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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

How to Maintain Healthy Eating During the Holidays

GettyImages-613788476The holidays technically started on Thanksgiving, and now the season is officially in full swing. For many of my clients, the holiday season means a variety of different things. There are office parties, celebrations with friends, and even traveling to visit family. The festivities of the holidays can be a lot of fun, but they can also be stressful, especially if you are trying to stick with a healthy eating plan and fitness regimen.

It would be easy to sit here and say that the holidays really are just three days out of the year—Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day—and only those three days are the days you can eat whatever you want. Right? But truth be told, it’s not so much what happens on those three days as it is what happens in between that matters most.

To help keep you on track with weight loss or weight management, I’ve created a holiday survival guide. Try these out—good health and good cheer will follow.

Office Parties

Keep the alcohol in check. Besides the added calories, you don’t want to become this year’s office party joke. Slow down when drinking by having a glass of water in between cocktails. As hard as it might be, leaving the eggnog behind and sticking with wine, beer, or drinks that are not made with juice or added sugar, is a sure-fire way to cut calories. If it becomes too hard to cut back, maybe the best idea is not even starting in the first place. Whatever your choice may be, remember to enjoy the festivities and the company of co-workers.

Getting Together with Friends

Whether it’s out to dinner or meeting at a friend’s house, good choices will keep you on track. Being mindful when ordering will set you up for success. Veggies instead of French fries? Yes, please! Fish over a hamburger? Absolutely! Water rather than soft drinks? Keep it coming! Bread? Desserts? Alcohol? Choose the one you can’t do without during this holiday season and enjoy only that one.

Traveling Out of Town

Visiting family out of town can always be tricky, but it doesn’t have to completely throw you off your game. Here are a couple of ways to help keep you on track and ensure you don’t set yourself up for failure.

  • Go grocery shopping. You’ve reached your destination and realize that there isn’t any produce to be found in the house anywhere. The solution? Go shopping! Try to lighten the load of relatives who are preparing for a big family holiday get-together and offer to go grocery shopping. You will lessen the load and set yourself up for success.
  • Come prepared. If your travel plans consist of driving, come prepared with your own food. Making on-the-go snacks will not only allow you to stay on track, but it will also help you avoid stopping at the drive-through or wanting to spend extra money on food when you already have some. Pack those snacks!
  • Offer to cook. Along with helping to grocery shop, why not guarantee not only you, but the whole family gets a healthy meal by cooking? Prepare it just the way you would at home and it’s sure to be a hit. Here are some holiday recipes that include superfoods.

There are plenty of other tricks and tips you can use to help you survive the holidays in a healthy way, including workouts that work when you’re on the road. At the end of the day, don’t beat yourself up if you gave in to an extra cookie, or ate a little bit more than you had planned. Learn from it, move past it, and start fresh. And most important: ENJOY EVERYTHING ABOUT THE HOLIDAYS!

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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 healthy eating holidays weight management Thanksgiving traveling new year's christmas meals dining out

Thanksgiving Success Strategy: Eat Sensibly and Keep Moving

GettyImages-1036967134Not long from now, families all over America will be sitting down to a meal that looks back to that first Thanksgiving, in which the Pilgrims celebrated the harvest after a harsh winter. The year was 1621, and Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving, which the colonists celebrated as a traditional English harvest feast.

George Washington declared Thanksgiving a holiday in 1789, and in 1941 Congress passed a resolution which decreed that the holiday should fall on the fourth Thursday of November.

Feasting together is as old as the human race. It is a way of celebrating and enjoying time with family and friends. But if we are not careful, we can overdo the festivities and end up setting ourselves back over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Just How Big Is Your Meal?

It’s hard to believe, but the average Thanksgiving meal contains 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat. And most of us don’t limit ourselves to one indulgent meal. It’s typical to snack and celebrate all day long.

