Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS Personal Fitness Quest Program Participant: Cheryl Kussow

members_speak.jpgNIFS would like to highlight Cheryl Kussow, who recently completed NIFS Personal Fitness Quest program at one of our client sites. This program takes new members through a goal-setting session, pre- and post-fitness assessment, and 8 weeks of one-on-one training sessions with an Exercise Specialist. These sessions are focused on tailoring their experience to meet their specific goals and lifestyle to pave the best path forward when beginning their exercise program in their corporate fitness facility.

Read about how Cheryl has benefited from the Personal Fitness Quest through improvement in her overall health and fitness level, managing her injuries during exercise, and perhaps the most impressive feat of crossing the finish line in her recent 30-mile benefit hike!

SHARE YOUR “STORY” OR A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

I recently went back to work as a Computer System Validation Specialist and Project Manager after being home for many years with my children and working in a nonprofit. Going back to work full time was a new challenge as I tried to balance my work, family, friends, and fitness. Unfortunately, my fitness took the biggest hit.

However, I would not have traded that time at home as 4.5 years ago, my then 12-year-old son was diagnosed with Wilms kidney cancer. His life was saved through sports, strangely enough, as a hit in the side with a lacrosse stick sent us for a revealing CAT scan that identified this unknown tumor. Through surgery and chemo, my son Seth used his dedication and willpower he learned in sports to get through this difficult time. In fact, a Make-a-Wish trip to the Pro Bowl was one of the biggest motivations that kept his spirits up (and meeting a bunch of Packers and Colts players!).

Sports were the center of his life, and I decided that fitness needed to take a stronger priority in mine too, so I could continue to enjoy my family and all of the fun family hiking/camping vacations around the USA we took. My husband and I also made a commitment to raising money, not only for Make-a-Wish but also for CureSearch, which provides funding for pediatric cancer research and resources for families. To do this, we signed up for the CureSearch Ultimate Hike, a one-day, 30-mile hike on the Tecumseh Trail in southern Indiana (and other sites around the USA), blending both goals together. October 3 was hike day, and I had some work to do to get in shape!

WHY DID YOU JOIN THIS PROGRAM?

As I mentioned above, I wanted to improve my fitness for myself and to prepare for a long hike. I was walking 9 miles a week and doing some cardio classes, but did not feel that would be sufficient. One of my main goals was to incorporate more strength training. I have always felt less confident in doing strength training—knowing the best exercises, how to do them correctly, and knowing how much weight to use. Often at other gyms I previously attended, the cost was prohibitive or the trainers were very critical and viewed you as “unfit” if you were not in super shape or thin. Stephanie created a great positive atmosphere to reach my goals through personal training.

WHAT DID YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THE PROGRAM?

First, Stephanie, my trainer, did a great job in understanding my goals—specifically that I wanted to successfully hike 30 miles in one day and get stronger, but also that I had a few injuries to work around, too. She modified exercises as needed and really worked with me to improve my weaker areas, especially ones related to hiking long distances and up and down hills. One of the best parts about working with her, though, was I felt I made a new friend, too, in our conversations during training. Even though I am done officially training with her, I can ask her for help when I am working out in the gym; she has encouraged me to try other classes, keeps me accountable when she hasn’t seen me, and even can tell when I may need to modify an exercise if I am struggling. It is great not to feel judged or silly asking questions about how to use a particular piece of equipment. She is very patient and explains exercises well.

WHAT DID YOU ACCOMPLISH DURING THE PROGRAM?

During the program and the training I did on my own, I improved my fitness greatly as evidenced by my improved strength, weight (15 pounds) and inches lost, balance, and ankle and core stability. I also felt it helped me reduce my stress and make healthier food choices. I felt that I could be fit and full of energy.

Of course the huge goal I had set with my husband was also achieved. Hiking 30 miles in 14 hours on a hilly trail in the dark, cold, and rain for much of the day was a challenge but a success. We also raised over $5,600 personally, and the hike as a whole raised over $90,000 for pediatric cancer. It was incredibly emotional, inspirational, and spiritual (and, well, occasionally painful!) event, although I recovered quickly after the hike.

