Not Like The Others
Amana nurse makes getting in shape priority, now reaping the rewards
Like many other people, Nikki Wiltfang was a working mother of three young children who found herself tired, out of shape, and stuck in the grind of a hectic life.
In January, like many other people, Wiltfang resolved to make healthy changes and ramped up her exercise and healthy eating.
However, unlike many others who started fading away and going back to old habits, Wiltfang stayed motivated, stayed dedicated, and in the six months since she started, lost an amazing 45 pounds.
Wiltfang, 32, of Amana, is a night shift nurse on weekends at University Hospitals and Clinics. She has six-year-old twin boys and a two-year-old daughter. After the twins were born, she started coming to Performance Health & Fitness in Coralville to “get back in my pre-baby clothes, get in better shape, and just start feeling better.” However, for five years she was on a roller coaster of being fit, then getting sidetracked by a busy life, work, and another child.
“I’ve now realized I cannot take those breaks,” Wiltfang said. “In January was when my attitude shifted.”
For the first three to four months, Wiltfang diligently logged all of her food using the MyFitnessPal app. MyFitnessPal it is a free calorie counter that has nutrition facts for over five million foods. Using the app, Wiltfang could scan her foods’ bar code or look it up, and the app would give her the calories and an appropriate portion size.
She took a break from using the food log for a few months, but started up again this summer when she found herself getting off her routine.
She is able to share her food log through the app with Performance Health & Fitness Personal Trainer, Suzi Albers, who then gives Wiltfang tips and suggestions.
“I look at her food log to make sure she’s holding herself accountable,” Albers said. “We bounce ideas off each other, share recipes. She’s extremely faithful when she writes her food down.”
Another difference this time for Wiltfang was a return to her running roots.
“My biggest success has been, two to three times a week when I’m not with Suzi, I do cardio on my own. It’s been a great help for my weight loss this past year,” Wiltfang said.
Two times a week, Wiltfang meets with Albers at Performance Health & Fitness in a group setting, focusing on strength training.
“I really like my days with Suzi. I don’t know that much about weight training, and she’s really helping me build up my strength,” Wiltfang said. “Then the cardio on my own helps with calorie burn.”
“She’s gotten so much stronger, on every list,” Albers said.
A typical workout routine that Albers has Wiltfang do includes a combination of strength training with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) cardio at the end.
“As much as I hate doing everything at the time, I love it after, that’s why I keep going,” Wiltfang said.
Although Wiltfang would still like to lose another 10 to 15 pounds, she has already seen a lot of positive changes in her life.
“I feel better about myself. My self-confidence is a lot better,” she said.
Wiltfang’s success has not only been beneficial for her, but has had a positive impact on her family as well.
“My kids used to wear me out. Now I have more energy to run around with them,” she said. “I can feel myself being happier, I’m not as grumpy with my kids.”
Top 5 Activities for Losing Weight
Suzi, who has been a personal trainer for 10 years, has five steps for success that she shares with her clients:
- A good nutrient-dense eating plan: Without eating healthy choices like fruits and vegetables, you’ll have a hard time losing weight.
- Strength Training: Build muscle mass through exercises that move the whole body, such as squats, dead lifts, and pulling motions with weights.
- Cardiovascular Exercise: Whatever works best for your body, whether it is running, biking, walking, etc.
- HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Workouts: This style of exercise moves your heart rate up and down, keeping your body confused, which has the best results for weight loss.
- Find a Workout Buddy: Finding someone who has the same goals as you can keep you motivated and accountable. “A good support system will keep you going through the hard times, and we all go through hard times,” Albers said.
Albers’ 5 Best Exercises
- Stand with your head facing forward and your chest held up and out.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Extend your hands straight out in front of you to help keep your balance. You can also bend the elbows or clasp the fingers.
- Sit back and down like you’re sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your head facing forward as your upper body bends forward a bit. Rather than allowing your back to round, let your lower back arch slightly as you descend.
- Lower down so your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible, with your knees over your ankles. Press your weight back into your heels.
- Keep your body tight, and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position.
