Thursday, April 28, 2011

Get Your Heart Pumpin’ - How to Assess Your Heart Rate

Here is the first in a series by guest blogger Emily Fonnesbeck (our fab cousin). Let us know what you think!

You’ve felt it haven’t you? You’re on the treadmill going as hard as you can, until finally you reach the point that you think your heart is going to just leap out of your chest, onto the treadmill, and go dashing off the back like some kind of cartoon character. Your heart waves goodbye with a little veiny arm, and you collapse.


OK maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I’m talking about, right? It’s easy to get on the treadmill for a walk or run, but it’s a little harder to try and keep you heart in a place where you’re getting the best cardiovascular workout. The good news is, simple math and know-how can do the trick and keep your heart right in your chest where it belongs.

For me, running is not something that comes naturally. I have trained for races, and while I am slow, I am relatively steady. I achieve my steadiness though wearing a heart rate monitor and by checking it often to make sure I don’t burn myself out in the beginning. The “overzealous burnout start” is a common malady that affects a lot of amateur exercisers. You get all pumped and ready to kill the workout and you do too much too fast and you’re worn out before you even get a steady burn.  Studies have shown that people who take it easy in the beginning tend to lose more weight and develop cardiovascular fitness faster, as well as reduce the chance for injury. (Heyward 2006) This makes perfect sense when you read it, but when you’re working out, sensibility sometimes flies out the window.

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty: How do you estimate and achieve heart rate goals? My favorite, and one of the most reliable at-home methods is called the Karvonen Method (HRR). Here are the steps:

1.       Determine heart rate (HR) max.
Your heart rate max is the maximum number of beats per minute that your heart can handle. Of course, this is only estimation, and everyone is different, but this is a pretty reliable way to find your max. You can estimate your HRmax through a simple equation:  220-age= HRmax

2.       Determine your HRrest (or, resting heart rate)
The best time to get your resting heart rate is when you first wake up in the morning, before you even step foot on the ground, and provided you didn’t just wake up abruptly. Using the 2-finger method, find your pulse on the carotid artery on your neck, or use your wrist, or whatever you like. Count how many beats there are in one minute. Do it every day for a few days and get an average. There! You have your HRrest.

3.       Decide on your desired intensity.
This means that you need to decide how intense you want your workout to be. If you’re just starting out, it’s recommended you do 40%-60% of your max. If you’re in an intermediate level, you can add 5% gradually until you get to about 85%. This is over a long period of time, usually about four to eight months.

4.       Now the final equation:
Target HR= [%intensity x (HRmax – HRrest)]+HRrest

Voila! Don’t freak out, it’s just math.

Once you find your target heart rate, you can either wear a heart rate monitor (which I recommend because it’s way easier) or you can pause and check yourself on the wrist or neck every once in a while throughout your workout. Take your pulse for at least 15 seconds and multiply by four, or do 30 seconds and multiply by two, yadda yadda yadda.

As you practice, you’ll need to take your heart rate less because you will know how your body feels. Sometimes I like to write my target HR on a little card or on my hand so I have it at quick glance. Really, it seems like a pain in the rear, but knowing your target heart rate is the best way to achieve cardiovascular fitness through consistent heart rate training during exercise (say that five times fast).

Happy training!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


So a couple weeks ago I wrote a post about being more accountable on this blog. Well that didn't really happen. I guess I feel like if I don't do anything good I don't have anything to say. That is what is going to keep me fat. I need to feel motivated and accountable for my actions and this blog is a way to do it. So here goes...
This morning I went to my very first Jazzercise class taught by my dear friend Tiesha. To say it was easy would be a straight up lie. It was challenging but really fun. The only downside was that I hurt my shin last week (funny story) and I couldn't hop as much as I wanted to. Now my shin is throbbing so on Friday I think I will have to do the modified steps.  But the important thing is that I am doing something! When I came home I drank a tall glass of water and ate a bowl of the new Special K Oats and Honey cereal with 1/4 c raspberries. It was delicious. I am off to a good start I think.
I want to thank my dear Sister for being such an inspiration to me this week. She got her ass kicked my her new trainer and was encouraging me to do the same. I love her like a back alley hooker loves crack! (favorite quote ever!)


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Doing more with less

Working out sucks. I'm just putting that out there. I worked out with my new trainer Tom today and he kicked my chubby ass. That was the worst half hour of my life. My body aches, its a little jumpy, I have a blister that popped and is now rubbed raw, my hair is crunchy, and I'm tired. Sooo tired.

And weirdly, I feel pretty good.

I'm scheduled to work out with Tom twice a week and then fill in the rest of the week on my own. Good Lord, its hard. Its hard for me to imagine that I would come to like working out, but maybe it will happen. So after my lovely work out session and 17 minutes on the treadmill before hand, I was shaky and starving!

I'm still struggling a little with the food thing. I've started using the food tracker on to keep track of food and for Tom to help me see where I need to make some improvements. Having to be accountable for what you eat helps keep you honest because I know for me, if I eat a gallon of ice cream, I don't want anyone to know about it. Right? That's the fat girl talking right there.

