Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Five Reasons to Set a Fitness Goal for Racing

Finish line GettyImages-534921733.jpgIt’s true, signing up for a 5K or a triathlon can be fairly intimidating for a first-timer. The fear of going too slow, finishing last or even not finishing at all can hold someone back from completing their first race. The fact is, very few competitors are attempting to come in first place. Most are just trying to finish! The benefits of racing are countless and most have absolutely nothing to do with how fast you go. Here are my top 5 reasons why you should complete a race:

 

[Read more: 5 Ways to Avoid Injuries While Running]

  1. MOTIVATION: As a fitness professional, I’ve encountered several clients who admit that motivation is the number one reason why they cannot commit to a regular exercise routine. Having a date circled on your calendar marked as “race day” can be one of your biggest motivators. Put some skin in the game by signing up and paying for the race well in advance, and register for a training program to hold you accountable in the weeks leading up to the race. By doing both of these, the likelihood of you sticking with it are much greater.
  2. CAMARADERIE: Spending 10-12 weeks with the same training group is bound to lead you to new running or walking buddies. Whether it’s during a training program or at the start or finish line, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people with at least one common interest.
  3. SUPPORT A GOOD CAUSE: Most races donate the registration proceeds to foundations ranging from curing chronic diseases, to disaster relief. You’ll get to conquer your goals with friends while donating to a good cause.
  4. FREE RACE SWAG: Races are getting extremely creative these days. Most races will reward you with a free shirt and medal, but other freebies like hats and water bottles are becoming even more common. Who doesn’t like free stuff right? In additional to free swag, there are yummy treats and beverages at the finish line!
  5. FEELING OF ACCOMPLISHMENT: Completing a race can be one of the most exhilarating feelings you’ll experience; crossing that finish line for the first time is something you’ll remember for a very long time. Even if it’s your 100th time crossing the finish line, the rush never gets old.

I don’t believe that anyone can ever grow inside their comfort zone. If you’ve never completed a race, now’s your time to step outside your bubble and make a change. If you’ve completed several 5K’s but a half marathon seems like a daunting task, commit to proving yourself wrong and take the challenge to go 13.1. If you’ve completed a half-marathon or full marathon, step outside that comfort zone and try your hand at triathlon. There’s a world of creative races out there so find your niche, start your training, and reap the benefits.

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Topics: running motivation wellness and fitness reasons to race race tips

4 Ways to Find a Healthy Relationship with Exercise

We all do it. Your friend says to you, “Alright, we have three months until Jamaica! Let’s start exercising!” Both of you are on board to start an exercise regimen and are full throttle for three months straight. You are committed and neither of you have missed a sweat session since you started. You have been eating healthier, feeling great and working towards a goal. Everything is going great and then, vacation sets in.

Bam! Was all that hard work really just for week-long trip to look good in Jamaica? This is unrealistic goal setting and it can create issues with your relationship with exercise. So, how do we get into a better mind-set that exercising isn’t just getting ready for that trip to Jamaica or to have a body like Jessica Biel?

NIFS | Healthy Relationship with Exercise

#1: Change your mentality towards exercise.

Exercise shouldn’t be a chore. It should be a release; a release physically and mentally from your crummy day at work or from that test you took and think you totally bombed. Maybe, the workout doesn't have to be all "go hard or go home"; what if it was a simple walk on the treadmill or outside to clear your head? Working out as a means to an end (like prepping for a trip, or a class reunion) creates a lot of self-imposed pressure and it leads to a built in stopping point. The added pressure can also increase your risk for injury if you start out too intensely. Why add that to all of life’s other stress? Finding a positive relationship with exercise may take time, but it will be worth it in the long run.

#2: Find the workout that makes YOU happy.

One of your friends swears by hot yoga, but you have another social circle who only workout at their CrossFit® gym. You try both avenues and totally hate them, but stick with them because, hey, that’s what buddies do, right? WRONG. You need to find what makes you tick. If hot yoga isn’t your thing, don’t do it because it’s your BFF's favorite thing to do. Maybe, you like to just take leisure walk/jogs through the park or you enjoy power lifting. You won’t know until you try. (And this leads me into the next item on the list.)

