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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

She Said She Could, SO SHE DID!: From Novice to Marathoner to Coach

“She said she could, SO SHE DID.”

These were the words in the back of my brain as I journeyed to my third marathon finish line, crossing it on November 3, 2018, with a newfound respect for the sport.

The Inspiration

In 2009 as a 16-year-old high school girl, I heard some words from my mom I never wanted to hear, not just from her but from anyone: “I have breast cancer.” These words changed my life. I immediately became fearful of losing my mom, and in my moments of needing time to breathe and destress I turned to running. Running became my time to forget everything going on around me, and enjoy the beauty of nature and fresh air. It became my time to fully take advantage of these things, realizing at any moment in our life they could potentially be taken away. My mom survived two cancers, and to this day still wakes up getting to enjoy those beautiful things as well as her family and friends who helped her fight through her tough times.

The Journey Begins

Marathon 1- DC

After discovering this new love for running and fitness, I wanted to dive deeper into it. As a kinesiology major at Indiana University in 2011, I took on a part-time job at the IU Student Recreational Center, where I began teaching running group fitness classes called “Trekking.” These classes were 30–45-minute runs that everyone could participate in at their own pace, and motivated people to get in their general health cardio recommendations through walking/running. I fell in love with the sport even more after this. During my college years, I also began hanging out with friends who enjoyed running as their go-to for general fitness too, and we turned our passion into weekend fun by participating in 5K races.

The Next Level

Marathon 2-ChiIn 2014, I moved to NYC where I was going to pursue my passion for fitness in the fitness capital of the world. I was surrounded by some of the top fitness professionals and eager to learn more and more every day. In addition to this new lifestyle also came new stress. I turned to running again, and in one of the best parks you can run in, NYC’s Central Park. Weekends were filled with seeing long-distance endurance athletes racing. Novembers were filled with spectating one of the biggest marathons in the U.S. right outside my Upper East Side apartment: the New York City Marathon. I was inspired! In addition to my running solo, I also began taking classes at Barry’s Bootcamp from top trainers, including Nike Trainer Ashley Wilking, and hanging out with Jessica Woods, a Nike Run Coach and Ultra Marathoner herself. In February 2016, I ran my first marathon in Washington, D.C., where I completed with a goal in mind of under 4 hours, and finished at 3:54.

This “runner’s high” was real. I immediately signed up for half-marathons and started training harder, and in October 2016 ran my second half-marathon for a breast cancer charity in Chicago, and set a personal record at a pace of 3:48. I was shocked by what the power of my body could do. But then I burned out after completing two marathons, two half-marathons, and endless hours of intense training through 2016.

A New Journey

After teaching thousands of fitness classes and achieving personal fitness goals, I was ready for my next journey to learn the business side of fitness. I took 2017 and half of 2018 to recover my body physically, and gain strengths in two new areas of my life: mindfulness (Strength Through Stillness) and business.

In that time, I experienced management in two different types of fitness setting, boutique fitness and the standard gym setting. I also began tuning into meditation daily, and focusing on the strength in my mind I had been experiencing while running. I was ready to sit in stillness and challenge myself in a new way.

My Mindful Marathon Experience

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 11.42.16 AMOn August 15, 2018, I took on the role of coach for the NIFS Monumental Half/Full Marathon Training Program. Day 1, one of the participants told me he had just started running, and wanted to complete a marathon. He was one of two participants to sign up for the Full Training Program, and one of the only runners who had never participated in a running event before, including 5Ks or shorter-distance races. But he was determined to go the full 26.2 miles, and I was ready to coach him every step of the way. My knowledge from past experiences and mindfulness was the approach I took into this training and journey to get him to the finish line. When times got tough, I reminded myself of my 12-week goal motto “She believed she could, so she did.”

Nestor crossed the finish line and is now a marathoner. My passion for running now holds a new place in my heart as I experienced coaching someone to achieve an amazing goal. I will never forget seeing him run through the finish line with the biggest smile as tears of happiness came running down my face, and getting the biggest hug of happiness every coach hopes for.

Mini_logo_2019_smallInterested in training for the Mini? NIFS Mini Marathon & 5K training program registration is now open!

