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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

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: weight loss calories metabolism goals slow metabolism

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 weight loss calories 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: weight loss workouts injury prevention warming up functional movement screen

Goals + Momentum = Weight Loss Success

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

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

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

Bring Moving Targets to a Halt

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

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

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

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

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

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

Momentum

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

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

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

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

Start Now!

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

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

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

Topics: NIFS nutrition goal setting weight loss goals

Sleep Deficiency Hinders Weight Loss, So Try Better Sleep Habits

GettyImages-155284174.jpgDo you wake up feeling tired? Well, you’re not alone. One in every three Americans does not get the recommended sleep needed for optimal health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sleep deficiency is known to cause weight gain, but also contributes to a whole list of more serious health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and diabetes, just to name a few.

Why Sleeping Is So Important for Weight Loss

Believe it or not, each and every day the most important thing that you do all day is sleep. Yes, you heard right! Sleep quality and duration are so important that they directly affect everything else you do in life.

“We are nothing but slaves to chemical processes,” says W. Christopher Winter, MD, in an article for Livestrong.

Nearly one third of our lives are spent asleep. During sleep, it is peak time for our bodies to repair muscle and release hormones that control natural processes, including appetite. All this is being done without any conscious energy being consumed.

Consequently, a deficiency in the sleep column affects everything; more specifically, it cuts weight loss and exercise performance by nearly 20%. This spirals into a decrease in hormone production, (which occurs when we sleep), and ultimately affects our daily eating pattern. Popular studies show that weight gain occurs because more calories are consumed on the following day, because of lack of hormone release. Therefore, a continued deficit during the night will only lead to months and years of unnecessary weight gain. On the flip side, if you aren’t already experiencing weight gain, you may just be unable to lose weight at all. So you don’t have weight gain, but no weight loss occurs, either.

Practice Better Sleep Habits

The best advice is to practice better sleep habits, getting optimal rest and avoiding insomnia.

  • Start with controlling your sleep environment by setting it at the appropriate temperature. Experts suggest trying between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Try eliminating all computers and television sets from your room as well, since any source of light tends to disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Aim for consistency rather than trying to catch up on hours you might have missed the preceding day.
  • Don’t be afraid to take short naps when feeling fatigued. These should be anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes long to help improve alertness, performance, and mood.
  • Lastly, never consume caffeine in the afternoon because it has the ability to stay in your system and interrupt the natural onset of sleep several hours later (See our blog on giving up caffeine).

The final verdict is in. A poor amount of sleep greatly hinders weight loss and sets you up for other health problems. So do yourself a favor: turn out the light, tuck yourself in, and get some much-needed Zzzs.

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

Topics: healthy habits weight loss sleep weight control insomnia sleep habits quality sleep

Out with the Old: Change Your Workout to Improve Wellness

GettyImages-529079056.jpgTake yourself back to the 1970s when Arnold Schwarzenegger was preparing for the Mr. Olympia contest. Everybody wanted to try his incredibly intense workouts. It has been rumored that Arnold’s workouts were so intense that at least three different trainers would have to give him separate workouts in order to keep up with him.

Following in the king’s footsteps, anyone who wanted to be a bodybuilder or get into shape undeniably thought that working out six days a week, two times a day, was the way to make this happen. Luckily for us and all of America, workouts have evolved from the old-school mindset to the new school.

Varying Your Workout

Old School: Sticking to the same workout for months.

Although this was the go-to, this pattern isn’t always going to work. When you do the same sets and reps for every workout, you miss out on allowing your body to change.

New School: Implementing the SAID principle.

The SAID principle is an acronym for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. When the body is put under different stress, it starts to adapt. In other words, the body is trying to get better. By providing your body with different types of sets, reps, and loads, you are able to tap into more of your muscle fibers, increase strength, and avoid plateaus.

Targeting Training

Old school: Focusing only on the trouble spots.

This type of focus won’t work for the majority of people who are coming to the gym to work out or lose weight. When there is variety in your workouts, there is room for growth and development. Focusing only on the areas that are the weakest isn’t going to help the areas that are already strong continue to get stronger.

New School: Correcting trouble spots while also training strong areas.

