Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS: Lifting weights will make you bulky... MYTH

woman lifting weight resized 600To my knowledge, I don’t think there’s ever been a survey taken regarding this issue but personally, this is one of the most frustrating things to hear as a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, fitness manager, fitness specialist…fitness ANYTHING! So let me be clear right from the beginning. Lifting weights will NOT make you bulky.

The origins of this myth may never truly be known but I think we can all agree that females (and males for that matter) generally associate lifting weights with big muscle-bound bodybuilders. Although this may be true for some, the majority of us (exercisers and non-exercisers alike) lift weights and will never look like big, bulky bodybuilders. I’d even go as far as to say that the “bulk-factor” only applies to approximately 10% of exercisers, which does not even include the non-exercisers which would bring that percentage down. There are quite a few reasons that support this theory. Here are a couple:

Time – This applies to a couple aspects of life. First of all, do you realize the amount of time these muscle-bound men are putting in at the gym? We’re talking two+ hours in the morning and two+ hours in the evening…at a minimum! Most likely they may be getting in an afternoon session as well. Possibly even a little cardio at some point in the day. And to be specific, each two+ hour session is most likely focused on one muscle (i.e. chest day, leg day, arm day, etc.). Chances are you are working out one hour per day at most and doing a full body workout. There is not a chance you will get bulky exercising in this fashion.

Diet – This is the second aspect of time consumption. The planning that goes into each and every meal throughout the day and throughout the week is staggering. 6 meals a day; no cheat meals; getting a well-balanced diet throughout each day (i.e. getting enough protein, natural vitamins, water, etc.); and staying on schedule with each meal and/or snack. This takes A LOT of time. But it’s for good reason. A great workout plan is not much without a clean diet. These big guys need enough nutrients for their muscles to grow. They cannot have little cheats here and there…a candy bar in the afternoon for a pick-me-up, an alcoholic beverage while relaxing with friends, any sort of pastry to eat while they drive b/c they are late for work. No. They are very strict with their clean diet. Can you honestly say you are that strict with yours?

As I previously stated, these are only a couple of the reasons you will NOT get bulky simply by lifting weights. Unless you are purposefully trying to get bulky and basing your lifestyle around it, you don’t stand a chance to do so. On a positive note though, lifting weights will definitely help you target those trouble spots you’ve been trying to get rid of…the back of the arm, your lower back, your thighs. The next time you give yourself a goal of losing 10lbs, I challenge you to accomplish this feat through lifting weights, not by jumping on a treadmill for 30 min. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  Connect with your corporate wellness staff to help you get started.  They can set you up with a plan to meet your goals.

 So get out there and start lifting to NOT get bulky!

Topics: corporate fitness nifs fitness management fitness weight lifting

Active Aging: Read for Brain Health

woman in library resized 600Often when we think or talk about having good health, it consists of eating healthy foods and exercising. There are many areas of our lives that we could improve upon health wise—often it seems like there is so much to work on to keep track. However, one segment of health that seems to go by the way side is mental health. Just as muscles lose strength or cardiovascular fitness declines with age, your brain can lose agility and decline in the way that it functions. There is no one way to prevent degenerative diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s, but you can start today with the way you live your life to help make your brain healthier. Here are a few tips for great brain health:

  • Stay physically active – being active maintains good blood flow to the brain and can encourage new brain cells.
  • Adopt a brain-healthy diet – there has been research done that high cholesterol can contribute to brain cell damage and stroke. A healthy diet that is low in fat and cholesterol is desirable along with dark vegetables and fruits with antioxidants which can help protect brain cells.
  • Stay socially active – this can help reduce stress levels and maintain healthy connections among brain cells.
  • Stay mentally active – new nerve cells can be created by getting involved in mentally stimulating activities; this can also strengthen brain cells.

I want you to focus on the mental component of staying healthy and giving you ways improve your mind game. Try any of these easy ways to fit more mental activity into your daily routine:

  • Never stop learning! Maybe you wanted to take up doing a new hobby or even wanted venture out and do a new sport, commit to it and learn about your new adventure.
  • Take up writing and working on crossword puzzles to keep you mentally stimulated.
  • Enroll in a few college courses to keep mentally active in a structured way.
  • Play games with your friends and family.
  • Even try memory exercises or games that can help with your mind game!
  • Lastly, read books that are interesting to you. Who wants to read a boring book just to mark it off of your list? Head to the library and pick up a book for FREE!

