Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

What Is the Key for Weight Loss: Diet, Exercise, or Both?

ThinkstockPhotos-470754782.jpgLots of research has been done over the years to figuret out the best recipe for success when it comes to weight loss. Diet alone? Exercise alone? Or a combination of both? It should come as no surprise that the key for weight loss and keep it off is to combine a low-fat, lower-calorie diet with an exercise routine.

Results of a Weight-Loss Study

In a study funded by the National Cancer Institute in 2011, 439 overweight to obese postmenopausal women were assigned to four different groups: exercise only (45 minutes of moderate-vigorous activity five days per week), diet only (1,200–2,000 calories per day, depending on starting weight, and less than 30% of calories from fat), exercise and diet, and no intervention.

The yearlong study found that the exercise-only group lost 2.4% of their starting body weight, with the diet-only group losing 8.5% of their weight. However, the group that incorporated both a lower-fat and caloric diet and exercise lost 10.9% of their starting weight, which was an average loss of 19.8 pounds. One other thing that was significant in this study was that the women who lost the most amount of weight and body fat kept a daily food journal, writing down everything they ate and drank.

Tips for Losing Weight

As I said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a combination of more balanced eating and movement will lead to the most amount of weight loss. So here are some tips to help make this become a lifestyle for success.

  • Keep a food log. As the study showed, the most successful individuals logged what they ate. Grab a pen and jot it down, or use an app or an online program for tracking. Whichever way works for you, start today!
  • Focus on low fat. Aim for 30% or less of your intake from fat. Fat helps to make food taste more flavorful and helps to keep you fuller longer. However, aim for those good-for-you sources of fat such as nuts, avocado, olive oil, and salmon.
  • Move more. The individuals in the study did 45 minutes of exercise, 5 times per week, but any movement is better than nothing. Start walking, cycling, strength training, stretching, and just moving more each day.

More Help from NIFS

If you want to lose weight and are considering starting to decrease your calories or start exercising, hopefully this will help you to decide to do both! If you need more assistance getting started, please contact me at amitchell@nifs.org to set up a personal nutrition coaching session to help meet your goals.

Benefits of meeting with a nutrition coach >

Topics: exercise nutrition weight loss NIFS calories nutrition coaching diet

Navigating the Dining Options at Your Senior Living Community

So you moved to a retirement community! Raking leaves is soooo 10 years ago. Who needs a lawnmower—not you! Snow is just a pretty decoration because you don’t have to shovel it, or in some cases, even clean off your car. Some do miss these seasonal outdoor chores, but many don’t.

ThinkstockPhotos-120726908_1.jpgThe biggest change, however, is the fact that you no longer have to think about what’s for dinner, or lunch, or even breakfast. What a joy! My husband and I have the same exact conversation every day at around 5:30pm: What’s for dinner? I don’t know. What do you want? I don’t care. What do we have lying around that I can toss together quickly? I don’t know, eggs, a salad? And we end up usually having a salad, maybe with an omelet. Easy, but sooo boring.

The Many Choices in the CCRC Dining Room

When you move in to a senior living community, you are sure to take advantage of the wonderful food options. Blueberry pancakes on a Tuesday? Why not! You would probably have a boring bowl of cereal, but not now. You can have eggs Benedict, grits and toast, and sausage. What’s for dinner? I bet it’s the soup of the day, a salad, an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert. Oh and the desserts. No graham crackers or dry cereal for you! No sir! Cakes, pies, a wide selection of ice cream, Jell-O, crème brûlée, pudding, the works! Oh and lunch. You can have a cheeseburger or a BLT every single day if you want to.

It’s no wonder that many put on what I like to call the “Freshman 15.” Just like when we went to college, we had this amazing buffet of options every day, and who am I to turn down these delectable items? I want to get my money’s worth! So I eat everything that is offered to me. But there are plenty of healthy options. You just need to practice a tiny amount of restraint with an eye toward weight management, and learn how to navigate the menu.