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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 goals marathon training half marathon mindfulness nifs staff

Meet Metabolism Head On: Burn More Calories and Speed Up Weight Loss

Have you looked at yourself in the mirror, maybe a few pounds heavier, lacking youthful energy, and just tired, and said, “What in the world happened to me?” Maybe this is all too familiar, but, unless you have found the fountain of youth, you might have been searching for answers to questions mankind has been asking forever.

A lot of how your body ages has to do with not only wear and tear, but also nutrition, wellness, sleep, and genetics. Focusing on your metabolism, which is derived from and influenced by these factors and everything from the food you eat to how much you sleep, to how active you are, could be the gateway to figuring out what you can do to reach your goals and, more importantly, happiness.

What Causes Slow Metabolism?

Your metabolism is simply a chemical process in which your body converts things you eat into energy. What causes a slow metabolism? For starters, you must understand that metabolism is different for everyone depending on size (larger people burn more calories than smaller people), gender (females tend to carry less muscle mass than men do, leading to lower metabolic rates), and age (as we age, muscle density decreases, leading to lower metabolic rates). Your metabolism will decrease when there is less muscle present in the body. A fit 180-pound person may burn 1,800 calories, while a couch-potato 180-pound person might burn only 1,400 calories in a 24-hour period (according to mayoclinic.org).

How Can You Increase Your Metabolism?

GettyImages-533648617 new

What can you do to improve your metabolism today and in the future? The most basic answers are exercise more and eat healthier, but here are some more ideas that you might not have thought of that can help boost your metabolism.

  • Eat breakfast every day. Eating breakfast will boost your metabolism by firing up the body processes earlier in the day. Not only does your body need fuel to power through until lunchtime, while you are digesting the food, more calories are being burned than if you hadn’t eaten anything at all.
  • Get more sleep. Going to bed earlier and getting the right amount of sleep will allow your body to regenerate properly. After a taxing day at work or in the gym, your body will only fully recover if it is given the proper rest needed to regrow. The fully rested body will be able to go 100 percent at the next training session and will be able to surpass previous achievements. (Bonus: While sleeping, it is hard to eat your dessert.)
  • Drink more water. Our bodies are largely made of water to begin with, but without proper hydration, some body functions and processes do not happen as they should. It has been said that drinking ice-cold water can also help increase your metabolism because your body expends heat/energy to warm itself once the cool water is in your stomach.

As you can see, these suggestions are not groundbreaking or out of touch with reality. Many people today neglect themselves and do not get these basic needs met, which is part of the reason they are not happy with the way they look and feel. If you are one of them, assess your current situation. Are you getting enough sleep, good enough nutrition, plenty of water, and plenty of exercise? If not, you might need to refocus your goals so that you can create the balance necessary to improve your metabolism.

NIFS can help! You can meet with a Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS to talk about your goals and schedule an appointment for a BOD POD and/or Resting Metabolic Rate test. This will help you set a benchmark and also set realistic goals for yourself. Be the best you can be as you meet your metabolism head on!

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

Topics: metabolism calories weight loss slow metabolism goals

Get with the Program: 5 Benefits of Having an Exercise Plan

IMG_0653-1“Success favors the prepared” is one of my favorite quotes highlighting what it takes to be successful in life and any pursuit that interests you. Without preparation and planning, effort and action really have no direction, which can result in you being lost. I would also offer that a misguided workout plan, although it’s a plan you didn’t have before, can be just as detrimental to your success. So having an exercise plan is really important, but having a solid and well-thought-out plan is super important!

Don’t confuse movement with progress when it comes to your weekly and daily training. Getting to the gym is step one, but what you do with your time there will be the difference between achievement and disappointment. We don’t usually argue the benefits of writing down your goals; it’s important and can usually lead to reaching those goals. You have heard me say many times “if you think it, ink it.” Why don’t we do that with our exercise programs? Goals give you your destination; your training program is the roadmap that can get you there. A well-designed map can get you there more quickly and safely.

So get with the program! Or should I say, get with a professional about your program. A well-trained and educated coach’s eye can be a game changer when working toward your fitness goals. The guidance they can provide is crucial to your development and ability to reach new heights. Named number 6 on the ACSM 2018 fitness trends list, educated and experienced fitness professionals remain an important commodity to you and the rest of the public. Utilize them!

And here are five more benefits of following an exercise program that is designed specifically for you by a fitness pro.