The trouble comes when we have to deal with those extra calories that we have packed into our bodies. “A 160-lb. person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours, or walk 30 miles to burn off a 3,000-calorie Thanksgiving Day meal,” said Dr. Cedric Bryant, ACE chief exercise physiologist, in this article. Many people start by snacking throughout the day, and that combined with the meal can lead to a total caloric intake of 4,500.”

Nutrition and Fitness Tips for Turkey Day

The good news is that you don’t have to forgo your favorite holiday foods. There is room for a little indulgence at a holiday feast! The secret is to have a plan as we head into the holiday season. By staying on top of both your calorie intake and your physical activity, you can enjoy your favorite foods in moderation and emerge on the other side just as fit as you are now.

  • Plan your meals. If you know that you are going to be having some heavy, celebratory meals in the upcoming days, limit your intake at other meals to help keep your diet balanced out. Don’t skip meals, but make them lighter and be sure to include plenty of healthy, lower-calorie foods. For instance, if you are going to have a big lunch, eat a smaller breakfast and dinner.
  • Look at the big picture. Keep up with how you eat during the several days surrounding Thanksgiving. It’s not a good idea to indulge at every opportunity that presents itself. If you splurge heavily one day, take it easy the next.
  • Keep moving. The last thing you need this time of year is a slowed-down metabolism. Staying active is a great way to give your body a fighting chance to negotiate the extra calories you will be consuming. To get the biggest bang for your exercise buck, do regular strength training moves. Even after your strength training session has ended, your metabolism and calorie burn remains high.

Strength Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Here are some simple strengthening exercises you can do no matter where you are—whether in your office at work or at the in-laws’ house.

  1. Push-ups. If you aren’t used to doing push-ups, start with your hands on a raised surface such as a desk. As you gain strength, you can gradually move to doing them fully on the floor.
  2. Lunges. For extra credit, hold dumbbells or other heavy objects in your hands while lunging.
  3. Squats. To do a proper squat, start with your feet shoulder width apart. Begin to lower your body as if you were going to sit in a chair. Try to reach a level where your quads are parallel, and then stand back up.
  4. Step-ups. Find the nearest step, and with alternating legs step onto the step with one leg and then step back down. Again, holding heavy objects in each hand will increase the effect.

There is no need to pack on the pounds this Thanksgiving. Figure out your strategy now, and then when the festivities start, just work the plan!

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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: healthy eating calories holidays exercises Thanksgiving strength workout

Thanksgiving Food and Healthy Eating Myths Busted

We all know that a lot of holidays involve food: cookouts on the 4th of July, cookies for Santa at Christmas, and candy treats for Halloween. But one holiday completely revolves around food—when you think of it, you automatically think about food. Thanksgiving is all about the meal of turkey, sides, and desserts. Several food myths surround this holiday, however, and not all of them are true. Keep reading for myth busters to share at your table.

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  • Turkey makes you sleepy. Always have a nap after your Thanksgiving meal? Have you been blaming the turkey because you heard it was high in tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted to serotonin and then melatonin and causes you to sleep? The truth is that a lot of other foods on the dinner table have much higher levels of tryptophan, and the real reason for the nap is more likely because of the amount of carbs that you consumed (and possibly the number of glasses of wine you drank!).
  • Sweet potatoes are always better than white potatoes. It’s true that if you look at the nutritional components of a regular sweet potato compared to those of a white potato, hands down it wins for its higher levels of vitamin A and C and fiber. The typical sweet potato dish is loaded with sugar and fat, however, and not nearly as healthy as a plain baked white potato.
  • Dark meat is unhealthy. Yes, it is true that white meat is very lean and an excellent source of protein. Dark meat is not so terrible, though, that you should intentionally avoid putting it on your Thanksgiving plate. A serving of 4 oz of white meat is 158 calories vs. 183 for dark meat, and 0.5 gram of saturated fat vs. 1.6 grams of saturated fat. Dark meat is also higher in zinc and iron.
  • Canned pumpkin isn’t as healthy as fresh. I am sure you have heard multiple times how much healthier fresh fruits and vegetables are versus canned. This is typically due to processing them and then storing them in a high-sodium or high-sugar liquid. However, when it comes to canned pumpkin, that rule doesn’t apply. It’s more concentrated than a fresh pumpkin, which means more vitamin A and fiber. But be careful when grabbing a can of pumpkin and don’t accidentally grab pumpkin pie filling, which is loaded with sugar and salt.
  • Stuffing and dressing are the same thing. They are very similar, but not the same. Stuffing is typically stuffed inside the bird, whereas dressing is prepared in a casserole dish. A note about food safety: Be cautious when eating traditional stuffing that is cooked inside the bird. It adds mass to the turkey, which slows the cooking. This not only dries out the meat, but can create salmonella bacteria. Always be sure your turkey is cooked to 165 degrees.

