Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS: Game Day Healthy Food Swaps

Article written by Alyssa Furman, Intern in Educational Services at NIFS.

footballThe countdown begins as the league’s top-ranked defense of the Seattle face the leading Denver offense on February 2nd. With the matchup set, there are no clear favorites this year, making this the must see game of the season. For football fans this means hours of what hopefully is a really great game. For food fans, this means a delicious feast to be shared among family and friends. If you are neither, well at least you can get a good laugh during commercials.

With a room filled with scrumptious eats and endless temptations, many people find themselves wreaking havoc on their New Year’s resolution diet.  Who can resist those mouth watering chicken wings or 7 layer taco dips? I know I sure can’t, but I also don’t want to spend countless hours filling up on greasy food, only to feel sick by half time.

I pulled together a few tips and swaps to help kick off your party. Your friends and family won’t even know the difference when you trade out for these healthy dishes (trust me I tested them on the pickiest of eaters) and you can indulge guilt-free all day long!

First off, some tips and tricks to make the best of your party:

1.    Workout on game day:

Score a first down by adding games that include physical activity.

  • Dance along with the music during half time or put on your own half-time show.
  • Take the fun outside and play a game of half-time tag football.
  • Make your own cheers with your favorite moves.

OR go on a morning run, leaving a little extra wiggle room for another sweet treat.

2.    Create a food-free zone:

Research has shown that if food is nearby and visible you are more likely to eat this food. Try to keep snacks and other party eats in another room, helping your guests cut back on unnecessary calories and mindless eating in front of the big screen.

3.    Downsize your dishes:

Instead of leaving out large bowls full of chips, try serving in small individual size cups so each person can stick to a serving on their snack instead of grazing over the bowl. Also leave out small plates making people feel they have a lot more than they actually do.

4.    Mindful eating:

Be mindful to not stand over the food table and graze. If you want to try a little bit of everything (like I do) fill up ¾ of your plate with healthy options, such as fresh veggies and fruit, and about 2 Tablespoons of dip. The left over ¼ of your plate can be used for sweet treats.

5.    Keep track of your drinks:

If you are going to drink, keep in mind that a beer or glass of wine has around 100 calories. So try and break up your drinks with a glass of water or low cal drink to save some calories.

Now for some food swaps… Whether you are hosting the party or simply a party guest, give these recipes a try (don’t tell your friends about the swap and see what they say) and eat guilt-free all night!

What are your favorite game day healthy treats?
Topics: nutrition football big game healthy food choices wellness

Do Your Residents Understand That Wellness Is More Than Fitness?

chair exerciseMake no mistake about it, physical activity is important. Study after study links regular exercise with myriad health benefits. And more recently, there have been a host of research proclamations professing the value of exercise to stave off cognitive decline. We were made to move our bodies. We were built to spend the bulk of each day in motion.

You will never hear me say that exercise isn’t really that big of a deal. But it’s not the only deal when it comes to resident wellness. And more often than not we work with residents who think they’re doing “that wellness thing” because they take water aerobics three times per week. Commonly, residents don’t see the bigger vision for their wellbeing.

It’s your job to continue opening their eyes to additional opportunities for living, experiencing, tasting, touching, learning, and giving throughout life at your community. That means attention to all dimensions of wellness.  But here’s what we’ve learned: When you manage, program, and execute well on all dimensions of wellness, there’s a strong chance that your fitness program will further excel.

So, where do you start? If your residents have tunnel vision about what living well really means, how can you nudge them beyond their limited perspective to experience and to truly understand more about the possibilities for living well?

That’s really kind of the question, right? Okay, before dive I off the deep philosophical end in pursuit of a perfect plan for resident wellness, consider these more practical questions:

  • Are you building multidisciplinary events for your community? If so, how are you inviting residents to participate?
  • Is the programming passive (residents sit and observe) or is it active (residents move, engage, and interact)? Do you have the right balance of those activities?
  • And maybe the most important question for consideration: how do you know your programming is actually working?

