Sunday, July 26, 2009

Putting Your Heart into Your Exercise Program

There are studies too numerous to mention that point to the many benefits of exercising. Lots of us already have some kind of an exercise regimen or program that we are actively working. It could be walking or it could be training for triathlon or climbing Everest!

For any and all in between, it takes time doesn't it? And we're busy with life, so it does take commitment to exercise or train most days a week. But how do you know if you are making the most of that precious time you've set aside and are working hard enough to make a difference - especially in the area of cardio exercise - exercising your heart and lungs?

The best way I know of is to know where your heart rate should be while you are working out. The first thing you need to know about that is - what is your maximum heart rate? That's the rate you don't want to go over at any given age. So the calculation is 220 minus your age. Since I'm 58, my maximum heart rate is 162 beats per minute. 220 - 58 = 162. Obviously, it goes down over time. During exercise, the range you want to stay in to get the most out of your time is your personal target heart rate - 50% - 85% of your maximum heart rate. The low end of my range (50%) is 81 beats per minute. The high end of my range (85%) is about 138. When you are just starting an exercise program, you would want to stay closer to the lower end of your range until you build strength. As time goes on (at least a few months or so if you are just starting) and you are feeling stronger, lasting longer in the exercise, you can push a little harder but staying under 85%. Build slowly. Anywhere in that range provides benefit.

At this point I want to emphasize that if you haven't been exercising or have a medical condition, you should always talk to your physician about what you plan to do exercise-wise ahead of time. Don't just jump in without advise.

You can monitor your heart rate by taking your pulse, but that isn't as precise as using a heart rate monitor. Heart rate monitors are battery operated and usually come with a chest strap. I have one that is a watch only and one that has a chest strap and watch, and the chest strap monitor seems to be more accurate and dependable. You can program your monitor to your age so it does the target heart rate calculation for you and alerts you if you are over or under your range if you want it to while you are exercising. Some heart rate monitors store the information so you can see later how you did. Sporting goods stores and bike shops typically carry them, but first talk with someone knowledgeable about the one that would be best for you. The price range is wide but I think you can get a perfectly good heart rate monitor for $70 or so. make sure the one you buy displays the current heart rate without you having to press buttons.

Not only is monitoring your heart rate good for maximizing your time exercising, but it also lets you know if you are overdoing it - getting too close or going over your maximum heart rate. And that's important, too! I remember once I was on my bike doing a good, long ride and found myself going up a steep hill and feeling a significant headwind to boot. I looked down at my monitor and I was hitting my maximum heart rate. I stopped, let my heart rate slow some, got back on and pedaled a little slower and kept an eye on it until I reached the top. I was fully prepared to get off and walk if I had to, but I didn't need to.

So, this is just a little nugget for you if you'd like to use it. Putting your heart into the equation when it comes to exercise will make a difference in your quest to improve your fitness. Go for it!
The picture above is of a couple of guys who do re-enactments in Tombstone, AZ from back when all you did was exercise - all day long!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

How Bad Do You Want It?

Tim McGraw has a good song the goes "How bad do you want it? How bad do you need it?...." That's a question I have to ask myself everyday about staying healthy or doing the best I can with where I am. Am I going to choose the easy route or the harder one? I'm really convinced that success in this and a lot of other things is about two things: paying attention and commitment.

I listen to the Dave Ramsey show all the time. His advice to people about how to run their personal finances, get out of debt and stay out of debt is awesome. One of the things I have noticed that seems to be the common theme that runs through the reasons people who call in say they have some incredible credit card debt or student loan debt, etc. are:
  • I just wasn't paying attention

  • I don't know how it happened

  • It slipped by me

  • I took my eye off the ball
It's easy to do, isn't it? All of a sudden one day we wake up and we're in a pickle! How did it happen? Well, it turns out it happens in plain sight. Just not in our line of sight because we either forgot to pay attention to the relevant facts or just ignored them! You know how your mom always told you to look both ways before you cross the road? Are we still looking? I've gained five pounds recently and I realized I've allowed some old bad habits to slip back into my life. Old pre-Weight Watchers habits. So I have to become more alert to what I'm thinking about eating and re-commit to myself to get rid of that stupid five pounds. And I will.

