and social health. Plus, think about it: daily nutritional choices consistently over time have the greater impact on your health than nutrition choices on one holiday.

What does this “balance” look like? Keep reading.

Use portion control and omit the “off-limits” mentality.

All foods in moderation can fit into a healthy regimen. Instead of making candy off-limits, work it into your established routine. Still have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Make those meals nutritious, including fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. At each meal, offer one serving of Halloween candy to everyone. Instead of the full-size pieces, make them like the “fun-size” or “snack-size.” This allows everyone to enjoy a sweet, while filling up on the nutritious foods that are important for physical health.

Make festive, healthy options.

On the day that you all go trick-or-treating, really get into the spirit! Make nutritious meals that are Halloween themed. Some examples include:

  • Green-goop smoothie with Halloween straws: Include low-fat Greek yogurt, spinach, chia seeds, pineapple, and low-fat milk of choice. Try this recipe.
  • Monster teeth: Slice a green apple. Smear peanut butter on one side of a slice (bottom lip of the mouth). Stick yogurt-covered raisins in the peanut butter. Smear a little more peanut butter on another apple slice and place on top of the raisins for the top lip.
  • Boo-nana pops: Cut bananas in half and place a stick in the end as a handle. At the tip of the banana, add two chocolate chips as eyes. Serve frozen, cold, or at room temperature.
  • Devil spiders: Make deviled eggs. On the top, put an olive in the center for the spider’s body. Then put slices of olives around the outer edge of the egg for the legs.
  • Cute pumpkins: Peel Cuties/clementines/mandarins. Slice celery into small sticks. Place a celery stick at the top of each mandarin for the pumpkin stem.
  • Yo-yo graveyard: Scoop nonfat Greek yogurt into cups. Crumble some chocolate cookies on top (just a thin layer to cover the top) for the dirt. Write “Boo” on graham crackers for tombstones. Place one tombstone in each yogurt cup.
  • Spider sandwich: Make a sandwich of choice. Cut the sandwich into a circle. Place chocolate chips as the eyes (use peanut butter to help them stick). Use pretzels as the legs, sticking them into the bread or middle of the sandwich, with the tips sticking out.
  • Ghost cheese sticks: Get individually wrapped mozzarella cheese sticks. Take a sharpie and make black dots for the eyes and a block dot for an open mouth. These make perfect snacks while you are out and about trick-or-treating.

This ensures everyone is filling up on nutritious options high in fiber and protein, which leaves less room for tons of candy. Now, do not mistake this for “NO ROOM” for candy. There is still room, but not as much. You are just making sure everyone is properly nourished and still having fun in the process.

When you get home that night, enjoy a few pieces of candy with the kiddos, then put it in a non-accessible place. You are in control of when and how much the kids get. You are also in control of when and how much you get as well. Refer to what I said about portion control to plan your approach here. Remain consistent so that you and the kids both have a clear understanding of when candy will be served. For example, one individual piece will be served with each meal. It gives both you and the kids something to look forward to and does not make candy off-limits, but instead teaches proper portion control and provides a positive relationship with all foods. In the long run, this reduces binging or obsessing over any one food.

Stay active.

One of the best things you can do is to get everyone moving and active. Be sure to get in a workout on the big day, even if it is a quick 20-minute HIIT session at home, or try this spooky workout. Get the kiddos moving with you! Walk from house to house instead of driving during trick-or-treating. Go on a walk in your costumes if you are not trick-or-treating this year. Or just go on a walk in your regular clothes and enjoy all the house decorations. You can also play games:

  • Monster Tag: The tagger is a monster and anyone they tag becomes the monster.
  • Monster vs. Ghost Freeze Tag: If the monster tags you, you become frozen until one of your ghost teammates unfreezes you. The goal is for the monster to freeze all the ghosts!

ENJOY HALLOWEEN!

Have fun with your family. Soak in the moments. Laugh a lot. Feed your mental and social health, knowing it will benefit your physical health in the long run and that choices you make consistently over time matter the most. Stay safe.

As always, reach out to your NIFS Registered Dietitian if you need some holiday nutrition support.

