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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Relax and Lose Weight: How Relaxation Helps with Weight Loss

GettyImages-954596030Getting healthy and losing weight go hand in hand. If your goal is to get healthy and lose weight, I need you to RELAX! No, really! Relaxing is good for you, and managing stress effectively doesn’t only help with weight loss; it makes us healthier overall. So sit back, relax, and read on for more tips.

How Cortisol Plays a Role

Cortisol is a hormone that your body releases when it is stressed. If you only have small amounts of cortisol, there is no problem. But when stress is constant, as it can be in many of our lives, the amount of cortisol in your bloodstream rises and stays elevated. This all leads to weight gain. Relaxation can help prevent overproduction of cortisol.

When cortisol is released, those cravings for potato chips, candy bars, pastries, and so on are what provide a quick energy boost. As if those choices aren’t bad enough, cortisol goes on to store those extra calories as fat, mainly around your abdominal area. There is also the interference with hormones that control your appetite. You will start to find that you are hungry more often and have a hard time staying satiated.

And if that doesn’t make you want to stop stressing, cortisol can also cause decreased muscle mass because it lowers testosterone levels. The lower your muscle mass, the less fat you will burn when working out.

Ways to Relax

Here are five tips for relaxing.

  1. Meditate. This is an excellent method for cleansing your mind of all the negative and stressful thoughts. Refresh and think positively. Whenever you feel heavy or burdened, or even when you feel tired of doing work, take a deep breath and allow your body to relax. Really focus on your breathing by using a 5 count: Breath in for a count of 5. Hold your breath for a count of 5. Release that breath for a 5 count. Try this a few times a day.
  2. Avoid distractions. To fully relax your lifestyle and live a stress-free life, limit all distractions, such as television, cell phones, or laptops.
  3. Become more active. Exercise alone can be the best stress reliever. Try grabbing a friend for a walk/jog outside in the fresh air. Take a new group fitness class like the various types of yoga classes NIFS offers. Join a small group where you can laugh, work, and have fun with goal-oriented individuals, or have a Health Fitness Instructor design a program dedicated to your needs. The possibilities are endless.
  4. Eat healthy. Like regular exercise, eating a healthy, balanced diet can make a significant contribution to a less-stressful lifestyle. By making healthy eating choices, you can make yourself both physically and emotionally stronger. Eat vegetables, drink plenty of water, and control your portions. Not sure about where to start with your nutrition? Meet with one of our Registered Dietitians to get you going on the right path. If you want the whole package of eating healthy and exercising, check out our Ramp Up to Weight Loss program.
  5. Get enough sleep. The average adult requires between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Not only can lack of sleep lead to increased stress, but chronic sleep deprivation can impair your judgment, reasoning ability, appearance, and performance at work. Start by establishing a daily sleep schedule. Do something relaxing before bed and turn off electronic devices.

It would be wonderful if we could constantly live in a vacation state, but for most of us that’s not quite possible. By utilizing just a couple of these resources, you help not only your body get to a better state, but your mind as well, which in turn allows for weight loss to occur.

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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 small group training group fitness NIFS programs relaxation stress sleep healthy eating

Thinking About Diabetes During the Halloween Candy Season

GettyImages-500664508It’s Halloween time, and that can only mean one thing: sugar, lots of sugar! Toward the end of summer, stores start to taunt us by placing all of the Halloween candy out on display. What’s worst of all is that the candy is in tiny, easy-to-eat servings. By the time the actual day of Halloween rolls around, we’ve already been thumbing through fun-sized candy the entire month.

Each holiday has its traditional treats we enjoy, but Halloween takes the prize for being the most focused on candy. And no matter how hard you try to avoid it, the temptation of it all might possibly get the best of you.

Can You Fight the Temptation?

While one piece of candy won’t make or break your health, very few of us stop at just one. In fact, most see Halloween like we see other festive holidays from Thanksgiving and Christmas, to cookouts in the summer: a perfect reason to indulge in whatever kind of temptation is available.

But those temptations can eventually start to take a toll and contribute to the current epidemic of type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of Americans, or more than 100 million adults, are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Without significant changes, as many as 30% of people with pre-diabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes.

