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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Staying Motivated in Your Winter Workouts

Being someone who loves to run, especially outside, I understand the challenge of trying to keep up my motivation during those “indoor months” that have suddenly crept upon us. As is typical for the winter season, Americans report exercising less frequently. And according to a recent study, just from October to November, adults who reported exercising 30 minutes, three or more days a week, fell 3 percent.

122397958So how can we stay motivated for winter workouts? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Try something new that you have been putting off. Have you ever walked by the Zumba® class and thought, “Hmm, that looks like fun. Maybe I should go in and give it a try? Nah, I’ll go outside and run instead.” Or what about that spin class that you’ve been eyeing since you started coming to the gym? Find a class or an indoor fitness challenge that you have been interested in trying and have just continued to put it off.
  2. Build a personal workout calendar. With the hundreds of apps out there these days, this should be one of the easiest things to do. There are several that you can look up online, but check out the Workout Plan app if you need a good place to start. If you are a NIFS member, you can utilize our fitness assessment and exercise prescription at no additional cost. If you work out at another gym, see what services they have to offer to help you come up with a plan that’s right for you. No matter what you choose to do, have a plan in place and follow it to keep yourself on track.
  3. Find activities that you enjoy. One of the keys to staying motivated throughout the winter is to find things that you enjoy doing. You have to pick things that interest you and keep you wanting to come back to the gym. Maybe there is a program that you watch on TV every Tuesday night. Try coming during that time and watching it on one of the cardio machines. Or consider a weight training program or yoga that you have been putting off all summer long.
  4. Get a workout buddy. Finding someone to work out with you will really help those long winter months go by faster. If you have an accountability partner to meet you at the gym, that will help to get you there consistently.
  5. Sign up for a race. There are plenty of indoor events that you can sign up for, or register for a race during the spring to keep you in check. I know there are indoor triathlons within the Midwest that are a fun challenge to try if you have never done one before. You can always sign up for a race in a warmer state as well and make a little trip out of it.
  6. Try other outdoor activities. With all this being said, we don’t need to become hermits and lock ourselves indoors until May. Give some things a try that you haven’t done before, like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, and running. These things can all be just as fun if you are dressed properly!

I hope this list has given you some new ideas for exercising during these winter months! Find something to keep you motivated and continue to train hard. Don’t let yourself become one of those statistics in the study by letting exercise fall by the wayside during the cold months.

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

Topics: NIFS exercise winter fitness motivation workouts winter skiing snowshoeing

5 Thanksgiving Day Hacks

5 Thanksgiving Day Hacks [Infographic]

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, Health Fitness Specialist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise calories holidays weight management workout goals Thanksgiving

NIFS Lifestyle Program Participant: Kim Flowers

KimI’d like to take a few moments to highlight a member of the NIFS Lifestyle Program. This program provides extra guidance and observation to individuals with chronic medical concerns. NIFS’s Lifestyle Coordinator communicates with the participant’s physician about their progress and helps them plan workouts geared to their specific medical needs. Take a few minutes to read about Kim Flowers and learn how this program has changed her.

SHARE YOUR STORY OR A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF IN A FEW SENTENCES:

I am 48 years old and have been a member of the Lifestyle/Scholarship Program at NIFS for about five months. Currently I am on dialysis three times a week and am awaiting a kidney transplant. Due to diabetes I lost my leg, but I am coming to NIFS to turn all of this around and get healthier in all aspects of my life! My goal is to get back to work as a social worker once I receive my kidney.

SOMETHING YOU HAVE ENJOYED ABOUT BEING IN THE LIFESTYLE PROGRAM:

I have enjoyed getting out of the house and learning different ways to exercise. Even with the limitations that I have physically, I have enjoyed seeing how much I am able to do that I didn’t think was possible. Working out, something that I have not done in the past, is giving me more overall energy. It is helping me to get stronger, and helping me in my everyday tasks, which sometimes are difficult with a prosthetic.

SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE LEARNED OR SURPRISED YOU:

After getting my general fitness assessment, I learned and was surprised at the amount of fat I have in my body and that could cause me to have serious health issues. I am learning ways to work on getting my body fat to a more acceptable level.

FAVORITE THING TO DO FOR A WORKOUT:

All of it! I really do enjoy everything that we do. Though some things are harder than others and really stretch my abilities, there is not one thing that Amanda has me do that I don’t like. I really enjoy working out with Amanda and it has made a difference in my life.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS SO FAR:

I am able to do exercises that I was not able to do in the beginning. I have also increased my endurance. Being on dialysis and having a prosthetic makes it challenging to keep up my heart health, but I can tell when I am walking that I am able to last a lot longer than I could before*.

*Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

THINGS LEARNED FROM YOUR TRAINER ALONG THE WAY:

I have learned about better eating habits, how to use the machines at NIFS correctly, and how to make exercise a part of my life.

WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED:

This is something that I want and that I know I need to do in order to help myself. It is helping me to take steps to my goal of getting my kidney and starting a new life.

I have really enjoyed being a part of the Lifestyle/Scholarship Program at NIFS. I am so thankful for the opportunity to participate in something that without others’ help I would not be able to do. Even once I hit my goal, I want to keep going! I want to say thank you to every person who helps to make this program possible.

NIFS Lifestyle/Scholarship Program

One component of the Lifestyle Program is that there is a scholarship opportunity for those involved. Many of these people have physical limitations and are unable to work. NIFS has a scholarship fund on a needs basis, allowing participants the opportunity to get the help and guidance they need. Currently NIFS funds 16 scholarships to program participants.

To help sustain our current scholarships and increase the opportunities to fund additional ones, NIFS organizes an annual auction. We need your help to continue to provide this gift to those who need it! Please consider bidding in the seventh annual online auction.

AuctionImageVisit the auction website beginning November 24 at 8:00am and concluding on December 15 at 8:00pm and see what great items you can bid on!

For questions about the Lifestyle Scholarship program or the online auction please contact Amanda Bireline at 317-274-3432 ext. 219 or abireline@nifs.org.

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Lifestyle Program Coordinator and Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise nutrition goal setting NIFS programs endurance diabetes

The Fitness Puzzle: Nutrition, Workout, and Recovery

460050857Along the way, I have learned that fitness and wellness can seem quite complicated. Various mentors, self-described gurus, professors, doctors, and muscle magazines have provided us all with enough quick fixes, miracle workouts, and “sound” advice to help us become the person we want to become (and also fill an encyclopedia). Probably the best advice anyone has given me would be the old saying, “Find something you love to do, do it, and do it well.” If you do not love any form of fitness, whether it is ice hockey or Zumba, at least find something that you can put up with, such as outdoor hiking or gardening, and do it well.

There can be any number of pieces to a puzzle, but we will focus on three. While missing puzzle pieces make it harder to see the big picture, having no puzzle pieces makes it impossible to see your potential outcome. On the other hand, with all three pieces of this puzzle in place, there is no reason you will be unable to fulfill your goals and realize your potential.

The Pieces of the Puzzle

Here are the pieces:

  1. Nutrition: Most importantly, you should be aware of the number of calories you are consuming each day, how frequently are you eating, and the quality of food you are eating. There are registered dietitians who specialize in nearly every aspect of wellness, whether it is for weight loss or sports nutrition.
  2. The Workout: Comprised of both resistance training and cardiovascular work, we always seem to think this is the hard part, but it can be easier than you think. Think about how many hours there are in a week (168). Then think about how many hours you are recommended to exercise each week (a minimum of 2.5). Also, you have a built-in support network when you work out with friends, and especially with instructors there to help along the way. (Here are more reasons to work out with friends or a group.)
  3. Recovery: Recovery is not always associated with the big picture, but it’s equally important. This encompasses everything from getting a good night’s sleep, to getting a massage or foam rolling, to proper hydration. Really, all that matters here is readying your body properly for another workout, maximizing your potential, and decreasing chances for injury.

