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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Have You Gained Weight Since the Start of the COVID-19 Pandemic?

GettyImages-1286893989According to the American Psychological Association’s latest Stress in America™ survey conducted in late February 2021, 42% of adults reported undesirable weight gain since the beginning of the pandemic, with an average weight gain of 29 pounds. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to many, since almost everyone was stuck at home, the gyms were closed, and people turned to food for comfort.

Six Tips for Losing Pandemic Weight

If you’re struggling to manage your weight following the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown, and restrictions, try some of the following suggestions for getting back on track.

1. Establish a healthy eating routine.

Aim to eat three well-rounded meals each day. Meals don’t have to be complicated: the easier and quicker, the better. Try pairing a protein source (such as chicken, salmon, or ground turkey or lean beef) with various grilled, roasted, or steamed vegetables and seasonings and sauces of your choice for a quick, inexpensive, and easy meal.

2. Count calories.

The only tried-and-true method for losing weight is to eat fewer calories than you expend each day. Often when people eat healthy but don’t count calories, they tend to overestimate the number of calories they expend and underestimate the number of calories they eat, leading to weight gain/maintenance and frustration. To determine your individualized caloric needs, speak with a registered dietitian or get an estimate from the USDA’S DRI Calculator for Healthcare Professionals.

3. Stay active.

Fifty-three percent of adults reported that they have been less physically active than they would prefer since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Stress in America™ survey. Physical activity is a great method for managing weight and stress, and has even been shown to improve sleep. If you don’t feel comfortable going to the gym, take a walk outside. If you’re not able to safely walk outside, create your own walking route inside your home or apartment and take several brief walks throughout the day to keep moving. Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical activity into your routine every day.

4. Limit alcohol consumption.

According to the Stress in America™ survey, 23 percent of adults reported drinking more alcohol during the pandemic as a coping mechanism for stress. The calories in alcohol tend to add up quickly, and too much alcohol can lead to unhealthy habits like overeating. To prevent alcohol-associated weight gain, be sure to drink in moderation, which is defined as no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

5. Manage stress.

There is evidence to suggest that increased cortisol, the hormone released during stress, may result in an increased appetite, leading to overeating and potential weight gain. Instead of turning to food for comfort, be sure to control stress through mindfulness and meditation, exercise, and social support.

6. Get enough sleep.

The Stress in America™ poll also found that 35 percent of adults noted getting less sleep since the start of the pandemic. Sleep plays an important role in losing weight, as inadequate or poor-quality sleep can affect the hormones that control hunger and satiety, may result in less energy for exercise, and could make you more susceptible to making poor food choices. The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night for most adults.

Weight-loss Help from NIFS

NIFS can guide you in your weight-loss journey. Our popular Ramp Up to Weight Loss program has been adapted so that you can participate virtually from home  or at NIFS.

Find out more about Ramp Up to Weight Loss. Contact us today!

This blog was written by Lindsey Recker, MS, RD, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: stress weight loss calories alcohol covid-19 lockdown pandemic

King of the Gym, Part 1: Squat Alternatives

I enjoy all forms of exercise, but like many, I want the most bang for my buck when I’m exercising. Sure, I am always on the lookout for the new and best exercises that would not only kick my behind, but also have benefits all around. However, I always trend back to the “king of the gym”: an exercise that I do without fail—SQUAT

The Squat Reigns Supreme

Squats are often referred to as the “king of the gym” exercise, and for a good reason. When done correctly, squats utilize essentially every muscle in the body. If you want to get stronger, get bigger, or lose weight, squats will help. Although they aren’t a must in order to build your lower body, they are probably the most efficient exercise. Whether it’s building a stronger core, back, and legs; increasing bone density; or burning fat, squats are the best bang for your buck due to the engagement of many muscle groups activated at once.

