Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS Nutrition and Fitness for the Holidays

thanksgiving dinner resized 600The holidays are around the corner―time flies! I want to pass along my top five tips to get through those holiday dinners without destroying all the hard work you have put into this thing we call fitness, and still enjoy those once-a-year delights that make life worth living.
I have heard a pretty shocking statistic that Americans will consume an average of 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving, and over 200 grams of fat (and not the good fat, either). I don’t think I have to tell you how long it would take to recover from and burn that many calories. So use these five tips to help you stay on track.

1. Do not skip meals before the “big one.” Many people think starving themselves before the big meal will help in keeping down the caloric intake for the day. WRONG! Remember that you have to keep that furnace burning all day, and if you come into the big meal starving, you will overeat. I guarantee it. 
2. Make one run. At the “big one,” have little servings of everything so you can enjoy all the great tastes that come with the holiday, but in moderation. People tend to love one item, eat a lot of it, then go back for the things they didn’t have room for on the first run.
3. Work out! Find 30 minutes that day, and the day after, to get in a workout. Do it fast and furious so you can get back to the family but still keep the furnace hot and continually burning.
4. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a double-edged sword in that it tends to lower inhibitions (taking your eyes off your goals) and increase the production and release of a hormone that absorbs fat. If someone has a drink in their hand, they more than likely have their other hand stuffing their face.
5. Keep your goals in the forefront. Why have you come to see me in the first place? Why have you gone through these weeks of physical torture? It’s to accomplish those goals you have defined for yourself and to become the individual you ultimately want to be. You have to remind yourself when you are facing down a loaded turkey with all the fixings of all the sweat and tears you have put into this thing.

You should totally enjoy everything about the holidays, because that is why you work so hard. But learning to enjoy and not destroy is key. Trust me, there is a balance, and your goal is to fill your toolbox to help work toward that balance. Follow this link to test your knowledge of holiday foods!

Topics: exercise exercise at home calories

Weight Loss: Reducing Calories, Not Taste

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

cooking healthyThe puzzle pieces of successful weight loss or maintenance are not limited to gym visits. They include healthy eating habits as well. Adopting a nutritious diet can seem daunting, so making small changes that add up is often an effective strategy.

Look into how you can incorporate some of the following tips into your own cooking and eating habits:


  • Swap cream and whole milk for skim milk in your coffee and cereal.
  • Substitute egg whites for whole eggs.
  • Use applesauce in baked goods in place of oil.
  • Choose lower-fat versions of yogurt and cheese.
  • Use nonstick cooking spray instead of oil or butter.
  • Trim the fat from meat, remove the skin, and prepare it through baking, grilling, or broiling instead of frying.
  • Use spices to pump up flavor.

 Smart Choices:

  • Eat whole grains instead of refined. They’re nutritious and will keep your stomach satisfied longer.
  • Pile on the veggies in sandwiches instead of cheese, extra meat, and mayo.
  • Use condiments like mustard, ketchup, vinaigrette, and hummus more often than mayo and high-fat creamy dressings.
  • Create bulk on a salad with extra veggies―not bacon bits or cheese.

 Eating Out:

  • Order a cup of soup prior to the meal. This will reduce your appetite.
  • Split an entrée with a spouse or friend.
  • Ask for dressings and condiments on the side.
  • Order grilled or baked foods instead of those that are breaded or fried.
  • Choose a baked potato or salad as a side dish.

 What other tips do you have that work for you?

Topics: nutrition weight loss weight management calories

Snacking Is Good for Employee Health!

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Your stomach is growling, you’re having trouble concentrating at work, and you can’t help but count the hours until dinnertime. Sound familiar?

Nix the idea of snacking as a diet disaster and feel free to indulge! As long as it’s not potato chips from the office vending machine or candy in the office, snacking can lead to long-term health benefits and healthy weight maintenance.

healthy snacks, trail mix, snacking at workAim to eat a 150 to 300-calorie snack with a mix of carbs, protein, and healthy fats in between meals. Most likely, this will average out to eating approximately every two to three hours. Consistently fueling your body provides a boost to your metabolism and prevents the overeating that can happen all too easily when you approach a meal with an empty stomach.