It’s tough. It can be hard to know if you’re hitting the mark with your audience.

And let’s be honest. Sometimes the personnel tasked with cultivating a resident wellness program don’t really understand the whole multidisciplinary thing, either.

So how do you start over…to begin at the beginning? Start with a simple, multidisciplinary initiative that anyone in your community can administer and that all of your independent residents can embrace.

And today is your lucky day because one of NIFS Best Practices for senior living is a profile of our Wellness Challenge. This simple program folds in competition for both residents and employees on teams over the span of eight weeks. The initiative drives participants toward diverse opportunities in their community. Some of the spotlighted wellness events are one-time events coordinated intentionally with the challenge in mind. Other key activities for the challenge are ongoing programs or services that are routinely available but which might otherwise be overlooked as residents and employees move through their daily routines.

We gathered a lot of data from the program, and each time we run it, we learn a little bit more about what resonates with the residents and employees who engage in the challenge. In the most recent offering, some of the self-reported outcomes included the following:

  • The average participant spent more than 90 minutes each week engaged in volunteer-related efforts.
  • Most participants averaged more than 7 hours per week enjoying activities that captivated their brains, such as lectures, reading, music, and puzzles.
  • Ninety percent of participants were able to meet the daily water consumption goal for the challenge.  

And that’s not all…

Remember when I indicated that a well-executed wellness strategy will enhance your fitness program participation? Check out what the Wellness Challenge did for numbers in the fitness program at one of our client communities:

  • Increased fitness center visits by 43 per month.
  • Increased group fitness class participation by 65%.
  • Increased the number of residents with eight or more visits per month to the fitness center by 31%.

Want to learn more about The Wellness Challenge? Sign up for our Best Practice series to receive the Wellness Challenge webinar as well as all of the other Best Practice spotlights.

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Topics: water senior center solutions senior wellness programs CCRC fitness center senior fitness cognitive function senior living fitness center

The Alternative to Personal Training in Corporate Fitness

personal trainingLet me start by saying I’m not here to dog personal training. There is absolutely a niche for that fee-based service, and there is clearly a clientele for it. It should definitely remain an option in fitness centers.

But sometimes, there are people in corporate fitness client settings who simply cannot afford the service. And the real rub is that often, the people who can’t afford it are the ones who would benefit the most from it. If you’re a trainer, you know what I’m talking about.

If you’re charged with overseeing outcomes from your corporate fitness program, you may be pulling out your hair trying to figure out how to get more people exercising on a regular basis. Personal training could help, but again, you're stuck with that price point issue that makes the service out of reach for many.  

The research is clear: moving more is good for your health and sitting is WAY worse than we thought.  

More Personal Attention Without a Personal Trainer

But let’s face it, for someone who is new to exercise or who, for whatever reason, is intimidated by the gym, a little hand-holding from a compassionate and capable professional can go a long way toward boosting the confidence of an unsure individual. The struggle is how to create opportunities for that hand-holding that don’t cross the line into fee-based personal training.

Fortunately, we’ve landed on a service that has proven to be a major value-add both for our clients and for their employees. Personal Fitness Quest, NIFS’s alternative to personal training, was born out of our staff routinely encountering the challenge of trying to invite more members to exercise regularly as a way to improve their health, and knocking up against people who needed more than a little instruction. Here are a few snippets of success stories from the service.

Corporate Fitness Success Profiles

Joyce’s Story: In January 2011 I started working out consistently. After working out with Adrienne through my Personal Fitness Quest, I started to feel more confident. I later joined Weight Watchers and almost three years later, I’m 80 pounds lighter, off my blood pressure meds, and feeling great!

Jen’s Story: When I started my first Personal Fitness Quest, I was walking for exercise. My NIFS staff trainer whipped me into shape and in that first six weeks I lost 11 pounds and seven inches. Since then, I’ve completed two more Personal Fitness Quests with the NIFS staff as well as started other healthy behaviors. As of July 2013, I had lost 115 pounds.