My knee did start bothering me going down hills for some time in the middle and I slowed down quite a lot, but I was determined to finish. Advil, adrenaline, conditioned muscles, and the power of prayer kicked in, and all of a sudden I was pain free and started booking. I just had to think about the moms on the hike who had lost children to cancer, or I thought about God’s blessing of my son Seth’s survival and how he powered through all he had to endure. Had you asked me before, though, if I would have ever thought I could hike that far, I don’t think I would have had that confidence without the training and encouragement I received by participating in this program. It is amazing that through training and hiking, my new friends and I were able to help fund critical cancer research and get in shape too!

HOW DID THE PROGRAM HELP YOU TO STAY MOTIVATED?

Having a time set every week to meet and exercise was critical as I find that accountability very important for my motivation. In fact, now that we don’t have our regularly scheduled time as my eight sessions are up, I have to find some other ways to make sure I don’t push the commitment away. Luckily the gym has also had a few other mini incentive programs to help keep us active, and I have also had a chance to meet others in the gym, which helps. I like having that social interaction. Having someone to work out with you either as a trainer coaching you individually or with others in a class keeps me working hard (It would be way too easy to give up if I was on my own!).

ANY OTHER THOUGHTS YOU WISH TO SHARE ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE?

I encourage everyone to set goals in both your life and your fitness plans and seek others to help you on that journey to wellness. The blessings of strength you can gain can then be used as a blessing to others!

~ Cheryl Kussow

Interested in how you can do better in your corporate fitness center? Download our quick read for three tips for a successful corporate fitness center for your employees.

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Topics: corporate fitness walking motivation NIFS accountability Personal Fitness Quest personal training

NIFS Health Coach Gets “Shamed” over Her Nutrition Choices

ThinkstockPhotos-147092372.jpgThe other day I went out to dinner at a restaurant to celebrate a friend’s recent work promotion. Being a health-conscious person, I ordered grilled chicken and a salad with a small glass of wine. As I handed my menu to the waiter, my friends commented about how I didn’t “need a salad” and that I should “eat what I want” because I exercise enough.

I laughed off the comments and said I was trying real hard to practice what I preached (they all know I am a health coach, after all). Plus, if I wanted a cheeseburger and fries, I would order them. Everything in moderation, right?

Dessert: A Food-Choice Hot Button

When it came time for dessert, the conversation quickly turned to questions about who was going to order what. Maybe I was feeling a little sensitive because of the comments about my earlier food choices, but it seemed like my friends were looking for validation rather than simply wanting to know what my dessert of choice would be. I ordered a small sundae, not because I wanted something sweet, but because I didn’t want to seem like the odd one out.

Toward the end of the meal, one of them pointed out that I had only a few bites of my sundae and declared I was “making her feel terrible” for eating cheesecake. This seemed to open the floodgates for the rest of my friends, who were apparently thinking along the same lines:

“A piece of cake won’t kill you!” 

“Look at you being all healthy and stuff.”

“Are you trying to show us up?”

“Don’t you want to have a good time with us?”

“You’re making us all look fat!”

“You used to be way more fun!”

The comments persisted. Other dessert plates were pushed toward me. More wine poured in my glass to help me “relax” and “enjoy myself for once.” I stood my ground, saying I felt full; but looking back, it’s hard to tell if I was really full or if the conversation had caused me to lose my appetite.

Health Shaming Is Real…and Impacts Motivation

My clients have told me how difficult it can be to make healthy choices when your family and loved ones don’t have similar nutrition and fitness goals, but I had never experienced that type of peer pressure or “health shaming” until this night.

Skinny shaming…fat shaminghealth shaming…how many of you have experienced something like this? How have you responded? How do you make healthy choices when you’re surrounded by people who don’t share your goals?

