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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Healthy Technology Use: 5 Steps to Controlling Your Cell Phone

GettyImages-1000997882Think for a minute. When was the last time you intended to go to bed early only to “check your feed” one last time, then suddenly—BAM!—you have lost 30 minutes to Facebook? Or when you were talking with a friend only to be distracted by the all-too-familiar “bing” of your phone alerting you to a new message that you just had to peek at?

The Struggle Against Technology Obsession Is Real

Cell phones are great tools, and I think we can all agree they are not going anywhere. The need to put them in their respective places, however, has become increasingly important as we struggle with the distractions of technology.

Focus determines many things in our lives and is necessary to accomplish goals, both in our careers and in our personal lives. Putting the emphasis back on these aspirations and not allowing oneself to be interrupted with the bells and whistles of technology is, at best, a struggle.

Five Steps to Get Control Over Your Phone Use

So how can you take back control? Start by trying these five simple tips:

  • Put it out of reach. Out of sight, out of mind. When driving, put the phone in the backseat or in the glove compartment where you can’t reach it. Seriously. Whatever it takes for you not to pick the phone up while you’re driving.
  • Focus on people. Mealtimes are for enjoying good food and catching up with family and friends. Don’t bring the cell phone to the table. Turn the ringer off and put it in a pocket or purse where you can’t see the screen. Whether you are at home or in a restaurant, focus on the person across the table from you. They must be pretty important if you are sharing a meal with them.
  • Put your phone to bed at a decent time. If you go to bed at 11pm, tuck the phone in at 10:30. Give yourself at least 30 minutes of no cell phone usage before going to bed. The blue light a cell phone gives off is much like daylight and can trigger the brain to stay awake. Although most phones have a “night shift” feature, picking up the phone right before bed may also trigger you to check emails and social media, which makes it harder to turn off your brain and go to sleep.
  • Do something you love. Remember all of the great things you used to do before you got a cell phone—and do them! Yes, younger generation, I am talking to you, too! What do you love? Sports, music, painting, writing, cooking? This list can go on and on. None of these things require a cell phone, and they never did. Get back to the things you love to do that make you who you are. Be present in what you are doing and enjoy!
  • Turn it off. You can stop lots of issues with just a click of the button. No one said owning a cell phone was a 24/7 job. Turn it off when you need or want to truly focus on something, such as studying, reading, working, or simply trying to write a blog without being interrupted!

A cell phone is a pretty amazing piece of technology, but don’t let it dictate how you spend your time, energy, and focus. Small changes like these can help you conquer digital distractions.

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Written by Trudy Coler, Director of Communications and Social Media, mom, and coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: focus sleep technology healthy lifestyle

What Is "Good Posture" (and How Is It Related to Movement)?

GettyImages-955753008“Stand up straight!” and “Don’t slouch!” are just a couple of variations on the same advice we’ve all likely heard at least once. I apologize if I’m bringing up bad memories of being scolded for less-than-perfect posture, but this read might give you a few reasons why those remarks might have been useless after all. That’s right, folks. We’re diving into the widely covered topic of posture: What it is, whether there is such a thing as “good” posture, and what you can do to optimize your posture at any given point.

What Is Posture and How Is It Related to Movement?

If you look up the definition of posture, you’ll find different definitions depending on where you look. One, from Oxford, says “The position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting.” Another variation, from Merriam Webster, says it is “The position or bearing of the body whether characteristic or assumed for a special purpose.” Which one is correct? Well, I’m not sure either is incorrect, but I do have a preference for the Merriam Webster version. Why? Because it assumes that your posture at any given time is serving a particular purpose, whether that’s standing, sitting, walking, picking up an object, or performing any other bodily movement.

Your posture is ever-changing depending on the task you need to perform, so we might be missing the point entirely by getting caught up in analyzing a snapshot of what your posture looks like while you are sitting or standing still. As it turns out, it's fairly difficult to agree on what the ideal static posture actually is. Given the variance in how different individuals’ bodies are built, it seems pointless to assign a perfect static posture across the board. Not to mention, there is little evidence that supports the claim that “bad” posture or asymmetries put you at greater risk for pain. Perhaps our thought process is backward. What happens when you have pain in your back? Your posture changes! Wouldn’t it be reasonable that consistent, chronic pain could be the cause of postural adaptations that become your new normal?

Maybe our efforts should initially be focused on moving very well in a variety of ways. Moving well means maintaining the position of your body throughout a given movement or task. If you can train to move with quality in a variety of situations, it might allow for new options for movement to complete a given task, instead of repeatedly compensating. Having a variety of movement options available to you can prevent a default to the same repetitive movement patterns over and over again.

Increasing Your Movement Options

So, how do we increase the amount of movement options that are available to us? Practice, practice, practice. Yes, the dreaded p-word. The only way to learn something is to repeatedly do it, and do it correctly. And then do it correctly again. And again.

How do you know if you’re moving correctly? Have somebody watch you, of course. Without the guidance of an experienced professional who is competent with how the human body should move—whether that’s a physical therapist, personal trainer, strength coach, or other professional—you will have no outside perspective on what your body is actually doing.

Take something as simple as foot position. Just recently, I corrected somebody’s foot position from being “pigeon-toed” to being more “neutral,” with the toes pointing straight ahead. “I feel like my feet are duck-footed now!” I heard her exclaim. This is a common occurrence. When correcting somebody’s position to be more appropriate for the goal of the task, all of a sudden they feel way out of line. When your body resorts to only one option to complete a variety of movements, exposing it to a brand-new option will feel completely foreign.

Even those of us who are trained in technically correct strategies for movement can’t view ourselves from the outside. So, either we need to analyze some video footage, or more appropriately, employ an outside source as an unbiased third-party reviewer to say whether we’re moving the way we should.