Julie’s Story: In August 2012, I started my first Personal Fitness Quest with Anne. She had me do things I didn’t think I could or wouldn’t try. I complained and whined but she said I’m the only person who smiled the entire time. After a year and a half, I’ve learned a whole new way to exercise and I’m thrilled to say I’ve lost more than 60 pounds and almost 40 inches.

Learn how you can implement a personal fitness quest program at your corporate fitness center by signing up for NIFS best practice series.  

Topics: corporate fitness program corporate fitness weight loss NIFS corporate fitness centers corporate fitness managment best practices Fitness Center personal trainers CORP Programs and Services

Under Fire: Exercise Pre-Screening Tool Being Questioned

I’ll be honest – I’m a little bit in shock from an article I read the other day on Medscape (you may be required to create a log in to view the article) that summarized a report from the January 13, 2014 issue of Circulation.  The article called into question one of those foundational truths in our industry that has been integral to how NIFS does business. 

Authors of this report, from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), are questioning the effectiveness of (and therefore the need for) a prescreening tool – a medical clearance form for individuals before they begin an exercise program.  Their position is based on two concerns:

  1. Prescreening tools are sending 90% of individuals to see their physician before they being an exercise regimen.  And,
  2. The demand on the health care system seems to be an undue burden for a relatively safe undertaking such as exercise. 

I take issue with both of these so-named concerns. 

Prescreening tools “catch” too many people. 

From the angle that the extra step of needing to get physician clearance limits an individual’s likelihood of engaging in exercise at all, I see their point.  Additional barriers are not needed.  We don’t have enough people meeting minimum exercise requirements as it is.  Why would we establish an additional barrier?  But I’m unconvinced that eliminating this tool is the answer.

overweight businessman BP resized 600Honestly, our staff run into this all the time.  Anyone who has ever managed a fitness program with a policy in place that requires a medical release for individuals with specific health risks before they can participate knows how many would-be exercisers get disgusted with that policy and thus never return to join your program.  I get it, it’s frustrating. 

But that screening tool is there for a reason.

If you need the clearance before you can participate, as identified by American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) risk stratification criteria, there’s a good chance you have multiple risk factors that indicate your treating physician should know about your plans to engage in exercise before you start a program.  Exercise is a powerful tool to improve an individual’s health and embarking on a training regimen should be taken no less seriously than changing your medication.  Medication carries health risks, and so does exercise. 

The ACSM risk stratification criteria aren’t just pulled from some random list of health circumstances that the ACSM didn’t like.  The criteria are grounded in science that tells us if an individual presents with risk X and risk Y, they are in a precarious enough position health-wise, that it’s best if they get clearance from their physician before they start an exercise program. 

I would argue that in most instances, if the individual is really at risk, they should be in regular communication with a physician anyway, and getting the clearance from that doctor should not be a barrier.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of adults living under gigantic rocks assuming that just because they don’t feel bad, they must not have health risks. 

Perhaps the health care system could help us address this with a more preventive and less reactive approach to patient care.

There’s a crystal clear line here that is not to be crossed in my opinion.  If an individual wants to start exercising, there is a really strong chance that a basic walking and stretching regimen will be safe, and, if adhered to, potentially effective at improving the individual’s health.  No medical clearance needed.  But, if the individual wants advice from an exercise specialist about a customized exercise program that’s tailored around his needs and goals, that specialist has every right and in fact, a professional responsibility, to require medical clearance if certain health risks are present. 

Some of that is about managing risk and establishing quality practices that adhere to industry standards.  But it’s also about making sure that the exercise specialist has all the information she can get about the member before she crafts an individual exercise program for that person.  The program is more tailored and likely to be more successful when all of the information is available.

The authors in the report are ready to throw out that layer of information and protection for an exercise specialist so that the health care system can be unburdened. Interesting.

Prescreening tools place an undue burden on the health care system.

At the practitioner level, we’ve heard this loud and clear for years. 

