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The Bullhorn, Issue #038 -- Monthly Motivator for May 2009
May 15, 2009

Just the right push to succeed!

Training Intensity

Measuring our training intensity can be a challenge. As our fitness level changes, so does our ability. And the treadmill speeds and heart rates of last year’s hard workouts may not be good goals for this year. So how do we adjust?

Try taking your pulse or heart rate (HR) as you workout. It’s as good of a measure as there is for intensity. Take note of your HR on a leisurely walk, a moderate jog, and an all out effort that you can barely sustain for several minutes. Once you get used to these ranges, you can set your workout intensity with precision.

I ran a 5k last weekend and I knew that I was not in the kind of shape that I wanted to be. So I pondered my strategy: Should I leave my watch at home? Set a slower pace? Go out fast and see how long I could hold the pace? I was perplexed. In the weeks leading up to the race, I used a heart rate monitor to gauge my various heart rates as compared to levels of effort. For example, my comfortable jogging was 140-145 bpm; my brisk pace was 150-155 bpm; and running fast with my HR over 165 bpm was hard for me to sustain for more than 3-4 minutes. So based on that, I figured that I set a goal HR of 160 bpm. What a paradigm shift! I was going to focus on HR instead of pace?! Using my Garmin 405 on the heart rate screen, I ran a consistent HR-pace and ran a nice and steady race.

Exercising to the point of exhaustion can be frustrating, debilitating, and counter-productive. Measuring our heart rate to adjust our training intensity can have a profound impact on our performance and improvement. Once we know that point where we hit our limit (lactate threshold), we can train ourselves to overcome it.

Check out the heart rate calculators and guidance on your age-specific ranges of intensity as a starting point…then go out and do some self-testing. Find those ranges that are comfortable, not so comfortable, and what you perceive as your all out effort. It’s just another fitness tool for your tool box and how you can train for a stronger and healthier you!

The Calorie Equation

You need not be Einstein or a Physicist to understand the calorie equation. In fact, you don’t even need a calculator. Most people know that they need to eat right and exercise to lose weight, but very few people take the time to do the math. But it’s the math that shows our progress and the equation that keeps us honest in what we eat.

Recently, I decided that I wanted to lose a few more pounds before I started my fall marathon training plan…and it’s hard. Through calculators and experience I’ve come to realize that my BMR is 2000 calories per day plus the calories burned through exercise. If I eat more I’ll gain weight…eat less and I’ll lose weight…period. That’s the calories equation. And for every 3500 calories difference, I’ll lose a pound of body fat. Simple as that.

So I eat a 350-calorie breakfast a 400-calorie lunch and dinner is my daily challenge. Like last night, I had to race home from work to the little league field and eat dinner from a concession stand….a potential disaster, right? I chose 2 soft pretzels and a diet coke…and while I won’t win any nutrition awards, it only added up to 700 calories and I avoided a 1200-calorie value meal pitfall!

The real payoff of the calorie equation is a string of weeks where you eat far less than you burn and your body is forced to use of its stored energy (fat). A pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories…so if you can burn 700 calories per day more than you eat, you’ll lose a pound of fat every 5 days!

I’m not sure how many people watched the show, The Biggest Loser, but I was hooked this season. The success stories are wonderful and it amazes me to watch that kind of transformation. For those that watched the finale on Tuesday night, did you catch the difference between those that kept losing weight at home and those that seemed to stall? Those that succeeded made a lifestyle change. They were painfully aware of their daily calorie equation. When exercise went up – they could eat more. When they skipped a workout…they skipped their treat. They painstakingly measured what they ate until they could recognize a 500-calorie meal, a 100-caloire snack…and so on. And they broke themselves of their old habits that seemed to get them in the most trouble. At the end of 6 months, the final 4 contestants finished a marathon!!…that’s right….26.2 miles. They went from obese to athletes in just 6 months! If they can accomplish that kind of transformation…so can we.

So whether you’re just starting out or find yourself (like me) in the part of the cycle again where you want to shed a few more pounds…count those calories and stick to it for a month. That will get some good habits in place and a keen awareness of the calories in the foods you eat. You’ll also notice things like the fact that a bowl of oatmeal / oatbran fills you up for 4 hours on 200 calories while a 400-calorie doughnut has you craving more food just 1-2 hours later! You’ll quickly find what foods are worth it and which ones are not.

It’s the middle of May…track your daily calorie equation for the next 30 days and you’ll be on your way to a wonderful healthy summer!

Exercise of the Month:
Take a Hike!

For many of us, Spring is in the air…nature is coming alive with budding trees and flowering landscapes…what better time to get out there and enjoy it! You don’t have to go to a national park to get the full-hiking benefit…you can walk around a tree-lined neighborhood, go to a local park, or look at a map for the closest wildlife preserve, protected forest, or other open area. It may surprise you how many trails are near you when you start to look. Even major urban areas have some beautiful parks with some really well-maintained trails. Hiking is a great exercise that burns approximately 100 calories per mile (like running), and possibly even more depending on the hills and terrain. It’s fun taking a stroll through nature, and it’s a great overall exercise for the mind, body, and soul…fit it in where you can!

Sound Off!

If you have any feedback (positive or negative), success stories to share, or suggestions for future articles, please feel free to drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you and we take all feedback, suggestions...and yes, even criticism very seriously. We’ll use this information to improve our newsletter and The Fitness Motivator site to help you and others like you attain your fitness goals.

Encouragement to Succeed!

P.S. - Please feel free to forward this to a friend!

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