Choosing Healthy, Nutrition-Packed Dining Options

Easy enough. Here are my tips:

  • Avoid the sauces. Try to stay away from stuff with lots of sauce on it. Always get the sauce on the side. Dip your fork in the sauce then in your food. That saves a little bit of calories.
  • Eat more salad. Make a salad your entrée twice a week, instead of the side for your main course. Practice the same restraint with the salad dressing that you do with sauces. Even if you LOVE Parmesan peppercorn dressing, dip your fork in the dressing first and then stab it into your salad.
  • Keep veggies healthy. See if you can get your vegetables steamed or roasted, without sauce or butter on them, with maybe a squeeze of lemon and salt-free seasoning.
  • Increase your fiber. Fiber helps you feel more full and has lots of healthy side-effects. Pick whole-grain items off the menu, like brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, and whole-grain breads. Stick with sweet potatoes and skip the baked potato if possible.
  • Enjoy healthy fish dishes. Look for the catch of the day and get it broiled or blackened, and always ask whether they prepare it with lots of butter or oil (and skip it if they do).
  • Indulge occasionally. And finally, dessert. As hard as this is, choose two days a week that you can treat yourself to dessert, and see if anyone at the table wants to share it with you. Often the serving you get is really meant for two or even three, so don’t try to scarf it all down by yourself. I also suggest saving your dessert, taking it home, and having it for breakfast! Your body does a much better job of burning calories during the day, and by the evening your metabolism has begun to slow down to prepare for sleep. (Do you know how sumo wrestlers gain so much weight? They eat a big meal, about 2,000 calories, and then go right to sleep.) And who doesn’t love chocolate cake for breakfast? 

So enjoy the easy life; you have earned it! Just don’t get too carried away with the food options. You are in this for the long haul, and if you eat sensibly, get a little exercise, and get involved with programs and activities at your new home, you will truly make your new life the best it can be!

Create a culture of wellness at your community, click below to learn more!  

Whitepaper+Wellness Culture

Topics: nutrition weight management senior wellness senior living calories fiber dining food

A Simple Nutrition Checklist to Keep You Healthy and On the Move

couple_cooking-1.jpgMarch is National Nutrition Month! It may be time to revisit and reestablish your New Year’s diet resolutions. I wanted to pass along a basic guide to healthy eating and lifestyle habits that can also be used for weight loss.

Following is a checklist of six healthy habits to guide you on the path to better dietary health. If you are continually skipping any of these steps, you are probably missing opportunities to keep your weight in check or to keep your body healthy and your metabolism strong.

1. Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.

Every person is different, so the need for more water comes with extra weight and increased levels of activity. But 64 ounces is a good baseline for hydration. Unsweet tea and zero-calorie drinks count. Diet sodas and coffee do not. WARNING: Don’t jump from 20 ounces a day to 64 ounces! Your bladder will not appreciate the drastic change. Instead, increase by 8 ounces every week until you reach 64 ounces.

2. Make your breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates look like the ChooseMyPlate diagram.

When trying to lose weight, go with half a plate of vegetables for meals (especially lunch and dinner) and save the fruit for snacks. Feel free to go off the beaten path and give veggies a try for breakfast. Who says you have to have breakfast food for breakfast? Try scrambled eggs with chopped veggies, or top a baked sweet potato with Greek yogurt and chopped nuts.