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This blog was written by Sabrina Goshen, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: staying active healthy eating holidays kids sugar halloween

Tips for Exercising with Autoimmune Disease

GettyImages-852401728Autoimmune diseases are a family of more than 80 chronic illnesses. According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 23.5 million Americans, or more than 7 percent of the population, suffer from an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disorders arise when the body’s immune system, which is meant to protect you from disease and infection, mistakenly attacks healthy cells as if they were invading a virus or bacteria. Autoimmune diseases include arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Graves’ disease, lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, and multiple sclerosis. Some other illnesses that commonly affect women such as Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (although not classified as autoimmune diseases) have similar symptoms including fatigue and chronic pain. Common symptoms of autoimmune diseases include chronic joint or muscle pain, extreme fatigue, difficulty sleeping, weakness, nausea, headache, and depression.

Staying Active Is Important

Many people with an autoimmune disease go through periods of being symptom-free, and then have sudden onset of severe symptoms called flares. It’s understandable that when you’re not feeling well, you may avoid exercise because it’s difficult to find the motivation and energy to be active. For many people with autoimmune disorders, however, moderate low-impact exercise and physical activity can be of tremendous benefit to their quality of life. Keeping active is especially important when you have an autoimmune disease for several reasons: exercise boosts physical energy; endorphin production is a natural painkiller; exercise can help reduce inflammation throughout the body; and exercise also helps combat the depression and anxiety that also often accompany this type of illness.

Exercise Tips for People with Autoimmune Disease

Here are some tips for exercising when you have an autoimmune illness:

  1. Go at your own pace and figure out what works for you. Not everyone’s experience of autoimmune disease symptoms is the same. Start slowly with your workouts and work your way up to more challenging ones. Some days will be harder than others—adjust your workout accordingly. If you miss a day because of a flare, don’t beat yourself up about it, just make sure you get back to the gym as soon as you can.
  2. Have good support systems. Talk to your health care providers about your plans to exercise and ask for their input. Make an appointment at your gym to have a fitness assessment with a personal trainer. You may also find it fun and motivating to have a fitness buddy other than your trainer, someone you can attend group classes with, or even just meet a designated time to hit the cardio machines or do weights together.
  3. Keep a journal of your daily activities, including when you exercise, the activities you did, and what you ate. If you find yourself overly exerted, you will probably see patterns start to emerge when you have the most or least amount of energy. Take these into consideration and adjust your routine to fit you best.
  4. Give your body the fuel it needs to succeed. You may even want to consider an anti-inflammatory diet. Many autoimmune disorders create inflammation in the body, which leads to muscle and joint pain, as well as fatigue. You can consult with a nutritionist to see whether there are diet changes you can make to help you be successful.
  5. Rest! Your body may have a hard time adjusting to the workload you are putting it through. Allow yourself to get adequate rest. Remember, this is a lifelong condition that requires lifelong attention.

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This blog was written by Emily Lesich, NIFS Health Fitness Specialist. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: staying active low-impact exercise as medicine quality of life chronic disease autoimmune disease

Nutrition Tips for Traveling

Vacation is supposed to be fun, enjoyable, and relaxing. When it comes to weight loss attempts or making healthy choices in general, however, traveling can be a challenge. Here are some of our RD’s best tips for healthy eating when traveling or on vacation.

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  • Pack your own snacks. If you’re road-tripping, instead of stopping at gas stations, convenience stores, or fast-food restaurants, pack a cooler with healthier alternatives, such as fresh fruit, washed and ready-to-eat veggies (carrots, cucumbers, celery, etc.), homemade sandwiches, protein and/or high-fiber granola bars, or single-serving yogurt cups or cheese sticks.
  • Eat at home. If your vacation home or hotel has kitchen access, be sure to make use of it! Instead of eating out for each meal, which is not only expensive but also typically provides more calories, fat, and sodium, try preparing something for yourself at home.
  • Move more. If possible, incorporate physical activity into your trip. No, this doesn’t mean you have to get a weeklong gym membership for your vacation; rather, spend time walking along the beach, riding bikes, or participating in another physical activity. If you’ll be on the road, be sure to walk around or stretch when you stop to rest.
  • Stay hydrated. Bring a refillable water bottle with you on your trip to save money and stay hydrated, especially if you’re traveling somewhere with a lot of sun or high temperatures.
  • Be mindful. Vacation shouldn’t be an excuse to overdo it, however; you should still enjoy yourself! Instead of indulging at each opportunity, perhaps limit yourself to indulging in a special or sweet treat just once a day.

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This blog was written by Lindsey Recker, MS, RD, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: staying active snacks summer hydration water traveling mindfulness