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

Battling Wintertime Blues with Nutrition

Are you struggling with the winter blues? Is it cold and dark and dreary in your part of the country? When was the last time you felt and saw the sun? You could be lacking vitamin D, and this can lead to depression and a lower immunity to fight colds.

So, if you aren’t able to get your much-needed 15 minutes of sunlight each day to supply your body’s vitamin D needs, start battling wintertime blues with nutrition with these food ThinkstockPhotos-stk26325fls-1.jpgoptions:

  • Fatty fish: This includes salmon, mackerel, canned tuna, and sardines. Three ounces of salmon provides 450 IU of vitamin D—almost all of the daily recommendation of 600 IU. Canned tuna and sardines are an inexpensive way to get in seafood, giving you heart healthy omega 3s and 150 IU of vitamin D per serving. Another bonus is the long shelf life if you haven’t been to the grocery store to get fresh protein choices.
  • Milk: Almost all cows’ milk in the U.S. is fortified with vitamin D. A lot of other dairy products are, too, but not ice cream or cheese. Typically an 8-ounce glass of milk has 100 IUs of vitamin D, and most yogurt has around 80 IU for a 6-ounce container. If you are choosing soymilk or almond milk, most are fortified, but check the labels to be sure.
  • Fortified orange juice: If you aren’t a fan of milk or have lactose intolerance, 100% orange juice is an option. Typically an 8-ounce glass has the same amount of vitamin D as a glass of milk (100 IU). Just make sure you are buying the fortified kind.
  • Egg yolks: Eggs are a great way to get in vitamin D. However, you have to eat the whole egg and not just the whites to get the benefit. One egg yolk has 40 IUs.
  • Fortified cereal: Another way to double up on vitamin D is to choose a fortified cereal to have with your milk or glass of OJ at breakfast. 1 cup of Multi Grain Cheerios provides 90 IUs of vitamin D. Add milk to that and you are close to 200 IUs! Just be sure to choose cereals that are labeled as fortified with vitamin D.
  • Supplements: If you still have trouble getting all of your vitamin D needs met through food and the sun, an alternative is to take a supplement. The upper-limit dose for individuals over age 9 is 4,000 IU per day. Consuming more than this can lead to higher blood calcium levels and increased risk of kidney stones. Always talk to your physician before starting a supplement.

Recent studies have found that nearly 3 out of 4 individuals have either a Vitamin D deficiency or borderline deficiency. Most of this because we spend more time indoors compared to our parents and grandparents. Longer work hours, longer commutes in a vehicle, and more screen time indoors definitely play a part. Get outside, incorporate more of the foods above, and chat with your doctor about supplementing. All of this can mean a healthier immune system, stronger bones, and lower risk of some cancers.

Want to lose weight, gain muscle, manage diabetes, improve sport performance, reduce cholesterol, or just figure out how to grocery shop and prepare healthier meals?

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Topics: nutrition supplements depression winter blues vitamins winter

How to change bad habits

making a list

Bad habits often compromise a healthy lifestyle. No matter what your bad habit is, you can tackle it by identifying your weaknesses changing your mind’s focus.  Take a moment and use these tips on how to change bad habits.

Identifying Bad Habits

First, identify your bad habits and what keeps you from changing them:

  • Make a list of your good and bad habits. Recognize those habits you would like to change.
  • Organize a plan when cravings for bad habits return. Know how you will handle these cravings. If possible, try to avoid them.
  • Recognize the barriers that will keep you from changing your bad habits. Avoid situations and people that will cause you to resort to performing your bad habits.

Break the Cycle and Change Your Behavior

Depending on what your bad habit is, a number of tricks can help you break the cycle. For example:

  • Avoid using food or other substances (smoking, drinking, etc.) to comfort yourself. Instead, use other, less damaging techniques such as listening to soothing music or chewing gum.
  • Avoid sugary drinks. Keep bottles of water at home and at work. If you don’t like drinking plain water, try flavored, but make sure you select a low- or no-sugar option.
  • If you just can’t stop slouching, set a timer on your watch for every few minutes. Use the alarm as a reminder to check your posture and sit or stand up straight. Keep lengthening the time intervals as you get better at keeping your posture a priority.

What bad habit do you plan to kick?  

Interested in helping your employees make healthy habits?  Download our whitepaper to learn how to incorporate exercise into your wellness program for employees. 

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Topics: corporate wellness nutrition employee wellness behavior modification

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

Weight Loss: Take It Off, Keep It Off!

I love what I do—seeing people succeed with their weight-loss goals is one of the most rewarding feelings as a dietitian. However, it can also be very challenging when I see clients revert back to old habits and struggle to keep the weight off that they worked so hard to remove.

