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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Strength in Numbers: Benefits of Group Training

Bootcamp-1You either love them or you hate them… group workouts! In a world where technology is seemingly taking over the human connection and interaction, working out with a group can offer the opportunity to meet real friends instead of virtual ones online.

Whether you join a small group or just get a group of your friends to work out together, here are a few reasons why more is merrier for working toward your fitness goals.

Motivation

Group workouts give you motivation that you might not get by doing a solo workout. Unless you’re that rare person who can jump out of bed at the sound of an alarm and hit the ground running, odds are motivation will go away as quick as you pressing the snooze button. We all battle the everyday ups and downs of life, but once you get together with your group, the energy levels go up and worries go out the door. You will find that you are motivated by the people around you and that’ll make the workout much more fun and enjoyable.

Accountability

Remember when you were a high schooler and your parents would wake you up in the mornings? How nice of them to hold us accountable. A workout group can do the same thing for your health and fitness goals. There’s something about knowing you won’t be the only one getting your butt kicked that day. Not only will you have your group members to help hold you accountable, you will have a coach who is checking in on you. The effectiveness of a team member can influence the whole team. Therefore, don’t let your coach and classmates down by not showing up.

Support System

One day a month, all the members of the Ramp Up to Weight Loss program come together for a group workout followed by a post-workout snack. Not only do they get a chance to meet one another, work out, breathe hard, and sweat; but they also get a chance to see that they aren’t in this alone. They see that they have the support of all the other members who might be in a situation similar to theirs. Having a support system can give you a new sense of hope and encouragement because you know you aren’t in this alone.

Fun

Some people like working out by themselves while others need a group around them. Being part of a group workout can really make exercising fun and enjoyable. You’ll benefit from the energy and hard work you can feel being created by you and the people in your group. The motivation you receive and the people you surround yourself with will make exercise fun, not a chore you feel you have to do.

Mental Health

Group workouts offer you the advantage of getting to meet people who have similar interests to yours. You will feel part of something by being surrounded by likeminded people. You might be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and make new friends; group workouts give you that opportunity to stay within your comfort zone while making new friends.

Although group workouts might not be for everybody, you should try it at least once. You might find that a group atmosphere is exactly what you need to push you past your health and fitness goals. There are so many ways here at NIFS to get involved with a community of supporters: Small Group Training, Group Fitness classes, the Ramp Up to Weight Loss Program, and many of the other programs we provide throughout the year.

“When we try to exercise alone, we can feel isolated and uninspired; together we can achieve our fitness goals.”

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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: group fitness group training motivation accountability weight loss attitude NIFS NIFS programs

Overcoming Life Challenges with Fitness: You Don’t Forget the Hills

IMG_2506Fitness is a great tool to use to train the mind. Yes, often people work out for physical health, but exercise is also getting a lot of hype from psychologists. Many studies are proving that exercise and movement increase brain function, memory, and thinking skills. Not just that; the motivation, positivity, and strength learned and gained from an exercise session can all be used in daily life situations. 

I began doing yoga and running in 2009 as a way to de-stress when my mother was ill with cancer. At the time, I never knew that the real-world challenges I was going through would turn into my passion and lead me to my full-time career. I can honestly say that the motivational lesson of learning through sweat sessions helped me overcome daily life challenges and inspired to me share that with others.

From Yoga to Real Life

Yoga taught me to breathe. Breathing is a necessary human function, but one of the hardest things to do in a challenging situation. Learning breathing and mindfulness on my yoga mat taught me how to take it into my daily life. If I’m facing a challenge, it probably means I need to slow down, breathe, and evaluate what needs to be done.

Running taught me that there are days you are tired, sore, and don’t want to do something, but showing up and doing it will always feel better. My mom’s motivation to wake up every day on her weakest, saddest, and scariest days helped inspire me along my fitness journey to be fearless and “Just Do It™.”