3. Include snacks.

If you are going 4+ hours between meals or find yourself hungry between meals, add a snack. The time between lunch and dinner is most often the biggest gap between eating during the day—sometimes 5 to 7 hours. Cravings tend to sneak up on you during this time as well. Fight cravings and trips to the vending machine by having healthy snacks readily available. Make sure they include at least two of the groups from the ChooseMyPlate diagram, such as:

  • Grain + Protein
  • Protein + Fruit or Vegetable
  • Dairy + Fruit

4. Moderate Portions.

A couple of ways to do this:

  • Use a salad-size plate instead of a regular dinner plate.
  • Track what you are eating. Use free online tools like www.myfitnesspal.com to determine how many calories, protein, carbs, and fat you are consuming. This includes weekdays and weekends. Note: Do not go below 1,200 calories without medical supervision. 
  • Women typically stay between 1,200 and 1,800 calories for weight maintenance and weight loss. Older, more sedentary women should eat closer to 1,200 calories. Younger, more active women can eat for maintenance and weight loss, eating closer to 1,800 calories.
  • Men typically fall between 1,800 and 2,200 calories for both weight loss and maintenance. Older, more sedentary men should eat closer to 1,800 calories. Younger, more active men can lose or maintain weight eating closer to 2,200 calories. Teenagers and young guys who are very active may need well above this amount. This range is relevant to those with desk jobs who get in a decent 30 to 45-minute workout during the day.

5. Make sure you are active throughout the day.

Think 3 minutes of activity (walking, walking in place, desk exercises, taking a flight of stairs up and down) for every 60 minutes of sitting. If you have time for a longer walk or workout, great!

6. Get your sleep.

Missing out on sleep can interfere with your mental acuity as well as your weight loss/maintenance efforts. Lack of sleep increases cravings for simple and refined carbohydrates that contain little nutritional value but lots of empty, unsatisfying calories. Give up the late-night shows and get your 7 to 8 hours of Zzzz’s. The benefits go well beyond more productivity at work.

***

There you have it! Were you able to check off all of the above? Great! Keep up the hard work. If not, celebrate National Nutrition Month by choosing one of the above recommendations and implementing it consistently. Once this behavior becomes second nature, adopt a new habit to practice. Remember, long-term success requires sustained practice and patience. Don’t let a small or even big bump in the road discourage you from moving forward. Your health is worth the effort!

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Topics: nutrition weight loss hydration water sleep calories new year healthy habits

Workouts for People Who Don't Like the Senior Fitness Center

A few months ago, a resident approached me and asked whether we could meet and create an exercise regimen for her. Of course I obliged her request, and we met and created a plan that day.

For three weeks, “Sally” came to the fitness center twice per week and attended one fitness class per week, just like we planned. But then Sally disappeared! I contacted Sally one week later to make sure she was okay and to see where she had been. Sally told me that as much as she needed to exercise, she just did not enjoy it, so she was quitting. I told her I understood and would be sending her a list of activities I wanted her to try for staying active.

From my experiences with Sally I know she is a fantastic actress and a very social person, hence the reason we initially decided on her taking a fitness class. But since that did not work, I composed a list of activities that I felt would fit her personality and interests while burning a few extra calories at the same time.

The list I sent Sally is as follows:grandfather_and_grandchild_ThinkstockPhotos-78247514

1. Rehearse your lines on the go.

Take advantage of the time you spend rehearsing your lines. Make it a point never to sit when you rehearse. Pace back in forth in your home, or go for a walk while you run your lines. Just don’t be still. This concept can also be used while talking on the phone.

2. Spend time with the younger generations.

Try spending time with your grandchildren or great-grandchildren. No matter what age they are, you can get a great workout when you spend time with them. Chasing after a curious toddler to keep them out of trouble will keep you on your toes and have you constantly moving.

If your grandkids aren’t quite that young, try taking them out walking or for other activities. There is no better workout than trying to keep up with your 6-foot, 4-inch grandson’s walking pace. Spending time with younger people can be fun and make you feel more energized.

3. Run errands for your neighbors.

A great way to see your friends and get in some extra activity each day is by helping your friends. Do you have a friend who is not very mobile? Volunteer to pick up their mail or medication. What about a friend with a dog? Volunteer to take the dog for its walk. No matter what you volunteer to do, you will burn some extra calories, socialize with friends, and have an improved sense of self-value for your philanthropic actions.