Your public library is a great resource that is within your community; however some don’t take full advantage of it. First of all, it’s FREE; it’s easy to sign up for a library card; and there are so many books to interest anyone, you just have to do a little digging.

So check out your local library during National Library Week April 13-19 and read for excellent brain health!  Visit our facebook page and share what book you are currently reading!

Topics: active aging nifs fitness management brain health wellness mental health

NIFS Nutrition News: Intermittent Fasting

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Topics: nifs fitness management NIFS wellness health education

NIFS Nutrition News: Get back on track!

healthy eating woman resized 600Have you fallen off track from your New Year’s resolutions and need a kick start back in the right direction? Since it's National Nutrition Month® it is the perfect time to regain focus on healthy eating behaviors! Getting back into a healthy routine does not mean seeking out the next fad diet, but learning to enjoy healthy and nutritious food. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ team of top nutrition and food professionals develop a once a year campaign to promote healthy eating behaviors with many different resources, games, and reading lists.  This year the Academy is focusing on ways to help you create healthy, enjoyable meals following the Dietary Guidelines!

First, start by replacing empty snacks with nutrient dense foods such as these, under 200-calorie, snacks:

  • Small baked potato topped with salsa and 1 ounce low-fat cheese.
  • Toaster waffle topped with ½ cup blueberries and 2 tablespoons low-fat yogurt.
  • Six whole-wheat crackers and one slice low-fat Colby cheese.
  • Fruit smoothie: Blend 1 cup fat-free milk, ½ cup frozen strawberries and ½ banana.
  • One 6-inch flour tortilla with ¼ cup black beans and 2 tablespoons fresh salsa.
  • Quick-to-fix salad: 2 cups mixed greens with ½ cup mandarin oranges, 1 tablespoon sliced almonds and 2 tablespoons reduced-fat dressing.

Next, make a few small lifestyle changes to your day from the following tips below:

  • Never skip breakfastA cup of coffee should not be the only thing you consume for breakfast! Instead, your breakfast should include some lean protein such as turkey or chicken as well as whole grains and fruit.  These small changes will help increase your morning energy level!
  • Control your portion sizesMeasure out a cup of your favorite food to see how much you are eating compared to the recommended serving size. This will help you understand how much you are eating in one sitting!
  • Be more active throughout the day - This does not mean you need to go to the gym, or set an hour of your time aside to work out in order to increase your physical activity. It is as simple as parking in the back of the parking lot, always taking the stairs, or taking a walk with your family after dinner. Increasing your steps per day can result in an increase in positive health benefits-aim for 10,000 steps a day!

Finally, consider making other small modifications to your eating behavior. In order to begin creating healthy meals following the Dietary Guidelines!  Click here for healthy recipes provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Interested in speaking with a NIFS Registered Dietitian, contact Angie Scheetz at NIFS.

Topics: nifs fitness management health and wellness diet and exercise portion control

NIFS Member Speaks: Aziza Hunt shares her Motivation

my storyAziza joined the Wellness Center when she started her employment in September.  In three months she referred four new members to our Corporate Wellness Center and she says she is working on more. I am thrilled to have her as ambassador member of the Wellness Center and also admire her ability to motivate herself and her associates to get more active.  Here is her story and hopefully she’ll get you motivated to get moving too.

I come to the Wellness Center two times per day and right now my motivation is weight loss. When joined Weight Watchers® I realized how important activity was for my goal. Plus the gym is free, so there are NO EXCUSES.” My friends and associates who frequently join me in the Wellness Center are doing Weight Watchers® too. To help motivate them I try to let my actions be an example of my dedication to be fit and healthy.  As I tell my friends, “we work in a company that is about wellness, and we have so many resources that we didn’t have before coming to WellPoint so why not take advantage of them?” I also tell them, something is better than nothing.

My motivation to get active started when I joined a kickball team in the fall. I loved playing but I hated the feeling of being out of breath. I knew something had to give. While the team was on a break during the winter I wanted to improve my endurance but I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight.  I have a goal I want to accomplish by March (kickball time) and nothing and no one is going to stop me.  My plan is to stay active, stick to Weight Watchers®, and drink more water while also cutting back on sweets, junk, and “the white stuff”.