No More Guessing

Having a plan of attack takes the guesswork out of your workout. Fitness centers can be overwhelming at times; and with the amount of information and opinions that are out there, without a plan you could find yourself kind of meandering around not getting a lot of work done. I also think that not having a clear direction can lead to low confidence, resulting in an increased rate of giving up. Getting a program is not just a list of great exercises to do; it can act as your ticket to an “I CAN DO IT” mindset instead of “I don’t know what to do, so I’ll skip it today.” Which mindset do you think is the more successful one?

Proper Techniques and Principles: Injury Prevention

GT3“Move well then move often” is a great quote from the folks over at FMS and one that we carry as our motto around here. Performing exercises correctly that are based on safe and proper movement principles will be the difference between reaching your goals and being laid up for weeks because of an injury due to improper technique or progression. You can’t work if you are injured, and no one should be injured in fitness. But people get hurt all the time due to improper exercise technique and poor guidance. And if you don’t get hurt, you will definitely not receive all the great benefits of an exercise if you are performing it poorly. A great coach can design a program and provide the technical support you need to execute it well. Move well, move often! You get only one body; don’t you want to keep it running for a long time?

Progress Tracking

With a personal program design, you have your record-keeping right in front of you. Whether you are a paper-and-pencil person or a tech-savvy individual, logging your exercises, loads, intensity levels, and rate of perceived exertion is the best way to keep an eye on your progress. And believe me, when you see the weights go up, so does your confidence level and positive mindset.

Just as you wrote out your goals and the benefits of that process, logging your efforts is the next step. How do you know you are heading in the right direction if you don’t document the journey? Seeing is believing, and what better way to see the progress than to log the important variables that make up your program?

Keeping It Fresh

A great fitness pro will be able to design programming for you that is always progressing as you do, and will include different exercises and intensities to continually add new challenges. New stimulus equals new results; that’s just how the body works. After a certain amount of time, your body will no longer have to adapt to the previous stimulus, and with no adaption, there are no results. Also, keeping your program evolving will increase the enjoyment factor, leading to greater adherence to the exercise program. Nobody wants to do the same old thing over and over again. If variety is the spice of life, let a new fitness program be the chili powder!

Challenge Preconceived Limits

One of the main jobs of a great coach is to demonstrate to an individual that they are far more capable than their mindset tells them. A personal fitness program that includes all of the above, designed specifically for you, will take you out of that box you have been living in and prove to you that you are stronger than anyone (including yourself) gave you credit for. I have worked with so many who believed that they were supposed to reside on an elliptical machine for their workout and prove to themselves that they are an athlete and love to move. Working with a fitness pro to develop your specific program can unlock the physical potential that has been waiting to be shown the world!

Most of us have heard the ageless quote from Ben Franklin: “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” Without a proper fitness program that fits your needs and works toward your specific goals, failure is a very real outcome. Like most aspects of our lives, a solid plan of attack usually leads to success. Why should we treat our health and fitness differently? Get with the program and be ready for the results!

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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: workout plan exercise plan goals fitness professional injury prevention tracking fitness fitness program coach

Goals + Momentum = Weight Loss Success

GettyImages-893206214Zig Ziglar once said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit every time.” And each of us knows from our own experiences that he is right. As humans we tend to flow toward what is easy and what is comfortable. One day turns into the next day and time seems to slip by us, and what we intended to do doesn’t quite get done.

Although we have good intentions, and no doubt they are commendable, they never seem to happen because they are too vague. Vague intentions are impossible to focus on and aim for; they are moving targets.

Are there moving targets in your life? Maybe you want to lose weight for summer or want to make the gym part of your daily routine. Maybe you want to start eating healthier.

Bring Moving Targets to a Halt

So how do you stop a moving target? Create momentum and steady your target.

Imagine a target shooter trying to hit a bull’s-eye on a target. They begin to aim, but then suddenly the target moves; and before the shooter can position themselves to aim, the target moves again. It starts to become very unlikely that the shooter will ever hit their target.

Without being specific about your objectives, your intentions for them are your moving target. Wanting to lose weight, eat healthier, feel better, and have a routine is all fantastic, but without stating clear, defined goals and methods, you can’t focus and make it happen.

The way to steady your target so you can finally hit the bull’s-eye is to define your goals and write them down:

  • How much weight do you want to lose?
  • What kind of healthier choices can you make?
  • How many days per week can you commit to coming to the gym?