What Is Diabetes?

Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use as energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. Diabetes is the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up in your blood.

Why Put Down the Halloween Candy?

The more sugar you eat, the harder your pancreas has to work to produce insulin and keep your blood sugar within in a safe/healthy range. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce any insulin, when the pancreas produces very little insulin, or when the body does not respond appropriately to insulin, a condition called “insulin resistance.”

How Can You Prevent Diabetes?

Perhaps you have learned recently that you have a high chance of developing type 2 diabetes. You might be overweight or have a parent, brother, or sister with the condition. Here are some ways you can lower your risk.

These simple lifestyle changes are what will send type 2 diabetes out of your life like a kid running out of a haunted house. Choose future health over present pleasures.

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This blog was written by Ashley Duncan B.S., ISSA-CPT, Nutrition Specialist, ACE-HC,
NIFS Weight Loss Coordinator. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: diabetes NIFS programs dietitian halloween holidays sugar nutrition healthy eating weight loss

10 Foods That Will Keep You Satisfied with Fiber, Protein, and More

GettyImages-855098134Are you one of those people who are always hungry? Are you constantly thinking about your next meal or snack and what you’re going to eat? The issue could be that you aren’t choosing meals or snacks that fill you up and keep you satisfied. So the alternative is grazing constantly to get that full feeling.

Luckily there are lots of foods out there that are filling and will keep you satisfied longer. These foods are ones that are high in protein, fiber, or good-for-you fat. Here’s a list of 10 foods to choose when you want to stay fuller longer.

  • Nuts: Nuts have all three things that help keep you full: healthy fat, protein, and fiber. The key is to stick to a serving size because they are calorie dense. Measure out an ounce and enjoy all types of nuts at snack time or meals to keep you full.
  • Avocado: Loaded with good-for-you fat, these tasty treats are a nice addition to a sandwich or salad, or as a dip for veggies. Like nuts, they are very calorie dense, though, so a little goes a long way. Stick to a fourth of an avocado as a serving and enjoy the benefits of staying satisfied.
  • Eggs: Studies have found that protein keeps you more full than carbs. When you eat eggs versus a bagel for breakfast, the eggs win every time for post-meal satisfaction. Start your day with this complete protein; grab a hard-boiled egg for a snack or add it to your salad at lunch and enjoy staying fuller longer.
  • Popcorn: This tasty snack is high in fiber, which helps with the full factor. It also takes up a lot of volume, which means a serving size is pretty large (3 cups!) for a snack. So, if you like to reach for a larger snack, popcorn could be your new go-to item!
  • Berries: Loaded with fiber, these sweet and tasty fruits are an excellent way to increase your fullness factor. They can easily be added to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack time. The cancer-fighting antioxidants are just an added bonus.
  • Cottage cheese: Dairy foods are high in protein, which is a plus for keeping you full. Cottage cheese is also a great way to vary your snack routine. Toss in some fruit, veggies, or nuts for some crunch, and every day can be a different experience.
  • Celery: If you have heard that celery is a negative-calorie food, you know this a great go-to item for filling you up and keeping you full. It’s low in calories and high in water and fiber content, both of which will help keep those hunger pangs away.
  • Greek yogurt: Another protein-packed goodie is Greek yogurt. Choose a 2% variety to add some fat to your snack or meal. The portion-controlled cup is also nice to help keep the serving size in check.
  • Beans: You get protein and fiber-filled goodness with all of your bean varieties! Toss them into soups, salads, and dips and enjoy the benefits of staying full longer.
  • Sugar-snap peas: Another high-fiber veggie that you can add to your routine is sugar-snap peas. They are crunchy and filling and super easy to prepare. Just wash and go!

Add some or all of these 10 foods to your daily routine and enjoy the benefits of keeping that growling stomach at bay!

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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: fiber protein fats nutrition weight loss snacks lunch fruits and vegetables

Strength in Numbers: Benefits of Group Training

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

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

Motivation

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

Accountability

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

Support System

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

Fun

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

Mental Health

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

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

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

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This blog was written by Ashley Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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

Healthy Eating Habits from Registered Dietitians

GettyImages-937435294There are so many diets out there that it can be confusing as to what you should follow and who you should listen to when it comes to healthy and balanced eating. If you aren’t sure where to begin to change your current routine, take a look at these tips that Registered Dietitians (the experts in healthy habits) recommend.