Countless times we’ve sent willing individuals in pursuit of medical clearance only to be told they must make an appointment with the office before the doctor will fill out the form.  One co-pay and eight weeks later, we might get the individual back with a medical release that states nothing specific and that fully releases the individual to exercise with no restrictions.  Seems like a wasted eight weeks and $25.00.

On the high risk end of the spectrum, I’ve had individuals with complicated heart conditions including multiple medications, recent surgeries, and other health concerns return to me with a “no restrictions” signature from their treating physician.  Either the form was forged or the doctor didn’t pause to thoughtfully engage the patient in a brief discussion about forging ahead with an exercise program.  Can you say missed opportunity?

I can think of some ways to ‘unburden’ the system:

  • How about in the truly uncomplicated cases, the chart gets reviewed without the office visit and the form gets signed without the office visit.  If the MD isn’t going to put thought into the recommendations anyway, then why require the office visit?
  • What if the MD sat down beside her patient with a complicated medical history who wanted to exercise, and had a good discussion with him, about risks, rewards, limits related to exercise?  She could thoughtfully (although briefly…I do want to be sensitive to the substantial case load of patients who need to be treated reactively) fill out the medical clearance form, and if the conversation with the patient was meaningful, and the form was well completed, there’s a strong chance that the exercise specialist working with that patient will play an important role in un-complicating that individual’s health.  Thus, fewer office visits, less medication, less complicated care to manage, and poof! Healthcare system unburdened.

This isn’t an easy issue to unpack – there are complicating factors and nuances that dictate specific circumstances.  But a recommendation to take away a tool that is central to an exercise specialist’s work with an individual is short-sighted and incomplete. 

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Topics: exercise health and wellness prescreening tools

Two Key Things Your Wellness Program May Be Missing

staff working with residentAt NIFS, we work in both corporate and senior living settings supporting client wellness strategies. After having done that work in diverse environments for various audiences over the last 25 years, we’ve learned a thing or two about what really works when you’re trying to promote living well.

Below are two key elements your wellness program may be missing.

1: The People

We’ve hired hundreds of qualified wellness professionals to work with our many clients over the last two decades. And we’ve made some hiring mistakes. But we’ve learned from those situations and cultivated a more comprehensive interview and an effective onboarding process.

Hire well and you’ll be well on your way to cultivating significant and meaningful opportunities for well-living for your employees or residents. If you don’t hire well for wellness, your strategy, programs, or initiatives are destined for mediocrity at best.

If you don’t know what skills and abilities you need for your wellness strategy, consider outsourcing your staffing to a partner. Let them be your expert so that you can spend your time and energy running your business.

2: The Program

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: wellness is not rocket science. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require strategic thinking and thoughtful planning. Wellness services should be part of a larger vision that is focused on creating engaging opportunities for well-living.

There is no shortage of valuable resources available for program ideas online. Join a few LinkedIn groups and you’ll soon begin to see engaging ideas and thoughtful discussion that can help take your programming to the next level. Or subscribe to our blog for digestable on-the-ground tips for wellness practitioners as well as high level strategy solutions for wellness leaders.

And let’s talk a little bit about data. How are you gathering it? What are you doing with the data you have? Burying your head in the sand on data is not an answer. I’ve written before on how to gather data that you can actually use in your wellness program. You really can’t afford to continue the work without making legitimate attempts to measure what you’re managing. Otherwise, how will you ever know if your efforts are making the desired impact?

Looking for Best Practice Ideas?

Since we’re all about sharing the love and getting best practices out there for you to run with, I am very excited to announce our upcoming Best Practice Series that will launch in February 2014. There are two tracks:

When you sign up for the free series, you get monthly program and service ideas that we've tested, refined, and tested again.  Why not jumpstart your creativity with a little something that's worked in a similar environment for a similar audience.  (Who doesn't want their job to be a little easier?!)  

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness program senior wellness programs senior fitness management corporate fitness managment corporate wellness staffing

Active Aging: Beginning Exercise Program for Seniors

senior woman on ballEveryone needs a starting point.  Anyone who has ever tried to begin a new exercise program knows that the first few weeks often determine whether you stick with the program or not.  I often have residents ask me where to begin and while different considerations have to be made for each individual’s situation, I’ve found that this is usually a good starting point.