Related:

NIFS Registered Dietitian shares the top four app for healthier eating, download the quick read below to help you stay on track with your desired choices.  Be proud of your decision to make healthy choices!

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Topics: nutrition motivation NIFS restaurant healthy eating

Tips for an Effective Exercise Program

ThinkstockPhotos-497351161.jpgYou know you want and need to have a regular plan for your exercise, but where do you begin to
 develop an exercise program? Here are my best tips for creating a workout regimen that will work for you whether you are in your corporate fitness center, or at home and on the go.

Setting Goals

Setting goals establishes a justifiable reason for consistent exercise. Having a goal in place can also improve commitment and has been shown to improve adherence to programs and routines. The SMART system was designed as an acronym to help with goal setting. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Ideally, established goals should be characterized by these five words. Following the SMART guideline can improve the chances that you will achieve your goals.

The Mind-Muscle Connection

When it comes to resistance exercise, building muscle and strength is about much more than going through the motions. As you would imagine, concentration is an important part of achieving any goal, and focused concentration becomes even more important during resistance training. This focused concentration during weightlifting is the mind-muscle connection, and refers to contracting or tensing a muscle not only through physical movement, but also through thought. An example of someone incorporating the mind-muscle connection would be an individual performing a biceps curl and focusing their concentration on slowly flexing the elbow joint using the biceps muscle, as opposed to just going through the movement.

Variety

Whether speaking about aerobic capacity, muscular strength, or muscular endurance, fitness is all about adaptation. For example, the heart eventually adapts to aerobic exercise when it is performed consistently, and it begins to pump blood and oxygen more efficiently. Muscles adapt to strength/resistance training by recruiting more muscle fibers and possibly splitting the fibers to form new muscle cells. However, physiological adaptations do not always yield positive results, which is why variety plays an important role.

Adaptation to a particular exercise also translates to less calories burned performing that exercise, because just as the heart has become more efficient at pumping blood, the metabolism has become more efficient with burning calories. To avoid this, it is important to perform a variety of different exercises targeting different muscles and muscle groups. Doing so will not only prevent imbalances, but also ensure that all sections of a muscle get adequate stimulation.

Nutrition

There’s a well-known saying in the fitness industry along the lines of, “Abs are made in the kitchen”—referring to the well-tested theory that nutrition plays a larger role in muscle definition than exercise itself. But this phrase can be applied to more than just the aesthetic appeal of defined abdominals. Eating habits play an important role in achieving fitness results, whether these habits refer to the amount, quality, or time that food is consumed. Muscles require nourishment through food, along with adequate protein and carbohydrates to rebuild in the recovery after a workout.

Group Fitness or Personal Training

Getting up and getting moving is said to be the hardest part of staying active, but sometimes more guidance is required in order to stick with a healthy routine. Luckily, there are options for those who need a more structured and supportive environment to stay active. Your corporate fitness center may offer group fitness classes Monday through Friday at varying times, and these can be a great way to incorporate exercise and social time into your day. Personal training is a great option for those who prefer more detailed, hands-on instruction when performing exercise.  Be cautious when hiring a trainer and that they are qualified professionals.  

Looking to have a fitness professional onsite at your corporate office?  NIFS Fitness Management hires degreed, qualified staff to provide NIFS services at our client sites.  Click below for more on how we find great staff.

How we find great staff


Topics: nutrition NIFS goal setting group fitness exercise program muscles weightlifting recovery protein carbohydrates personal training

What Exercises Should I Do?: Guidelines for Senior Fitness (Part 2)

In my first blog, I discussed two of my guidelines for senior fitness:

  1. Muscle-Activation Exercises
  2. Simplistic Exercises

In this second blog, i will discuss different movements and grip exercises.

Guideline 3: Compound, Multi-joint, Closed-chain Movements

Exercises like sit-to-stands, which are modified squats; and a vertical and horizontal pressing and pulling movement, such as seated rows and wall pushups, just to name a few, give you more bang for your buck. Movements like this burn more calories and fat, lead to greater strength and lean muscle gains, and most importantly, they work the body in unison.