  • Eat breakfast daily. The most important meal of the day should not be missed. Aim for three food groups that combine a mixture of fiber and protein to keep you full and start your day off right. Oatmeal mixed with a nut butter and fruit, a whole-wheat English muffin with an egg and a glass of milk, a smoothie with frozen fruit and veggies and Greek yogurt, or a veggie omelet and toast are some quick, balanced, and fabulous options to have in the morning.
  • Eat mindfully. Mindful eaters will eat less than those who are distracted by their phone, television, computer, and emotions. Paying attention to whether you are hungry and then choosing foods that sound satisfying is the key to mindful eating.
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration causes slowed metabolism, mindless eating, and feelings of false hunger. Drinking water throughout the day can help combat these. Have a reusable bottle on your desk at work as a visual reminder to keep drinking all day. (Here are tips for staying hydrated the easy way.)
  • Snack. Aim to have something to eat every four to five hours. A snack helps keep you satisfied until your next meal and prevents overeating caused by going too long without fuel. Be sure to grab a snack that has some fiber and/or protein to help you stay full and give your body the nutrients it needs. (Here are some easy smoothie recipes.)
  • Eat dessert. Believing that all foods—even dessert—can fit into a balanced diet is important. If you deprive yourself of your favorite foods, it can lead to a vicious cycle of guilt eating and feeling bad about your choice. Instead, enjoy your dessert with a balanced meal and then move on.

Following this advice from Registered Dietitians is the first step in lifelong balanced eating. Try to make each one a habit, so that healthy eating becomes a lifestyle instead of a challenge. Find out more about NIFS nutrition services

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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 healthy habits dietitian mindfulness hydration snacks breakfast weight loss

Are You Ready for Fitness Change? Meet the NIFS Trainers Who Can Help

BarreChange is scary. Getting in a comfort zone, routine, or pattern is easy. But why is change for success so trendy nowadays? This applies to all areas of life. Change your diet habits and you start to “magically" lose weight. Change your workout routine and you start to “magically" see results. Change your spending habits and you start to “magically” save more. Change your mind and commit, and you realize change isn't scary; it’s successful.

Use Change to Make Changes

I have worked at many fitness studios and gyms, tried many fitness trends and challenges, and been given crap when I tell clients we are doing something different today. But then I explain why and it changes their minds. I'm a firm believer in giving it a chance. You can try something new, and if it doesn't work or you don't like it, we can always change it back to what it was. 

I started at NIFS not realizing how much they change the workouts to keep creating beneficial results. I was prepped to manage a typical gym where trainers just keep making you pick up the same weights, do the same motions, and make you do something you “hate” to make it seem like the workout was hard and make bank off that concept. The NIFS program changes weekly. You’re set on a four-week plan, but the staff varies your workout routine in that time by changing your sets, reps, and weights. Then by week 5, there is a new plan, new changes, new results, and new continued growth.

Here are some examples of the experiences and results you can get from working with various members of the NIFS staff:

  • Take a small group training class from Tony, and he guides you through this process with motivation to make it easy.
  • Take a Barre class with Brittany and she uses the same concept with a gentle tone, breath cueing, and education as to why your muscles might start shaking in temporary discomfort the way they do: because they are changing; because they are growing stronger!
  • Try a program challenge with Crystal, and you’ll see that the success stories of members we put up on the Brag Board who are excited to share their accomplishments are truly amazing. It's because they weren't bored doing the same thing weekly. The variety created results, change, strength, and an awesome brag-worthy story.
  • Weight loss is another common goal for members, and we have a program specifically for that with Ashley. Did you know that more than 50 percent of Ashley's day is spent with members who are accomplishing weight-loss success with her guidance? Not just that; as a wife, mom, and caretaker for a child at home, she comes in on weekends to care for her clients. She plans fun meet-ups and gatherings so her clients don't lose track of their goals with the common "weekends don't count" excuse. 
  • Thomas might arguably have the hardest job out there. "My TV channel isn't working,” or "This machine is broken,” are just a few things I have heard members say to him. Within 24 hours, I bet it has been fixed. Because Thomas cares about the members’ happiness—whether that's watching their favorite show or working out on their favorite machine—he is the handyman of the team. Feedback is his cue to grab the toolbox and take action.