As I began doing yoga and running, I fell so in love and developed such a deep passion for these things that I wanted to continue to learn about them. I got my 200 Hour yoga certification in 2014. I never knew that it would turn into a full-time career in NYC where I was inspiring packed rooms and training celebrities. That sounds great and glamorous, and honestly it was, but again yoga really just taught me to breathe and open my mind. I realized that going to New York was running away from dealing with my past. I was ready to face it again. New York is a stressful environment. I was keeping up just fine, but was pushing out family because I was “too busy training Victoria’s Secret models,” although I knew the real reason was fear and not fully living out what I was learning.

Letting go of ego is another lesson I learned on my yoga mat, and I knew that I could find balance between family and doing what I loved if I took some deep breaths, tuned in, and followed my head and heart at the same time. After three years in the Big Apple, I decided to live out my fitness and move back home to build my family bond and let go of anything from my past that challenged me, just as I had been doing for years in the gym.

From Running Away to Running Home

Along with my personal training success came my “glory days” of running. I was a runner because I loved how it felt. I had no clue I would one weekend wake up and call a friend asking whether I could run a marathon in her city the following weekend, and then show up and actually complete it. Well I did. And I don’t remember much about that race except a few things—the times I was challenged the most. My first challenge came at mile 6, my first hill. I remember that thing looking like a mountain. The second thing I remember was turning to my family in my time of need. At mile 13.1, I called my dad, crying:

“What am I doing? Should I just run a half marathon today?”

He responded with, “Just take a deep breath.” Well, at that moment my heart might have felt like it was going to burst out of my chest, and my mind was in a negative state underestimating my strength, but that connection and reminder to take a deep breath and tune in to my ultimate goal helped me complete 26.2 miles that day, and with the biggest smile on my face. I now coach others in running, and in the challenging times I bring out some of the lessons I learned to teach and inspire them, letting them know that I get it and understand because I’ve been in that headspace too. But I also remind them that this is no challenge you can’t overcome if you just take a deep breath and tune in. I also like reminding people that if 30-second fitness challenges or hills are the hardest struggles in their day, week, or life, they are pretty lucky!

At-Home Exercise Your Mind

So, here’s your chance to exercise your mind:

  • What has challenged you in the gym?
  • What did you do about it?
  • What words of encouragement helped you overcome it?
  • What was the feeling of overcoming challenge?

Now take that into your daily life. What is challenging you, and can you breathe and stay positive through that situation?

“JUST DO IT ™” —Gary Gilmore

Just Do It is a trademark of shoe company Nike.

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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: running yoga fitness stress emotional attitude marathon

Commonsense Weight Loss: Diet Personalities Gone Wrong

GettyImages-971392106There are many diet personalities out there. If you are one of these, it could be the reason you are having trouble losing weight or maintaining weight loss.

Starvin’ Marvin: Always Hungry

Starvin’ Marvin follows strict calorie guidelines. He doesn't get the calories and fuel his body needs to accomplish the routine tasks of his day. He is often tired and always hungry. When he works out, Marvin's body does not have sufficient fuel, so he isn’t able to put in as much effort as he would like.

Solution: Losing weight requires either eating fewer calories or burning off excess calories through physical activity. So one good first step for Starvin’ Marvin is to find out how many calories his body requires for weight loss. Choose My Plate is an excellent resource to help determine the correct calories for your height, weight, and activity factor. No one should ever consume less than 1,200 calories per day.

Negative Nancy: The Wrong Attitude for Weight Loss

Restriction, starvation, elimination, bland, boring…all of these are words that Nancy uses to describe her diet, yet she is constantly starting a new one. Anything that has this much dread attached to it is not something that she can or should be doing for the long haul.

Solution: Negative Nancy needs to start incorporating positive words into her healthy new eating plan: Balanced plate, Moderation with sweets and high-fat foods, Flavorful spices to jazz up vegetables, Variety with food groups, and Satisfying meals.

Rigid Ricky: Doesn’t Believe He Can Be Flexible and Still Lose Weight

Nobody’s perfect. This simple phrase is exactly why diets don’t work.

Solution: Ricky would be much happier and healthier if he took a simple approach to his eating. He should spend 80 percent of his time eating right—consuming multiple servings of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy—and following a safe and healthy workout plan. The other 20 percent of Rigid Ricky’s life can be filled with “extras” such as a cookie or piece of cake, a day off from exercising, and maybe even an alcoholic beverage of his choice. If he allows himself to not be as rigid with his plan, his chances of succeeding will increase dramatically.