***

The ideas I sent Sally won’t result in large amounts of weight loss or increased strength, but they will get her more active, which is a start. If you see some Sally in you, or you are working with someone in senior fitness who has some Sally in them, try a few of these ideas. If these ideas don’t fit your situation, think of others that do. Just make sure you enjoy these alternative workouts, because if you don’t enjoy them, they won’t last.

 

Topics: walking calories senior fitness staying active

NIFS Nutrition News: Is Gluten-Free for Me?

woman eating breadCurrently one-third of Americans believe they should be cutting down on gluten in their diet (based on research from NPD Group, a market research firm). However, is going gluten free the answer for everyone?

Eliminating Gluten for Celiac Disease

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, and barley. For some individuals who are afflicted with celiac disease (about 1 percent of the population), this means their small intestine becomes inflamed when they eat these foods, which can lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, lactose intolerance, joint pain, migraines, and many other symptoms. For them, eliminating gluten in their diet is key to alleviating these ailments. Currently this is the only cure for the disease.

Gluten Intolerance

Other individuals might be experiencing gluten intolerance. This means they do not test positive for the disease but could still suffer from some of the symptoms associated with celiac disease. For this population, gluten elimination is an option also, but this is not the same condition as celiac disease.

Gluten-Free and Weight Loss

A growing number of people have been eliminating gluten due to the promise of weight loss on this diet. The reason for the weight loss is due to the removal of a lot of products that are typically high in calories such as baked goods, bread, and pasta. The elimination of gluten does cut down dramatically on the number of calories that a typical person might consume in a day.

However, when eliminating these grains, individuals could potentially decrease the fiber in their diet, which we know is a necessity for Americans to help control weight and decrease the risk for heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Also, if people are substituting gluten-free products, they are typically just as high in calories, fat, and sugar as the regular counterparts, so weight loss is not always a guarantee. In addition, these products normally cost two to three times as much.

Alternatives to Going Completely Gluten Free

A gluten-free diet is very restrictive and can be extremely challenging to follow. Instead, focus on reducing the intake of foods containing gluten instead of eliminating them. Also, try to incorporate more foods that are naturally gluten free: fruits and vegetables!

There are many ways in which you can achieve a healthy lifestyle without restricting yourself and going on the gluten-free diet.

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Topics: nutrition weight loss allergies calories health gluten

Free Workout Friday: Weight-Loss Circuit

Free Workout Friday

It’s Good Friday! That means two more days until we find ourselves seated around the Easter dinner table, snacking on chocolate eggs, and getting second helpings of ham.

It’s important to remember that even though physical activity is important to overall health and weight-loss or maintenance, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. A person may be able to burn roughly 300 calories for a 3-mile run or 30 minutes on the elliptical, but it is very easy to consume 300 calories in just a handful of candy, a large soda, or a coffee drink with added flavors and whipped cream.

As you try your best to maintain healthy eating patterns around the holiday, try this weight-loss circuit to help shed calories before (and after) the big feast. Alternating cardio exercises with higher-impact or combination strength moves will keep your heart rate elevated throughout the entire workout, thus burning more calories!

Complete 45 seconds of each exercise, allowing 15 seconds of recovery time in between each exercise. Try not to rest for more than the allotted 15 seconds in order to keep the heart rate up. Repeat the circuit 3 times through for a jam-packed 24-minute workout! Watch our short video for exercise demonstrations!