Once you know what you want your outcome to be, you are much more likely to get there. But you have to start moving toward those objectives by using your momentum.

Momentum

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

There is a lot of wisdom in the words of Tony Robbins. The majority of the time the hardest part of reaching a goal is just getting started. It’s never easy starting something new or passing up that favorite sweet of yours.

So how do you build up the momentum to get started? By creating a plan of action. Tony Robbins provides us with seven steps to increase our momentum.

  1. GET CLEAR: Gain clarity on where you are.
  2. GET CERTAIN: Take what you can dream about and make it real.
  3. GET EXCITED: It’s time to get excited about where you want to go.
  4. GET FOCUSED: Determine your results and where you want to end up.
  5. GET COMMITTED: This is the time where you become dedicated and truly commit to your goals.
  6. GET MOMENTUM: TAKE ACTION!
  7. GET S.M.A.R.T: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely GOALS!

Start Now!

Don’t wait; get started now! Create an action plan, get help with goal-setting, get nutrition help, and even form a workout program. Schedule an appointment with our Weight Loss Coordinator so you don’t have to go at this alone! Build up that momentum to help take you over the top and beyond.

Oh, and remember: we’re all here to help the entire way!

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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: weight loss goal setting goals NIFS nutrition

Balancing Academics and Fitness in College

ThinkstockPhotos-650623468.jpgWelcome back to school! Or, if you are new to the college experience, welcome to your first adventure in time management and balancing your life. This not only includes your academics and social life, but other areas that go under the radar as less important. I’m talking about fitness and wellness. College and university fitness centers are usually well populated with individuals with a wide variety of goals ranging from stress reduction to spring break abs, to meeting people.

Many of the students that I have met at NIFS are likeminded, health conscious, and body-image-positive, which makes coming to a campus-centered fitness center more enjoyable. In retrospect, when I was in school I found myself using the campus fitness and recreational center as a way to not only hone my training skills, but also to get away from the stress caused by deadlines and grades.

Beyond the obvious benefits, studies have been conducted that actually link exercise to getting better grades. Here is what I have found, along with some constructive ideas to help you benefit from fitness.

Set Goals

Breaking through your fitness barriers is the first step to getting what you want out of your fitness experience. In previous blogs, I have talked about setting realistic goals and expectations; because of all the time allotted to school and social life, you may find yourself in a crunch to dedicate any extra time to your goals. Choose goals that can be measured, such as coming to the gym four days per week for the entire semester or wanting to complete a 5K in less than 25 minutes. This will allow you to focus while you are at the gym and not tune out what you are trying to accomplish.

Find Motivation

Also, finding something you love to do for exercise helps. If you love swimming or plan to have swimming as part of your training goal, you should practice swimming often. Finding a support network can also help bridge the gap between your student life and fitness life. These people do not have to have the same goals as you, but it helps when training for an event. NIFS offers group fitness classes daily that are included in the membership; this is a great way to meet people and commiserate about how much fun burpees are!

See How Exercise Helps You Get Better Grades

The benefits go beyond looking good for spring break. Studies conducted at Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana, have shown that if a student works out as little as once per week, they have a better chance of having a higher grade-point average than their classmate who doesn’t work out. The findings supported not only improved grades, but also better time-management skills and mental wellness. As these studies become more and more prevalent, there is a noticeable trend for better, more suitable campus fitness centers to fulfill the needs of the students.

A worrisome trend in schools today is the deemphasis on physical education classes. From a young age, I remember having physical education class and never thought twice about how much exercise I was getting because I was having fun playing games and interacting with others. Based on the researchers’ data from Purdue, the trend of discontinuing physical education, which is leading American children down the road toward obesity and lack of knowledge regarding wellness, could affect their ability to get better grades. With anything in life, balance is the key. The right amount of study, exercise, nutrition, and recovery can benefit anyone.

Just Get to the Gym

In closing, all signs point to fitness as being undeniably great for people. We find that having a goal in mind is good, but really just getting to the gym can be beneficial. NIFS, located at the south end of IUPUI’s campus, is staffed with individuals looking to help you on your fitness journey. Along with the staff are thousands of everyday people just like you who are trying to do the same thing you are. You can do a different class every day of the week or have a trainer design a specific plan tailored to meet your needs. Welcome back and have a great school year!