Teamwork Does Make the Dream Work

With a wide variety of options, there is always something for everyone. As a team, we don't let change hold us back. We teach our clients that change creates results. We all practice change daily and are never doing the same thing at our desks, but we’re creating programs, events, or requests that will change a member’s experience to be the most beneficial. So are you ready to change your mind, change up your routine, and achieve your goals? There are endless options. Find a place to start and follow through. We are here for you! 

Heading into my third month here, I am grateful to have witnessed the great work of the trainers from the perspective of fresh eyes. Most of the team has been here for five years or more, but that same daily intention to help clients with results and enter the door with passion is why NIFS has been successful for 30 years and will continue growing, because our knowledge behind change is more than a trend; it’s a success story that will continue to be written.

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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: nifs staff small group training barre making changes weight loss fitness center teamwork

Commonsense Weight Loss: Diet Personalities Gone Wrong

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

Starvin’ Marvin: Always Hungry

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

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

Negative Nancy: The Wrong Attitude for Weight Loss

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

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

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

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

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

Unsupported Ulysses: Hasn’t Discovered the Value of Accountability

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

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

Resentful Rita: Deprives Herself and Is Unhappy About It

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

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

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: weight loss weight management diets NIFS wellness attitude

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

How Many Calories You Are Consuming When Dining Out?

GettyImages-523697434In 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act, it was required that all chain restaurants, groceries, and convenience stores post their calories for customers to see. Some started right away, and you might have noticed them pop up at Starbucks or McDonalds over the years. However, on May 7, 2018, it finally took effect that all food sellers with more than 20 locations now must have the calorie postings visible, with access to all nutrition information available upon request.

Why This Change Is Such a Good Thing

Americans currently eat and drink a third of their calories away from home. The purpose of putting the calorie count on the menus, display boards, and digital screens was to help Americans make more informed choices and hopefully choose healthier options that are available. The FDA has shown that since menu labeling began, consumers have decreased the number of calories ordered by 30 to 50, which could mean a 3–5-pound weight loss in a year.

Tips for Better Nutrition When Dining Out

If you currently dine out, here are some tips to help make the best decision when ordering:

  • Think your drink. The drink you choose can add up to 500 calories to your meal, yet doesn’t affect how full you will feel when you drink it. Instead, look for calorie-free drink options. Water and unsweetened iced tea are the best; however, occasionally you can choose a diet soda or sugar-free lemonade to go along with your meal. This new labeling will also list the calorie content for alcohol, so make sure to include those calories when planning a balanced meal.
  • Load up on veggies. Consider swapping the traditional side of fries, chips, tots, etc. for a vegetable. Salads, raw veggie sticks, or a hot vegetable option when available will keep the meal high in fiber and lower in fat and calories.
  • Choose a protein. Protein helps keep you full and satisfied, so if you don’t want to be reaching for a snack an hour after your meal, be sure to have a protein source at every meal. Anytime you can choose a lean protein like poultry, seafood, and lean red meat, it’s even better!
  • Go for the whole grain. Protein isn’t the only thing that will keep you full; so does fiber. Choosing a whole grain when available is another must for staying satisfied longer. Choose a whole-wheat pizza crust, brown rice, or whole-wheat pasta or rolls when they are offered.
  • Practice portion control. Many meals eaten out are so large that you can easily save half and have it for another meal or split the meal with your dining partner. Keep in mind portion sizes: one serving of meat should be the size the palm of your hand, sides are around the size of a tennis ball, and added fat like butter is the size of the tip of your thumb.
  • Try mindfulness. So many times when you dine out, it’s for a quick and easy meal or a celebration or social event. During these times you could be distracted and not paying attention to your hunger and fullness levels. Take time to pause between bites and assess whether you are full and can save some of the meal for later.

Take advantage of the new labeling as a way to help you stay informed about your choices. Look over the menus and choose a reasonable meal that will let you leave the restaurant happy with your choice!