1. Try not to overwhelm them

A few times per week is plenty for an older adult who is new to exercise.  We’re trying to build a habit and that takes a little time.  For someone who was previously sedentary, doing structured exercises 3 times per week is plenty.  I do try to encourage people to take a short walk every day so they are getting up and moving around more than they’re used to.  (And walking down to the dining room doesn’t count!)

2. Include a little cardio, a little strength, and a little flexibility

Barring any special circumstances or directions from their physician, it’s safe for older adults to include a large variety of exercises in their routine.  Aim to be well-rounded.  It’s good for the body and it helps to keep them interested as well.  Cardio exercises could include things like walking, riding a bike, or just working out on the Nu-Step or elliptical.  Start out for 10 minutes at a time and work up from there.  Strength exercises should be functional and safe for the older adult.  Using variable resistance machines is usually a good place to start and it can help to build the confidence of your new exerciser.  Always include flexibility exercises as well.  You’ve all heard “use it or lose it” and this applies to mobility and flexibility just as much as any other area.

3. Always include balance exercises

My most successful residents are the ones who do balance exercises most days of the week.  Practicing those tasks not only makes them more stable, but also really boosts their confidence.  It’s an area where a lot of them feel unsure of themselves and a little fearful so showing them that they can do something to change that feeling can really help.

4. Modify, modify, modify

It’s easy to try a “one size fits all” model for older adults.  Many people just assume that they can’t do the same things as someone who is younger, but this isn’t true!  As our population ages, there are many circumstances where people have been exercising their whole lives and are still very capable of difficult exercises.  Don’t be afraid to challenge people a little bit.  On the flip side, many people are just beginning an exercise program with the goal of maintaining their independence a little longer so don’t be afraid to modify exercises down to their abilities as well.

Do you have tips and tricks that work for beginners in your community?

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Topics: active aging nifs fitness management senior fitness exercise for elderly

Active Aging: Recruiting new residents to join the fitness center

seniors in a stretching classWhen a resident moves into our community, I’ve found that they are often overwhelmed with the amount of information they’ve been given upon arrival.  There are tons of activities and clubs offered by our community, but I really believe that residents benefit the most from joining our fitness center.  (I’ll admit, I’m a little biased!)  Here are a few successful ways I’ve found of encouraging new residents to join in on our fitness programming:

1. Visit them when they first move in to the community.

In order to be sure they have the time to ask questions and really consider becoming a member of the fitness center, I go to visit each new resident within a few weeks of their move-in date.  I want to give them time to get settled, but not so much time that they’ve filled their schedule with other things.  During that visit, I’ll take about 10-15 minutes to explain all of the fitness offerings and programming we have within our community.  I usually end up staying twice that amount of time because, once they hear about our awesome program, many of the residents have questions about how to join or about how they can benefit from the fitness center.  It’s also a great time to start building some rapport with each person as an individual.  Rather than just becoming “that exercise leader” to them, you can have a relationship with each person individually and really make them feel like they will be missed if they don’t participate.

2. Set up appointments.

After working in this field for a while, each person starts to develop their own system for keeping members committed.  One of my most successful practices is simply in making appointments with new members.  People of all ages are much more likely to show up if they have an appointment and feel like they will let someone down if they don’t keep it.  I try to use that to my advantage when keeping new members engaged.  When new members turn in their health history form and waiver, I set up an orientation appointment with them.  At their orientation appointment, I typically recommend a few group fitness classes and set up a senior fitness test.  At the senior fitness test, I make an appointment for an exercise prescription.  By that time, they have met with me and come to classes anywhere from 5-10 times and they have begun to build a habit.  It’s a simple, but effective way of getting them into the fitness center enough times that they begin to see a benefit from exercising.

