Monday, October 25, 2010

What Is Your Resting Heart Rate?

I’m going to talk a bit about heart rate today, more specifically resting heart rate. It’s something that we should all consider and watch on our fitness and weight loss journeys, but it’s also a number that sometimes gets pushed aside by more traditional numbers to watch, such as our weight.

Your resting heart rate (or RHR) basically gives you an idea of how much your heart is working to pump blood while you’re at rest.  A very strong heart pumps more blood with each beat and therefore requires fewer beats per minute. Why is this important? Well you RHR is a good indicator of your overall cardiovascular health and should be monitored.  It’s very easy to monitor and it should be done in the morning before getting out of bed. Even sitting up in bed can raise your heart rate, so check it as you are lying down.
To test your RHR place your fingers on your neck or wrist to find a pulse and while tracking beats per minute you will arrive at your resting heart rate. To avoid counting beats for an entire minute, you can count them for ten seconds and take the result times 6 for the same answer. The chart below will give you a good idea of where you are against average and where you should be:

A high resting heart rate can cause many symptoms, such as:
  • ·         Dizziness
  • ·         Rapid pulse
  • ·         Difficulty breathing
  • ·         Lightheadedness
  • ·         Heart Palpitations
  • ·         Chest pains
  • ·         Fainting
Do any of these feel or sound familiar? If they do, work on getting that heart rate down. How? Well by exercising and eating better of course. Now there are more things that cause a high RHR than just being unfit, but the main cause is obesity.

The main reason I am going over this today is because 7 months ago before I started my weight loss journey, I had my RHR tested and it was an awful 82. That right there my friends is a number you don’t want to see. That number can cause many many problems, including strokes and heart attacks. So you can imagine my dance for joy last week when I tested it again and it was at 58!! WOW, what a difference cutting out fast food and a little exercise can do huh?

When I tweeted that number Tara (@TidBits_Of_Tara) said “That is a life saving number my friend”, she is so right. I use to have panics attacks about my heart rate being so high. Then imagine having panic attacks about having panics attacks! Crazy I know, but it’s true. I was constantly living my life in fear of when I was going to have a heart attack. I have not had a panic attack in months. Sure I still suffer from a bit of social anxiety because of my weight, but it’s nowhere close to what I was going through just a few months ago.

Exercising and eating better has added years onto my life by helping my heart.

I still have a long way to go on my journey. There is still a lot of weight I need to take off and I still need to work on my social anxiety, but taking my RHR from a deadly 82 down to an almost athletic 58 is a major NON-SCALE victory!

Have you checked your RHR lately? If not, do it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The New Beast At The Gym

Well I would like to be able to say I and the new beast at the gym, but that is not the case just yet. I can say though, that I have found another machine to renew my interest and kick my ass at the same time. Ladies and gents, say hello to my new nemesis...the Precor AMT 100i. 

This master of fitness mayhem has been sitting in the gym for some time now, but I have never gone near it. Why you ask? Well, notice the tall presence and bright yellow colors. I learned long ago that you stay away from bright colored animals because they tend to hurt and cause serious damage to those who try and bother it. I figured I should heed the same warning at the gym. Stay away from the bright colored intimidating machines, because if you bother them, they will hurt you. 

Colors do not lie...even in the world of fitness machines!

The AMT 100i sent me home today with something to think about. What I thought about was, do I value the use of my legs and lungs. That answer is yes, but I also like great competition and that is what the AMT provides. 

This monster goes a step beyond the elliptical in the fact that it can be used as a step machine (short up and down stepping motions) or it can do medium or long strides. Let me tell you, when you are doing the long running type strides, it feels like you have weights strapped your legs...and that was just on a resistance of 2. My heart rate was hovering around 155-165 the whole time and sweat was pouring off me like there was a shower head above me. I got off this thing and my legs were shaking, telling  me enough already, we can do round two tomorrow.

I had been getting a bit bored at the gym as of late. I tried the treadmill, bikes, and elliptical, all which gave me a good workout, but I was getting bored. The AMT was like a new challenger staring me down, daring me to step over the line it had drawn in the sand. It was scary to walk over and accept the challenge, with it being all brightly danger colored and all, but in the end you need to face your fears or forever wonder what if. In the end I'm glad I walked over and faced the new beast. It was fun, it was very challenging, but best of all I conquered yet another fear. 

If you have an AMT at your gym and have not tried it yet, I suggest you give it a try. Yeah, it looks like it will kick your ass, and the first few times it probably will. I guarantee though that after your workout, you will feel like you just pulled the sword from the stone.

What fears have you overcome to bring new challenges to yourself? I'd love to hear them.