ThinkstockPhotos-527497433.jpgBest Weight-Loss Techniques

After checking out some research of highly successful dieters, I have found the best things that can be done to keep the weight off for good!

  • Keep a food journal. Individuals who keep food logs tend to eat 40% less because they are writing it down. Also, a recent study found women who kept a food journal lost 6 pounds more than those who didn’t. Some excellent online food tracker sites include MyPlate and ChooseMyPlate. Highly rated free apps for your smartphone include My Fitness Pal and Lose It.
  • Practice portion control. As a society, we are terrible at eyeballing portions. The secret to success is consistently measuring food items to make sure you are eating the same amount you are journaling. The simplest way to do this is to use measuring utensils to dish out your meals and associate common items with certain portions. For example, a serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards, a baked potato should be the size of a computer mouse, a half cup of pasta is the size of a tennis ball, and a teaspoon of oil is the size of one die (from a pair of dice).
  • Don’t skip meals. Lots of people think if they skip a meal they will be decreasing the total calories they are taking in for the day. In reality, the opposite usually happens. When someone skips a meal, they typically end up overeating at a different time of day to compensate for missing out on the food that their body needed. Also, whenever you skip a meal it makes your metabolism work at a slower rate; and therefore, makes it harder to lose weight. Eating balanced meals and snacks throughout the day is the best way to stay on track.

Set Up a Personalized Nutrition Appointment

The more you follow these rules, the higher your chance of success in keeping off the weight. For more information or to set up an individualized nutrition coaching appointment, contact me at amitchell@nifs.org or click below for more information.

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Topics: nutrition weight loss NIFS portion control nutrition coaching food journals

Surviving Grocery Shopping with Kids (and Instill Healthy Habits)

ThinkstockPhotos-57568291.jpgGrocery shopping takes time, preparation, patience, and organization. But throw kids in the buggy (or cart) with you, and usually you end up with a big old, stressful mess. Take it from a mom with three kids under the age of 5; I know firsthand that it can be done happily and without tantrums (well, for the most part). But it’s taken some practice.

Three Essential Grocery Shopping Rules

Our family’s weekly shopping trip is usually done all together on Sunday mornings, straight from church to the store. So as we stroll down the aisles with our two separate carts (because how else will we fit the kids and the food?), my husband and I are ready to take on the dreaded shopping trip by following these three essential rules for surviving grocery shopping with kids.

  1. Never shop hungry. If I even think about letting my kids go into that store on an empty stomach, I might as well throw up my white flag right then and there. It’s not a good idea! In fact, it’s not good for adults to go food shopping hungry, either! Research (and, well, common sense) shows you will end up with way more food than you intended, just because your judgment is impaired by hunger pangs.
  2. Be prepared. The night before or morning of, I make my meal plan for the week ahead. I decide what we are eating for every meal, taking into consideration items I have in my fridge, freezer, or pantry that need to be used up. Once the meal planning is done, my list is constructed from there. I separate my list in order of how I go through the store (my game plan, so to speak): first the produce, then the bakery, then to the deli and meats, and so on. This is obviously individual to you and your store, but if you frequent the same place each week, you catch my drift. That way each section has the items listed there I need. And it prevents me from getting to the opposite side of the store and running around like a madwoman looking for that dang ketchup I forgot!
  3. Decide how your kids can help. If you have them with you, they need to feel included (suggested mostly for ages 5 and up). This is scientifically proven to prevent the dreaded boredom that can happen halfway through your trip. Think: how can they be involved? Maybe they can count the bananas. Maybe they can find the cheapest cereal. Maybe they can find the bread with the highest fiber. Of course, this kind of thing will require some patience from you, my dear, so be patient and let them have fun with this! Maybe your child could even have a shopping list, too, that is picture based. (You surely can find this on Pinterest!)

Grocery Shopping with Children Leads to Healthy Eating and Better Nutrition

Instead of hiring your standby babysitter for the weekly food trip, I say get your whole family involved in your shopping and meal preparation. If children learn from you how to shop, prepare, and enjoy healthy foods at a young age, you are instilling healthy habits that will hopefully last their lifetime. Happy shopping!

Looking to better track your dietary habits?  Check out NIFS Dietitian, Angie Mitchell's top 4 apps for better eating!  Download by clicking below! 

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Topics: nutrition healthy habits kids healthy eating meal planning grocery shopping

SMART and Healthy Eating During the Holidays

ThinkstockPhotos-125557141.jpgThe holidays are right around the corner, and the first thing that comes to mind is all that food! You don’t want to look like a Santa at the start of the New Year! Well, don’t feel guilty about consuming the goodies; just get smart! If you have an understanding of what it takes to properly fuel your body, specifically as you age, the healthy eating process doesn’t seem so daunting. Older adults have different needs, and there are some key nutrients that are really important to maintain.