Correcting a weakness and building on a strong point at the same time will enable you to improve your body as a whole. A way to correct those problem areas is to figure out exactly why they are causing you problems. The Functional Movement Screen captures fundamental movements, motor control within movement patterns, and competence of basic movements uncomplicated by specific skills. It will determine the greatest areas of movement deficiency, demonstrate asymmetries, and eventually correlate these with an outcome.

Cardio vs. Strength

Old School: Focusing only on cardio will increase weight loss.

While it’s important to incorporate cardio into your workout regimen to help build and keep your cardiovascular systems stronger, it is not the only type of exercise that is needed for weight loss. Focusing only on cardio will lessen your chances of building muscle.

New School: Getting a healthy dose of both cardio and strength training will improve overall health.

Much like how a car stays warm after it turns off, the same can be said about your body after you finish a workout. EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) explains how your body’s metabolism can continue to burn more calories. Resistance training can provide a greater EPOC effect than running at a steady speed.

Out with the Old and in with the New

Training methods will come and go, and at some point the new-school methods will become old school. At NIFS we offer a wide variety of programs, assessments, and education to help turn those old habits into new routines. Stay positive, be willing to accept change, and explore to find what works best for you!

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

Topics: NIFS weight loss workouts calories resistance metabolism functional movement assessments programs wellness mindset assessment plateaus targeting workouts change oxygen

Fad Diet Book Bestsellers for Weight Loss: Buy or Skip?

It seems like every couple of months a new book comes out about a new diet plan for weight loss and shoots to the top of the bestseller list. I decided to check and see what which fad diets are currently topping the list and give you the positives and negatives of them. Of the top eight books, three were related to Whole30 and four were based around the Ketogenic Diet.

GettyImages-855269290.jpgKetogenic Diet (Keto)

This diet plan cuts out all carbs except a very low 20 grams per day, and focuses on a high-fat diet. Doing this allows your body to enter ketosis, where it is breaking down dietary and stored body fat into ketones. The body will now focus on using fat for energy instead of sugar, which is what it normally uses. Protein intake is also lower than traditional low-carb diets to really focus on getting around 75% of your diet from fat.

Pros:

  • Scientifically since you aren’t consuming carbohydrates, your body has no other choice than to burn fat for energy, which results in fat loss.
  • Once you get through the initial stage of getting your body into ketosis, you are less likely to feel hungry, even on a low-calorie diet. This also comes from eating a high-fat diet that will have you consuming more calorie-dense foods.
  • You will reduce your insulin levels and inflammation.
  • Due to the small amount of foods you are allowed to eat, you will more than likely increase your intake of good-for-you fats from nuts, fish, and avocado.

Negatives:

  • It can be very challenging to follow such a strict diet that only allows 10% from carbohydrates and 15% from protein, which is not traditionally how we eat.
  • The first week as your body gets into ketosis can be very challenging with mood swings, hunger, tiredness, and headaches.
  • In order to get so much fat in the diet, most people end up eating a lot of foods high in animal fat or saturated fat.
  • Initial weight loss has been found with this diet, but long term it hasn’t been seen (which may be due to the challenge of sticking to the diet).
  • This diet is very low in fiber, which is needed to keep your heart healthy and keep you full.

Whole30

This diet plan eliminates all sugar (real and artificial), alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, baked goods, junk food and treats (even if they are made with approved ingredients); and no stepping on the scale or taking body measurements for 30 days. You are encouraged to eat real food, specifically meat, seafood, and eggs and lots of fruits and veggies with herbs and seasonings.

Pros:

  • Focuses on real food, so you don’t have to buy special foods and instead can buy everything you need at the grocery store.
  • Encourages healthy fats, lean protein, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Helps to eliminate processed and packaged foods and makes you focus on fresh foods.
  • Discourages replacing junk food with “healthier junk food” made with approved ingredients and encourages no junk food at all.

Negatives:

  • When you eliminate entire food groups such as grains and dairy, you are more likely to be at risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, specifically calcium, Vitamin D, and B Vitamins.
  • If you are choosing non-lean meats, you can be taking in high levels of saturated fat, which will affect your cholesterol.
  • Your fiber levels will decrease when eliminating all grains and legumes (beans).
  • A diet this strict is challenging to maintain long term and may cause rapid weight loss followed by weight gain, which is called yo-yo dieting and has been found to slow down the metabolism and makes losing weight in the future more challenging.
  • If you aren’t used to preparing all of your meals and snacks at home, this will add a lot of time to your typical routine.