Barbell Back Squat-1

 

But this post isn’t about just about squatting. In fact, in this four-part series, I want to show you that there are plenty of different alternatives to the “king of the gym.” We don’t always have the luxury of a barbell and rack or endless equipment resources from the gym. Perhaps you train from home or are on the road at a hotel. Either way, No worries!

Squat Alternatives Using Other Gym Equipment

First up are five effective squat alternatives you can do with access to gym equipment other than the traditional barbell back squat. Are there more than five? Yes, but these are my favorites. When I have an injury, or I’m bored, or all the racks in the gym are being used, I like to substitute these five exercises in place of squats. These five moves show alternatives to squatting that you can do efficiently in the gym when a barbell and rack aren’t available and still achieve similar or better gains.

Squat Alternatives

As you can see, an effective squatting workout doesn’t have to be limited to the “king of the gym.” If you don’t have a squat rack available, there are a variety of different squatting alternatives you can use instead.

More in the Series

In part 2 of this series, learn how to use bodyweight and light equipment like resistance bands to functionally train your lower body. In part 3 of the series, I focus on body weight only, and in part 4 I set up some different routines you can do in a hotel when you’re on the road. Regardless of your fitness goals, some form or fashion of squats can and should be added to your fitness routines.

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This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness center equipment weight loss strength core videos squat

Life’s Simple 7 for Heart Health

GettyImages-1280587810Did you know that cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death? According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that's 1 in every 4 deaths.

It’s because of this fact that the American Heart Association (AHA) has poured millions into heart research and producing guidelines to help people not only manage heart conditions but prevent them, too. One initiative by the AHA that has been around is the Life’s Simple 7 for heart health. Life's Simple 7 is defined by the American Heart Association as the 7 risk factors that people can improve through lifestyle changes to help achieve ideal cardiovascular health. Let’s take a look!

Life’s Simple 7

  1. Manage blood pressure. High blood pressure can put strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys, leading to heart disease and stroke. Both exercise and nutrition can help here. Nutritionally speaking, be sure to watch your sodium (salt) intake, keeping your intake at 1,500–2,300mg per day. Also, eat plenty of fruits and veggies to get fiber!
  2. Control cholesterol. When cholesterol levels are high, plaque buildup causes clogged arteries. This also leads to stroke and heart disease. For healthy cholesterol levels, it is important to manage total fat intake and eat a balanced diet. Fat intake should make up about 20–35% of total calories. Of those fats, be sure that the bulk come from unsaturated sources, such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds. 
  3. Reduce blood sugar. Everything we eat turns into sugar (aka glucose), but glucose is most readily available in the carbohydrates we eat. Our bodies use this glucose for energy. Now, carbohydrates and glucose are important! However, just like everything else, we want to find a balance. Chronically high levels of blood glucose can be damaging to the heart, eyes, nerves, and kidneys. If you struggle with high blood sugar, be sure to consult your Registered Dietitian, Primary Care Provider, and Endocrinologist. The team can come up with a care plan to manage your blood sugar.
  4. Get active. Living an active life comes with far more benefits than just heart health! But for heart health, it is recommended to exercise 150–300 minutes per week at a moderate intensity level. Outside of that time, be sure to stay active by going on walks, doing yard work, taking “standing breaks” from sitting down, and stretching.
  5. Eat better. A balanced and nutritious diet is always a game changer. The things we put into our bodies matter. When you eat a nutritious diet, you are giving your body one of the best weapons to combat cardiovascular disease. This goes both ways, though; when we eat junk a majority of the time, we are opening the gates to a plethora of chronic diseases.
  6. Maintain a healthy weight. To be honest, I wish this said “maintain a healthy body composition.” Current research shows that body composition (fat mass and lean body mass) is far more indicative of risk for chronic disease than total body weight. Maintaining healthy body fat levels and adequate lean muscle mass reduces the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and skeleton.
  7. Stop smoking. Cigarette smoking is one of the leading risk factors for cardiovascular disease. If you do smoke, consider sitting down with your healthcare team and coming up with a plan to quit. Like everything, this is absolutely your choice, but do be aware that smoking drastically increases your chances of heart disease.

