It's Halloween time; let's celebrate with THREE giveaways! I was recently a guest on FTNS Fitness Radio “Boomer’s Rock” and posting about healthy treats and activities for Halloween; now I’d like to hear from you, and you could win a prize for sharing your Healthy Halloween ideas! Read on about our prize and how to share your Halloween idea:
This week I returned as a guest on the World Internet Fitness Radio Show, FTNS "Boomer's Rock" (thanks, Tom and Sandy!) and we started talking about ideas to help ANYONE have a healthy and happy Halloween this year. Here are some of those tips and more.
- Go for toys as door treats rather than candy as giveaways at your home. Play-doh, crayon packages, washable tatoos, and spooky plastic jewelry are fun ideas.
- TOSS your expired treats from last year! There is nothing worse than allowing my kids their one-a-day treat, and find grey, mashed chocolate. Bleh! Not safe, not good...
- Set guidelines for candy in your house and eating on Halloween before you go to your parties or activities. We let our kids have 3 treats from their goodie bag on Halloween night. Then we have a candy sort the next morning and they can have one mini-treat each day after so long as they eat 3 healthy meals (and 2 healthy snacks), do their chores, and go for a walk with us that night. (it sounds like a lot, but they don't really have to think about any of these steps.) We aren't anti-candy in our house; if you eat well, candy is part of discretionary calories in a balanced diet. We do toss the taffy and save our favorites.
- Take water with you to parties and trick-or-treating. All that door-to-door walking makes you and your kids thirsty; have water handy so they aren't tempted to suck down the juice pouch/box they may get from a neighbor. Drink water between snacks and meals at parties to help fill your stomach and avoid over-eating those yummy Halloween snacks. (Food plug: I love Trader Joes Caramel Corn: 3/4 cup has 120 calories; try 1/2 cup with unsalted peanuts and roasted, unsalted almonds. Yum!)
- After you sort your Halloween treats, store treats well. Love the open candy tub at your office or house? Easy to binge, right? We use glass jars with lids to separate gum and mints from chocolate; it keeps everything from tasting the same and is smell-proof! To get to a treat: you have to choose a jar, get the jar, open the lid, pick a candy... extending the "do-I-really-want-this" thought process is binge-prevention, my friend! And the jars look pretty like a candy store, you almost want to leave the candy in them. Almost...
- Decorate your yard! Buy a one dollar bag of spider web and string it all around. If you've ever had to do this, it's a great workout. You'll be moving up/down/all around and working your brain to figure out where you can attach all the web fibers. So fun!
- Pumpkins: Take a trip to a pumpkin farm and pick out a large one to carry back to your car. Have a contest at work or among neighbors, and get together with friends to dig out and carve them up. Even try saving and roasting the seeds this year (we started this last year, if you have a great recipe, send it my way!) If you have a place to do so, have fun AFTER Halloween with a pumpkin smashing bash! Lay out a tarp outdoors to smash the pumpkins on and wear old clothes you can wash after, use a large rubber mallet, and let's the kids and grown-ups go at it. Remember Gallagher with a Sledge-O-Matic; hilarious!
- Have a Costume Parade at your work, church, or neighborhood. Rather than focusing on dress-up for night time trick-or-treating, take a walk in dress-up the weekend before, look at decorations, enjoy being with fun people...
- Have a Halloween carnival in your neighborhood, or active-activity for trick or treats in your yard. Get a cheap skeleton you can take apart and see how fast kids can put it back together. Buy a bag of rubber bats or eye balls and create a hamper "cave" or "mouth" bin to see how many kids can toss in under 30 seconds. I don't recommend games that put kids on the ground since many may have dresses or difficult costumes to maneuver in.
- Halloween Dance Party, anyone? Thanks to YouTube, you can learn Thriller (as Tom mentioned on FTNS, and I hope he posts a video!), the Monster Mash, Ghostbusters, and many more Halloween-themed dances to add to your party or get together. I love Drew's music at Party City for Drew's music Halloween tracks.
Now it's your turn! I'll be having a "Healthy Halloween" Giveaway and you can comment with your ideas to enter and win one of three Susie Tallman "Come On, Let's Go!" DVDs. The giveaway will run October 22 through Oct. 30 so we can pick three winners on Halloween morning.