If you want to try something new and popular, keep in mind that these diets might not be the best long-term solution due to their strict rules. Both options have some positive aspects about them that can be incorporated into your diet. It never hurts to try something new when the end result is to increase your overall health. Now it’s up to you if you want to spend the money to buy the books and read more!

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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 protein fiber carbs whole30 ketogenic diet fad diets books fats

My NIFS Slim It to Win It 2018 Team: The Resistance

Tonys slim it.jpgThe NIFS 2018 Slim It to Win It is in full swing with the energy high and the gym packed with like-minded people working so hard to reach their desired health and wellness outcomes, which include weight loss. All 11 coaches are firing up their teams and leading the way to behavioral changes, good nutrition habits, and of course, cutting-edge and fun training sessions. I have been so inspired by both the participants and the coaches for this year’s program that it takes me a bit to wind down following an action-packed day here at NIFS!

What’s in a Name?

At the beginning of the program, each team is tasked with giving themselves a name—usually something that embraces a motto for the group, or pays homage to the team’s coach by cleverly using their name somehow. It is a very important step that not only gives the team a chance to show off their creativity, but also helps build unity in the group and solidifies a purpose that all in the group embrace and work toward. And when a group of people is working toward a common goal, the question is no longer “if” but “when” they will succeed. The name of the team I am honored to coach is “The Resistance!”

Our name is inspired by a message I learned some time ago from Martin Rooney of Training for Warriors at one of the many conferences where I have seen him speak. He spoke about how we as fitness professionals have to be the Resistance in the battle fighting obesity and inactivity. I heard the message loud and clear, and as a good soldier I work very hard to carry out those steps to help people avoid debilitating diseases and conditions.

But here’s the thing: you don’t have to be a fitness pro to be a part of the Resistance in this battle that the fast food, digital entertainment, and booze industries are currently winning. We can help each other battle against habits and behaviors that lead us down the road to a hospital or worse.

Four Ways to Join the Resistance Against Inactivity and Poor Nutrition

Are you up to the challenge of being a part of the Resistance? Here are four powerful ways you can join the fight:

  • Take action. Nothing is ever accomplished without taking action. Choose to be an agent of change and do something about it! TALK is cheap; ACTION pays the bills, so to speak. To be a part of the Resistance requires all of us to stop holding back, for whatever reason, and take the steps necessary to help.
  • Lead by example. I am from the old school when it comes to this concept, and believe that you have to walk the walk to truly inspire people to be the best version of themselves. I don’t think the “do as I say, not as I do” approach is very effective in this situation. Think of it this way: you probably wouldn’t have a bankrupt accountant do your taxes, right? When others see and witness that you practice what you preach, they are more apt to follow.
  • Recruit others. This battle will be a long and difficult one; we are going to need more soldiers to spread the message and reach more individuals. We have an awesome tool to help recruit others; feeling great and high energy is contagious! When you start to make positive changes and begin to feel great, your energy will spread like a wildfire, and you will want to tell more and more people how things can be if they join the Resistance and make those healthy lifestyle choices. Every person who dumps the fast food for whole foods, is a win for the Resistance. Every person who chooses to go for a walk with their family instead of binge-watching another season of The Office on Netflix is a win for the Resistance and you can help make that happen for others and with others.
  • Share your story. One of the most powerful ways to be a part of the Resistance is to share your story of battling against the forces that consume so many. We all have a unique story and perspective that can possibly resonate with someone and create change. When those who are struggling hear your story and realize that change can happen because it happened for you, that can inspire them to take that first step in creating change. And then, they begin the cycle again by taking action, leading by example, recruiting others, and sharing their story!

We can win the battle and take everybody to the promised land of feeling better and living longer, happier lives. Join these 10 teams as part of the Resistance and be an agent of change in someone’s life. If we band together, we can help so many in the battle against disease, unhappiness, and feeling lousy. Join the fight TODAY!

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: NIFS nutrition staying active healthy habits weight loss Slim It to Win It whole foods obesity wellness

Step Class: Step Up to a New Level of Fitness!