Unsupported Ulysses: Hasn’t Discovered the Value of Accountability

Losing weight can be difficult, and making lifestyle changes is all the more difficult when those around you are not there to support and help you make changes.

Solution: Ulysses needs a support system that can help him stick to his goals and hold him accountable to them. He needs a "buddy" to give him a push when he is feeling low and to keep him from feeling alone in his journey. A support system should encourage and praise Ulysses for the hard work he is putting in and the changes he is making. Try healthy new foods and recipes and physical activities with your buddy, or even train for an event together. Having a Supportive Sally around can make his weight-loss mission much more enjoyable.

Resentful Rita: Deprives Herself and Is Unhappy About It

When we think of “diets,” we think of giving up our favorite foods. This only leads to feeling deprived and carrying negative feelings toward “healthy foods” and feeling guilty about eating “unhealthy foods.” Rita will become angry that she “can’t” have the foods she wants, which then leads to resentment. Deprivation of her favorite foods may lead to overeating or yo-yo dieting.

Solution: Rita needs to RELAX! No food is off limits; all foods can fit.

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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: weight loss weight management diets NIFS wellness attitude

The Power of Positivity for Fitness Motivation

GettyImages-897892972“You've got this!” "Keep it up!” “So strong!”

Ever come to your fitness class and hear those positive, motivating words? How do you feel in that moment? 

Motivation and positivity have been proven to help lead healthier, happier lives. We often come into a gym and feel strong, motivated, and positive in that moment; but are you taking what you learn into your daily life? Here are some tips and examples of leading a happier life not just during your gym time, but out of the gym!

Be mindful about positive thoughts.

When you hear words that make you smile and feel happy, are you listening to them, or are you letting them come in one ear and go out the other? When we mindfully hold onto positive thoughts and let go of the negative, we lead a more positive life. Can you replace three hurtful or negative thoughts with three new, positive thoughts? Try it! It's like spring cleaning for your brain!

Surround yourself with positive people.

It has been studied and seen that you are who you hang out with. During your daily life, are you surrounded by negative or stressful people? Can you engage in more activities with people who make you feel amazing and happy? Maybe that's replacing an hour of sitting on the couch watching negative news stations or judgmental reality television shows with a yoga class that encourages you to breathe and relax. List people, places, or things that often make you feel down or negative, and make a list of people and activities to engage in that make you feel good and positive. Simply replace the negative activity with the positive one. Most importantly, be honest and fearless.

Are you being negative?

Just as you'd want to be around positive people, don't you think others want to as well? If you are always talking about being stressed or tired, evaluate what in your personal life is making you stressed and tired. What do you need to do to turn into a positive, full-of-energy person? Finding balance in life is a challenge, but it’s possible if you dedicate time to making little changes. Set your mind on your goals and follow through.

Just do it.

What's holding you back? Studies show that changing habits can be challenging, but is not impossible. It takes a little work. Try to adopt a new positive habit each week. Your options are endless. Maybe that's giving your coworkers a high-five, writing down an inspirational motivational quote every morning as a reminder of your goal, starting your day in a workout class that promotes positivity, volunteering and helping others, or so much more. DO YOU—just do it! Letting go of others’ judgments and figuring out what makes you feel best and happiest and doing those things will lead to a happier life.

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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: motivation attitude positivity fitness mindfulness mindset

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

Taking a Break from Good Nutrition and Fitness: The “Cheat Day”

GettyImages-84629295Can you really win by cheating? Well, the obvious answer is no. Morally, we know that cheaters aren’t supposed to win. If that is the case, why do we cheat ourselves through self-destructive behavior, known as cheat days, throughout the week?

After a long, hard week of work, with the addition of a strict training protocol and nutrition plan, sometimes we feel we need to take a day off, or even just a meal where there are no rules or responsibilities holding us down. These are called “cheat days” or “cheat meals.” They can be as simple as staying up late and having drinks with friends, or going to an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet on a Sunday afternoon. Are cheat days bad for you, or are they a good way to bridge the gap between unrealistic ideals and natural human behavior? This blog will look more closely at this question.