Show up at the Thanksgiving holiday this year with these healthy eating myth busters to share with your family and friends (and also check out these additional Thanksgiving hacks). Then grab a plate, load it up with lots white and dark meat, and enjoy the once-a-year food fest!

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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: healthy eating holidays sleep Thanksgiving carbs food safety fruits and vegetables turkey myth busters

Get into the Exercise and Healthy Eating Mindset Before the Holidays

fit-it-in.jpgIt’s coming…the holiday season! Many people tend to give up or have the “I’ll start fresh next year” mindset when it comes to exercise around the holidays. Don’t let that be you this year! Halloween is over and before we know it Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here. Parties will start, normal schedules will be crazy, and more food will be added to your life.

Three Tips for Staying on Track with Workouts and Food

This season, let’s go into the holidays with a different mindset. We know what’s coming—it happens every year! Here are three tips to keep you on track.

  • Schedule time for your workouts. If you know you have a party or family gathering, plan ahead. Write your exercise time on your calendar each week just like you would anything else. Scheduling time for fitness should be a priority.
  • Something is better than nothing. Gym time cut short? Don’t just blow it off! Just get into the gym and move. Getting 30 minutes of exercise is better than getting 0 minutes. Don’t let your busy holiday gatherings keep you from your exercise routine. Even if you have to do bodyweight exercises at home or portable exercises on the road, don’t just skip your workout.
  • Do a little bit better next time. You overate, you missed your workout, you have another party today. It’s okay; you didn’t lose the battle of fitness. You don’t need to overeat at the next party. Just do a little better than you did at the last. Healthy eating and exercise don’t have to be all or nothing. Just do better every day. Move a little more, and eat one less holiday treat than the day before.

Change Your Mindset—and Ask or Help!

The holidays don’t have to be a time to let it go and start over during the New Year. This year, make it different! These three tips will help you change your mindset as we enter the season of craziness and delicious goodies!

If you need help on a quick workout idea, stop by the track desk and ask a NIFS HFS to help you out!

Remember 30-minute workouts are proven to be just as beneficial as longer workouts. If your short on time or just feel 60-minutes is too long, try our Small Group Training Express class. It's offered on Thursday's from 9:30-10:00am with Kaci! Try your first session free!

Try a 30-min session!

Happy Holidays!

This blog was written by Kaci Lierman, NIFS Personal Trainer. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS exercise healthy eating holidays Thanksgiving bodyweight mindset christmas new year scheduling halloween

Nutrition and Fitness Accountability to Get You Through the Holiday Season

ThinkstockPhotos-524163310.jpgIt’s the time of year that no one wants to talk about. But let’s face it: Christmas decorations have been out in stores for over a month, and the holidays are just around the corner. And for many across the nation, the holidays are one of the most dreaded times for unhealthy eating and putting on unwanted excess weight. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Don’t let this time of year scare you. Instead, view it as an opportunity to meet the weight management challenge for a better you!

Tips for Finding Balance at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Beyond

The holidays are hard, and I would never deny that. Travel bogs you down with fast food on the road and in the airport; visitors come to the house to stay for a week at a time and you have to do all the cooking of holiday meals; and those delicious goodies that seem to appear only once a year are ever-present on the counter yelling, “EAT ME!” So with all this, how do you stay on track? Allow me to share a few ideas that come to mind for having a successful holiday season with your eating and exercise.