#3: Get out of your comfort zone.

I know it’s scary, but staying in a comfortable zone doesn’t create change. It also doesn’t help us figure out what we like and it certainly doesn't help us get better. Maybe you can find a buddy to go with you to your first spin class so it isn’t so daunting. Whatever it takes, get out of your comfort zone, try something new, re-evaluate and figure out what works best for you! If you have access to a gym or a corporate fitness center, talk to staff you trust to broaden your perspective on ways to move that might be fun.

#4: Get a handle on YOUR Relationship with Exercise.

We know now that “getting the perfect body” or “getting ripped for vacay” is NOT a healthy relationship with exercise. A healthy relationship with exercise is using it as a tool to relax, to feel well, and/or to use as a life-long hobby. Trust me, you won’t stick with it if you decide three months before Jamaica you want to look like Jennifer Aniston. Your goals need to be attainable and healthy; they also need to be unique to you. 

Exercise shouldn’t be a quick fix to a problem and it shouldn't be complete drudgery each time you strap on your gym shoes. If you hate moving your body, then try another approach.  It should be a life-style choice that you find gratifying and enjoyable.

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Topics: motivation healthy living corporate fitness programming exercising making time to exercise setting exercise goals healthy relationship with exercise

Employees Experience Added Value of Corporate Fitness Centers

members_speak-1.jpgThe benefits of providing an onsite corporate fitness center at the workplace are far-reaching and they may or may not have anything to do with reducing health care costs. For leadership, it’s easy to focus on this tangible measurement and lose sight of other reasons  to support employees in their health and fitness goals.

Learn how one member at a NIFS client location has found value in using her corporate fitness center as she strives to maintain a newly established healthy lifestyle.

Was there an “a-ha” moment or life event that led you to make a positive change for your health?

I’ve known for a number of years that I needed to improve my health, but always had excuses for not doing so. When my granddaughter was born in 2016, I knew I wanted to be around to see her grow up. I also wanted to be able to keep up with her energy so I could be active in her life as she got older. She, and the future grandchildren, have been my inspiration.

What has been a key factor in helping you stick to your new routine? What is your motivation?

Staying motivated is a challenge, so I set a number of small, fun SMART goals that I was determined to achieve. For example, when work sponsored a team to run the Indianapolis Mini Marathon, I decided to run the 5K race. Our NIFS fitness center staff provided a training program to follow. I finished in the top 10% of my age group. I have signed up for five more races, with the next goal being to win my age group.

[Related Content: Why You Might Be Wrong About Outsourcing Fitness Center Management]

How has the fitness center provided a supportive environment for you to work on your health?

There are a number of benefits of having the fitness center onsite. First, it is convenient. Employees can go before work, at lunchtime, or after work; that flexibility is a huge help. I also like the personal attention that is available to help build a structured exercise program that will achieve specific goals. In our corporate fitness center there's a huge variety of activities available, especially the group fitness classes. You can try something new each week.

I really enjoy the supportive atmosphere of the coaches and my coworkers in the center. They make exercise fun. I also feel that we're lucky to have the center as one of our corporate health benefits. The fact that our leadership supports the existence of the center signals that employee health and fitness is important to our organization.

What would you tell your coworkers who still haven't tapped into the benefits of the corporate fitness center?

I spent a long time feeling like I was too tired to put exercise into my schedule. I also told myself that I just did not have the time. But, now that I am exercising regularly and feeling better, I have more energy. I also am more agile and can do things around the house that I have not been able to do in years. It’s funny that one of my excuses in the past for not exercising was thinking I did not have the time or was too busy. Now that I am exercising and have more energy, I get things done faster. So by exercising, I have more time.

 ***

To read other NIFS "members speak" stories, click here. If your'e looking for a corporate fitness vendor to start improving your employees lives, click here to find out how we support our clients across the US.

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Topics: motivation NIFS ROI employee health and fitness goals Mini-Marathon corporate fitness center onsite fitness center

Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes

The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) takes place every day in everyone’s life. It’s up to you, though, to move up the ladder on that model and make a healthy lifestyle change. The TTM is based on six stages. There is another stage that doesn’t appear on the model that people talk about, but we’ll get to that later.