These exercises work multiple muscle groups through the range of motion of multiple joints. For instance, a sit-to-stand works the quads, hamstrings, hips, calves, and even the upper back due to maintaining a neutral, upright spine. Also, this exercise uses these particular muscles through the range of motion of the hip joint, knees, ankles, and more. Isolation exercises, on the other hand, only work one muscle through the range of motion of one joint. For instance, a leg extension works the quads through the range of motion of the knee joint.

When CCRC residents, or anyone for that matter, perform daily activities such as standing up after ThinkstockPhotos-145159937.jpglunch, walking down the hallway, or picking up groceries, multiple muscles are being used through the range of motion of multiple joints. That’s why the compound, multi-joint, closed-chain movements are so much more effective than isolation, single-joint, open-chain movements.

These exercises also increase neurological activation. Compound exercises allow the individual to lift heavier loads, as opposed to isolation movements. Lifting heavier loads demands an involvement of larger muscles, which places more demand on the central nervous system to activate more motor units and fire them off at a faster and higher rate.

These exercises are great for balance, as well. Strength-training exercises are extremely effective for increasing balance. One question I always like to ask residents is, “Would you say that your balance is worse than it was ten years ago?” The answer is usually a resounding yes. Then I ask, “Why do you think that is? Ten years ago, did you regularly perform balance exercises?” The answer to this question is usually a resounding no. What this tells me is that as the resident got older, they lost muscle. As the muscle atrophied, they lost the strength to appropriately balance themselves. Furthermore, if they had a fall, they'd be even more reluctant to do anything. This fear would lead to even more inactivity and muscle atrophy, leading to a steady decline in balance. My suggestion? Center most of the training on the main compound movements and add isolation exercises in for lagging, injured, or imbalanced muscle groups.

Guideline 4: Grip Exercises

Most residents have arthritis in their hands; therefore, they have poor range of motion with them. Hand strength is vital for many reasons. From being able to grab their eating utensil to being able to grab the railing when they walk the halls, grip strength is vital. Doing crushing-grip exercises, like using a hand gripper from a sports store; or rubber band forearm extensor exercises, which are vital to avoid an imbalance from the crushing-grip work; and pinching grip exercises with a dumbbell allows clients to strengthen their hands, reduce, pain and increase range of motion.

***

Watch for my next blog when I introduce a fifth guideline for senior fitness—mobility work.

Interested in doing more for your residents and how you can create a culture of wellness?  Click below to see how you can do just that! 

Whitepaper+Wellness Culture

 


Topics: CCRC NIFS balance senior fitness muscles exercises

Weight Loss Secrets: You’re Dieting Wrong

I’ve tried everything. Why doesn’t my diet work?

When you open your newsfeed, you see advertisements and personal testimonies from friends and family with weight-loss and dieting successes. That alone can be the motivation needed to give something new a try, but not everything works for everyone. Various weight-loss systems have time-sensitive supplements, complex counting systems, and other essential guidelines that you must follow strictly to be successful.

“Diets” Raise Questions and Lead to Failure

ThinkstockPhotos-503894126.jpgThe next fad diet may work, but what happens afterward? Do you continue that system forever? Should you follow a program designed for weight loss if you’re no longer trying to lose weight? Diets seem to always pose more questions than answers, and the “I’m going on a diet” phrase will inevitably lead to failure.

Most people will transition “off the diet” when they reach their target weight, eventually returning to the previous eating habits that initially caused the weight gain. This up and down continues the yo-yo weight-loss cycle. This is why “dieting” doesn’t work.

Some people can see results by making a few healthy choices or decreasing calories. Eventually everyone will hit a plateau, but the answer isn’t to further restrict nutrient intake. Long-term dieting can have a prolonged negative effect on metabolism, making it much more difficult for the body to use nutrients.