Because I'm a lazy mother this week I went to Chick-Fil-A for a sandwich and salad. Yes, I had mayo on my Chargrilled chicken sandwich and yes I had a smidgen of buttermilk Ranch dressing on my salad. But I resisted the urge to drown my salad and left off the croutons. And surprisingly, it was pretty good! I did fall to the mayo beast and had some on my sandwich (and it was lovely) but next time I'm going to try it with less and gradually get to the point where I get used to eating it with out any.

What's been difficult for me is getting used to both halves of the weight loss equation:

diet + exercise = skinny 

I grew up using butter and other bad fats as a staple, that's going to be hard for me to get used to not using that kind of stuff. Hard but not impossible. Today with my salad, I knew I hated Italian and vinaigrette and wouldn't eat the salad with that crap on it, so I carefully measured out a couple of tablespoons of the buttermilk Ranch dressing. My thought is that until I learn to eat it with out, less dressing is better. It was still satisfying and yummy and had a fraction of the bad stuff in it. Baby steps.

I'm working out with Tom twice a week and then on my own the rest of the week. I won't lie, working with Tom is hard and I almost started crying today (true story, he looked a little freaked out). But it will get easier and I won't always feel so akward doing the exercises. Can't wait for that day.

Keep busting fat's ass people, I'm proud of you!

Saturday, April 9, 2011 this thing on?

Hey. Tonya here. I know it is a shock to hear from me after so long. My sweet and oh so talented sister has been picking up the slack for me lately, but now it is going to stop! I need to post here or I will never lose weight.
If you have been reading us from the beginning you will know that I started at 250 lbs. I am down to 242 right now. Every pound in the negative direction is great, but 8 lbs in 11 months? Give me a break. I have just been lazy and have NOT been updating this blog enough. That stops now. We have some amazing plans for this blog, including all new recipes and killer guests posts! We are both also going to be updating more about how we are doing at the gym and in our diet.
Please help us by leaving us comments. Also, if you have a weight loss blog we would love to read it! We are also always looking for good new recipes to try out. The hardest part of losing weight for me is eating right. I just love food, and if I can find food that is delish and healthy that would be a bonus!
Alex and I are going to make a super healthy dinner tonight and I will take some pics to share! Now I am off to do Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. I will not be able to walk tomorrow!


Monday, April 4, 2011

New breakfast sensation

Breakfast can be hard for me days. I know its good for me and I should be eating it with in an hour of waking up. But some days, its such a hassle. Don't get me wrong, I love breakfast. Waffles, pancakes, sausage, bacon, coffee cake, get the idea. The only day I indulge in the lovely carb filled breakfast is on Sunday's (and I enjoy every day minute of it, even if James doesn't). 

But for the other six days during the week, how do I mix it up and eat something enjoyable with out killing my diet or feeling starved. Hold on one second while I jump up onto my soap box....ah, there we go.

The answer is Greek yogurt!!!!

Ah, Greek yogurt, creamy low fat, high protein concoction from the birth place of civilization (that's Greece, right?) If you haven't tried it, shame on you. It's fab! I keep a vat of it in my fridge at all times and use it almost daily. In addition to cooking with it (its delish in baked goods) and using it in sauces (coleslaw dressing, ranch/blue cheese salad dressing, Tzatziki sauce) its also great to eat.

Here's my disclaimer - while it tastes a lot like sour cream, its not always interchangeable, especially when cooking with it. Greek yogurt takes a little time to get used to. But once you do, oh mama, you won't ever go back!

So in my quest to find good breakfast meals, I created this little gem. Its creamy, crunchy, fruity and oh so yummy. And even better in a bowl stolen from your favorite sister (love you Tonya!) Be prepared to be delighted people.

Greek yogurt parfait with candied almonds
Serves 2

1 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 cup strawberries, cut up
4-6 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup uncooked oatmeal

Combine the almonds, oatmeal, 4 tsp. sugar, and the cinnamon in a dry pan on med-high heat. Watch this carefully, stirring often so that it doesn't burn. In about 5 minutes, the sugar will begin to melt. Stir it to cover the almonds and oatmeal. Once cooked, spray a plate with cooking spray and spread the mixture on the plate to cool (I put it in my freezer for a few minutes).

Chop up the strawberries and use the remaining 2 tsp. of sugar to macerate the berries. To make the parfaits, put half the yogurt on the bottom of the bowl, top with half the strawberries and the cooled almond mixture.

As usual, if you decide to try it, let us know what you think. Have a way to make it better? Let us know!

Here's the calorie count for this:

Calories 231
Total Fat 6.9g
Saturated Fat 0.6g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.9g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.1g
Cholesterol 0.0mg
Sodium 40.9mg
Potassium 212.9mg
Total Carbohydrate 31.0g
Dietary Fiber 4.2g
Protein 14.2g
Vitamin A 0.40%
Vitamin B-12 10.00%
Vitamin B-6 4.40%
Vitamin C 72.30%
Vitamin D 0.00%
Vitamin E 16.00%
Calcium 17.30%
Copper 8.50%
Folate 43.00%
Iron 6.90%
Magnesium 12.70%
Manganese 26.00%
Niacin 3.20%
Pantothenic Acid 8.30%
Phosphorus 20.40%
Riboflavin 22.10%
Selenium 1.60%
Thiamin 6.90%
Zinc 3.30%