Get a Movement Assessment

FMS-NewIf you’re generally healthy and pain-free, you can consult with a competent trainer to do some sort of an assessment on your strategies for movement. Each individual uses preferred methods to assess movement, whether that is a Functional Movement Screen like we offer here at NIFS, a more general flexibility screen, or an even more in-depth orthopedic analysis. All have their limitations, but you can learn a lot if you know what to look for, regardless of the testing system.

One of my favorite big-bang movement assessments is watching somebody march in place. I have an opportunity to watch the strategy they use for shifting weight back and forth between sides, I can see somebody’s ability to extend one hip while flexing the other hip under the load of gravity, I can assess an individual’s thorax position during this activity, and I can even watch what’s going on with the upper extremities in response to a stepping pattern.

As long as the observer knows what to look for, the test or system of analysis becomes less important. What does take priority is the ability of your trusted expert to provide you with the strategies you need to maintain your position, or posture, throughout your daily life. Ultimately, however, it is up to you to employ those strategies and, yes, even practice them consistently so they can become your new normal, as if movement dysfunction never even existed!

To schedule an FMS with a NIFS certified instructor please click below to learn more.

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This blog was written by David Schoch, CSCS, FMS, and Healthy Lifestyle Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS posture movement healthy lifestyle functional movement screen

Healthy Lifestyle Habits for Lowering Your Risk for Diabetes

GettyImages-892674198nMost of us are aware that the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes is increasing, but so is the number of us at risk. The American Diabetes Association says you now have a 1 in 7 chance of developing diabetes if one of your parents was diagnosed with the disease before age 50, and a 50 percent chance if both of your parents have it.

Genetics plays a role, but what can you do to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes? Lifestyle changes can be your best bet. Here are three areas that can have the greatest impact.

1. Practice Healthy Eating Habits

Eating a wholesome diet that is focused on plant foods is key. A large meta-analysis found that those who chose a Mediterranean-style way of eating were 23 percent less likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes. This style of eating is high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish, seafood, olive oil, whole grains, herbs, and spices but moderate in meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt. 

2. Move More, Sit Less

Physical activity can improve insulin resistance for as long as two days following the activity. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people at risk for Type 2 diabetes exercise for at least 150 minutes per week. This could be as simple as a 30-minute brisk walk, five days per week. 

3. Sleep

Many studies have shown that sleep deprivation impacts glucose metabolism. Aim for at least 7 to 8 hours per night for lowered risk of developing the disease.

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Just because you have a family history of Type 2 diabetes, doesn't mean you will automatically have it too. If you can make healthy lifestyle changes in nutrition, exercise, and sleep, you can lower your risk and improve the quality of your life.

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This blog was written by Judy Porter, RD, CD. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy habits walking healthy eating diabetes sleep sitting healthy lifestyle sleep deprivation

Turning Irrational Exercise Habits into a Healthy Lifestyle

It’s time to change our mindset.

ThinkstockPhotos-79071728.jpg“Our mindset” refers to every individual who has ever had one slice of pizza too many and subsequently tortured themselves on the treadmill because of it. Exercise is not punishment and should not be viewed as such. If you consistently and begrudgingly plan your workout routine around your indulgences, fitness becomes an irrational afterthought. A healthy lifestyle includes both enjoying the sweeter (or more savory) things in life, as well as enjoying a sweat session for the benefits of fitness. Your body is built to be listened to, and practicing a balanced lifestyle will help you reap not only better health, but also performance benefits.

Turning Your Mindset Toward Rational Fitness

Instead of being mad at the alarm clock, rolling out of bed, and dragging yourself to the gym, find an activity that brings you joy. If a 6am spinning class makes you actually want to get out of bed, go ahead and rock it, but if it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to try something new. Anna Maltby, Director of Health and Wellness at Refinery29, says it best: "It's about focusing on the wonderful things that exercise does for you so it makes you healthier, it helps you sleep, it gives you less pain, and puts you in a better mood ... and makes you live longer (2016).” If your current exercise habits are leading you to dread your time spent being active and not appreciate how good it makes you feel, it is time to reevaluate your mindset.

In order to change your mindset and think about an exercise program more positively, you must first cultivate your intent (or create a goal). Think about the desired outcome and the reasons behind your decision to develop an exercise routine. If you can connect your intent with a statement or even an item, the days when motivation is hard to find will eventually get easier and become habitual, no matter what you ate the day before! Don’t hesitate to take the class you are interested in or pick a workout you love just because everyone else isn’t doing it. Adhering to newfound goals and focusing your intent is the beginning of a lifelong wellness journey.

Three Tips for Motivation

Once you find your reason why, self-motivation is often the biggest hurdle. Following are three great strategies to facilitate and guide you to approaching exercise in a positive way.

  • Do the small things well. When writing down your main goal, also include 1 to 3 micro-goals that will help you keep track of your progress. Make sure to take the necessary time to learn the movement before moving on to the next, more difficult progression. This will also help you build confidence in and out of the gym.
  • Claim your autonomy. Hold yourself accountable for your routine. Develop and establish the authority to control your workout schedule while also being flexible. Work meetings, family events, or social activities happen and it’s okay to rearrange without beating yourself up about it.
  • Stay positive. It’s easy to be swept up in stress and forget why you started your journey in the first place. Create a gratitude journal and write at least one thing you are thankful for each day. Don’t forget to reflect on the goodness that surrounds you.

No matter what your mindset toward exercise has been in the past, you can always make a change today!

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This blog was written by Ellyn Grant, Healthy Lifestyle Coordinator. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise motivation accountability mindset rational fitness healthy lifestyle