Aziza also admits to having bad days like the rest of us and I think she has a wonderfulA.Hunt attitude about these days.  Here is what she says about her off days, “I am human, and I know that I will have my “off days” but you just forgive yourself and pick back up. When I get weighed in each week with Weight Watchers®, my number on the scale that day either makes me work harder or lets me know I am on the right track. I have come too far and refuse to let the scale go backwards. I am too determined and have worked too hard.”

It sounds like Aziza has put a lot of thought into what she wants to accomplish and uses this to maintain her motivation.  Need motivation like Aziza?  Ask yourself exactly why you want to accomplish and determine exactly what actions must be taken to get there.  Start with the smallest action to get going. 

*Weight loss claims or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

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Topics: exercise nifs fitness management motivation member testimonials weight watchers

5 Ways Wellness Consulting helps the Mission of your Senior Living Community

There are a lot of commonalities among senior living community mission statements including high quality of care, exceptional service, and peace of mind.  Also making the list are pledges to promote enhanced quality of life, independence, wellbeing, and dignity.  These are lofty aims and organizational mission statements are not to be taken lightly.  But as resident wellness comes under an increasingly brighter spotlight, I wonder how many communities are examining their wellness-related services under a mission-focused microscope. 

I do a lot of consulting for communities across the country and what I see time and time again is that wellness is still sitting in a second place seat under an Activities banner that represents an old way of doing business.  Wellness is not an activity; it is a way of life. 

And while executive directors often recognize that more should be done for their residents to help them live well and to truly engage with life, they don’t know how to progress to a true community wellness strategy. Add to that confusion an organizational ambivalence about “consultants” and in the blink of an eye, the inertia of status quo starts to look very, very appealing. 

But doing what you’ve always done because it’s too hard to make a change may not truly be aligning your wellness strategy with your mission. 

This is where a consultant can help.  Before you recoil at the word “consultant”, consider these five very-real benefits you can gain from opening up your senior living community to wellness consulting.

#5:  The Fresh Perspectivehappy senior

You know it’s true.  Sometimes activity directors are so buried with the task of filling a calendar each month that it’s difficult for them to see the forest for the trees.  And when you have director-level staff who have been with your organization for several years, “what we’ve always” done is a tough cycle to break, even with the best of intentions. 

When we come in to consult, we bring the benefit of unbiased observation.  We don’t know you and we’re starting with a clean slate to figure out what you’re doing really well, and where the opportunities for improvement might be.  We think there is profound value in not knowing your organization because we can use that position of ignorance to build a non-threatening relationship with your staff.  We can ask the hard “why” questions, because we simply don’t know the answers.  We can see areas of opportunity that wouldn’t be readily visible to you because you’re in the environment every day.

#4:  The Change Agent

Let’s go back to the idea that you recognize there should be more substance and strategy to how your community is facilitating a healthy resident lifestyle.  It’s tough to get there, or to even start the conversation as an insider.  Staff can get suspicious, they may feel threatened by potential change (“Is what I’m doing not good enough?”), and before you know it, your efforts to live into the community’s mission are thwarted. 

Bringing in a consultant, as an outside observer, allows you to position the consultant as the change agent.  Then, you can effectively leverage the consultant’s experience in wellness strategy design to start initiating change in your lifestyle offerings. 

#3:  The Resources

If you work with NIFS for wellness consulting, you get the benefit of our years in the field and all of the work we’ve done with other communities.  We don’t just consult; we put our staff on ground in communities across the US.  So we’ve tested our own recommendations and we’re continually innovating with real-world programs for actual residents. 

In short, we walk the talk.

The same should be true for any other consulting organization you choose.  If they bring a cookie cutter approach to evaluating your situation, be suspicious.  You’re unique, and the consultant’s approach should be also.

#2:  The Report

When we consult, we provide a report that covers areas of need/attention specific to the client.  It’s common for our recommendations to cover everything from branding your wellness strategy for effective marketing, to updates on physical spaces in the community.  We don’t shy away from tough topics like assessing staff credentials and effectiveness, evaluating liability and making risk reducing recommendations, or establishing better structure to your initiatives so that you can evaluate effectiveness

We’re not just pointing out areas for improvement.  Our report offers practical and tested solutions that you can put into action. 