Most people prefer restrictive diets in which they decrease total calories or put a limitation on types of foods consumed. These include but are not limited to fat-free, sugar-free, no carbohydrates, gluten-free, or protein-free. Others try overindulgent diets in which they eat nothing but one type of food. These diets are like the cabbage soup diet, protein-only diets, or having nothing but juices or meal-replacement shakes. However, both restrictive and overindulgent diets contribute to inadequate essential nutrients.

Make a Healthy Lifestyle Change

Let’s be clear. A diet isn’t a restriction or an overconsumption of any foods. A diet consists of your daily intake of nutrients. To be successful this year, you need to ask yourself why you want to diet. Are you looking to temporarily lose weight, or are you looking for a long-term solution? If you’re looking for short-term weight loss, continue to check Facebook for inspiration. If you are ready to stop the yo-yo “dieting,” you are ready to make a healthy lifestyle change.

Rethink your daily diet to include foods that will satisfy your hunger and foods you’ll enjoy. Say goodbye to the old diet foods that you used to endure and say hello to flavorful, real, whole foods. Instead of depriving your body of the energy and fuel it desperately needs to function, feel free to eat a meal that consists of at least 300 calories. Just keep in mind that dieting alone never works for long. Take that as a sign to progress to the next step and gradually add activity and exercise into your daily routine.

Nutrition Help from NIFS

For more nutritional advice, a NIFS Registered Dietitian can help give you direction and focus your energy in a positive way. The My Nutrition Coach mobile app allows members to interact daily with a Registered Dietitian at NIFS. You will receive feedback, suggestions, and information on ways to improve your nutrition and help you achieve results.

To get started with My Nutrition Coach, contact NIFS Registered Dietitian Angie Scheetz at ascheetz@nifs.org or by phone at 317-274-3432 ext. 239. 

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Topics: nutrition weight loss NIFS apps diet and nutrition diet and exercise

Why Group Fitness Belongs in Your Corporate Wellness Program

I’ve never been that into group fitness. I’m simply more of a solo exerciser. But starting my career managing corporate fitness centers, it became clear to me very quickly that my personal philosophy about where group classes fit into my routine was counter to a sizable minority of members in the facilities I supported.

There is something about that group dynamic that works for participants. Whether it’s the energy of others, the instructor who tells you what to do, or the music that moves your feet, something draws participants in and keeps them coming back.


Mixed Adherence and Retention Results

Researchers have long been studying variables that can influence exercise adherence; and to date, outcomes from various studies have been in conflict. For example, the S.W.E.A.T. study on women ages 40 to 65 showed that group-based exercise in a “center” setting compared with home-based individual exercise netted better retention. But other research indicates that home-based interventions demonstrated better adherence over time.

We do know that positive social support from both staff and peers directly in the exercise setting is important, and group classes provide a built-in social network. Also, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) polled gym members for their primary areas of participation and found that about 43% of gym members participate in group exercise.

NIFS Poll Shows Benefits of Group Fitness Classes

Anecdotally, I know of several individuals who have been able to dramatically improve their health primarily through group classes. So when we polled our NIFS corporate group fitness class participants about their experiences with our classes, I wasn’t terribly surprised at the results.

We polled all employees at our client locations in Indianapolis, Indiana, where we’re offering group fitness classes. In some cases, we’re providing only classes at a location, whereas in other locations we’re managing the corporate fitness center along with providing classes. Here’s what we learned:

  • Just over one-third of responders indicated that NIFS group fitness classes were their primary source of exercise through the week.
  • Almost 80% indicated that they exercise more often because of the group fitness classes available at their office.
  • Roughly three quarters of responders noted personal health improvements since they started taking group classes with NIFS instructors.
  • A full 96% indicated that the classes at their worksite were a definite employee perk.

The numbers tell us that group fitness is still a fantastic way for employers to create exercise opportunities for their employees. It’s a low-cost (or no-cost if employees pay) option that doesn’t require much equipment or space, and it can net positive health outcomes for employees. It just may earn you loyalty points as well.