  1. Butt kicks
  2. Squat, bicep curl, shoulder press
  3. Line jumps
  4. Rolling medicine ball push-ups
  5. High knees
  6. Side lunge with upright row (switch sides halfway through)
  7. Plank jacks
  8. Plié squat with overhead medicine ball swing

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Topics: weight loss weight management Free Workout Friday cardio calories strength training high-intensity workouts

How to Burn off Easter Candy Calories

burning off candy caloriesIt's that time for another season of candy!  Actually, none of these candies would be considered healthy, but some of them are definitely better than others. Plus, with all things, it is important to keep in mind the importance of moderation, even when digging through your Easter basket. Here is a rundown of some of the most popular Easter candy choices and what you would have to do in order to burn them off.*

2 Dark Chocolate-Covered Peeps: 110 calories
How to burn it off: Walking for 30 minutes at 3 mph

4 Peeps: 128 calories
How to burn it off: Low-impact aerobics for 25 minutes

35 jelly beans: 140 calories
How to burn it off: Raking the lawn for 30 minutes

1 Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg: 180 calories
How to burn it off: Jumping jacks for 20 minutes

10 Cadbury Mini Eggs: 158 calories
How to burn it off: Ballroom dancing for 30 minutes

1 Cadbury Creme Egg: 150 calories
How to burn it off: Golfing while walking and pulling clubs for 30 minutes

7-oz. solid chocolate bunny: 1,100 calories
How to burn it off: Playing full-court basketball for 2 hours

6-oz. hollow chocolate bunny: 858 calories
How to burn it off: Running at a 10 min/mile pace for 90 minutes

*Calculations based on a 150-pound person.

Enjoy some of these once-a-year treats, but be aware that they should be included in an overall balanced diet. Try to make these goodies last much longer than just Easter Sunday!

When it comes to the kids, feel free to add some non-candy treats to your child’s Easter basket this year, such as a jump rope, plastic eggs filled with change, or a stuffed bunny. Make these items the focal point of the basket instead of the candy.

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Topics: exercise nutrition calories sugar healthy habits

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

Free Workout FridayIt’s easy, when walking and talking with friends or coworkers, to follow their lead and get on the elevator. Time for a change? Try being the leader and lead them toward the stairs instead of the elevator. Not only will you get where you’re going faster by taking the stairs, but you will also burn more calories throughout the day.

February is "Take the Stairs" month, so try to break the habit of using elevators! You have the power to persuade others to take the stairs and become more active.

Not only is it good to take the stairs when you have the choice, but it’s also good to incorporate stairs into your workouts. If you have stairs in your house or at the gym, that is great! But not everyone has that option, so you can resort to a stair climber or stair stepper. Most gyms have a cardio machine that simulates going up stairs.

Incorporating stairs will help to improve your aerobic conditioning and lower-body strength. Try this indoor workout during the winter months and look around for a set of stairs you can use outdoors when it’s nice outside.

  • Jog in place for 3 minutes to warm up
  • 20 jumping jacks
  • 3 minutes on the stair climber at a moderate intensity
  • 20 jumping jacks
  • 20 squat hops
  • 5 minutes on the stair climber at a moderate intensity
  • Jump rope for 3 minutes
  • 20 jumping jacks
  • 20 squat hops
  • 5 minutes on the stair climber at a moderate intensity
  • Jump rope for 3 minutes
  • 5 minutes on the stair climber at a moderate intensity
  • Walk a lap around the fitness center/house to cool down

Legs burning? That’s okay. Your lower body will thank you for trying something new and incorporating more stairs!

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness exercise at home Free Workout Friday cardio calories

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

Free Workout FridaySome exercise is better than none!

We all know how difficult it can be to make time for exercise when you have a million things to do in the day. Sometimes making it to the gym (or even the on site fitness center) just does not make the cut, even though you know it should be a priority. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get some exercise in on days that the gym is just out of the question.

Changing your daily routine to fit in 30 minutes of exercise can put you in a better mood and takes away the guilt of missing a workout. These are some great alternatives for exercise to help you burn some calories throughout the day.

Park farther away. Whether at work or at the grocery store, park in the back of the parking lot so you have to walk a little farther. It will take some extra time to get inside, but those few extra feet you need to walk will add up by the end of the week.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Taking the stairs is a great way to get your heart pumping and burn some extra calories while at work. This is also something that you could do for 10 minutes in between meetings. Instead of grabbing some coffee, hit the stairs and climb up and down for 10 minutes.