Step-new.jpgWhether you are 18 or 80, man or woman, looking to lose weight or simply maintain, step class just might be the perfect addition to your fitness program. Have you ever considered taking a step class? Perhaps you have found yourself thinking, "I'm not coordinated enough," or “that's too intense for me (or not intense enough"). Well, give me two minutes to change your mind.

Does It Burn Calories?

The bottom line is, stepping up and down off of a raised platform burns calories. In fact, it burns a lot of calories. According to Self magazine, stepping up and down off of a raised platform burns more calories than doing jumping jacks, split lunges, power squats, or speed skating for the same length of time. A great exercise for weight loss? YES! Great way to maintain weight? YOU BET!

Am I Coordinated Enough?

Maybe you’re thinking that you lack the required coordination. But the reality of it is, if you can march in place, you can do step. The basic step is just that: basic. Up, up, down, down. Of course that move would get boring pretty quickly, so we add music, rhythm, and variations on that basic move. While it helps to have a little rhythm (can you clap your hands to the beat of a song?), anyone can step. It might take a few classes to really get the hang of it, but it is quite doable, and FUN! Don't be intimidated!

There is a first time for everything. At some point, every single person in the class, including the instructor, attended their very first step class. I’m not gonna lie, you probably won't pick up every single thing in the first class you take, but let's face it: what would be the fun of mastering it in the first hour? Half the fun is seeing yourself improve, seeing your cardiovascular fitness level improve, and becoming more efficient overall (more work with less effort). Step will get you there!

STEP_COM-2018.jpg

Is It Too Intense?

You might be thinking that step would be too hard or too intense for you. While step is designed to be a challenging cardio workout, the intensity level can be adjusted in a number of ways to meet the needs of each participant.

  • The height of the platform is not uniform; with use of individual risers at each end, the platform can be set as low as just a few inches off the floor (or as high as 8–12 inches).
  • Another easy adjustment, which your instructor will show you, is to limit your range of movement with each step. As you become more comfortable with the format, you will be able to add intensity by increasing range of motion with the steps, and by adding arm movements to further increase your heart rate. Because of this, the challenge never ends. There is no plateau.

Is It Not Intense Enough?

On the flip side, maybe you are thinking step is not intense enough. Perhaps you’re thinking that only girls take step, or that you are too fit to benefit from it. Regardless of your fitness level, step can be a very challenging cardiovascular workout. It is a well-known fact that the US military utilizes step aerobics to improve our troops' agility, coordination, and endurance. If it's tough enough for our soldiers, then it's tough enough for me! In addition to step, I also teach Insanity, total-body conditioning, and kickboxing classes. Step meets or exceeds these other formats in intensity level and calories burned per hour.

Step is the perfect group fitness format because it accommodates all fitness levels. (And if you haven't tried group fitness, well that's a whole other conversation.) But in short, try it! The camaraderie and accountability among the participants, the music, and the FUN factor will have you hooked!

So, are you ready to take your fitness regimen to the next STEP? See you in class soon, soon, soon!

Yours in fitness,
Rachel

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This blog was written by Rachel Pfeiffer, ACE and AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor, and proud NIFS Step instructor since 1999. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio weight loss group fitness calories aerobic step class

5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Winter Fitness on Track

GettyImages-157353513.jpgIt happens every year. As the new year rolls around, we set our new fitness goals and get excited to get started on them and “make this year the year!” But with winter still here through the end of March, many of us end up with the goal to get fit, but with no motivating factors to flip the switch in our brains to get out of hibernation mode. It gets easier in the spring and summer, when we can start to change up the environment we work out in, the workload at the office might be lighter, and there is more daylight before the sun goes down. But what do we do until then?

As someone who used to go through this same cycle myself, let me shed some light on what seems to be a depressing beginning to this blog. Although there are multiple methods to keep your winter fitness going, that can tend to become overwhelming. So I would simply like to share five things that can help keep you on track during those dark winter days.

1. Get Your Baselines

So you have a goal to get fit, but how do you know that you’ve progressed? Even if you think you know where you are in your fitness, it’s always good to get assessed; you might be further along than you thought, or you might find something you need to address before getting started.