3. Sell your group fitness classes.

This one won’t work for every potential member, but I can tell you that it works for most people who come into our fitness center.  Group fitness is one of the hottest things we have going here.  Residents will miss out on all sorts of other events if they are scheduled during our Balance Class.  I believe there are several reasons for this.  First of all, it’s a social activity.  We have anywhere from 10 to 30 people come to Balance Class on a regular basis so it’s a great place to meet up with people and to meet new people.  Second, they feel missed if they aren’t there.  I try to make it a point to talk directly to at least one different person in class each day.  Ask them how their day is going or how their grandkids are.  I believe building these relationships is important because then they’ll know we miss them if they aren’t there.  Third, and perhaps most importantly, they feel the benefits!  I can’t tell you how many residents have come up and told me how much they can tell when they miss a few classes.  I aim to give them a good workout every day so that they can keep their independence and this is what really keeps them coming back for more.

What are some successes you've had getting new residents involved in fitness programs?

Download Balance Training Whitepaper


 

Topics: active living senior living community group fitness for seniors

Corporate Wellness: The Scale - Friend or Foe?

woman hitting scaleThe scale is the most common method to measure your weight loss goals, but is it the most accurate way to measure your success? It is a relevant method of assessment when tracking your weight loss, but the number on the scale doesn’t always reflect your achievements. Have you ever stepped off the scale feeling hopeless and discouraged because the number didn’t display how hard you have been working? This can be very frustrating. The good news is there are other, more effective ways to measure your wellness accomplishments that may leave you feeling more encouraged than the scale does.

You may ask yourself, “Well if I am working hard and feel like I’ve lost weight, why is it not showing on the scale?” Well, the human body is made up of 60% water. So depending on the day your body can be retaining more water than others causing your weight to fluctuate up to 10 pounds. Instead of letting the trickery of the scale prevent you from your future goals, let’s take a look at more accurate methods of measurement. As an employee, these alternative measurements are offered to you at your Corporate Wellness Center by your fitness management staff.

If the scale is staying stagnant, but you feel good, how could that be possible? It is probable that you are losing fat, but gaining muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. The way to determine your body fat composition is by calculating your body fat percentage using a body fat caliper or bioelectrical impedance analyzer. One of the many benefits of corporate fitness is having access to these tools at your Wellness Center. 

Another method of measurement is body circumference. A pound of lean muscle takes up less mass than a pound of fat. So if you are gaining muscle, chances are you are losing inches on your body. If your jeans are fitting bigger around the waist and hips, does it really matter what the scale says? Ask your Wellness staff to measure your body circumferences so you can track your inches lost!

Personally, I think the best way to measure your wellness gains (pun intended) is through setting wellness goals. A wellness goal can be anything from quitting smoking to walking your dog without losing your breath. Tracking your wellness goals will allow you to see improvements, keeping you motivated to achieve your long term goals. When you focus on overall wellness goals rather than the number on the scale you will better yourself and your quality of life. Think about what is important to you.  Would you rather be able to walk up and down the stairs without feeling winded, or lose 2 pounds on the scale? It is more important to look at your overall wellness, rather than a fluctuating number on the scale. You will find yourself to be more satisfied, more empowered to keep working toward your wellness goals and a better quality of life. 

So ditch the scale and ask your Wellness Center staff how you can better measure your hard work and success!!

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Topics: corporate wellness weight loss fitness scale goals

Top 6 Reasons to Join Your Corporate Fitness Center

group fitnessNeed a convenient, cost-effective way to get in shape and get healthy?

Many corporations have gotten on board with the idea of an onsite fitness center and have been reaping the benefits of healthier, happier employees. If your worksite has an onsite fitness center, consider the following reasons why you should join.

1. Price

Corporate fitness centers are usually much less expensive than commercial gyms (or even free!). Who doesn’t want to save some extra cash?

2. Convenience

Think you don’t have time to exercise? When you use your onsite fitness center, you can get in a workout any time of day, between meetings, before or after work, during lunch…the excuse of “I have no time” is truly taken away from you. Also, many corporate fitness centers are open 24/7.