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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: Thomas' Corner college fitness fitness center goals motivation time management NIFS

NIFS Personal Trainer Takes on a Triathlon Challenge

Crystal-1.jpgOne of my greatest passions is health and fitness. It has always been a part of my life, from studying it in school to choosing it as my career path. This year I have decided to try something that I have not done before: a triathlon! I’m excited to share with you my career as a personal trainer and health fitness instructor and my journey in training for the Indianapolis Go Girl Triathlon that will take place August 26.

Taking Time to Achieve My Own Goal

As a fitness professional, one of the ways that I measure success is when I’ve helped an individual or group reach their goals. Knowing that others obtained their dream is more rewarding than reaching my own personal goals. Getting to know a client’s strengths and weaknesses, and guiding them to overcome hurdles that they never thought they could achieve, is so gratifying. As a client seeks my advice and help, I believe it’s just as important that I practice what I’m teaching while working to connect it to current research and trends in the fitness and health realm. With all these different things on my plate, sometimes my own training and goal achievement gets pushed aside.

When considering what my own personal goals were for this year, I decided it was time I took on a new challenge for myself, completing my first ever triathlon. At first, the idea intimidated me because several thoughts came to mind:

  • “That’s a lot of cardio.”
  • “What if I drown in the open water?”
  • I’m not a swimmer.”
  • “I can’t even float.”

I instantly felt afraid, and the thought of a new challenge that I’d never considered doing crept up on me. On the other hand, that’s what also has enticed me to take on this race. Doing something that I’ve never done before actually excites me, and it’s what pushed me to make the decision to give it a try. I have decided to fully accept that challenge and have a coach help lead and guide me to reach my goal.

The Impact of Attitude

In addition to my adventurous and ambitious personality, the experience of surviving leukemia as a child has allowed me to take a look at life from a different perspective—a second opportunity in this world. I believe that your mind is one of the most powerful influences on your daily decisions; what you feed your mind, your thoughts, self-talk, “fight-or-flight” reactions, and which outside influences you believe all play a part in who you choose to be on a daily basis. The bottom line is this: When you tell yourself you can or can’t do something, you make that decision right then and there, because it all comes down to your will to take the next step outside your comfort zone and take action.

I look forward to sharing with you my experience of taking on this challenge and training for a triathlon, and I encourage you to follow my series on this blog.

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This blog was written by Crystal Anne Belen, personal trainer and health fitness instructor at NIFS. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: challenge triathlon personal trainer NIFS Indianapolis nifs staff goals

Fitness Training Types: Find Your Method

bands-1.jpgIf you take a few minutes to google the various types of fitness training out there, you will come up with a list of about 10 different ones, and then 10 more different variations of each of those. And each year more and more “fitness trends” come out, making it quite confusing for the consumer as to what to choose and where to start. It can be confusing and even frustrating choosing what is right for you and your body.

And to take it a step further, maybe the results you want that you aren’t getting are because you need to try something different. Maybe that different thing does not have to be some crazy, drastic change in gyms, your diet, or everything in your life. In fact, maybe it’s just a workout style that suits you better. Each product you see today—like CrossFit, Orangetheory, and Dailey Method to name a few—all follow a specific training method. And what works for one person doesn’t always work for the next.

I have narrowed it down to five categories of training methods, so let’s take a look at what each one is, and I’ll help you narrow down your focus.

Circuit Training

High intensity–style workouts that incorporate both aerobic exercise and strength training. These circuit workouts can be done with or without equipment.

    • Target: Building strength and muscular endurance. These workouts tend to keep you on the higher end of your heart rate zones and are usually designed in stations for time, with little to no rest in-between.
    • Goals: The circuit training method of exercise is good for those people who are looking for weight loss, are in a time crunch, or are looking for overall general fitness, a total-body workout, and toning. Many say this is where you get the most bang for your buck because you can get the results you are looking for in less time.

Aerobic Training

This type of training is generally summarized as meaning “with oxygen” or cardio training.

    • Target: These workouts tend to target the cardiovascular system, mainly the heart and lungs. In most cases it’s associated with running, biking, swimming, jumprope, step class, and other cardio-based exercises. This style of training helps to increase your cardiovascular endurance and open the gap in your heart rate zones.
    • Goals: The aerobic training style is good for those looking to lose weight, for specific training programs like marathons, for athletes looking to increase performance and endurance as well as recover appropriately, and for those trying to reduce the risk of chronic illness like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Heart Rate Training

ThinkstockPhotos-520046406.jpegThis type of training is specific to each individual and their personal zones. You can read more here about HR training, but this training method is focused in on zones like fat burn, cardiovascular endurance, peak performance, and recovery. In many cases, HR training is viewed as the all-around best training method there is.