The Pieces Work Together

Getting back to the puzzle analogy: If I were to have an amazing two-hour workout but then followed it up with gas station pizza and then pulled an all-nighter with my buddies, I’m probably not going to see results. That example goes without saying, but there are plenty of distracters out there to sabotage your puzzle and big picture.

Focus on your weakest puzzle pieces and try to make them one of your strengths. Understand that there will be slipups and hiccups along the way, but ultimately, if you can find the three puzzle pieces of the fitness analogy, there will be very little that stands between you and fitness prosperity.

This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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Topics: exercise fitness nutrition motivation goal setting group fitness recovery

Why 95 Percent Effort in Your Workouts Can Be All You Need

179095316Everyone is demanding you give 100 percent effort on this exercise program or that workout plan. We say (or you hear), “You need to give 110 percent to achieve results. Or even better, “You’re nothing if you don’t give me your all.”

Your entire life, the pros keep hammering the same things. But what if you just can’t give that 100+ percent? My guess is it will kill your motivation, and you will not give any percent. This article is for all of you who are so far from being a “workout junkie” that you would not know a dumbbell from a kettlebell. (A kettle-what? Yeah, just as I thought.) So I ask you: If you give 95 percent effort, isn't that better than 100 percent of nothing?

Yes, 95 Percent Is a Lot Better Than Nothing

Think about this:

  • If you put only 95 percent of a tank of gas in your car, it will still run, right?
  • In school, if your kid brings home a paper with a 95 percent on it, it will still be an “A,” won’t it?
  • If you eat only 95 percent of the food you order in a restaurant, you will be full, won’t you? (And you will actually save yourself many unnecessary calories.)
If you’re still sitting on the couch waiting for the workout wagon to come and swoop you up (it won’t, by the way, but it is still stopped outside waiting for you), give my 95-percent-effort routine a try.

The Other 5 Percent

What about the other 5 percent, you ask? Well, I just want you to smile. Yes, you read correctly. Just smile. Be thankful for what your body just gave you. Your effort will be “A” work, and that smile will do wonders for your stress levels.

Smiles are generally divided into two categories:

  • Standard smiles, which use the muscles surrounding the mouth.
  • Genuine or Duchenne smiles, which engage the muscles surrounding both the mouth and eyes.

Previous research shows that positive emotions can help during times of stress and that smiling can affect emotion. Here’s what you will do: Move your arms and legs, hold your core (plank), and get your heart rate up. Give 95 percent of your effort; and when that is done, give yourself 5 percent of a big ole smile!

See my previous blog post from our Fit and Forty Plus (Fabulous) series and get yourself moving. You will soon be ready for the next step: THE WORKOUT JUNKIE (or not).

Reminder, before starting any exercise program, make sure you get a checkup from your doctor. If you do any moves that cause pain, please stop and get medical advice.

Good luck, and make your 95 percent your best, and your 5 percent smile so big we can’t wipe it off!

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

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Topics: exercise fitness motivation workouts attitude

5 Tips for Healthy Living in College

184813283Nothing can replace my four years at Butler University. I made sure to enjoy myself and my friends, try new things, and study hard, so I know what a juggling act college can be. With so many organizations to be part of, parties to attend, events to host, and exams to ace, there are a lot of things on your college plate and it’s easy to put your health and wellness on the back burner.

Instead of just eating a couple of pieces of boring lettuce from the salad bar during meal time and missing out on a social life, I used a few simple tricks to keep the freshman 15 weight gain from creeping up on me.