Just remember to compensate for the snacks' calories by consuming smaller meals, so that your calorie distribution remains balanced throughout the day.

Healthy snack options are endless; take a look at the handful listed here:

  • Homemade trail mix
  • Yogurt and granola or fruit
  • A handful of nuts
  • Whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese
  • Vegetables and hummus or guacamole
  • A piece of fruit—with or without cottage cheese
  • Whole-wheat English muffin and peanut butter
  • Popcorn
  • Protein bar
  • Small cup of soup
  • Small turkey sandwich with veggies on whole-wheat bread
  • Small baked potato with salsa
  • Whole-grain cereal with skim milk

What other suggestions do you have for between-meal nibbles?

Topics: employee health nutrition calories weight control

Is a Calorie Just a Calorie? Food Quality and Weight Loss

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

processed foods, calories, nutritionFor many years statements like “a calorie is a calorie” and “everything in moderation” were uttered by many health professionals to explain that in regard to weight loss, controlling total calories consumed is the most important factor. That is to say, it does not matter what you eat; whether it be a salad or a fried chicken leg, as long as your total calories remain below a certain number, you will lose unwanted pounds.

Research now suggests that this is not necessarily true. All calories are not equal, and the source of calories does much to help or hinder our weight loss efforts.

Data from a study that surveyed 122,000 men and women for 20 years found that more significant weight gain was linked to the consumption of potatoes (chips, baked, fried, or mashed), sugar-containing soft drinks, butter, refined grains, desserts, processed red meats, and fruit juices. In fact “a single-serving bag of potato chips added to one’s daily intake tacked on 1.69 pounds over 4 years.” Additionally, the study participants who experienced weight loss reportedly ate more yogurt, fruit, nuts, whole grains, and vegetables.  The reason for this is simple...the body uses more energy to break down nutrient dense foods than it does to metabolize processed items.

It is becoming more and more apparent that what we eat is just as important as how much we eat. What can you do to help your employees make the most nutritious food choices? Adding healthy vending options and cafeteria discounts on fresh fruits and vegetables is one option. Implementing a well-rounded workplace wellness program can be a great resource for educating your employees about making the best choices when it comes to mealtime and incorporating exercise for weight loss and preventing weight gain.

Topics: weight loss calories weight control

Ditching Soda Can Be an Amazing Weight-Loss Strategy

This blog was written by Jenna Pearson. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

soda, weightlossIn 2010, the average American consumed over 44 gallons of carbonated soft drinks! While this number does include diet beverages, it does not take into account the number of non-carbonated, sugared soft drinks (such as lemonade, iced tea, juice, sports drinks, etc.), which tally up to about 17 gallons per person per year!

Looking at those numbers from a nutritional standpoint is eye-opening to say the least. Here are the facts, according to CalorieKing:

  • A single, 20-ounce bottle of regular soda contains about 250 calories and 17 teaspoons of sugar (70.9 grams).
  • An 8-ounce serving of apple juice contains about 120 calories and more than 6 teaspoons of sugar (26 grams).
  • A 32-ounce sports drink contains 200 calories and nearly 14 teaspoons of sugar (56 grams).
  • A 12-ounce glass of sweet iced tea contains 130 calories and more than 8 teaspoons of sugar (35 grams).
  • A 12-ounce glass of lemonade contains 150 calories and almost 10 teaspoons of sugar (40 grams).

For those keeping track, these numbers show that the average non-diet soda contains about 12.5 calories and .85 teaspoons of sugar per ounce, while an average non-diet, non-carbonated soft drink contains about 9 calories and .6 teaspoons of sugar per ounce. This means that if the average American did not consume diet beverages in the figures above, he or she would have consumed roughly 70,400 calories and 4,787 teaspoons of sugar from carbonated beverages AND 19,584 calories and 1,306 teaspoons of sugar from non-carbonated beverages. That’s a total of 89,984 calories and 6,093 teaspoons of sugar!

Do you see yourself in these numbers? Are you trying to lose weight? If so, think about this: If you were to ditch your sugar and calorie-laden drinks for water—and make absolutely no other changes to your diet or physical activity level—you could lose up to 26 pounds in a year.

Yup, that’s right, 26 pounds.

Topics: nutrition weight loss sports drinks calories sugar