Indulging Often Defeats the Purpose

This day, for starters, is meant to be a built-in rewards program and motivation for those who have done well throughout the week (or weeks) leading up to the act of cheating. There are a few rules, though. Cheating multiple times per week (or everyday, for that matter) is no longer cheating; it is considered your normal routine. This probably means there are other issues that you might need to resolve.

For the cheat day to work, an established routine of exercise and nutrition has to be in place already. Several days of flawless nutrition coupled with workout plans help you earn that day, experience, or meal you want. This can be done at a maximum of once per week. We tend to devalue the indulgence after a few weeks, and it becomes less of an all-out binge and more of a planned day or meal (we want to feel good after a meal and not like garbage). In this case, the plan works and makes perfect sense.

Why We Need to Take a Break Sometimes

There’re only so many broccoli florets you can eat before you go mad, and only so many burpees you can do before your body gives out completely. Spicing up your life with cheat days eventually has restorative properties that help both mentally and physically. From socializing with friends to taking time to relax to giving yourself a pat on the back, it can help each of us differently and at the same time bring us all together by humanizing wellness and fitness.

Remember, though: you can’t cheat everyday or every other day. Consistency is your ticket to a splurge. Further, it doesn’t have to be about food. You can always reward yourself by going on vacations, buying yourself an outfit, or going to the spa.

Get Goal-Setting Help

NIFS can help. NIFS staffers are here to help you set realistic, measurable goals. Set up a time to meet and talk about goals, testing (before and after), and personal training.

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

Topics: cheat days attitude nutrition motivation wellness goal setting

Physical Education: Overcoming Bad Gym Class Experiences

GettyImages-471671668.jpgFor many adults, memories of physical education class are usually one of two greatly different experiences. For me, physical education was the highlight of my day and was never a burden or stressor in my life. For others, gym class was a constant struggle invoking fear and hatred for exercise, and making us despise anything that could make us sweaty.

As we age and move into adulthood and later life, people sometimes wish for the vigor of being a young person, but the memories of a poor PE experience can stay with us and influence our decisions when it comes to everything from taking the stairs to getting a membership at a health club. This blog will help you see whether you have some underlying issues that you dealt with that have impacted your attitude negatively, and how children today are hopefully learning from our experiences.

PE Trauma #1: Associating Exercise with Punishment

Bottom line: exercise is work, and normally work is not fun (don’t kid yourself; there has to be at least one other place on earth that you’d rather be than work). For a physical educator, creating an atmosphere that gets maximum effort and positive attitude from all students can be difficult. A good teacher will make sure all students are safe and working toward their potential. Problems arise when a teacher creates a negative vibe for their students. An example of this is the classic using exercise for punishment routine. For example: Tony did not turn in this assignment; therefore, Tony is assigned 100 push-ups, or a mile run, or whatever punishment would help Tony remember his assignment. Tony would remember, alright. He was never late to turn in his assignment, but he would forever link exercise to punishment in his mind.

Fast-forward twenty years. Tony now hasn’t exercised seriously since high school because of his thought that exercise is punishment. Tony is in trouble. To reiterate, exercise is work and can’t be used as punishment, or else it will be impossible to find the motivation to exercise voluntarily.

PE Trauma #2: Teaching Exclusion Instead of Fun Lifetime Sports

Some activities in gym class challenged our mettle. There were winners and losers. Some people lost more than others (which you can argue is good or bad). The problem arises when games incorporate exclusion, such as dodgeball, which forced you out of the game, banished to the bench or sidelines to work on your sitting skills. This is definitely not productive or fun. Further, while many skills learned in PE could be used in day-to-day life, it would have been nice to have focused on games, sports, and skills that could be done for the rest of your life. Let’s face it: not many people play the games or use the skills they learned in physical education class.

When we apply our current knowledge and experience to this topic, it becomes apparent that there should be some change to the system. For schools that are fortunate enough to have physical education, providing students with exercises that promote lifetime activities and exercises that they can enjoy and get maximum benefit is ideal. We may not expect everyone to love every activity, but there has to be something that gives the students a spark to continue to move and to move often. Exercise is work, but it can’t feel like going to work (especially for an 8-year-old)—or even worse, going to the principal’s office.