- Switch Kicks: 90 R, 160 BPM
- Power Jacks: 52, 166 BPM
- Power Knees: 88, 158 BPM
- Power Jumps: 50, 168 BPM
- Globe Jumps: 9, 171 BPM
- Suicide Jumps: 14, 168 BPM
- Push-Up Jacks: 16, 141 BPM
- Low Plank Oblique: 58 R, 157 BPM
This weekend I took my "before" profile photos which I'm saving for the LAST day! If you submit your before and after result pictures, you get a FREE t-shirt! As much as I'd like that to motivate me every day for the next two months, I've also got my two lists (P90X vs Insanity and "Am I Ready to Dig Deep?") as reminders of why I started at all.
I'm adding to my motivating lists:
- You only need to have your 1st day ONCE. Diddo on the Fitness Test, and "before" pictures.
- My sister's best phrase, "You can do ANYTHING for 30 minutes." She means work at high intensity, but think about all your daily stuff like taking a shower, sorting your mail, washing dishes. You CAN fit in a 30-minute workout. This applies to everything; I love it!
- FEEL Better, LIVE Better, and LOVE Better. (Who doesn't want that? Rock on!)
My daughter just had "Crazy Hair day at her school where all the kids make their hair, well, crazy. It happened to be our day to bring in snacks for the class.
I have no idea why some snacks day at my daughter's school are so fun to come up with, but this idea just evolved. At first I wanted to freeze bananas on a stick, dipped in peanut butter and then granola, but the thaw time for the banana and keeping it from turning brown and not falling off the stick became too difficult...
One of my kids' favorite snacks is from a friend that taught us about Disney "Princess Cookies," which are actually round slices of apple called Princess because of the star shape of the core in the center slices. So great! So I swapped the banana mess for apple slices, dipped them in peanut butter on one edge (a bit for "boys" and more length for "girls") and then dipped that into granola. When you use natural peanut butter, it gets hard when cold and won't run, drip, or stick. I hope you enjoy making this recipe with your kids! (Or for yourself, why not have fun, too?)
Makes About 40 "Crazy Hair" Apple Cookies:
6-8 Medium Apples
1 T lemon juice or 3 T Fruit Fresh in 12 cups water
2 cups Natural Peanut Butter, softened about 10-20 seconds in the microwave
1 cup granola (we like Super Nutty in the bins at Smith's and Sunflower Market)
1/4 cup chocolate chips or raisins for eyes
1/2 cup cashew halves for the mouths
- Slice the apples 1/2" thick from bottom to top, discarding any seeds and stems. One apple makes 5-6 slices. Place the slices in the lemon juice or Fruit Fresh water for 5-10 minutes to prevent browning. Make the day of or night before to keep fresh.
- Place the slices on paper towels; blot dry.
- Dip one edge into the softened peanut butter and then into the granola for "Crazy Hair."
- Place on a cookie sheet. (I have a 9x13 with a lid, so I filled the pan, inverted the lid and filled the lid, then stacked a cookie sheet covered with plastic wrap over the entire thing to take them to my daughter's school without smashing any).
- Dip the raisins/chocolate chips "eyes" and cashew "mouths" in a dab of peanut butter and stick them to the apple faces. (Next time I'm going to try putting peanut butter in an icing bag with a piping tip to make quick work of dotting all the apples and sticking on the faces; let me know if you try this and it works well.)
- Refrigerate immediately until ready to eat. Our class drink was Milk; yum!
My friend just lent me her copy of Insanity so I need to decide if this new program will be better than my current routine. Here are some differences between working on P90X and preparing for Insanity:
- P90X is 3 months; Insanity is a shorter 2 months and 1 week.
- P90X videos are 60 to 90 minute videos; Insanity's are 30-45 minutes.
- P90X is 7 days a week; Insanity is 6 days a week.
- P90X has a great deal of equipment (weights, pull up bar, optional bands, yoga mat and block...); Insanity is mostly body weight training. I'm going to get good Cross Trainer shoes, and a Plyo mat or good floor are a must. I'll also get more mirrors to keep an eye on my form.
- My husband has set up a 3-month P90X strength circuit in the sunroom, which frees up the living room for my Insanity workouts. We'll still be helping each other "rise and shine" early in the morning!
- When I did P90X I wasn't working and the kids were home. Now that I'm back to work and have to get one kid ready and home from school and still take care of the other during the day, my schedule will appreciate the shorter routines of Insanity.