Let’s get back to the word SMART. Here’s a simple way to eat healthy using this acronym for healthy eating during the holidays.

Servings

When you put food on your plate, divide that plate into four serving sections:

  • The first section is whole grains (wheat bread, brown rice, fortified whole-grain cereals).
  • The second section is protein (lean meats, eggs, fish, beans, cheese, tofu, peanut butter).
  • The third section is vegetables (fresh, frozen, dried, low-sugar canned).
  • The fourth section is fruits (fresh, frozen, dried, low-sugar canned).

This is true for every plate at every meal. Eliminate processed foods as much as possible. If you must open a package or can, be sure to check the ingredients. Examples of things to look for are words such as “whole” for grains and “low sugar” for canned fruits. Remember to also control salt intake and instead flavor your food with herbs and spices. Think of the holiday lights and create a colorful plate! The more color found in veggies and fruits, the more nutrients to fuel the body!

Maintain Important Nutrition 

Here is a list of the key nutrients (and examples of foods that provide them) an older adult needs:

  • Calcium and Vitamin D (leafy greens, cheese, milk, yogurt, seafood)
  • Vitamin B12 (lean meats, eggs ,fish)
  • Fiber (beans, cereals, fruits and vegetables)
  • Potassium (bananas, prune juice, mangos, pears)

The majority of these nutrients are found in the above foods. Supplements are also important to ensure that we obtain them, but the word is supplement, meaning “in addition to”; therefore, take supplements in addition to getting these nutrients through food.

Allow Some Fun Food

It’s fine to eat a slice of cake or have a cookie, but be mindful of how many. Remember to lower your intake of saturated fat and sugary treats that can lead to heart disease and unwanted pounds (and here are some healthful baking substitution tips). When you think of your plate, consider that 90% is the food that will provide your nutrients and 10% can be that “occasional” brownie or piece of pumpkin pie.

Reach for Water

Drink plenty of fluids! No, the holiday punch doesn’t count, so limit your alcohol intake. Drink water and realize that you can also obtain your fluids from juice, low-fat milk, and even soups.

Take the Time to Exercise

Physical activity is also important in maintaining a good digestive system, and the good fuel from food will be used to restore muscle and burn fat for weight loss.  Get your body moving after those holiday meals.

Be SMART this holiday season! Happy holiday eating!

Need help getting your eating habits on track?  Use NIFS Dietitian, Angie Mitchell to get your habit in line with personal nutrition coaching.  Click below for more information.

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Topics: exercise nutrition weight loss water fiber protein healthy eating holidays

NIFS Nutrition: Common Weight-loss Questions

ThinkstockPhotos-488214534.jpgAs the Wellness Coordinator at NIFS, I get to meet a lot of great clients and help them attain their nutritional goals. I have noticed some common weight-loss questions that arise during the sessions. Hopefully if you have been wondering the same things, these answers will give you some more insight.

How do I gain muscle and lose fat?

The best way to lose fat is to either increase the amount of calories you burn or decrease the amount of calories you consume. As you are doing this, you also need to make sure you are doing 2 to 3 days of strength training per week to build muscle.

To decrease calories, it is important to keep track of what you are eating and see where you can decrease. This might mean decreasing the amount of coffee creamer you put in your cup of joe or swapping the potato chips at lunch for some raw veggies.

Increasing your protein intake won’t automatically increase your muscle mass. If you are strength training 2 to 3 times per week, a simple calculation to know your protein needs is to divide your body weight in half and multiply by 1.5.

Can you give me tips on how to lose weight?

The first advice I always give to anyone wanting to lose weight is to start keeping track of your food. Studies have shown you eat 40% less when you write it down! This can be done with the apps available for your phone, using a website, or just jotting it down with a pen and a piece of paper. It will allow you to see when and why you eat and also will hold you accountable for what you are eating.

The other thing that can be helpful with weight loss is to look at what you are drinking. Are you consuming empty calories from flavored coffee drinks, soda, juice drinks, or alcohol? Most people tend to eat the same amount of food no matter how many calories they consume from their beverages. So try to stick to water, low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, and 100% juices for the majority of your liquids.

How many calories do I need a day?

Every person is a different height and weight, and has varying levels of activity, so there isn’t one calorie number that works for all individuals to follow. Instead, use the simple Choose My Plate calculator that takes these factors into account to determine the proper amount you should be consuming. Not only does it give an overall number, but what is more important, it tells you how to get in that number. Recommended servings of grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and beans, and fat are given, along with some “extra” calories for those every-once-in-awhile food choices!