Exercise on your lunch break. There are several ways for you to get in 15 to 30 minutes of exercise on your lunch break depending on how long you have. A few great ideas are walking around the building; climbing stairs; or doing jumping jacks, push ups, or crunches.

Grab the basket at the grocery store. When you carry the basket, you’re using your upper-body much more than you do when pushing a cart.

Simple and easy, take the next few minutes to rotate through these simple exercises three times, 10-15 reps each:

1. Chair Dips - stand in front of a stable chair, place your hands on the seat of the chair and walk your feet out in front of you.  The further out you place your feet, the harder the exercise.  Now slowly lower your body, bending at the elbows until they reach 90 degrees and then straighten your arms to the starting position.

2.  Squats - with your feet hip width apart, keeping your chest up slowly sit back as if you were to sit in a chair.  As you lower your body keep your knees in line with your ankles, do not allow your knees to go out past your toes.  Once your thigh is parallel to the ground, drive through your heels to stand up.

3.  Push ups - place your hands shoulder width apart on the floor, either remaining on your knees or up on your toes, walk your hands out until your body forms a straight line.  Avoid letting your hips drop or raise up, do your best to maintain proper form.  Slowly bend your elbows lowing your chest and body to the floor maintaining that straight line.  Once you are about a fist width from the floor push through your hands, chest and shoulders to the starting position.

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Topics: exercise at work exercise corporate fitness worksite wellness Free Workout Friday fitness calories

NIFS Nutrition News: 'Tis the Season for Holiday Baking

holiday bakingOne of my favorite holiday traditions is making fabulous treats for friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors.  Entire days are spent baking in the kitchen and the best part (after sampling the treats first hand) is hearing how great everything tastes.  Little do they know that with just a few simple tweaks, those holiday cookies and candy can be dramatically lower in fat and calories.  Here are a few easy substitutions to try:

  • Reduce - Many recipes call for an amount of sugar or fat well above the amount needed for taste and texture. Try reducing these ingredients by 1⁄3 or 1⁄2 when making your recipe. By using non-stick pans and cooking spray, you can reduce the oil or butter on baking sheets and pans.
  • Substitute! There are healthier alternatives to use without compromising taste. Give the following substitutions a try.
    • Eggs - For every egg, use 2 egg whites or 1⁄4 cup egg substitute. Scramblers or Eggbeaters can be found in the dairy/egg section of the grocery store. You can also make your own version of egg substitute: 6 egg whites, 1⁄4 cup nonfat dry milk, 1 tsp. oil, and 6 drops of yellow food coloring. Refrigerate for up to one week.
    • Whipped Cream -Make your own! Beat together 1⁄4 cup ice water and 1⁄4 cup non-fat milk powder until thick. Add 1⁄4 tsp. vanilla, 2 tsp. lemon juice and 1⁄4 cup sugar. Another option is vanilla non-fat yogurt.
    • Baking Chocolate - Use 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder for every ounce of baking chocolate.
    • Applesauce - Rather than using all of the oil, margarine or butter in baked goods, substitute a portion with applesauce. For example, instead of 1⁄4 cup oil, use 2 Tbsp. of oil and 2 Tbsp. of applesauce. The applesauce provides moisture, but you still have the benefits of the fat in the oil and save 23 calories and 28 grams of fat!
  • Prunes - For your best baked chocolate recipes, try baby food prunes as a fat replacement. They retain moisture and add to the color. Substitute the same amount as in the recipe, or try replacing with a portion of the prunes.

Whatever you decide to bake or eat this holiday season, just remember moderation.  Enjoy 1 or 2 cookies, not the whole batch!!  Happy holidays and happy baking!

Topics: nutrition NIFS calories weight control healthy habits