#1:  The Value

Consulting isn’t free; you will get billed for time and travel.  But you can get a project estimate up front that should outline both anticipated costs as well as expected outcomes from the consulting work.  Before you engage in a consulting relationship, get all of your questions answered. 

  • Find out how the agency works with your staff.
  • Determine if they will be willing to talk to your residents.
  • Learn about their specific areas of expertise in wellness strategy.
  • Ask what the final report will look like.
  • Find out whether there is opportunity for ongoing support if needed.
  • Ask if they can provide you with references from previous work.
  • Determine if their recommendations will narrowly connect you with their product/service or if they will connect you with resources where you can decide which are best for your organization?

It’s time to look at aligning your wellness programming with your mission.  And the great news is, you don’t have to tackle this alone.  Consulting doesn’t have to be daunting, unfulfilling, and lacking in value.  If you’re ready to cultivate a wellness focus for your community that works with your current strengths and that compliments your existing brand, then contact me to get answers to those value questions I outlined above.

Are you ready to do wellness better? Learn more about wellness consulting.
Topics: active aging nifs fitness management senior center solutions Wellness consulting Active Aging senior wellness consulting

NIFS: Go Red for Heart Health

heart healthThe first Friday in February has been designated National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about heart disease in women.  Over a decade ago, research showed that heart disease was the leading cause of death in women and was deemed the silent killer because symptoms often go unnoticed. 

There are ways you can take steps to reduce your risk for heart disease, take control of your life and your heart health!

  • Be Active: Get off the couch and get moving.  Individuals who get little to no physical activity are at a much higher risk for heart disease.  Get up and moving daily to increase your physical activity, simply cleaning your house or doing yard work can lower your risk. 
  • Healthy Plate = Healthy Heart: Choose foods low in fat and cholesterol and increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables.  Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants which help reduce risk!  Your cholesterol levels are also a risk factor, simply improving your diet will help reduce those numbers which in turn will lower your risk.
  • Quit Smoking: CVS recently pulled the plug on selling tobacco, so now it’s your turn to stop smoking.  Individuals who smoke have twice the risk of having a heart attack than non-smokers.  If you need tips for how to quit, talk to your doctor or ask your corporate wellness staff where you can find resources to help you quit.
  • Control Blood Pressure: As the most common risk factor, over fifty million people have hypertension.  If your blood pressure is consistently 140/90 or higher you are considered hypertensive.  Speak with your physician about how to manage your numbers.
  • Manage your Stress: Find what techniques work for you, exercise is a great way to reduce stress.  Make time to incorporate 30 minutes into your day to take your mind off your stressors. Individuals with poorly managed stress are at risk for heart attack or stroke. 

Join the movement to help raise awareness.  Talk to the women in your family to make positive changes in becoming healthier together.

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Topics: heart disease cardiovascular disease nifs fitness management wear red day healthy behaviors

Active Aging: Beginning Exercise Program for Seniors

senior woman on ballEveryone needs a starting point.  Anyone who has ever tried to begin a new exercise program knows that the first few weeks often determine whether you stick with the program or not.  I often have residents ask me where to begin and while different considerations have to be made for each individual’s situation, I’ve found that this is usually a good starting point.

1. Try not to overwhelm them

A few times per week is plenty for an older adult who is new to exercise.  We’re trying to build a habit and that takes a little time.  For someone who was previously sedentary, doing structured exercises 3 times per week is plenty.  I do try to encourage people to take a short walk every day so they are getting up and moving around more than they’re used to.  (And walking down to the dining room doesn’t count!)

2. Include a little cardio, a little strength, and a little flexibility

Barring any special circumstances or directions from their physician, it’s safe for older adults to include a large variety of exercises in their routine.  Aim to be well-rounded.  It’s good for the body and it helps to keep them interested as well.  Cardio exercises could include things like walking, riding a bike, or just working out on the Nu-Step or elliptical.  Start out for 10 minutes at a time and work up from there.  Strength exercises should be functional and safe for the older adult.  Using variable resistance machines is usually a good place to start and it can help to build the confidence of your new exerciser.  Always include flexibility exercises as well.  You’ve all heard “use it or lose it” and this applies to mobility and flexibility just as much as any other area.