  • Find a nutrition balance. While I am not encouraging you to go out and have five of your favorite cookies every day, I am going to say it’s okay to have one. The key to being successful and not overdoing it with what you put into your mouth is balance. There are times through the holidays that the red velvet cake is staring you in the face, and if you do decide you are going to eat it, then create a balance. What are you going to say no to instead? A few tips: don’t eat the entire piece; leave some on the plate. Eat slowly and allow yourself to feel full rather than killing it in two bites. Drink water with it or milk that has some nutritional value. The more water you drink, the more you will feel full, allowing you to scale back on the cake intake.
  • Find a workout balance. You also need to find balance in the gym. You know those people who head to the gym for a three-hour workout on Thanksgiving morning? You don’t have to be that person. If you have a good balance of both exercising on a regular basis through the holidays and eating appropriately, you won’t need that 3,000-calorie burn before the big feast.
  • Have a plan. Making sure that you have a plan is essential to your holiday success. I have found when there is no plan in place ahead of time, it becomes a free-for-all, which leads to overeating. Make a plan before the holidays start and create goals that are both realistic and attainable for yourself. If you know you have travel coming up or you know that you are hosting for a week, come up with a plan that makes sense for how often and how long you will be able to work out each day, as well as what you will be eating and potentially cooking for guests.
  • Stick to the plan. Having a plan can be the easy part, but sticking to that plan is the challenge. Make sure that you commit to your goal: if you said you were going to work out three to four times a week, do it! If something comes up and you can’t get to the gym, do something at home. The biggest thing is to not allow yourself to make an excuse. You may have to get up a little bit early before the guests arise for your homemade waffles, or make sure the hotel that you are staying at has a gym. Whatever you need to do to stay on track, make it happen.
  • Have some accountability. Figure out what type of accountability works for you. Maybe it’s coming up with that plan with a friend or family member. Or maybe it’s tracking it through a fitness tracker, signing up for a personal trainer, or joining a program the gym is putting on. Whatever it may be, find what works for you and commit to doing it.

NIFS Game of Inches Can Help!

If you are looking for some accountability through the holiday season, we have just the thing for you! Whether your goal right now is to put on muscle mass or to shed some inches, this program will suit your desires! NIFS is introducing a new program called Game of Inches.Game-of-inches-logo-final.jpg

The Game of Inches will help to keep you on track as you compete in one of two challenges:

  • Challenge #1—Gain Challenge: Work to at muscle building to put on mass through the holidays.
  • Challenge #2—Loss Challenge: Work to lose inches through the holidays.

For both challenges, measurements will be taken with the Fit3D scanner and an accumulation of specific measurements will determine a winner. To accompany the scans, each program participant will receive weekly newsletters containing videos to keep you focused and working hard! Each week videos will be sent containing workouts, nutrition tips, an exercise of the week, and a warrior challenge to finish it off.

NIFS members can sign up at the NIFS track desk located in the fitness center. All signups and scan-ins must be completed between November 6–12, and a subsequent scan out will take place between January 1–7. For this program we are asking that members “pay” by donating canned food items for Paw’s Pantry. Nonmembers can also join! For a fee of only $95, nonmembers will receive the scan-in/scan-out and all videos accompanying the program. In addition to this, the fee includes full access to NIFS and everything NIFS offers during the 7 weeks of the program between the start and end dates. Nonmembers interested in signing up can stop by the NIFS service desk to register.

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Questions? Please contact Amanda Bireline (abireline@nifs.org or 317.274.3432, ext. 219).

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

Topics: NIFS fitness nutrition fitness center holidays accountability challenge weight management workout Thanksgiving muscle building christmas

5 Thanksgiving Day Hacks

5 Thanksgiving Day Hacks [Infographic]

5ThanksgivingDayHacks

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