Personal Nutrition Coaching at NIFS

If you are interested in having your questions answered during a personal nutrition consultation, please contact me at amitchell@nifs.org or 317-274-3432, ext. 239. Click below for more information on packages and pricing.

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Topics: nutrition weight loss weight management NIFS apps strength training wellness nutrition coaching

Healthy Eating on a Budget

ThinkstockPhotos-494543333_1.jpgOne of the biggest reasons people give as to why they aren’t eating healthy is the cost of foods,
specifically fruits and vegetables. However, a study found that adults could eat the recommended servings of produce for $2 per day. Here are some ways that you can save money on your next visit to the grocery store while still getting good nutrition and practicing healthy eating on a budget.

  • Don’t shop when you are hungry. A study from Cornell University found that shoppers purchased 19% more food and bought 45% more high-calorie snacks than those who had a snack prior to going shopping. This is an easy way to save 19% off your bill: have a handful of almonds, a piece of fresh fruit, or a string cheese before your next trip to the store.
  • Buy in season. Your produce will be cheaper if you are purchasing it during the time of year that it is most plentiful. The Indiana Fruits and Vegetables Harvest Guide shows what produce is most abundant at which time of year in Indiana. Also, take advantage of local farmers’ markets to get the best deals on locally grown produce. The National Farmers Market Directory shows when and where the closest farmer’s market to you is and makes eating local easier. During the winter months, you can purchase frozen fruits and vegetables, and they are just as nutritious and cost less than fresh.
  • Buy in bulk. It makes sense that when you buy more of something, the individual unit price will be less per product; and this is true with food, too. So instead of buying single apples or oranges, purchase bags of them. Or, instead of the single-serving packets of oatmeal, grab a container of oats. Over time the savings will add up. The other option is to join a warehouse club like Sam’s or Costco that offers savings due to buying in bulk.

There are lots of other ways for saving money while eating a healthy and balanced diet—like shopping at discount stores such as Aldi, clipping coupons, and buying plain items and flavoring them yourself. The goal is to try as many of these options as you can so that you see the benefits to your health and your bank account.

If you have any questions about eating healthy on a budget, please contact me at amitchell@nifs.org or 317-274-3432, ext 239.  Need help with getting started in your healthy eating journey?  Download our quickread for my top four choices for healthy eating apps to get started!

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Topics: nutrition healthy eating saving money eating local

Nutrition and Weight Loss: Why Is It So Hard to Stick to a Diet?

ThinkstockPhotos-157175948.jpgIt has been found that up to 50% of women in the US are on a diet at any given time. Americans spend more than $60 billion on weight loss products. So with all of these individuals spending money and dieting, why are we still by far the least healthy country in the world?

Most of the reasons are due to the extreme and unrealistic expectations that diets force individuals to follow. So why is it so hard to stick to a diet?

  • Trying to change your life and not making it a lifestyle change: Anything that has a start and end date when it comes to food choices doesn’t make it a lifestyle change. If you think of it as “I only have to get through this for the next x amount of time,” this isn’t something that you could or should maintain for a lifetime. Learning how to eat meals and snacks that will nourish your body for the rest of your life leads to success for the long-term.
  • All-or-nothing mentality: Are you on a diet or completely off of one at all times? The key is balance. Allowing yourself to have all foods in moderation at all times has been found to be the most successful “diet” there is. Enjoying foods that you would normally think of as forbidden, but making sure to balance it with the good-for-you everyday foods is key. Instead of cheat meals or days, toss that thinking out and enjoy any food at any time.
  • No patience: Change is tough. Trying to completely overhaul your diet is a recipe for disaster! Instead, have patience by making small changes that will last. One week start trying to incorporate more vegetables into your diet and figure out how you can make that a new habit. Once you have achieved that, move on to another goal such as packing lunch three times per week instead of one. Slow and steady changes have been found to be more effective, and you are more likely to stick to them.
  • Not nourishing your body: When you are walking around hungry, it is really hard to stick to a restrictive diet that has a lot of do’s and don’ts. A balanced diet that incorporates whole grains, lean protein, fruits and veggies, and low-fat dairy will help to make you feel full and satisfied and able to get through the day without the hunger pangs or guilt feelings for overeating. Aim for three food groups at mealtimes and two at snacks to guarantee a satisfying and balanced diet.

Studies vary, but between 5% and 20% of individuals that lose weight are successful at keeping it off long term. Those that are the most successful report following a balanced diet, self regulation by checking their weight once per week, averaging one hour per day of physical activity, eating breakfast, and maintaining consistent eating patterns across weekdays and weekends. Follow these tips to help add yourself to the list of successful dieters!

Looking for an app to help you track your diet?  Download our quick read for Angie's top 4 app choices for healthy eating! 

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Topics: nutrition weight loss snacks lunch diet