1. Focus on making the best choice in each moment, not on being perfect.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when thinking about living a healthy life, but being healthy isn’t about exercising all the time and eating only nutritious foods. Being healthy is about being balanced and being happy with your life. There will be times when all of your friends want to go out for ice cream, skip a workout, or do something that may not be in your “healthy-living plan,” and that’s okay. One of the biggest lessons I learned in college was to go with the flow, make the healthiest choice for my body and mind in that moment, and enjoy every second of every day.

2. Stock the mini fridge.

Having a mini fridge was one of the smartest things I could have done during my college career. I made sure to stock it with fresh vegetables and hummus for snacking, fruit for breakfast, and almond milk to put in my coffee. Some easy dorm-room snack essentials to have on hand (even without the mini fridge):

  • Chopped carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower (I would chop this up at my parents’ house and bring it to the dorm with me!)123097912
  • Hummus
  • Nuts and seeds (cashews, almonds, and sunflower seeds are my favorite!)
  • Dried fruit
  • Natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • Portioned-out baggies of oats

3. Get involved in your campus fitness center with programs like First Year Fit.

The fitness center was where I spent my “me” time while I was in college. I loved experimenting with new classes, meeting people, and getting high on endorphins! Many campus fitness centers (NIFS included!) are hosting incentive programs to encourage new students to become gym members, try new classes, and get fitness into their weekly routine. The staff wants to help you get into your healthy living groove, so don’t hesitate to ask questions—that’s what they are there for.

4. Take the fruit.

Most campus dining halls have a bin of fresh produce that usually includes apples, bananas, and oranges. While I was in college, the dining hall staff really didn’t encourage removing foods from the dining hall, but grabbing a piece of fruit to go was okay. I always made sure to take one or two pieces to have on hand, in my bag, and ready to go as soon as hunger struck so that I had a healthy option to keep me focused and fueled through the afternoon. My tip is this: Always take a piece of fruit, even if you aren’t hungry at that moment and don’t want to eat it right then. Fruit can keep for up to two weeks without being refrigerated, and having that fruit nearby will give you an instant (and free!) snack to tide you over until mealtime.

5. Inspiration on YouTube

It’s not always easy to get to the gym, and when there is time to get there sometimes it’s hard to decide what equipment to use and what workout you want to do. This is where YouTube comes into play. I love following fitness professionals, healthy living bloggers, and my fitness center on YouTube for easy-to-follow workouts and motivation. Some of my favorites are NIFSindy, Jennifer DeCurtins of Peanut Butter Runner, and Livestrong.

NIFS 1st Year Fit program was designed to help keep students on a healthy track as you start a new chapter in your college career. This is a completely free program for IUPUI students who are NIFS members.

Get started today!

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, contributing writer, group fitness instructor, and author of healthy living blog Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: exercise nutrition healthy habits fitness center healthy eating weight management education

10 Better Ways to Do 10 Exercises

Salutations NIFS blog followers! With summer in full swing, I would like to take time to discuss a topic that tends to be extremely touchy for some and unexplored for others. I know your workout is yours. It’s sacred to you and there can be no other way, in your mind, to exercise. You may take offense when a trainer suggests that the exercise you are doing (and which was probably popular in the 1970s with bodybuilders) is not recommended, and that there are alternatives that are not only safer, but also many times more effective.

With this being said, I bring you improvements to 10 popular exercises that can truly change the way you look at your workout. Following are the first three.

1. Effective Pushups

Pushups can be like snowflakes: no two are alike. From an anatomical standpoint, many people rely on secondary muscles in the shoulders and connective tissue rather than the primary focus, the chest. This is often seen when there is weakness in the upper body. People tend to compensate for that weakness.Pushup-wrongPushup-right

To correct this and still allow the shoulders and triceps to remain relevant, move your elbows back to a 45-degree angle to your body, keeping your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart. Then press your body up throughout the entire range of motion. You should use a modified version of this if you are still unable to perform the movement. This works the same muscle groups and will allow you to build strength necessary to do a 45-degree pushup. (For more pushup variations see our previous blog: Slim It to Win It: The Pushup).