Take It One Step at a Time

Now, if you are anything like me, you may be thinking “that is not ‘simple.’” Trust me, I agree. That is my only critique of these guidelines. It is not that simple. These things take work and time; I do not want to downplay that. My suggestion is to pick one at a time and work on it. Then, once you have that down, move on to another. Keep repeating this until you feel like all your bases are covered and heart-healthy lifestyle habits are in place.

NIFS Can Help

As always, NIFS professionals are here to help! We have certified personal trainers to assist in getting active (step 4); a Clinical Registered Dietitian who can assist with eating better (step 5) and blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol control (steps 1–3); a weight-loss program for step 6; and health coaches to help with navigating lifestyle steps to stop smoking. All of these can, in turn, lead to healthier cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels (steps 1–3). Please reach out if you need anything! We are here to help keep you and your heart healthy. 

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This blog was written by Sabrina Goshen, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise weight loss healthy eating personal training heart disease hypertension heart health blood sugar smoking cessation quitting smoking

It’s the Season of Fitness, “They” Say! Be a Smart Fitness Consumer

GettyImages-stk327021rknI am amazed at how many times I have heard and continue to hear people try to make a point by saying “they say,” as if just making that statement somehow makes whatever follows true. It would seem, based on how frequently people claim “they” say something, many of the advancements of human civilization somehow can be traced to the research done at the University of They. However, searching through PubMed and other science journals, I have never found a listing for the University of They. Hmm!

We’re Being Bombarded by Questionable Fitness Products

As we are bombarded by the seasonal fitness, diet, and wellness commercials on TV shows, I marvel at the the sheer worthlessness of the products, diets, and books they promote with a straight face. They ignore the realities of physiology, systems biology, and biomechanics in their quest to separate you from your money. Timing is critical for their quest. The post-holiday period, when people feel bad about the weight they have put on, is the time to strike. Also limited daylight, cold weather, and people being housebound give their commercials even more impact. They know spring is coming and customer motivation will melt with increasing temperatures and longer daylight hours. The commercials and online promotions become a blizzard of ego-seeking missiles.

Listen to a Fitness Insider About TV and Internet Claims

To help you stay objective and perhaps save some money and time, I offer the following account from someone on the inside of the fitness industry:

Jose Antonio, PhD, is a noted nutrition researcher and commentator whose work often appears in bodybuilding publications. Because of this connection, more “serious” researchers frown on his work and are not shy about criticizing him. At a National Strength & Conditioning Association conference several years ago Jose Antonio was a featured speaker, and the audience filled a large room with a lot of other PhDs ready to attack him. They considered him a white-coat sellout for an industry of questionable ethics and therefore guilty by association. I made a point of attending this reenactment of the gunfight at the OK Corral, just for the fireworks.

Dr. Antonio was ready and disarmed the would-be attackers by simply stating that he was a responsible scientist doing the best he could to keep the industry from crashing the guardrails of reason whenever he could. But what he said next has stayed with me for all these years and has had a tremendous impact on how I view the fitness industry. Antonio stated that the fitness industry is a lot smarter than we are about how to separate us from our money. They know that the motives for fitness, weight loss, and wellness are linked to the ego, and that rational decision-making can be turned off like a light switch if the right “hot button” can be pushed. They focus on claiming that whatever they are selling will make you bigger, faster, stronger, thinner, or prettier—quicker. He said if they get your attention with one button, your resistance is weakened and you will start to reach for your charge card. If they get two hot buttons, its a done deal.

TV and online promotions have a set pattern. They use the pattern because it works. It begins with an attention-grabbing headline/claim that seems too good to be true. That is followed by a “story” that you can identify with and a statement of validity usually connected with science or medicine. Testimonials from people just like you quickly follow. Depending on the media, TV ads will “call for action” very quickly. Online promotions take more time and sell at a slower pace. Both forms rely on “limited-time” discounts and add-ons to push the viewer to a quicker purchase commitment.