The stages of the TTM in order are the following.

GettyImages-664155982.jpgPrecontemplation

This stage is where someone doesn’t see themselves changing within the next six months. Nothing will motivate the individual to become healthy at this point. This becomes a problem because some of these people are underinformed or not informed of what risk factors they are carrying. These people are just unmotivated and very resistant about talking or doing anything else that will essentially help increase their quality of life.

Contemplation

Contemplation is where individuals are ready to start exercising and realize that they need to make a change in their habits. These people want to take charge of the situation within the next six months because they understand the benefits of healthy living and that they need to decrease their risk factors in order to increase their quality of life. With that said, people start to do some research to figure out the costs involved in becoming healthy. A fair amount of people tend to stay in this stage due to the costs involved. These people are individuals who don’t have a lot of money to spare. So people tend to get stuck and go into what is called chronic contemplation.

Preparation

Preparation is the stage in which people will be ready to start making a change within a month. These people are individuals who have purchased workout equipment, joined a gym, talked to or made an appointment with their physician, and have bought other necessary essentials to get off to a great start. These individuals are very serious about change and take the right steps to be well prepared for it.

Action

The action stage is where people have made several changes to their lifestyle within the last six months that have significantly reduced the risks of disease. This stage is one of the most important stages because six months can determine whether an individual wants to achieve more, or it can be that breaking point in which that person decides to quit altogether. This is known as relapse.

Relapse

Relapse is a stage that anyone could hit. People will stop what they’re trying to achieve because their mindset is that they’re missing what they used to have, and what they’re doing is taking up too much time or is becoming difficult. In this case, exercising got too hard to complete. This usually happens within the first three months.

I myself have seen this occur when something unfortunate happens in someone’s life. These unfortunate events include loss of a job, loss of a loved one, not enough time in the day, exercise is not motivating anymore, and so on. Of course those things make you unmotivated to do anything. I get it, but when quitting anything, there are consequences. When losing a job, you’re out of a job and have no income. With no motivation, you tend to eat more and exercise less. Relapse can also happen after the maintenance stage. Someone might just want to take a break after getting into great shape, and then they’ll slowly go back to where they started.

Maintenance

Maintenance is where people have made a lot of changes in their lifestyle and are working even harder to maintain what they’ve been doing so that they don’t end up relapsing. People in the action stage are far more likely to relapse than someone in maintenance. The maintenance phase can last an estimated six months to five years. What people tend to do within that time is build up more confidence in order to make sure they are consistent with exercise and keeping away from poor habits. So although the action stage is the more likely time for someone to relapse, it’s still important for people to realize that a single craving and action to cater to that craving is more likely to happen at 12 months rather than five years.

Termination

This stage is a good stage in which to be. Termination is where someone is 100 percent into what they are doing and they don’t want to change because of the benefits of what they’re getting out of their choices in life. They are driven and confident individuals who don’t want to go back to what they once had where nothing motivated them (the Precontemplation stage).

***

It’s up to you what you want to do with your life, but remember that one decision can change everything. Make your weaknesses strengths, get involved in your community, exercise with a friend or spouse to help you stay motivated, and talk to your doctor, a counselor and a personal trainer to help get you on the right track to a better life. 

Start the New Year right and set some goals and get started!

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Topics: motivation equipment healthy lifestyle change quality of life

Get Kids Interested in Staying Active: Sports and Activities

GettyImages-607485814.jpgChildren come in all shapes and sizes and with many unique interests. Keeping a child active is a good way to instill a love for movement. Once kids lose interest in playgrounds, what’s the next thing you can do to help them with staying active and healthy?

There are many options, such as recreational hiking, skateboarding, tennis, walking a pet, and organized sports. For example, if your child loves the outdoors, visiting a park with unpaved paths can be a great motivation to get everyone in the family moving.

Sports and Competition

Is your kid an athlete, or does he or she enjoy competition? Help them focus on a sport that is fun, yet challenging. Pressuring children into a sport they don’t enjoy could potentially lead to them quitting and not wanting to be involved in other sports or competitive activities. Supporting your child through their exploration of activities can help foster a positive relationship with their competitive interests.