Assessments such as the Functional Movement Screening (FMS), which takes a look at range of motion and stability before doing exercises with a load, or the Fundamental Capacity Screen (FCS), which assesses power and strength capacity, are important before starting a workout because they help you establish where your body’s abilities are currently. Scores from these assessments can also zero in on areas to improve with corrective exercises to keep that area safe from possible future injury.

Other assessments to look into include the BOD POD, to check body fat percentage, as well as the Fit3D, to get a 3D scan of all of your body’s measurements.

2. Plan Your Workouts

This one is a game changer. How many of you have walked into the gym before and wandered around pondering all of the things you “could do” that day, or jumped on one weight machine, then meandered to the next one you saw available, then found yourself ending up on a cardio machine because that seemed like the best thing to get your heart rate up for a bit? Then all of a sudden, you look at your watch and you’ve been at the gym for almost 3 hours?

Now, for those of you gym members who already plan and are training for something sport specific, don’t fret. I understand the time you carve out to fit everything in. However, for all of you who have no idea what you should do until after you walk into the gym, this is your missing link to getting the most out of your workouts.

Whether it’s a plan as simple as attending certain group fitness classes during the week, or getting with a trainer to set up a plan for you that works during your week based on your goals, a game plan for when you get to the gym will not only make you accomplish more in a shorter amount of time, but it also eliminates the excuse of not going because there’s not as much to think about anymore. For more information on how you can sit down with a trainer to get started on your FREE strategy session and get a workout plan set for you as a NIFS member, click here to contact us. For our downloadable group fitness schedule, click here.

3. Set Up Your Environment

We all know that “too cold to get out of bed today” mentality that tends to set in during those cold winter days. To combat this, set yourself up for success by setting the thermostat timer to warm your house right before you wake up, so the need to curl up and stay warm is eliminated. Maybe make a change to a more enjoyable and uplifting tune to wake you up in the right mood rather than the normal ping. Setting out your workout clothes the night before or even having them in your gym bag and already in your car will help set you up for a stress-free day.

4. Continue to Stay Hydrated

Although it might be more appealing to drink an ice-cold glass of water during the heat of summer, the need to stay hydrated is imperative all year round. Drinking water not only prevents dehydration from the dry air that winter brings; it also helps your organs and cells continue to function well, assists in regulating body temperature, and boosts your immune system to help fight off common cold and flu sicknesses.

Tracking your water is a great way to aid in staying hydrated, and there are so many tools out there to use! For me personally, if I’m drinking it out of a pretty bottle, I’m more prone to fill it up and drink more. If you’re like me, here’s a great option one company has come up with to help you track your water intake in style! Zak Designs HydraTrak water bottle is an affordable, practical, and stylish bottle that includes bands to roll up and account for every full bottle of water you drink that day.

5. Accountability, Accountability, ACCOUNTABILITY!

I saved this one for last, because although all of the above tips are just as important, having something to hold you accountable is what’s really going to set you apart from the rest and keep you on track to reach your goals.

Accountability can be molded into different forms—whatever works best for you. Some find accountability in simply writing their progress on a calendar or taking measurements along the way. Others find it in someone else who can either coach them through their journey, such as a program, or be along for the ride and have similar goals, such as a workout buddy. That’s why gyms create programs for their members, such as the NIFS programs Slim It to Win It, Mini Marathon Training, Ramp Up to Weight Loss, etc. We know how important and how empowering it is to have that extra person there with you from day one, working to reach those same goals, among all of the obstacles that life throws at us. Even more so, your coach is ready to guide you every step of the way and check in on your progress to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success! Try telling that person you stayed home from your session because "…it was cold and I just wanted to snooze a little longer before getting up.” You might rethink that snooze option on your alarm next time!

Whatever your goal might be—weight loss, triathlon training, simply staying active for three days out of the week, etc.—we all have to deal with the business and daily distractions of life. Sometimes those distractions come with setbacks…and that’s okay. What counts is having strategies in place to help you overcome those humps and keep you from falling completely off the wagon!

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This blog was written by Rebecca Heck. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: winter fitness weight loss group fitness accountability NIFS programs Slim It to Win It BODPOD functional movement Mini-Marathon Training Program new year fit3d assessment workout buddy