    • Target: Heart rate training helps to increase endurance and sustainability in workouts by allowing you to peak and recover in a way that is specific to your body. Training zones are identified by doing a VO2 test.
    • Goals: For anyone and everyone! Typically people training for endurance races like Spartans or marathons, or athletes honing in on max results and recovery, for the person who is totally burnt out after each workout, and all the way to people who are on medications that affect their heart rate.

Flexibility Training

Contrary to what I know everyone is thinking, it’s not just yoga! Forget the general stereotype of moms walking into the gym with lattes, flip-flops, and their yoga mat; this training style is probably the most important, yet the most neglected. It incorporates corrective exercises, stretching (both static and dynamic), and movements from head to toe.

    • Target: To improve flexibility, mobility, range of motion, balance, and better posture.
    • Goals: Another method of training that is for everyone! If you are not a yoga person, it’s time to start! Yoga folks, dancers, runners, meatheads: this is for you, too! Flexibility training is for every single person who wants to enhance their training in any way.

Strength Training

deadlift-3.jpgStrength training typically is done with heavy weight but can be done with lighter ones as well. This style of training is directly associated with Newton’s law: mass x acceleration = force.

    • Target: To increase muscle strength.
    • Goals: Perfect for those looking to put on mass; can be good for those who don’t have a bunch of time to train; also good if you desire to move heavy things.

What should you do from here? If you are stuck in a rut or want to find the method that is going to be most effective for you, take some time to define your goals, figure out what is realistic for you, and take into consideration your past exercise experience. All these things play into what will work as well as what you like to do while in the gym.

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, BS, CPT. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: methods training fitness NIFS circuit workout flexibility aerobic heart rate strength yoga strength training core strength goals

NIFS Member Profile: Cody Hunter Crushes His Fitness Goals

Cody_ today.jpgCody Hunter_Before.jpgAs the new year is here, we start forming new goals for the next. I would like to share a story of a member who has worked incredibly hard through 2015 and 2016, has crushed all of the weight loss and fitness goals that he set and then some, and who has transformed himself completely in front of everyone who has seen him.

Cody Hunter joined NIFS two years ago in 2014, with overall goals of losing some weight, being healthier, looking more fit, and feeling better about himself. When Cody started working out at NIFS, he weighed close to 290 pounds. His current weight is in the 190s, and his most recent BOD POD has shown him down to 7% body fat*! Cody has proven to all of us how goal-setting and turning fitness into a lifestyle, rather than a chore, can be not only attainable, but also rewarding! Read below for Cody’s thoughts on his own journey, as well as tips if you are just starting out or need some motivation for your own.
 *individual results vary, and are not guaranteed.

How did you get started on your fitness journey?

When I was in high school and during my youth I was always on the bigger side. I played offensive and defensive line in football and that meant that I was a bigger player as well. Throughout the first part of my college career I ballooned to my biggest point. I just got to a point where enough was enough and decided to start my journey. I knew that I could be a better person if I was happier with myself in my own body.

What was your exercise regimen when you first started out?

When I started I was working out 5–7 days a week, working on my cardio and lifting. I would play a lot of basketball and then lift afterwards.

Did you make any nutritional changes? If so, what was your game plan?

When I first started working out I was stricter with my diet than in the past, but not as much as I should have been. I decided that I would drop all sweets, soda, and junk food. After making these changes and really focusing on fueling my body with the correct food and nutrients, my weight started to fall off.

How did you maintain these habits? Did you have any struggles along the way?

After going as long as I did without sweets, it was fairly easy for me to keep on a fairly regimented diet. I saw the results and knew that if I kept doing what I had been doing, I would only get better. I definitely had struggles. Everyone has the cravings for sweets, but I just knew that if I stayed strong and made the right choices, good things would happen.

Did you have any help with accountability (family, friends, etc.)?

My family, friends, and coworkers were all very helpful with keeping me in line with my regimen. At family get-togethers my mom would always make sure that the sweet was something that I didn’t really care for, so there was no temptation for me to have any. My friends and coworkers would do their best not to eat anything bad around me, to not make me feel left out or tempted to break my diet.