- Once you’ve mastered the hip hinge, here are some basics on how to properly do a dead lift:
- Your feet should be spaced hip-width apart with your grip just outside your legs.
- Use an overhand grip.
- Your back should be flat—neutral spine—from start to finish.
- Your shoulders should be back and down.
- The bar should remain in contact with your legs for the entire range of motion.
- Your hips and knees should move together to transfer the bar from the ground to an upper-thigh, locked position
- This “loaded carry” exercise is simply walking with heavy barbells or kettlebells. Here are seven variations on the walk:
- Duck Walk: Hold a kettlebell in each hand between your legs. Or cup the top end of a dumbbell and let it hang between your legs at knee height.
- Farmer’s Walk: Hold a dumbbell, kettlebell, or barbell at each side. Grip tightly.
- Suitcase Carry: Hold a weight—dumbbell, kettlebell, or an actual suitcase—on one side. Walk for the same distance or time with the other side loaded.
- Zercher Walk: Hold a loaded barbell close to your chest in the crook of your elbows. Keep your core braced and your back straight throughout.
- Bear Hug: Wrap both arms around a sandbag, weight plate, or large rock.
- Overhead Walk: Hold one or two dumbbells or kettlebells directly over your shoulders.
- Bottoms Up: Hold a kettlebell upside down, your upper arm parallel to the floor and your elbow bent 90 degrees. Squeeze the handle tight.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, weight in your heels, and your arms at your sides.
- Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body into a squat.
- Place your hands on the floor directly in front of, and just inside, your feet. Shift your weight onto them.
- Jump your feet back to softly land on the balls of your feet in a plank position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to heels. Be careful not to let your back sag or your butt stick up in the air, as both can keep you from effectively working your core.
- Jump your feet back so that they land just outside of your hands.
- Reach your arms over head and explosively jump up into the air.
- Land and immediately lower back into a squat for your next rep.
Pullups (if these are too hard, Albers suggests trying a Row or Lat Pull-down)
- Grip the bar about shoulder-width apart.
- Raise your feet off the floor by bending your knees.
- Pull yourself up by pulling your elbows down to the floor.
- Pull yourself all the way up until your chin passes the bar.
- Lower yourself all the way down until your arms are straight.
“A Healthier You” Starts With Food
The importance of proper nutrition has been well-established. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 75% of Americans do not eat enough fruit, more than 50% do not eat enough vegetables, and 64% consume too much saturated fat. Low fruit and vegetable consumption and high saturated fat intake are associated with coronary heart disease, some cancers, and diabetes.
The American Medical Association last year passed a resolution encouraging hospitals to add more plant-based options and remove processed meats.
Most people think that eating healthier requires a major shift in their daily diet. The Performance Health & Fitness on-site Registered Dietitian, Ashley Pearson, reminds our members – even small changes can make a big difference in improving your eating habits.
Diet Swaps for a Healthier Heart
Look over the following list of diet changes and choose just one to start. The goals are modest — nothing too drastic — and can be achieved with small steps. Work on one for a week or so, and then add another.
|DIETARY ELEMENT||TARGET TO AIM FOR||SUGGESTED CHANGES TO MEET THE GOAL|
|Fast-food meals or snacks||Eat one fewer fast-food meal per week||Replace a fast-food hamburger with prepared food from a supermarket or a sandwich from home|
|Fruit||Eat an extra serving of fruit every day||Add fresh, frozen, or canned fruit to yogurt|
|Vegetables||Eat an extra serving of vegetables every day||Add fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables to a smoothie|
|Seafood||Consider eating one serving per week||Replace a fast-food entree or ham sandwich with a tuna sandwich|
|Regular snack chips or crackers||Cut one serving per week||Replace one serving of chips or crackers with a small handful of nuts|
|Desserts and other sweets||Cut one serving per week||Replace one sugary sweet or dessert with a fruit or a handful of nuts|
|Butter or meat fat||Use less trans and saturated fats for flavor||Replace butter with a light drizzle of olive oil (and spices, if you like)|
Source: Adapted from Journal of the American Medical Association, Sept. 26, 2017, pp. 1101-1102.