If It Seems Too Good to Be True…

Now, you are armed and ready to resist. Just remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you feel drawn to a headline or claim, ask yourself why. What hot button did they find? What outcome do you desire?

Question whatever science is offered, and the credentials of their “white-coat” spokesman. Pause long enough to research the concept. You will be better informed to make a decision, and your ego-driven emotions will have an opportunity to cool down.

If you’re still interested after a break, go back and look at it again, only this time from a calmer and more centered place. At least now, the ad that created urgency will not have the same emotional grip making your fingers clutch your charge card. The buying decision will come from a calmer place.

And finally, when you hear... “And they say...”, ask who “they” are!

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

Topics: weight loss fitness trends fad diets new year new you commercials fitness claims fitness products

Optimal Movement Patterns for Building Muscle

Screen Shot 2021-01-14 at 1.10.19 PMThe traditional bodybuilding split of working one muscle group per day might work for the dedicated, high-level competitive bodybuilder who makes their living in the gym. But for the general population only looking to shed some unwanted pounds and improve their overall health, the traditional bodybuilding split is not ideal. Working multiple muscle groups in the same session is much more ideal because it ramps up the body’s metabolism more than working a single muscle group each day. To achieve this, we train the movement, not the muscles.

The Four Movement Patterns

There are four main categories in which we categorize the movement patterns: push, pull, squat, and hinge. Each category works a movement while working multiple muscle groups.

Push

This upper-body movement pattern uses all of your “pushing” muscles. The pushing muscles of the upper body include the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Common movements within this category include the following:

Pull

This upper-body movement pattern uses the “pulling” muscles. The pulling muscles of the upper body include the lats and the biceps. There are two different pulling variations, the horizontal pull and the vertical pull. The horizontal pull targets the lower lats and the vertical pull targets the upper portion of the lats. It is important to include both variations in your program. Common movements within this category include the following:

Squat

The squat movement pattern is the pushing movements pattern for the lower body. The squat pattern mainly works the quadriceps and the glutes. This category also includes all single-leg movements. The squat pattern is a large compound movement that should be progressed properly. Common movements in this category include the following:

Hinge

The hinge movement pattern is the pulling movement pattern for the lower body. The hinge pattern is better known as the deadlift. The primary muscles worked during the hinge movement are the hips, hamstrings, and lower back. The deadlift is another exercise that should be progressed properly for safe lifting. On days that you work the hinge pattern, you should do some additional hamstring isolation movements. Common movements for the hinge pattern include the following:

Using the Movement Patterns

Knowing that there are four movement patterns, and which movement pattern works which muscle group, you can build your exercise routines. In a future blog, I will discuss why the full-body program is superior, and how to schedule your week using the movement patterns. In short, you can build your exercise routine by putting together two or more of the movement patterns in one day. After working a muscle group, you don’t want to work that same muscle group for at least 48 hours.

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If you need any help building an exercise program, or want a health professional or personal trainer to put one together for you, come visit us at the Track Desk at any time.

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This blog was written by Evan James, NIFS Exercise Physiologist EP-C, Health Fitness Instructor, and Personal Trainer. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: weight loss muscles weight lifting weightlifting exercises building muscle movement squat leg day movement patterns pull hinge push

Busting Salad Myths: Eat a Well-Built Salad (If You Want To)

  • “I am going to eat a salad because I’m on a diet.”
  • “I am going to eat a salad to clean my pipes.”
  • “I am going to eat a salad because that’s the only way I know how to eat my veggies.”
  • “I am going to eat a salad because I hear that’s how I can be healthy.”

GettyImages-1176386162Come on. We've all heard this before—from friends, from coworkers, and possibly from our own mouths. I swear, salads are easily the most famous “diet food.” Why is that? Do we really have to eat salads to lose weight, clean out our “pipes,” or be healthy? In this blog I break down each of these claims and then talk about ways to improve your veggie game!