Activities for Kids Who Don’t Like Sports

Team sports aren’t an option for all kids, though, and that’s okay. Less traditional ways of being active can also increase health benefits for your child. Doing volunteer work for an animal shelter by being a dog walker can help your child while helping the shelter and their animals. This will get your child moving, and they won’t even realize they are exercising. Volunteering with an organization that cleans up trash around the community or helps build homes can also be ways to get a child interested in different types of activities that get them moving.

Just getting the opportunity to be active can motivate kids to get involved. If they are having fun, they will have greater interest in doing those sports, activities, or competitions on a regular basis.

 How do you get your kids moving in the winter months? 

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Topics: motivation staying active kids sports

Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Motivated” To Make Healthy Changes: Part 3

Part 2 of this blog series focused on the importance of scheduling time to exercise and practice healthy eating. This scheduling involves setting aside time not only to exercise but also to prepare healthy meals. I also stressed how important it is to stick to the schedule as often as humanly possible.

But what do you do if you are simply dreading exercise? Or if you are dying to take a nap on Sunday afternoon instead of doing meal prep?

TIP: Write Out the Advantages and Disadvantages of Taking a Healthy Action

Contemplating the advantages and disadvantages of a decision is a cognitive-behavioral therapy technique that serves as a great reminder of why you were motivated to make healthy changes in the first place. The following represents an advantage/disadvantage square. In my experience, people who fill these out often decide to make positive, healthy choices. And with practice, you can easily do these in your head!

motivation square.jpg

As you can see, the advantages of exercising before work far outweigh the disadvantages. Sometimes, simple reminders like this are all you need to feel a bit more motivated. And if you happen to have a day where your disadvantages are greater than the advantages, this is a sign that you may need to take the day off to focus on other things (which is okay…it happens to EVERYONE).

The Bottom Line

You have the power to influence your motivation levels, so don’t wait until you feel motivated to make a positive change.  

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Topics: motivation goal setting healthy choices healthy eating exercising

Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Motivated” to Make Healthy Changes: Part 2

ThinkstockPhotos-652753748.jpgIn part 1 of this blog series, I emphasized the following points:

  • It’s natural to feel unmotivated. Many of us are juggling complex family and work lives, making it even harder to find motivation to exercise and eat healthy.
  • Don’t berate yourself for not feeling motivated. This type of negative self-talk can be counterproductive; Saying you are “lazy” or “bad” can decrease motivation.
  • Don’t wait until you feel motivated to make healthy changes. You could be waiting for a very long time.

If lack of motivation is the most common barrier to healthy eating and exercising regularly, then lack of time is a very close second. My next blog emphasizes the importance of having a consistent schedule when it comes to making healthy choices about exercising and eating.

TIP: Make a Schedule That Makes Your Goals a Reality

Someone once told me, “The difference between success and failure is your schedule. You need a schedule that makes your goal a reality.” Orienting your goals around your schedule is key to achieving success, primarily because the more consistently you exercise and eat healthy, the more results you will see. And the more results you see, the easier it will be to stay motivated.

Here are some tips on how you can maximize your schedule.

  • Identify the time of day that you are most consistently able to schedule exercise. This might be 5am before work or during your lunch break. Or perhaps the only extra time you have is while you wait for your kids to finish soccer practice. Regardless of the time, make it a point to schedule exercise on those days and STICK TO IT. Even if you can only fit in 20 minutes of exercise, those 20 minutes are better than no exercise at all.
  • Make time to do meal prep. I think this is THE most important factor when it comes to weight loss. After all, weight loss is achieved in the kitchen, not through exercise. Set aside time to prepare your meals for the week. Pre-preparing meals allows you to control portion sizes and have options readily available for days when you can’t control your schedule (like when your child gets sick or when there is a work-related emergency). It also makes it less likely that you order takeout.
  • Figure out what you are willing to sacrifice. You may need to shuffle your priorities to find time in your schedule to exercise. For example, how much time do you spend watching TV or surfing the internet? According to a recent report by Nielsen, the average American spends 4.5 hours watching live TV (not DVR-recorded shows) per DAY. If you have time to watch TV or surf the internet, you have time to exercise or do meal prep.