Overcoming Traumatic PE Experiences

Finding the courage to overcome the fears associated with a traumatic physical education experience can be difficult. The first steps are the hardest. Realize that others with similar experiences are going through the same anguish as you are. Having a good support network of family, friends, and trusting fitness professionals is a great start. Understanding that there are obstacles and limits for everyone will help you as you tear down walls that are keeping you from reaching your fitness goals.

As a start on your path, write down some of your goals for your health and wellness. Also, answer the question, “Why are these goals important to me?” There is no wrong answer, and you can be as confidential or as open as you like about your goals. From your goals and assessments, your trainer can better program workouts tailored to you.

NIFS Can Help!

For more information regarding strategy sessions and assessments, contact a NIFS fitness professional. We are here to help you and make exercise FUN again (even if it is for the first time!).

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

Topics: physical education fitness goals exercise attitude motivation NIFS lifetime activities school

Bored of Your Workout Program? Try a “Wild-Card” Week

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 2.12.51 PM.pngWe’ve all done it. New lifters, old lifters—everyone has experienced that week where your normal training program just doesn’t have the same motivation for you that it did in the past. Monday is chest-tri day, Tuesday is squat, Wednesday is back-bi, so on and so forth. No one is immune to this feeling, especially if you are as religious about following your program as many of the NIFS members are.


Would You Eat the Same Food for Every Meal?

Think about it in terms of food. Do you eat the exact same thing for each meal every day of the week? Some might, but I can guarantee it’s not the most enjoyable thing in the world. However, most people approach planning meals for the week with a slight variation on the meals they prepared the week before: similar main ingredients, but maybe with a different spice or two, which will make a world of a difference. (Mmmmmm, food. I’m getting hungry, so let’s get back to training.)

But what causes this? Why do you all of a sudden just not feel like doing your program for that day or week? The most obvious answer is the fact that you may have been on this program for multiple weeks. Mentally, you are drained from the regimen, and your body is telling you that it might be time to change it up.

I think this is one of the most common training mistakes. Your body is ready for a new challenge or stimulus, but you tell yourself to suck it up and do the same program for another two months. You have seen progress that you’ve made (and recently stalled) with that program and have a hard time thinking you will find anything better. I think many individuals stick to the same program for way too long. This leads to other weeks where you just don’t feel like completing what is assigned for that day.

How to Overcome Workout Boredom

So what do you do, decide to take a week off of training? Not recommended. What I do recommend is to have what I call a wild-card week. In a wild-card week, you choose exercises that work similar movements/muscles to what your normal program targets, but with different (or more fun) exercises.

Here are four typical exercise choices with a “wild” variation to each.


 

 

Remember, your training program should be enjoyable. That is what keeps bringing you back each week. Listen to your body when it is time to switch it up and don’t be afraid to add in a wild-card week to your workouts every once in a while!

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, Health Fitness Instructor and Athletic Performance Coach. Click here for more information about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: fitness center workouts attitude motivation programs training focus NIFS

Fitness Goal Setting: Why You Should (and How NIFS Can Help)

ThinkstockPhotos-487716564.jpgYou hear it all the time: “Set your goals!” I can assure you that this will not be the last time you hear about goal setting, either. The types of goals that you can set are endless: professional goals, personal goals, financial goals, exercise goals, and the list goes on. Well, goal setting is actually something vital to being as successful as possible, and has some extremely significant benefits to keep you focused and accountable, as well as help you measure progress. These benefits apply to all types of goals, so let’s take a closer look at why you should participate in goal setting.

1: Goals Help You to Move Forward—Energizer

Setting specific goals helps you to set your mind to something, to have direction, and to stay focused. They give you something to plan and work for, so when you begin to lose that motivation and focus, you are pushed quickly back on track. We all have those inner desires, and having goals allows those inner desires to move outward.