If you’re sold on the idea of adding group exercise classes to your corporate wellness offerings but aren’t sure where to start, check out this blog and our quick read: 3 keys to adding group fitness at work.

Topics: group exercise corporate fitness motivation NIFS corporate fitness managment data

Successful Corporate Fitness Program Gets Back to the Basics

Americans are fond of a quick fix, in weight loss in particular. According to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, surgical weight loss procedures increased from 13,000 in 1998 to 220,000 in 2008. A survey in the United Kingdom evaluated public attitudes toward such cosmetic surgery for weight loss and found that 59% of women would choose surgery over changing eating habits and engaging in regular exercise to lose weight or change their body shape. 

Anecdotally, our corporate fitness staff see these stories in the employees they serve as well. As a nation, we haven’t moved the needle on helping adults get more movement in their daily lives, and the numbers inside the corporate fitness center have peaked as well. So, what are we doing wrong?

Certainly, there are work-related and personal-life pressures that the staff in your corporate fitness center cannot impact, and there will always be a cap on how many employees they can reach. But in some ways, we’ve fallen away from basic services and simple program design as tools to draw participants into the programs. Businesses have committed (right or wrong) their focus to outcomes-based wellness offerings, and looked to biometric data and HRA results for those outcomes. Businesses have also turned (in droves) to wearables as a tool to help employees move more; the jury is still out on their long-term effectiveness. 

NIFS150 Encourages More Physical ActivityWatchThinkstockPhotos-465631985

In an effort to get back to simple measures designed to help participants (1) understand their fitness level, and (2) move more minutes each day, our staff designed a simple NIFS150 program where participants were encouraged to accomplish 150 minutes of physical activity per week for eight weeks and complete a pre- and post-program fitness assessment. 

Participants were able to earn their 150 minutes anywhere, anytime—we simply wanted them working to achieve the research-backed recommendation from the CDC. We pulled fitness assessments into the mix as a throwback to some older research performed by Dr. Steven Blair and colleagues that was published in the April 1995 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. That research showed that improving fitness level (defined by cardiovascular endurance) can decrease mortality risk. 

Forty percent of the initial 700 participants in the NIFS program completed at least 150 minutes of activity per week all eight weeks, and the staff completed assessments on 198 participants. Almost half of the participants indicated that this was the first NIFS program they’ve tried, so we’re pleased we hit a sweet spot for so many new folks! 

More than 75% of participants reported that the challenge helped them be more active than usual. Still, it’s worth noting that only one third of participants actually used the fitness center more during the program. You might think we were disappointed that more participants didn’t flock to the fitness centers with this client to gain their 150 minutes. After all, the program ran through the first quarter of 2015 in Indiana; it’s not like it was prime weather for exercising outside. Our priority with this initiative was to help employees be more physically active. We definitely keep track of visits, memberships, and other fitness center-related metrics, but we think it’s a win that we drew in so many newbies and that participants were more active than usual during the challenge. 

What We Learned from the Data

In addition to gaining some feedback from all the participants, we also surveyed those who completed fitness assessments as part of the program. We learned that

  • 70% of those who responded to the survey had never participated in a fitness assessment before.
  • 62% are now more likely to be active in their corporate fitness center.
  • 70% intend to continue with a periodic fitness assessment to track their progress on fitness-specific goals.
My read on this basic data is that we have a lot of opportunity to communicate the value of the (free) fitness assessments. We may need to find new language and new avenues for talking about what the testing is and how it might help an employee achieve health-related goals. And we probably have some champions from this initial offering of NIFS150 who could help by sharing their stories. We also have a clear opening to revisit the basic 150 minutes per week recommendation as a tool to draw more employees into moving more each day.  

Our staff continue to provide innovative programming for our clients. But this particular program points to just how simple a science-based offering can be yet still create impact. 

How are you creating impact through corporate fitness programming? Looking for more program ideas to get your creative juices flowing? Check out our Best Practices series—click on the button below to find out more. 

 NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: exercise corporate fitness NIFS corporate fitness centers staying active program evaluation data fitness assessment

NIFS Nutrition News: Intermittent Fasting

NIFS BB
Interested in providing staffing at your corporate wellness site?  Contact us about how we provide great staff and programs to our clients!
Topics: nifs fitness management NIFS wellness health education

NIFS: 4 Additional REALISTIC Tips for a Fumble-Free Football Party

business man fumbleI attended a webinar a few years ago that suggested that the holiday season now extends from Halloween until the first Sunday in February when we gather ‘round a screen and raise a beer to the football God’s to watch the “Big Game”.  During this 13 week stretch, which is a quarter of year, we encounter candy dishes, cookie trays, cheese platters, and punch bowls overflowing with seasonal treats and goodies.  The number of temptations we face should make us wizards of refusal for those of us trying to control our weight, but saying no to creamy dips or bacon wrapped anything can be very difficult.

On Sunday, February 2nd many of us will once again find ourselves in the end zone of a bountiful buffet of wings, chili, pizza, and seven layer taco dip. If you resolved to lose some weight this year or just want to practice better self-control it’s time to step up to the line of scrimmage and play some defense.  Below are tips that can serve as a game plan for keeping you on track at home, at a party, or anytime you’re facing an event where food is the MVP. Additionally, these tips are realistic, meaning you won’t see me recommending a scoop of fro-yo with some fresh berries at half-time (which I have actually seen as a suggestion). That is an excellent dessert option, if that’s want you really want, but the last time fro-yo was offered at a football watch party was never!

      Here we go!

Don’t try to “save” calories for the party. This means, and I’m speaking from experience, that you eat almost nothing for the first part of the day so you can indulge come game time and not ruin your diet. This is a really bad idea.  Frequently this approach leads to over-indulging and eating several hundred if not thousands of calories over what you would have consumed if you had just eaten as you normally would during the first half of the day.   Wanting to eat a little lighter at the beginning of the day, think vegetables and protein, isn’t a bad idea but going into game time with and empty stomach can really backfire.

Create boundaries.  Creating boundaries means limiting your availability to tempting foods.  For me these foods are sweet, offer a satisfying crunch, and are small enough to pop one, two, or twelve in your mouth in no time.  To prevent over-eating these foods that light up all the pleasure centers in my brain I stay out of the kitchen or away from the buffet table. Once my plate is full I don’t go back for a second pass.  My plate, not the entire chip bowl, is my boundary.  For an extra precaution I may only eat dessert as I’m heading out the door.

Keep your hands occupied. This tip relates back to tip number 2.  I’m less tempted to go back to the buffet table if I’ve got my hands and head occupied. For this reason I keep a cup full of water in my hands all the time. In addition to being calorie free the water helps keep me satisfied during the party and the cup keeps my hands from finding its way back to the nachos.

Make and vocalize your plan to someone else. You probably set some goals on or just before January 1st, but did you ever right them down? Did you take the time to specifically make a plan for reaching you goals? If not, it’s not too late. Write down your goals and make them specific.  What do you have to do to reach your goals?  If you have to lock yourself in your house and never attend a party again that is probably not realistic.  Tell a friend, partner, or spouse about your goals and don’t forget to discuss how they affect what you eat and drink at the parties. Ask your confidant to encourage your or even join you in making the best choices when it comes to food and drink.  If you declare you only be drinking water for the evening, ask him or her to hold you accountable.


Let these tips remind you that eating healthier doesn’t mean you never get to go to parties. Instead you now have some new, realistic, behaviors to take with you and practice. Let these behaviors help keep you on track rather than distract you from your goals.  Also remember that like any athletic skill practice is important for success.  Sometimes we have a bad game but that doesn’t mean we should hang up the cleats and give up, instead we learn and we continue to practice and sharpen our skills.

Check out our blog on Monday morning for post game diet damage control tips!

Topics: exercise nutrition NIFS healthy habits

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.  

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