2. Treadmill

tradmillWalking on a treadmill can be great exercise, but something that some people do not realize is that it can be misleading. When you walk around the track, at the grocery store, or at the park, one constant force is always there: gravity. Gravity is something we have to deal with and respect. Our body takes on this extra resistance as a challenge. This is not exactly the same on a treadmill; this is not to say that it is zero gravity, but there is less difficulty walking at a zero incline on a treadmill than walking around the track. I suggest setting your treadmill incline to a minimum 1% incline, which will not only give you a better calorie burn, but also a better cardiovascular workout.

3. Seated Bicep Curls

Seated anything, for that matter. As a society, we tend to sit a lot. We sit at breakfast, on the bus, at work/school, at lunch, at home watching TV in the evening… really all the time. Seated bicep curls is a combination of a seated position and a small muscle group movement—probably the least effective exercise, bang for your buck, you could possibly do. Please do not stop doing bicep curls, but at least try this small variation: The wall sit bicep curl. First, position your body in a wall sit, back against the wall and head back. With two dumbbells, perform the bicep curl. Make sure to keep your head pressed against the wall. In effect, we see muscle contraction in the legs, biceps, and even the core with an unparalleled isolation within the bicep (no cheating here!).

Bicep-machine wall-sit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This concludes part 1 of this blog series. Stay tuned for my next blog, where I will continue this discussion and hopefully you’ll come away with a new perspective on fitness that will promote and encourage positive development.

Muscle heads rejoice and evolve!

This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Schedule a free fitness assessment today and our certified trainers will help get you started on a fitness routine that works for you.

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Topics: exercise fitness center Thomas' Corner workouts

“Caddy Smack”: Fitness Tips to Improve Your Golf Game

golferNo, I’m not going to fix your slice or tell you how to hit out of a bunker (I still can’t fix that myself). What I’m going to do is give you a few fitness tips that could potentially help add some yards off the tee or with long iron shots.

Getting More Distance on Your Shots

One of the best ways to bolster the distance of your shots is to increase the club head speed during your swing. Now, you are probably thinking, “Okay, I’ll just swing harder than I normally do.” Those of us who have done that before already know the outcome is not favorable for scoring par or birdie. The ball probably ended up two fairways over or at the bottom of a lake and left you saying, “I almost crushed that.”

What if there was a way to increase that club head speed without altering the mechanics of your swing? The concept of rotational power may be the key to unlocking that extra 10 to 15 yards for that tee shot. Rotational power is something I focus very heavily on with any of my teams that involve a swinging aspect (such as golf, tennis, and softball). It involves moving your upper body/torso and hips in a circular path to generate a large amount of power while keeping under control. Increasing the ability to generate this force (getting more powerful) will allow you to feel like you are taking your normal swing but have a little more “oomph” behind it. Simply put, you are able to swing harder by increasing the ability of those muscles that are important to the swing.

Training to Increase Rotational Power

Now, how should you go about training to increase your rotational power? Luckily, the NIFS Fitness Center has a ton of tools that can provide opportunities to do so. I am going to focus on one piece of equipment for this specific goal, which are the Dynamax balls located at the south end of the fitness center floor. The following three exercises are designed to help you become more powerful and hopefully improve your game at the same time. Remember, your driver and irons do not weigh a bunch, so use one of the lighter Dynamax balls (I recommend the 10-pounder to start with). The golf swing is a fast event, so focus on the speed aspect rather than the weight during these drills.

  1. Dynamax Pocket Throws (3 sets of 15 per side)
  2. Half-Kneeling Rotational Throw (3 sets of 8 per side)
  3. Overhead Rotational Throw (3 sets of 6 per side with maximum effort)


I know there are many more parts to the golf swing than rotational power, however, this is a key factor. Hopefully in a few weeks you will be hearing a louder “smack” of the club and see some extra distance when the ball comes to a stop.