2: Goals Set You Up for Success and Positive Self Image—Confidence Booster

Having goals in place can definitely set you up for success and allow you the opportunity to boost your confidence and attitude. When you have specific goals and eventually are able to accomplish them, a part of you becomes proud of what you have done—and rightfully so! When you achieve those goals, you allow yourself to set even larger ones and boost the image that you have of yourself and what you can do.

3: Goals Help the Impossible Become Possible—Mountains Become Hills

We all have big dreams, and sometimes those dreams seem like they could never become reality. When you take the impossible goals that you have and create baby steps or smaller goals, that “impossible feat” suddenly becomes a small incline uphill, rather than a climb to the Everest summit. Setting goals and a realistic approach to achieving them allows you to really make something of what you truly hoped for.

4: Goals Help You Be Accountable for a Lack of Success—Accountability

Writing down concrete goals and setting a date of completion keeps you accountable. But in the event that something prevented you from accomplishing that goal, you can look back and learn from it. And it’s no secret that one of the best ways humans learn is from our mistakes. So instead of putting your tail between your legs if you don’t achieve what you wanted, allow it to be a teachable moment and grow from it.

5: Goals Stretch You—Make You Better

Putting specific and challenging goals ahead of yourself stretches you and makes you better. They push you out of your comfort zone, making you grow and realize how much you really are capable of doing. We all want to be the best possible versions of ourselves, and setting goals that challenge you allows you to do that.

So what are your goals? What is on that list in the back of your mind that you thought was impossible? Pull it out, strategize the stepping stones you need to take to get there, and start!

If one of those goals is to complete that half or full marathon you have thought was impossible, let 2018 be the year to achieve it! Let NIFS help you take those baby steps to achieve your goal through our Fall Half or Full Marathon Training Program. Our group training programs will help you take that goal and make it a reality! Early bird registration starts June 25th!         

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: goal setting goals group training mini marathon 5k accountability motivation attitude challenge exercise NIFS NIFS programs personal training HIT Mini-Marathon Training Program

Software Update: Why Mindset Is Crucial to Fitness Success

ThinkstockPhotos-524261293.jpgI recently attended the Perform Better 3-Day Functional Training Summit in Chicago, where the leaders of the fitness world converged to drop a whole bunch of knowledge and inspiration on fitness pros. I have been attending this, what Alex refers to as a “Fitness Concert,”every year since I started at NIFS. It is something I really look forward to yearly, and this year was even better because I had seven other NIFS pros with me. Just as in recent years, it was a great experience of learning, refocus, and reenergizing.

Attitude: A Missing Puzzle Piece

But this year I left with a different feeling than in the past. I felt that I had been missing a very important piece of the success puzzle for so long, and it had nothing to do with movement. It was probably the most powerful of everything I took away from the “concert.” Most years I cultivate new ways to challenge the body through movement and methods of training, as well as grab a few great ideas about how to help people see what their true self is truly capable of. But not this year. Now don’t get me wrong, those topics were presented, and I enjoyed hearing those concepts, but they did not create the biggest impact for me this time around. The biggest idea that created the most impact for me was that MINDSET matters the most in fitness (and really anything you want to accomplish).

Brian Grasso was the presenter who really changed the way I think about creating change, and really blew my mind (pun intended) by revealing that life’s problems are mainly due to a “software” (the mind) problem, not a “hardware” (you) problem. I am a huge believer that things happen for a reason, and me choosing to see Brian’s presentation that day in Chicago was on purpose. In a previous post I wrote about an experience attending Wanderlust and the impact the concept of mindfulness had on me, and no more than a month later I was sitting listening to Brian talk about why mindset matters the most in anything we wish to be successful in, or to create change.

“Life’s problems are mainly due to a “software” (the mind) problem, not a “hardware” (you) problem.”

My Top 5 Takeaways from the Perform Better Presentation

Brian presented so much in a short amount of time—far more than I could do justice to in a single post. But here are my top 5 takeaways from his life-changing presentation.

Mindset is not motivation. Mindset is understanding YOU and how you see and interpret the world, and how you fit into it. Motivation, or motivational speeches and activities, tends to be short-lived with a crash at the end. This cycle is similar to illicit drug use; it provides an intense high followed by an equal low. This will result in two things: the want for more of that feeling, and the feeling of failure. Brian gave the perfect example by presenting the question, “Why are Tony Robbins motivational speaking engagements always sold out?” He provides that emotional response, making people feel great, but eventually that high goes away and people are left to their original problems, and feel the need to go back and get more motivation without focusing on the main issue: a negative mindset. 