Have you conquered any specific goals since you started your fitness journey?

My first goal was to run a 5K. I accomplished that, and then I was talked into signing up for the Mini-Marathon. I trained a lot for that and was able to complete that as well. Over time I have done three half marathons in total and I have dropped about a half an hour on my time since my first one.

What are your current goals to help stay motivated?

I have been doing CrossFit training for about 4 months now and it has been really great. I wanted to have something that would present me with constant new goals and challenges; something that would really get me into the best shape of my life.

What advice do you have for anyone out there who might feel like they are ready to make that change?

My advice would be to just do it! I had many days where I felt that I just couldn’t keep going or that I wasn’t really seeing any real results. I just kept going and kept moving forward, trusting that hard work and sacrifice would pay off. My life has never been better and I have never felt healthier than I do now.

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If you are looking to just do it and begin making that change in your life, make an appointment with a NIFS trainer for a free fitness assessment to help guide you in making your goals. Or, check out NIFS Ramp Up to Weight Loss Program to help you get started!

This blog was written by Rebecca Heck, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: NIFS fitness center BODPOD CrossFit fitness goals new year weight loss 5k mini marathon accountability nutrition member exercise

It’s Not Too Late: Put Your Fitness Goals into Action!

ThinkstockPhotos-520041601.jpegHopefully you are off to a solid start on your 2017 goals. I would venture to say that many are as we are still in the first month. But if you haven’t started to put those goals into action yet, it’s not too late! Setting the goals is the easy part; starting them and following through with what you want to achieve is the challenge, or mountain, in front of you.

Goal-Setting Questions to Ask Yourself

Before you begin looking at some steps to take to put your goals into action, you first must ask yourself some important questions. Take a few moments to ask yourself these:

  • What are my long-term goals and are they realistic?
  • What short-term goals do I need to put in place in order to achieve those?
  • And hopefully you have already started, but if not, what are my action steps to get started?

Maybe after answering these questions you realize that you need to tweak your goals a little bit or potentially the path to get there. Take time to do that and set yourself up for success!

Steps for Reaching Your Goals

Now that you have answered some defining questions, let’s take a look at some steps that will help you take those goals and make them successful.

  1. Set your eyes on the target and keep them there! It’s easy to get distracted or thrown off track if you begin to slip up and become unfocused from your goals. By keeping your eyes at the center of the target, the goals are much more achievable from there.
  2. Figure out what steps are needed to hit the bull’s-eye! You may need to break down the larger steps into daily goals, or action steps. When the larger goal is broken down into smaller ones, it makes it easier to get to the top. Imagine trying to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower. If you skipped every other step, it would be a lot harder to get to the top than if you took each step one by one!
  3. Follow through with those action steps. Make sure you find out what helps you to be accountable and follow through with the steps that are in place. If you have a blockade in the way, go around and find what the next action steps to take are.

Be sure to evaluate as you go. If you need to make changes, do it! Things will come up and alter your course. Just take some time to evaluate as you go and make sure that you are headed straight for that bull’s-eye and don’t get off the path!

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Mini-logo-2016-final-1.jpgMaybe one of your goals was to complete your first 5K or spring half-marathon. Now is the time to put those goals into action. Join us for our NIFS Mini-Marathon and 5K Training Program that starts the last Wednesday of this month.

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

Topics: fitness goals goal setting Mini-Marathon Training Program 5k

From Mini-Marathon Participant to Ironman: NIFS Leader Nick Iaria

Nick-Before.jpgnick-after.jpgLongtime NIFS Mini-Marathon Program leader Nick Iaria shares his personal story about the NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program, his fitness changes, and his path to completing an Ironman triathlon.

How long have you been involved in the NIFS Mini-Marathon Program, and what made you decide to join?

I joined in 2009 as a participant, not a leader. I was a part of the run/walk group, and up to that point in my life had never completed a distance over 5 miles. Since 2010 I have been a group leader in the run/walk group and have transitioned to different time-specific groups over the years (11-minute, 10-minute, etc.).

I found out about the program from my then girlfriend, now wife, who was an intern at NIFS, and she was joining as a run/walk leader. I think I joined not just because of her, but because I was interested in finding out if I could do it. I don’t think I would have just gone out of my way to train for it on my own. I needed the knowledge and experience that NIFS gave in the training program format to get me started.