3. Always include balance exercises

My most successful residents are the ones who do balance exercises most days of the week.  Practicing those tasks not only makes them more stable, but also really boosts their confidence.  It’s an area where a lot of them feel unsure of themselves and a little fearful so showing them that they can do something to change that feeling can really help.

4. Modify, modify, modify

It’s easy to try a “one size fits all” model for older adults.  Many people just assume that they can’t do the same things as someone who is younger, but this isn’t true!  As our population ages, there are many circumstances where people have been exercising their whole lives and are still very capable of difficult exercises.  Don’t be afraid to challenge people a little bit.  On the flip side, many people are just beginning an exercise program with the goal of maintaining their independence a little longer so don’t be afraid to modify exercises down to their abilities as well.

Do you have tips and tricks that work for beginners in your community?

Download Balance Training Whitepaper

Topics: active aging nifs fitness management senior fitness exercise for elderly

NIFS Fitness Management: 12 Days of Wellness

December calendarThe holidays are in full swing and everyone is singing about jingling bells, and Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen,  Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blizten, and Rudolph of course.  Another reoccurring song or tradition that has become a part of our culture in various ways is the 12 Days of Christmas.  We see it on TV with 12 Days of Giveaways, our staff did 12 Days of Fitness via Instagram, and all over Facebook there have been 12 days of something or another where companies thank you for supporting them by offering contests throughout the 12 days. 

This got me thinking about how we jump on that wagon, easy enough… we are going to offer the 12 Days of Wellness.  So I set out to ask around the office, when do the 12 Days of Christmas occur?  Most people, including myself thought “around the 13th or 14th?”, 12 days out from Christmas.   Doh, I’ll just google it. Here I thought I’d engage people, because that’s what we are good at, engaging your residents in your senior living communities or your corporate wellness members and strike up a conversation.   I could have gotten the answer right away if I just Googled it. 

If you haven’t Googled it yourself, in general you would find that the 12 Days of Christmas actually begins on Christmas and carries on for 12 days ending on January 5.  If you need a more detailed explanation, I recommend you Google it for yourself as it does vary between beliefs.

Back to me jumping on the band wagon to celebrate 12 days…  Join us via our Facebook page or Twitter for the 12 Days of Wellness starting tomorrow.  As we head into the New Year and establish those dreadful resolutions, take into account more than just the typical exercise more, lose 10 pounds, eat better.  There are more aspects to your overall wellness that will help you lead a healthier life.  Subscribe to our blog, we have some new authors from our staff in 2014 along with some great programs to share with you in our NIFS Best Practices series where we will feature some of our most successful programs in both Corporate Fitness settings and Active Aging communities.

Enjoy the holiday season and our 12 Days of Wellness!

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Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness active aging nifs fitness management senior living community 12 Days of Christmas 12 Days of Wellness

NIFS: Staying Healthy through the Holidays

mom and child handwashing resized 600With parties in full swing and family gatherings next week, the last thing you want to be is SICK!  Tis’ the season for sneezing and wheezing.  When you aren’t feeling 100% and you cough or sneeze, those germs float into the air and spread to the next person.  Take these steps to help prevent the sharing of germs so you can share gifts instead!

  • Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing, if you can’t get a tissue in time cough into your elbow instead of your hands!

  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes where germs invade your system! 

  • Wash your hands often; your best option is with warm water and soap.  The most effective way to prevent the spread of germs is by washing your hands to kill those germs.

Hand washing 101... be smart about washing your hands.  Here are a few tips for when it’s important to be sure you are thoroughly scrubbing those hands between your fingers, backs of hands and your wrists!

Wash Hands Before:

Eating and preparing meals

When caring for an injured or sick person

Inserting or removing contact lenses

Wash Hands After:

Preparing food, especially raw meat

Changing diapers or using the bathroom

Taking care of animals

Handling garbage and cleaners

Use of Alcohol Based Hand Sanitizer:

Choose those that contain 60% alcohol

Apply enough to cover hands completely

Rub hands together until dry

Have your family adopt these simple hand washing habits to help limit the transfer of bacteria and viruses to lessen your chances of being sick this holiday season!  

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Topics: nifs fitness management employee health and wellness health hand washing