“I am going to eat a salad because I’m on a diet.”

This is usually said when someone is trying to lose weight or be “super healthy.” First, to lose weight, it is widely understood that we must burn more calories than we eat. Thus, we try to minimize our calories to lose the weight. Second, people think that if they eliminate all “processed foods,” they will automatically become healthy. The idea behind salads is that they’re “healthy,” “low-calorie,” and blah blah blah.

Guess what? Salads can quickly turn into a high-calorie snack or meal and become full of unhealthy saturated fats and sodium. For example, let’s look at the Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad from Wendy’s. Sounds healthy, right? They even market this salad as healthy. A full salad has 530 calories with 34 grams of fat, only 15 grams of carbs, 43 grams of protein, and 1060mg of sodium. First off, that’s not a big salad for all those calories—which will make maintaining a caloric deficit (for weight loss) difficult. Finding foods that can be eaten in large volumes for lower calories tends to help satiety during weight loss attempts. Also, 34 grams of fat is a lot for one meal. The RDA for a full day is 44–77 grams for someone eating 2,000 calories. Now look at the sodium: 1060 mg of sodium is close to half of the RDA for sodium. Yikes. Hey, at least the salad has protein. They got that part right.

In addition, health is not just about physical well-being. Salads, if built correctly, can most certainly offer physical benefits. But health includes mental and social well-being too. Think for a moment. Does the salad taste good? Am I satisfied? Can I keep this up forever? Am I happy with this? If the answer is “no,” consider a different approach. Any change you make should be one that is sustainable for life. In the midst of making these changes, you must evaluate your physical, mental, and social health at all times. How can you improve one part of well-being without sacrificing another? Finding that balance is the key to SUSTAINABLE, healthful lifestyle changes, which ultimately leads to lifelong results.

“I am going to eat a salad to clean my pipes.”

Fiber does wonderful things. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is found in oats, beans, peas, berries, apples, plums, and sweet potatoes—all of which can be found in salads. This type of fiber helps absorb water, which adds bulk to stools. There is also insoluble fiber, which helps to get things moving in the GI system, thus helping to relieve constipation. Insoluble fiber is typically found in whole grains, the skins of fruit, skins of beans, seeds, spinach, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, celery, zucchini, and tomatoes. These foods are even more common in salads, which gives you a hint as to why having a bowel movement after eating salad is not uncommon.

Fruits and vegetables, particularly lettuce, have high water content. It’s no secret that water assists in the digestion process. In this case, fiber works best when it absorbs water. This makes your stool soft and bulky.

“I am going to eat a salad because that’s the only way I know how to eat my veggies.”

This is valid. Vegetables can be super boring. Finding new ways to enjoy veggies can be a challenge. However, there are ways to eat veggies without having to eat a salad. Raw veggies with dip, grilled, steamed, and roasted are all ways to have veggies. Do not skimp on the spices and seasonings, such as garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, Italian seasoning, and ginger. I promise that makes the veggies taste 100,000 times better.

“I am going to eat a salad because I hear that’s how I can be healthy.”

Read above. I think you got the point.

Bottom line: You do not need a salad to be healthy, lose weight, or clean your pipes. If you like salads, eat them! But be careful of the added fats that tend to sneak into salads. If you do not like salads, find another way to eat your vegetables. Roasted, steamed, raw, and grilled are all yummy ways to eat veggies. Check out my recipe page for more ways to cook veggies. Remember, it’s important to like and enjoy the foods you eat.

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This blog was written by Sabrina Goshen, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition weight loss healthy eating digestion fiber fat fruits and vegetables salad

Fitness Professionals Aren’t Perfect, Either!

GettyImages-685849082nThere’s always an assumption that fitness professionals work out 2 hours a day, 7 days a week. They eat healthy all day long and never have any junk food. Basically people think that we are perfect and never make mistakes. I have been in the health and fitness industry for more than 10 years now and I can honestly say that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Now, before anyone thinks I’m ratting out other trainers or telling you all we don’t practice what we preach, let me explain.