3. Motivation

Many corporate fitness centers offer incentives and fun programs throughout the year to help keep you motivated.

4. Group Fitness Classes

Onsite group fitness classes aren’t only convenient, but are usually offered at a cost that is competitive to group fitness classes offered at your local gym, or even FREE! Classes are also an amazing way to meet new people and develop some great friendships at work.

5. Mental Health

Exercise has been proven to help relieve stress and inspire positive moods. If you ever have a stressful day or an extra long meeting, come down to your fitness center for a few minutes of stretching or a walk on the treadmill to let yourself relax before tackling your next project.

6. Environment

Generally, corporate fitness centers have considerably fewer members than a commercial gym. This way, you won’t have to fight for machines or space.

No more excuses! Try out the most convenient fitness center available to you, the one at your workplace!

NIFS Corporate  Fitness Services

Topics: exercise at work motivation corporate fitness centers employee health and fitness brain health

Top 5 Wellness Blogs from 2013 that you may have Missed

Top 5You’re busy, we publish at least a couple blogs a week, and there’s a good chance ours isn’t the only blog you read.  I get it – it’s tough to stay on top of all of that reading.  So I thought I’d help you get your “read more” resolution kicked off on the right foot by compiling a “best of” list for NIFS Corporate Fitness and Active Aging blog in 2013. 

Check out the list below and let us know if we missed one of your favs. 

Most Viewed Blog:  Employee Health and Nutrition:  The Pros and Cons of Organic Foods

We must have hit a hot topic on this one.  It’s a quick read covering basic the pros and cons of helping to improve your employee’s health by offering organic food options at work. 

Most Controversial Blog:  Corporate Wellness:  Is Obesity Really a Disease

In 2013, the American Medical Association declared obesity a disease.  We couldn’t help ourselves – we had to write about their declaration.  It has significant, as yet not dealt with, implications.  This blog series generated a lot of buzz in the social sphere.

Most Practical/Useful Blog:  3 Must-Dos During a Senior Living Fitness Center Renovation

This two part blog was written with much love and direct experience.  Melissa, one of NIFS managers who just lived through a fitness center renovation at the community where she works, puts forward some very practical advice on how to help both your fitness staff and your residents survive the dreaded change. 

Best Vlog Series:  Free Workout Fridays

In May, 2013, we launched a weekly Free Workout Friday series.  It’s been a great outlet for our creative staff to share a variety of simple workouts you can do with limited (or no) equipment.  The most popular video we posted was on how to use a circular resistance band for an effective workout.  Check out NIFS Corporate Fitness Youtube channel for more Free Workout Friday options.

Best “Tell It Like It Is” Blog:  Top Five Reasons Your Residents Don’t Engage in Wellness

I’m nothing if not direct.  In this blog, I outline the five most common reasons I see that residents don’t participate in wellness in your community.  If wellness has floundered in your organization and if you can’t seem to get staff or resident buy in, you might want to review these reasons to see if any of them ring true. 

Don't miss out in 2014, subscribe to our blog and receive our postings straight to your inbox!

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Topics: corporate wellness active aging Best of 2013 blogs

Confessions of a Health Coach: A Recovering Perfectionist

peasI am a recovering perfectionist. It’s an ongoing struggle, but every day I get more comfortable with not being the best at everything. And every day, I feel a little happier because of this attitude. Here are my thoughts as to why.

From an early age, we are taught that 100 percent is the best. Those three numbers represent the perfect indication of success. We are encouraged to give 100 percent of our efforts and to be the best we can possibly be. Some people (myself included) misconstrue this message to  mean anything less than 100 percent is unacceptable.

All-or-Nothing Thinking Can Derail Your Health

As a wellness coach, I often see clients mirror these perfectionist tendencies. For example, some may think their diet is ruined because they ate a donut for breakfast and therefore make poor eating choices for their other meals. Others feel it is pointless to lace up their running shoes unless they have time for a 5-mile run, and stay in and watch TV instead of going for a 2-mile run.