Hit them straight; hit them far!

If you are looking for more ways to improve the strength of your golf swing or have any other sports specific goals, contact me for a free fitness assessment. 

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, NIFS Athletic Performance Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: exercise muscles training golf core strength rotation golf swing

5 Tips to Stay Hydrated While You Exercise This Summer

It is finally summertime! You are looking out of the window from your office and can hardly wait to get outside for your workout after work or on your lunch break. Unfortunately, summer comes along with hot and humid conditions that can have a terrible effect on your body if you have not properly hydrated.

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It is important to consider the effects that the sun and warmer temperatures can have on your body and your performance, and to be sure to get appropriate hydration. The heat index chart, which shows where the combination of heat and humidity becomes dangerous, is a great resource in determining whether it is a good idea to go outside to exercise.

Here are five helpful tips to keep you hydrated and healthy as you exercise outdoors this summer.

  1. Avoid exercising outdoors during the hottest hours of the day (generally between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.). This will make for a more comfortable training session and decrease your likelihood of becoming dehydrated.
  2. Carry water with you during your workout. Not only should you drink water in the few hours leading up to your workout, but you need to be drinking water during the workout as well. It is recommended to drink a cup of fluid every 15 minutes during your exercise session.
  3. Replace the fluid that you have lost. A good rule of thumb is to drink two cups of fluid for every pound that you lost due to water loss during the activity. If you have weight-loss goals, don’t be fooled into thinking that the weight you lost during the workout is a good thing. It is just water weight.
  4. Recognize if you are dehydrated. There are many symptoms that determine if you are becoming 153736610dehydrated, including feeling thirsty, tired, or dizzy; having a headache; and having dark-colored urine, to name a few. If you start to experience these side effects, you must rehydrate yourself before the situation becomes a medical emergency. Do not try to continue exercise if you feel you are becoming dehydrated!
  5. Be aware of hyponatremia! This occurs when you are consuming more fluid than you need during an activity, resulting in a low level of sodium in the bloodstream. Consuming a sports beverage rather than water during endurance activities can be beneficial to you if you experience this.

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This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser, Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: exercise summer hydration endurance outdoors safety

Incorporating the Erg Rowing Machine into Your Exercise Routine

Tired of running, stair climbing, and cycling? If you are looking for a cardio workout that promises plenty of calorie burning, upper- and lower-body conditioning, all while being low impact, look no further than getting in some indoor rowing exercise.Rowing Machine

This exercise is not necessarily new (its origins date back nearly 2,000 years to ancient Greece) and not exclusive to outdoor rowing enthusiasts. For the average individual, rowing provides an excellent warm-up source, while the seasoned CrossFitter may use the rower as a cardio component in an elaborate superset. Regardless of your fitness level, the erg rowing machine is designed to give a low-impact, smooth exercise movement that provides training for outdoor rowers as well as an uncomplicated total-body exercise for the average Joe or Jane.

Steps for Learning Indoor Rowing

Indoor rowing technique can easily be taught in four convenient steps:

  1. The Catch: The starting point; legs are bent at the knees, arms are straight, and the back is flat.
  2. The Drive: The legs are extending and the handle is pulled toward the chest.
  3. The Finish: Legs are extended and the handle is at the chest.
  4. The Recovery: The sliding motion in which the body moves back to “the catch” position and performs another rep.

Like most exercise patterns, rowing requires practice and sometimes coaching to fully and safely get the most out of the movement.

For more detail, check out these instructional videos from the manufacturer of our rowing machines, Concept2.

NIFS staff is here to help and encourage you all the way! Please contact a NIFS Health Fitness Specialist with help on improving your rowing technique or incorporating the rowing machine into your current exercise program.

To get started or develope a new workout routine, contact us for a free fitness assessment!

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Evolve and rejoice,

This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: exercise cardio calories rowing