We Are Actually Humans, Too!

I know it’s hard to believe, but we are human; we make mistakes, we have cheat days, we indulge a little, and we even skip workouts from time to time.

Take a look at a conversation I had with one of our trainers at NIFS:

Ashley: How often do you work out?
Lauren: About 5 days a week.
Ashley: How long do you work out for?
Lauren: Anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. If it’s conditioning, it’s much less.
Ashley: Do you have cheat days? Exercise or nutrition?
Lauren: I try to have cheat meals or situations. I try not to have it be the whole day. In the past, I would have cheat days, but they would turn into a stream of days. So I basically try to allow myself to have something sweet occasionally, so that I don’t fall way off the rail. And there are days where I fail at that, but that’s the goal.

We Aren’t Perfect in the Kitchen

I know this might come as a shock to some of you, but the truth of the matter is, we aren’t perfect when we eat, either. As if the world and our lives aren’t filled with striving for perfection as it is, why would we want to make the kitchen another stressful place?

I say all that to tell you this: it’s okay if you have a little extra of something one day. It’s okay if you have that piece of cake when you are celebrating yourself or someone special. It’s okay to have a “cheat meal.” It’s okay to NOT BE PERFECT.

If it happens, don’t beat yourself up about it. Be aware of it; Learn from it; and move on! The next snack, meal, and day will be better because you came out of the previous situation aware and stronger.

Tips for Staying on Track

Consider the following tips to help you take it easy on yourself, but also keep yourself motivated to stay on track.

Use a Planner

If you are someone who needs to stick to a schedule, plan it out. Write down your meals for the week, plan your schedule around when you can work out, and write down the day and time you will be able to work out. Keep on a schedule!

Provide Rationale

Understanding your “WHY” should be your biggest motivator. I encourage you to write down your reasons why you want to eat healthy and exercise, and keep it someplace where you will see it and can refer back to it for a motivational reboot.

Build Accountability

There is strength in numbers! Try creating more accountability. Tell family, friends, or coworkers about your goals. If you’re out to lunch with them, they can help remind you of what your goals are. They may even join in with you, and you will have created a community that’s trying to become healthier!

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We would absolutely love to see you at our fitness center and set up an appointment with you. There are so many tools to assist in your training, nutrition, weight loss, and strength training goals! We aren’t perfect people, but we do have the tools for greatness and want to share them with you.

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

Topics: exercise nutrition motivation weight loss accountability NIFS programs

7 Tips to Get Back on Track with Weight Loss

GettyImages-506933707You’ve told yourself that it would just be one “cheat meal,” but the next thing you know that one meal turns into everyday meals and you feel like you have fallen so far off the wagon that there’s no getting back on.

I’m here to tell you that LIFE HAPPENS, and it’s okay occasionally to stray from a healthy lifestyle. What’s important to remember is that the tools to hop back on and get back motivated are right at your fingertips, waiting for you to grab tight.

Here are 7 tips to get back on track and keep moving forward:

  1. Don’t take it so personally. You’re not a bad person or destined always to be overweight just because you slip up here and there. Just think of it as a minor setback for a major comeback!
  2. Don’t look for a quick fix. You might lose weight this way, but you’re almost sure to gain it back. This has the potential to set up an unhealthy pattern of gaining and losing. Slow and steady wins the race!
  3. Find an accountability partner. This can be someone who is just starting out, or starting back over, or an experienced, never-falls-from-the-wagon person. Finding someone who can provide you encouragement for your efforts will help you continue down the right path. Be sure to be upfront and honest with them about your goals and have them check in on you regularly.
  4. Plan ahead. We schedule meetings, and hair and nail appointments for ourselves; why not schedule a time out of our busy days where we can exercise? Even planning your meals ahead can help with overeating and you won’t get too hungry throughout the day.
  5. Track your food. Keeping an account of exactly what it is you eat throughout the day helps keep you honest and aware. It will help give you insight on your eating habits and where you might need to give a little.
  6. Understand you’re not alone. Thinking that you’re the only person in the world who has fallen off the wagon will achieve nothing but negative thoughts and make it even more difficult to get started again. Somewhere, some place, someone is going through the exact same thing you are or they’ve been through it before. You’re not the first person to have to start back over, and you certainly won’t be the last.
  7. One day at a time. This tip needs to be bold, underlined, highlighted, and anything else to grab your attention! Taking this journey one day at a time is so critical to your success. All you need to do is try. By doing your best each day, you’ve put together a chunk of how your future will look.