The unconscious mind drives your life: Our unconscious mind drives our lives and shapes our world. It serves as our software for our behaviors. Our software can be shaped by the sequence of the unconscious which is:

Influence            Perceptions      Belief System      Expectation
(we incur)           (we carry)           (we accept)            (we hold)

These are some pretty powerful drivers for our behavior; knowing what is driving the behavior allows us to really change a lifestyle that needs help. Our software (unconscious) can be classified as either fixed or dynamic. Fixed is thinking what you see is the absolute truth; this mindset is usually negative. A dynamic mindset is “rewriting” the unconscious and seeing yourself in other ways. Another great example Brian provided to drive home this point was this: when you purchased your new iPod, you didn’t find your favorite music on it when you pulled it from the box. You had to download the songs you wanted. Your unconscious, so to speak, works the same way; if you don’t like the song that is replaying in your head, CHANGE THE SONG!

Perceptions that we carry don’t have to be our story. Brian said something that really spoke to me: “We talk to ourselves like we would not let anyone in the world talk to us.” Simply, our negative self-talk is so, well, negative, and that it can be so hurtful that we couldn’t imagine anyone talking to someone like that. But we do it to ourselves every day. This negative self-talk stems from the perceptions we carry about ourselves, others, and life in general. These perceptions can hold us back from making real change. Brian described the story of circus elephants and how they are tethered to a post by a rope tied around one of their four legs. At a very young age, a much smaller rope is used to tie them, which is strong enough to keep them there. As the elephant ages, trainers would use the same size rope, even though the elephant could easily break through it. But they don’t…why? Because the elephant is conditioned to believe that the tiny little rope is strong enough to hold him back. Do you see how strong perceptions of ourselves can be, and how mindset is the key to unlocking potential? 

Conscious vs. unconscious. So the unconscious mind is considered the driver and where behavior is created through impulse. It is believed that the unconscious mind already knows the right answer, and the only job of the conscious mind is to make the unconscious story true. Conscious choices create behavior through action, and this is where most of today’s self-help strategies engage, at the conscious level. But if most decisions are already made, and the story of YOU happens in the unconscious mind, these strategies will be unsuccessful. “We concentrate on amending physical behaviors without recognition of the drivers behind them,” Brian said. I equate this idea with something I feel I know a great deal about, movement. If you have a bad movement pattern (negative mindset), and you load that movement pattern (self-help at the conscious level), you will simply reinforce that bad movement pattern (negative mindset). On this point, Brian shared a quote from Clinical Psychologist Dr. Sophie Henschaw; she states, “The reason positive affirmations don’t work is that they target the conscious level of your mind, but not the unconscious. If what you are trying to affirm is incongruent with a deeply held negative belief, then all that results is an inner struggle.” Pretty powerful statement considering we as a society have become so reliant on the development of goals and daily affirmations as strategies for success. But if we take time to consider that the deeper portion of our mind is what is really driving our behavior, it only makes sense that, for sustainable change, the focus is on the unconscious and strategies that deal directly with that level of the mind.

“Our negative self-talk is so, well, negative, and it can be so hurtful that we couldn’t imagine anyone talking to someone like that.”

It’s a story, plain and simple: Mindset, as stated above, is understanding YOU and your story. Your story is developed through that sequence of the unconscious (influences-perceptions-belief system-expectation), and awareness of that sequence is a powerful first step. Because here is the thing: you can change your story. It doesn’t have to be fixed! You don’t have to respond to influences with negative actions or thoughts. You do not have to carry those influences that do not lead you down a positive path. And if your belief system is based on principles and not personality and environment, it will be more apt to deal with the changing world around you.

Bottom line is, if you want to change your life, update your software and change your story. I leave you with another impactful quote that Brian shared with the group:

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
—Carl Jung

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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: NIFS functional movement motivation mindset mindfulness fitness center fitness attitude