Since being a part of the program you have gone from the run/walk group to, in 2017, leading the 8:30 pace group. How did you manage to increase your speed?

I would like to say I did X and then Y and that led me to Z, but that isn’t how it worked. I am not sure what path got me here, but I think I just had a desire to improve and to continue just for the purpose of continuing. I do think that a large improvement came in the form of my mental training over the years that became a critical step in enhancing my physical development, which led to an increase in speed. It was never really my goal to get to a certain pace or speed; it just kind of happened.

Another key ingredient is core body strength. By improving the strength of my midsection and upper legs over the past two years, it has helped in pushing through the “I want to slow down” or “full-out quit” moments. The mental/physiological improvements I have made within myself—where I believe more in myself and I learn to listen to my body and learn from past mistakes during runs or events where I didn’t do the right things along the way—has been a key part of my success. I don’t take anything as a failure, just a learning opportunity for the next time.

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FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM AND GET REGISTERED TODAY! EARLY BIRD PRICING THROUGH NOVEMBER 30, 2018!

 

 

Why do you enjoy running?

Until recently I have never considered myself a runner; I always considered myself a jogger. However, the stronger and longer I go, the more I feel like a runner. I enjoy it because I can do it whenever (early morning, evening, etc.) and wherever (outside in the elements or inside on a treadmill, etc.). I don’t need anything besides a good pair of shoes and sometimes some good music to get me started or keep me going. It is something I can do alone or with other people. It is versatile as I can go different speeds or distances, and it is easy to track both with different forms of technology so I can track my results as I go.

Last year you were a Mini-Marathon Ambassador. What did that mean, and why do you love the Mini-Marathon so much?

I felt really honored to be a part of the program’s first year. There was an amazing group of 32 other people from all walks of life with different Mini experiences. Getting to interact with them and being able to help others who had questions or needed advice on the Mini made this year’s race that much better when I rang the PR bell at the finish.

My love for it came with my first time back in 2009. I was in a car accident (not my fault) 2.5 weeks before the race and had 5 stitches put in my knee. They were taken out the Monday of race week. I went back and forth all week about whether I should even do it, and that went all the way up to the morning of the race. For some reason I thought I could deal with the pain and still go out and run/walk the full 13.1 miles, but only made it through 4 miles. I knew I had to walk in order to finish and I WAS GOING TO FINISH. Walking the next 9 miles was really fun (and a bit painful) to be walking and interacting with all the different walkers and groups on the side of the road/track cheering us all on. My experience would have been different if I wasn’t walking and taking it all in. Plus, I ended up posing for one of the photographers on the track and ended up on one of the 2010 Mini advertisement posters, so that was an unintended perk, too.

What advice do you have for individuals just starting out or thinking about training for a half marathon?

If it is something that interests you or if you are looking to see how far you can push yourself, I know that feeling. I went way outside my comfort zone recently when I signed up for a full Ironman triathlon (that’s 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and 26.2 miles of running). It was way outside my comfort zone since I had never swum that far, never biked that far, and had only completed 26.2 miles twice previously at an average completion time of around 6 hours, and it was a struggle just completing the 26.2 miles, so combining all those into one day seemed unattainable. But I told myself there is only one way to find out, and with the support of my friends and family, I signed up, got a triathlon training program, and on October 9 I reached my goal and crossed the finish line.

So, that is my advice: If you are thinking about it, then you probably already want to do it, but just need that confidence or something that helps you to convince yourself that you can reach that goal. I know that you can do it, no matter your level of experience or age. I would say join a program like I did when I joined the NIFS program back in 2009. It will help in learning what to do and when to do it, plus it will help provide that accountability from start to finish for you. The finish line doesn’t care if you run, jog, walk, or roll across it; it only cares that you cross it.

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Congratulations, Nick, on a wonderful accomplishment! And thank you for your continued dedication to the NIFS Mini-Marathon and 5K Training Program. If you have been thinking about competing in the Mini-Marathon or any other spring half-marathon, or training for a 5K, registration is now open for these NIFS programs. Sign up here!

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

Topics: NIFS programs NIFS mini marathon Mini-Marathon Training Program 5k running Ironman triathlon goals weight loss exercise motivation group training accountability core strength weight training strength training