The Bottom Line

Create a schedule that will promote your success and stick to it as often as possible.

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Topics: motivation goal setting healthy choices healthy eating exercising

Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Motivated” to Make Healthy Changes: Part 1

When I ask people what prevents them from exercising and practicing healthy eating, one of the most common responses is, “I just don’t feel motivated.”

I’m here to tell you that you will never see the results you want to see if you wait to “feel” motivation.

I’m not saying this to be cruel or insensitive. I’m saying this because—in my experience—this is the reality of living a healthy lifestyle. Eating right and exercising on a regular basis is HARD. It’s even harder when you factor in how much time and energy you already dedicate to your family, work, and other personal pursuits (like educational or volunteer efforts). If you wait to feel motivated to make these healthy changes, you’ll be waiting for a long, long time.

Are there people out there who naturally feel motivated to eat healthily and exercise? Of course, but I’d be willing to bet that most of them had to learn to motivate themselves. How do you teach yourself to feel motivated? In this blog series, I share my thoughts about the links between motivation and healthy lifestyle choices. I also share a few tips and tricks on how to teach yourself to feel more motivated. Here is my first tip:

TIP: Give Yourself Permission to Feel Unmotivated

ThinkstockPhotos-829414944.jpgThat’s right, it’s okay to feel unmotivated! After all, it’s a natural feeling that extends to many aspects of our lives. How many of us really feel motivated to fold that last load of laundry? Or make our beds in the morning? Or write that last report of the month? At some point, we all struggle with motivation.

Many of my clients have expressed guilt or shame because they don’t feel motivated to exercise or eat healthy. I can’t stress enough that you shouldn’t berate yourself for feeling this way. Most of us aren’t skipping gleefully up to the front doors of the gym, bursting with excitement at the opportunity to sweat and push ourselves to our physical limits for a 60-minute spin class. Most of us are thinking about how tired we are, how we’re going to get our kids to finish their homework without a fight, how the house is a mess, or any of the five million other things that need to be done in any given day.

The same can be said for eating healthy: Most of us aren’t drooling in anticipation when we order plain grilled chicken breast and steamed broccoli, especially when there are other savory options like hamburgers and pizza and French fries.

The Bottom Line

It’s natural to feel unmotivated, but you are not “lazy” or “bad” for feeling that way. What matters is how you address that unmotivated feeling. Watch for part 2 for more tips on how a schedule can help you feel more motivated.

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Topics: motivation goal setting healthy choices healthy eating exercising

Why Employee Purpose Could Be the Heart of Corporate Wellness

ThinkstockPhotos-492012688.jpgI know... "purpose" for your employees sounds all New Age-y or like some wellness vendor ploy to not have to put up numbers for a client. But the truth is, there is quite a bit of science behind the health benefits of individuals living with a sense of purpose. In fact, scientists attribute better pain management, longevity, and slower rates of cognitive decline to a sense of purpose in adults. For an outline of some of the research-based findings of the benefits of purpose, check out this article.

If you believe the research, you're left with a question about how to put it into practice. The answer may lie in understanding what you want for your employees. Sometimes genuine care and concern for employee well-being is the starting point for building a corporate wellness program, but it's easy to lose sight of that initial impetus, and very quickly the focus becomes the search for elusive metrics (and unicorns).

So maybe it's time to put the employees front and center (again) and make them the heart of corporate wellness. Here are some simple ways you can do that with purpose at the core of what you offer in your programming:

  • Allow for volunteering: There are health benefits for individuals who volunteer on a regular basis. But with the schedules we keep (much of which is tied up in demands for our jobs), who has time to give back? Employers can make it a little easier for employees to make their world a better place by building service days into the PTO policy.
  • Recognize that your staff members are more than who you see at work: Supervisors have a heavy responsibility to build and sustain an engaged workforce. One giant leap toward fostering a positive and healthy work environment that leads to engagement is by supervisors getting to know their employees. I don't mean you have to start hosting happy hours and cookouts. What you can easily start doing, however, is using your one-on-one meetings as an opportunity to listen for what makes your staff tick, and then look for opportunities to speak to those passions.
  • Turn the traditional incentives into incentives to give: Corporate fitness programs are full of incentive programs and challenges that are designed to creatively invite employees to move more for the potential to win some kind of prize at the end of the event. Consider swapping out those traditional program prizes for an opportunity to turn minutes exercising into money for a cause.