Cognitive-behavioral therapists call this type of thinking an all-or-nothing cognitive distortion. It’s an unhealthy perspective for one simple reason: No one achieves 100 percent of their goals 100 percent of the time. No one.

For perfectionists who struggle to make healthy lifestyle choices (whether it be avoiding the vending machine at work or exercising a certain number of times per week), not achieving 100 percent of a goal can be discouraging, if not downright depressing. This is unfortunate because many people fail to give themselves credit for the healthy choices they do make.

The 65–85 Rule as It Applies to Fitness

My road to recovering from my all-or-nothing thinking patterns began with a simple rule:

          Aim to be successful 65 to 85 percent of the time.

I can just imagine the looks of disbelief from my fellow perfectionists. Give me a moment to explain why the 65–85 percent successful rule is such a beautiful thing.

  • It takes away the pressure. True perfectionists understand the crushing pressure of attempting to achieve that 100 percent mark all the time. Eliminating that pressure can actually make working toward the goal enjoyable.
  • It allows for life to happen. Kids get sick. You become injured. We must overcome any number of hurdles on a daily basis to eat healthy and exercise. Unfortunately, some hurdles are bigger and longer, and require more time and effort to overcome. By aiming to be 65–85% successful, you have a built-in cushion to accommodate life’s curve balls.
  • It is a good indication your goal is not too easy or not too hard. If you are 65–85 percent successful at your goal, I believe this means your goal is challenging enough to promote healthy behavior changes without being too difficult.

Personally, I believe adopting this 65–85 percent attitude has been one of best decisions of my life. I don’t beat myself up if I occasionally eat too much chocolate because I know I eat pretty darn healthy most of the time. If I only have time to run 3 miles instead of 6 because I feel unusually tired, I congratulate myself for getting out the door in the first place.

I’ve found that I’ve actually become healthier (and most importantly, happier) by letting go of my perfectionist thinking. I hope reading my thoughts will persuade you to try to do the same!

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Topics: motivation fitness diet and nutrition perfectionism cognitive distortion

5 Tips for Sticking to Your New Year's Resolutions

setting smart goals resized 600First and foremost, let’s make some things clear about resolutions. When you make a resolution, you have to remember that it is not just a commitment for January 1; it is for 365 days. Make sure from the beginning it is something that is a long-term goal and a change you want to see. If it is something you have repeatedly tried to do each year, it may be time to reevaluate and come up with a different strategy this year. Otherwise, you will set yourself up to fail.

Don’t be the object of the new year’s resolution jokes. Come into the new year with the mindset that resolutions are achievable if you set yourself up for success. Here are some ways that you can do this.

Make Your Resolutions SMART Goals

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound:

  • Specific: Make resolutions clear, concise, and well-defined.
  • Measurable: Make sure you have a way to measure your progress and success. Goals should have time frames, dates, amounts, and other quantifiable numbers.
  • Attainable/realistic: Your goal should be something that is manageable, and something you believe you can succeed in reaching.
  • Time bound: Have a starting point and an end point. Resolutions that will take place over the entire year should be broken down into short-term and longer-term goals.

Choose the Right Resolutions

If you decide to do something, it has to be something that you want to do. Pick something that has meaning behind it for you personally. Oftentimes resolutions come from outside sources and pressures. If the idea originates with you, you’re more likely to commit.

Stick Your Resolutions with Existing Habits

The easier you make the habit, the more likely you are to stick to it. If your resolution is to take a vitamin every day, put the vitamin container next to your toothbrush that you use each morning. Make the new habit part of an existing one.

Give Yourself a Trial Run

Try your resolution for at least 21 days (it takes at least this long to create a habit). Give yourself these days as a trial period. This will give you some room to make mistakes and tweak your goal to make it more realistic.

Measure Your Progress

Many of us get frustrated and give up on resolutions because we have tunnel vision to the end result, which may take all 365 days to achieve. If your resolutions and goals are smart, it should be easy to track the progress you are making, which will help keep you motivated. 

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Topics: motivation behavior modification goal setting new year New Year's Resolutions in Action