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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: nutrition calories weight loss dining out restaurants

Don't Skip the Warm-up: Injury Prevention and Workout Performance

GettyImages-658858192You might think that skipping the warm-up when you work out isn’t that serious. You only have so much time to get your work out in, so you think, “My warm-up was walking in here,” and “I don’t have enough time!”

Warming up is a significant component of your fitness routine, and skipping it could result in unpleasant and dangerous results. Muscle strains, muscle injury, and pain are just a few of them. In all honesty, a proper warm-up will actually advance your workout performance!

The Warm-up: Basics

A warm-up is a short workout time at the beginning of your exercise session. Warming up is generally low intensity and gets your body ready for the upcoming exertion.

The point of executing a warm-up is to increase your heart rate, raise your core body temperature, and increase the blood flow to your muscles. Cold muscles and other connective tissues do not stretch very easily. Adding in a warm-up can literally warm up those muscles and allow for them to relax, giving them a better chance to work better.

When you skip the warm-up, it makes you body more susceptible to sprained muscles, cramps, and other injuries. These injuries could actually prevent you from exercising altogether until you recover, and this is the opposite of the healthy lifestyle you are trying to live.

It can take the body about three minutes to realize that it needs to move more blood to your muscles. The ideal warm-up time is anywhere between five and ten minutes.

The Warm-up: Strategy

Now that I have explained the importance of warming up, let me share with you how I personally prepare myself, as well as each of the members I work with.

A proper warm-up is about more than just “warming up the body”; it is about preparing the body for an all-out training attack that is going to enhance your metabolism. I like to look at the warm-up as a preparation phase for what is to come. The three key components I like to focus on are the following:

  • Tissue quality
  • Corrective exercise
  • Mobility and activation

Tissue Quality

The majority of chronic joint pain or overuse injuries are caused by tightness and restrictions in the muscles above or below the area in question. In other words, it’s not about the victim…it’s about the culprit!

I struggle with knee pain that is often caused by restrictions in the tissues of my front/inner/outer thighs. Back pain can often be caused by restrictions in your glutes and hamstrings, along with shoulder pain associated with thoracic spine (T-Spine), chest, and lats.

Over time, we can develop scar tissue, adhesions, and knots and trigger points due to high-intensity training, overuse, and/or extended periods of sitting. My personal struggle is all the years I played high school, college, and professional basketball. The best way I know how to address my areas of pain is to self-massage the areas that may be sore and tight using good strategies I have learned from one of our massage therapists here at NIFS.

Corrective Exercise

We all experience “issues” with body mechanics and functional movement capabilities. For some the issues could be lack of flexibility, while others may experience balance and mobility issues. There could even be a difference between sides, with the right side being “stronger” than the left side.

The FMS (Functional Movement Screen) is a ranking and grading system that documents movement patterns that are key to normal function. By screening these patterns, FMS readily identifies functional limitations and asymmetries. These issues can reduce the effects of functional training and physical conditioning and distort awareness.

The FMS scoring system is directly linked to the most beneficial corrective exercise to restore mechanically sound movement patterns. Exercise professionals monitor the FMS score to track progress and identify those exercises that will be most effective in restoring proper movement as well as building strength in each individual.

To recap the importance of the FMS:

  • Identify functional limitations and asymmetries that have been linked to increased injury risk.
  • Provide exercises to restore proper movement and build stability, mobility, and strength to each individual.

Mobility and Activation

A mobility and activation circuit truly prepares your body for a maximum-performance workout. Mobility describes the ability of a joint, or a series of joints, to move through an ideal range of motion. Mobility requires an additional strength, stability, and neuromuscular control component to allow for proper movement. Activation is often paired with mobility because many mobility exercises activate key, and often dormant, pillar stabilizers in your hips, core, and shoulders.

Not JUST a Warm-Up

So, the next time you decide to skip your warm-up or think you don’t have enough time, remember that a warm-up is imperative for injury prevention and your long-term health, fitness, and weight-loss goals. Don’t do yourself an injustice by not warming up.

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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: functional movement screen weight loss injury prevention workouts warming up