Imagine that you're the employee who works for the company that makes good on its promise to deliver all three of the experiences listed above. How do you feel about coming to work? How do you talk about your employer to friends and family? How do you process competitive offers to change jobs when they come your way?

Considering employee purpose as a central pillar in your corporate wellness program isn't just a nice idea; it's the right thing to do for the well-being and motivation of your employees and your business.

Get our whitepaper below for 5 tips to maximize employee engagement in your program.

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Topics: corporate wellness motivation volunteering, incentives employee purpose

Get Rid of Winter Blues with Attitude, Fitness, and More

ThinkstockPhotos-78053977.jpgAfter the excitement of holiday parties and festivities slows down, we sometimes find ourselves in a funk. Life can seem a bit slow, minimal sunlight and weather keeps us cooped up inside, and we feel a bit sluggish. Get rid of winter blues with these tips to warm the soul.

Warm Your Mind

  • Think positively. When you’re feeling drained, it’s important to keep a glass-half-full mindset. Positive thinking starts with taking control and responsibility for your mind and attitude. A bad mood can be flipped simply by taking a slow, deep breath. In that moment you can change your entire day.
  • Be nice to yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, so let yourself move forward.
  • Smile. A simple smile can do wonders for your mind. How negative can you be if you are smiling?
  • Meditate. Meditation is a great way to keep the mind healthy and thinking happy thoughts. It can be as long or short as desired. Meditation forces the mind to focus on the moment, allowing us to leave the world for a while and de-stress. Breathe in, breathe out, repeat.

Warm Your Body

  • Move. Moving more throughout the day keeps blood circulating to all parts of the body. This includes blood flow to the brain, increasing alertness and productivity. (Here are some tips for finding motivation for winter fitness.)
  • Break a sweat. Working out can provide feelings of accomplishment and happiness. Exercise causes serotonin secretion, the catalyst for a great mood. 
  • Practice mindful eating and nutrition. It’s easy to get carried away indulging in favorite comfort foods. The downfall is that they are typically high in carbs and fats. Although you think you want these foods, it’s not what your body needs. Stick to the basic guidelines: half of your plate fruits and veggies, one quarter protein, and a quarter grains.

Warm Your Heart

  • Pay it forward. Do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return. We’ve all heard about buying coffee for the person who’s in line behind you. If you’ve experienced this, you understand how great the heart-warming gesture feels and why you might do the same for a stranger the next time. However, paying it forward does not have to be monetary. Simple notions such as opening the door or smiling as you say, “Hello” to someone can go a long way and often creates a ripple effect. One day, I came across an envelope lying on a bench, addressed as “to whoever comes across this.” I opened it to find a card with an incredibly nice and uplifting note written inside. It ended with a request to leave the card in a new place in order to brighten someone else’s day.
  • Don’t be alone… all the time. Surround yourself with positive people. Spend time with those who make you laugh, who make you feel good about yourself, with people who motivate and encourage you.
  • Play or exercise with puppies. Animals and pets can have a therapeutic effect on us humans. Find a furry friend to give your attention and love to; I prefer puppies. Don’t have any around? Visit a local animal shelter, or better yet, volunteer your time and double up on the fuzzy feelings!

Warm Your Spirit

  • Be grateful. Showing gratitude shifts focus away from you and brings mindfulness to a greater purpose in life, helping strengthen the Spiritual Dimension of Wellness. Take a minute to let someone know that you are thankful for them or for something that they did. Writing down what you are grateful for can affect your spiritual side in a similar way.

How do you stay warm when the winter blues roll in, comment below.

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Topics: nutrition winter fitness motivation fitness meditation mindful eating winter blues