While it might be tough, it is definitely not impossible to get back on track. If you aren’t sure where to start, come in and talk to us. We would love to get you set up with one of our personal trainers, enrolled into a program like our Ramp Up to Weight Loss, or simply design a program for you to follow on your own. Whatever you feel you need, we are right here to help you!

You’ve got this!

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

 

Topics: weight loss healthy eating accountability NIFS programs personal training diets

How a Hoosier Went Vegan: A Dietitian’s Experience

GettyImages-1147252758A few years ago, I made it my New Year’s Resolution to completely cut out animal products from my diet. I had played around with a couple variations of diets for a few years in college while competing in a Division 1 rowing program—cutting out all red meat, processed meats, and chicken, and only eating fish. Essentially the only things left were the eggs, milk, and cheese. I had been hesitant because cheese was my absolute favorite thing to add to every meal. I dreamed about doing a cheese and wine tour of Europe one day—I was really in love with cheese.

Why and How I Did It

My motivation to go completely animal product–free stemmed from the obvious health benefits that I was learning about so quickly as I finished up my degree to become a dietitian. But it also was influenced heavily by my love for the planet (plant-based diets have an extremely low carbon footprint) and all animals (even the ones that most people consider to be food and not pets).

As you already know, the transition was very slow… over several years. I didn’t go from steak, cheesy potatoes, and a side of green beans with bacon to a full-on Buddha Bowl tofu smoothie overnight! I also researched and talked to fellow dietitians as I made the switch to make sure I was taking the appropriate steps to ensure a healthy transition as well (please don’t hesitate to reach out).

My Top Tips for Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet

For those who are considering going plant-based, here are my tips that I’ve learned throughout the years.

Start with One Meal at a Time

Pick just one meal a day to make mostly plant-based—don’t worry about the rest of your meals and snacks yet. Instead of a fried egg and bacon breakfast sandwich, replace your bacon and egg with your favorite greens, caramelized onion, sautéed peppers, etc.

Make Your Favorite Meal Plant-based

Do you love spaghetti and meatballs and eat it multiple times a week or a couple of times a month? This is the meal to focus on! Spaghetti and the red sauce are fine as is. Now you just need to find a delicious “meatball” recipe that uses things like beans and lentils and spices and freeze some to save time for the next meal. Pizza can be delicious on its own without cheese, but you can consider adding dairy-free cheese.

Find Your Favorite Brand of Store-bought Dairy-free Cheese

My favorites… and I’ve tried them all!

  • VioLife Feta Cheese (delicious on a cheese board with apple slices)
  • SoDelicious Cheddar (good for pizzas)
  • Miyokos (Whole Foods carries wheels of this delicious brand)
  • TreeLine (small tubs of herbed cheeses that are delicious on crackers)
  • Daiya Pepper Jack cheese block

There are dozens more, and many folks try making their own cheese, but if you can find just one, this makes the transition 100 times easier.

Be Prepared for Restaurants

This might mean expanding your palate and trying new places. Indian, Thai, and Ethiopian are prime examples of cuisines that highlight plant foods over animal foods. But even our favorite fast-food chains have vegan options:

  • Chipotle offers sofritas (tofu).
  • Burger King and White Castle offer Impossible Meat Burgers (remember, moderation is still key).
  • Noble Roman’s offers vegan cheese on pizzas.