We're all so incredibly busy these days. I talk to colleagues all over the country and they agree that the rpm's on the old hamster wheel have definitely increased. So there is so much to have to pay attention to. But if we want to continue to do all the things we want and need to do, first we have to stay healthy or get as healthy as we can. I know I have readers/followers with cancer and other health conditions and you are dealing the best you can with them. Huge hugs to you and I pray you are blessed with recovery. You know what commitment is!

As you may have read in a past blog, my husband has Stage IV lung cancer. So I'm of course of real advocate of smoke cessation. And we don't know if smoking was what got him or the chemicals he lived around on the farm when he was a kid or what, but we know smoking greatly increases risk for all sorts of things - especially lung cancer. He has been cancer-free for six months, but as all of you know who are struggling with cancer, it's three months at a time. But he feels really good right now. Well, we played golf this weekend with his brother and we only had a threesome so they teamed us up with a young guy in his early thirties. Nice guy, good player. Had a nice girlfriend along for the ride. But he chain smoked the whole 18 holes! Oh, I went back and forth with myself about saying anything. I believe there are no coincidences and I finally thought maybe I was supposed to talk to him. Turns out he had done some landscaping for us and he recognized Les so there was a connection.

So as we wrapped up and were headed for our cars I stopped him and told him about Les and all that we'd been through and that I didn't want him to have to go through that himself. We talked about it for a few minutes and he was very open to talking about how he's tried to quit. Maybe he will. But it will be paying attention to when he gets the urge to smoke and commitment to gutting out those times using a different behavior that will get him through. Wanting health more than cigarettes. I didn't see that glint in his eye, but sometimes things sink in later.

Anyway, this has gone kind of long, but I just want to encourage all of you in blogland to keep your eyes on the ball and stay committed to YOU! You are so very precious and part of what you have to give the world is still to come. Live to give it!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Premio Meme Award

Thanks to Diantha, for this very nice award. I love her positive attitude and her enthusiasm in sharing what she learns with us out here in blogland. So for this award I was asked to share seven thing about myself and then share the award with seven other people. So here goes! Hope it's interesting!

1. I attended a private women's college my first year of college. Lived in NY at the time and it was in Virginia. What a culture shock. Anytime you left campus you were supposed to wear a dress or skirt - no pants. Well, you can't skateboard very well in a skirt, you know? After about seven times getting caught they campused me for a week. What a trouble maker!

2. I have two wonderful kids - Tamara who is 33 and Jesse who is 24. I love them dearly and get to see them often. My husband Les, has three daughters, two of whom I see as much as possible and they're terrific - Gina and Jamie. Cinnamon I get to see once in awhile and she's special, too.

3. My husband, Les and I have been married for six years. We met on January 25, 2002 and married on January 25, 2003. Today, I was in the dentist office (on my vacation no less) getting a root canal and he tucked a note into my car door handle telling me a was special and he was thinking about me . Awww. What a sweetie.

4. I served on a Search & Rescue team in the mountains quite a few years ago. Loved it, learned a lot. Little known fact - I was the first woman to be certified to rappel from a helicopter in that county's sheriff's department. Whoohoo. Pretty fun.

5. I'm a bird watcher from way back. My mom taught me that love for birds. This weekend I was in Minnesota and was thrilled to see an Indigo Bunting. Beautiful.

6. I'm an artist. Pen & ink, pencil and pastel are my mediums. One day I hope to paint. Thought that was going to be my career all the years I was growing up, but life took me in another direction. I used to illustrate for the LA Times pet column, Kal Kan and for a number of realtors when I had time more time. My sister Sarah is encouraging me to get back into it and maybe have an Etsy site. I'd love that. Hopefully soon.

7. I've always seen my career as my own personal ministry. I think it is what I was meant to do.

So here are seven super women I am sending this award to:

Renee I love her courage and many words of wisdom

Karen Love her wool animals - amazing

Bridget Her jewelry has been all over the US with me! Love it. I want more.

Audrey Courage like no other and attitude to back it up. Awesome.

Sarah My sister who I truly admire for all the things she is and is yet to be.

Alicia For her beautiful jewelry and her beautiful soul.

KacyK For all the virtual rides we've been able to go on with her. Keep riding!