As “vegan” continues to be rather trendy, the options are endless. Don’t be afraid to create your own dish and ask for substitutions or leave things off the dish. The Happy Cow app lists vegan options all over the city.

Be Open-minded

Change is hard, especially when it comes to food. Food is something we have a strong connection to. We associate different meals with happiness, sadness, a certain holiday, or a family favorite that has been a go-to every Monday night. My family did our first entirely vegan Thanksgiving two years ago. Despite the fact that the entire immediate family had gone vegan a few years ago, many of our extended family members were not on board with this move. Expose friends, family, and new acquaintances to some of your new favorite dishes at various gatherings and you just might end up with another buddy to swap recipes with!

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This blog was written by Lindsey Hehman, MA, RD, CD. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition weight loss vegan dietitian plant-based

Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: Does It Work?

GettyImages-1059024598Did you know that losing weight was ranked one of the top New Year’s resolutions for 2020? That’s probably why everyone and their mother is on a diet of some sort. One that is trending, and probably one you have heard about, is intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting has been around for quite some time but has gained popularity over the years. The question is: is intermittent fasting really effective for weight loss? Yes and no. Confused? Let’s dig in.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that focuses on meal timing by cycling fasting and nonfasting periods. The eating pattern specifies timing of intake versus quality of food. Three popular methods of IF include the following:

  • The 16/8 method
  • Eat–Stop–Eat or Alternate-day fasting
  • The 5:2 diet

The 16/8 is the most common and entails 16 hours of fasting followed by an 8-hour eating window.

The Evidence of the Effects of Fasting

Several studies have explored the effect of intermittent fasting on weight loss. A 2019 study observed 332 overweight and obese adults. They compared weight loss and weight maintenance across three groups; week-on-week-off caloric restriction (a common IF method), continuous caloric restriction (the traditional daily calorie deficit), and the 5:2 IF method. Mean weight and fat loss at 12 months were similar across the three groups, and all groups saw significant weight loss.

Another study supported these results. Alternate-day fasting did produce significant weight loss, as did the control group who followed the traditional daily caloric deficit. A systematic review also showed that intermittent fasting (ranging from 3–12 months) produced weight loss as long as participants maintained a caloric deficit.

A common theme among all these weight-loss studies is that all groups, both intermittent fasting groups and traditional calorie-restrictive groups, maintained some type of caloric deficit, meaning they were burning more calories than they were eating (calories in < calories out/burned). So, it wasn’t intermittent fasting that produced the weight loss; it was the caloric deficit. Granted, intermittent fasting was a way some could sustain the caloric deficit. However, others reported more pronounced feelings of hunger when following IF, and some studies had significantly higher dropout rates in the IF groups due to people struggling to follow the method.

The Bottom Line

Weight loss requires a caloric deficit to work successfully. The method in which one obtains this caloric deficit and maintains the caloric deficit will vary. One method, such as IF, may work for one person and not work for another. No weight-loss intervention, IF included, is a one-size-fits-all.

If you are one who naturally fasts (for example, you don’t eat breakfast) or one who needs structure, intermittent fasting may be a solid approach to meeting your caloric deficit. If you are one who binges after a fast or struggles to make it through a fast, intermittent fasting is not for you. Stick with the traditional caloric-deficit approach.

Finding the Weight-Loss Method That Works for You

Back to those New Year’s resolutions: statistics show that only 8% of people who make resolutions achieve them. The biggest thing that goes wrong, at least for weight loss, is failing to make a sustainable plan—one that produces lifestyle changes. If the method for weight loss you are trying is not working for you and is something you can’t stick with, it’s time for a change. If you’re struggling to find your sustainable lifestyle approach, consider seeing a Registered Dietitian.

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This blog was written by Sabrina Goshen, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition weight loss calories registered dietitian intermittent fasting fasting