- I did P90X in two full 6-month circuits then intermittent with running for the remaining year. I'd like to keep up on my cardio with new workouts, Insanity will cover that (and all while inside my comfy house in the fall!)
- Before P90X my doctor said my health was okay, then after P90X my blood tests were FANTASTIC. I'm going to retake my blood tests before and after Insanity because the program requires it and the feedback will be priceless.
- I was one year post-partum and out of shape when I started P90X. Now I'm three years post-partum, at a healthy weight, and have more strength and better posture than before. I hope I perform well on the Insanity Fitness Test! The Fitness Test is incorporated into the workout schedule so I'll have many attempts at nailing it. If and when I do, it will be time to switch programs again anyhow...
So I sat right down and asked myself, "Is it a good time?" Could I right now finish if I started and be successful? So I wrote it out:
- It's something for me, of which I'm doing very little at the moment.
- I've been dragging and inconsistent since the 5k ended, summer swimming has ceased, and the weather is cooling down, so the time for a new exercise plan is NOW. Daily exercise is a must, but I won't be worried about balancing this program with "outside activities." Total focus = Yay!
- This will only help my triathlon planning next year, as many family members have encouraged me to do an entire event, but my mind is not yet convinced... The Insanity workout motto is "Are you ready to dig deep?" I guess I'll find out!
- Insanity would be the ultimate holiday weight control. It will get me through Halloween, Thanksgiving, and half way into Christmas, not to mention conclude just prior to any travel plans. What timing!
- Mastering Heart Rate training has been on my To-Do list this year; this program has intervals over 85% Max HR so I know I'll get my HR monitor use in the remainder of this year.
- I've established an early AM waking habit that I'd like to continue. My new job is offline 4:30-5:30 every morning; I have work-free and kid-free AM time for the workout.
- I'm not teaching any live group fitness or personal training at the moment, so the risk of injury is not threatening to anyone or anything but myself. Plus, 2 years of P90X with no injuries, I'm a bit more brave and prepared then before, and my nutrition/eating habits are much better as well.
- I'm not one to wait until Jan. 1 to start new goals and projects. Why NOT start? If I do this now, I can go to Disneyland in January, Ya-hoo!
- And last but not least, I want to jump like this lady:
My daughter recently started public school. As a parent of a Kindergartner, we are asked to bring 20 snacks for all the kids about once a month. At the 1st "meet-and-greet," the teacher gave us a list a of healthy snacks parents can bring.
But uh-oh, my girl's birthday was the first week of school, so do I bring cupcakes for 20 or healthy snacks for 20? If you think 20 kids with 20 birthdays; that's a LOT of treats over 9 months!
So I did some web searching and remembered the fruit bouquets from Edible Arrangements. We found some stiff straws (much like Lollipop Sticks) at Party City, pulled out our cookie cutters, and made the following:
These treats were a learning experience; I was not sure what fruits the kids would love. Watermelon was harder to use than cantaloupe and the kids were surprised by the kiwi:
This will be my shopping list for next time if I made 50 (two for each plus teachers):
- 50 grapes in two colors
- 25-50 strawberries
- 1 cantaloupe
To add some fat and protein to our "nutrient-dense" carbohydrate fruit, we made a double batch of my Aunt's Fruit Dip recipe below and had a blast squirting it into mini cups:
- 1 cup light sour cream
- 1/4-1/3 cup pineapple juice (you can drain this from a can of pineapple chunks)
- 1 package instant vanilla pudding, sugar free
- Whisk together sour cream and juice, whisk in pudding; serve cold.
"Life is what happens when we are making other plans..." or say the saying goes.
Although the summer brought many ups and downs, I was able to continue training and working toward my 1st 5K race. In summary, my sister (swimmer) and her sister-in-law (cyclist) and I signed up for a team Triathlon six months ago, a first for us all. Having run about 100 times in my entire life, I began training at 10:30 min/mile pace and completed the race at 10:15 min/mile tempo for the 3.2 mile course with hills, soft sand/sidewalks, and around 400 participants.
What I learned on Race Day:
- I'd like to keep running and keep improving but with music! Music is my inspiration and driving force. This race did not allow it as a cyclist was hurt by someone wearing ear buds, but I just saw another run event that allowed them. Read the participant guidelines for each race carefully.
- The entire experience was much more fun going with friends and/or being on a team. I would have backed out last month due to my August employment at a University had I not: 1) set up a training session with an amazing running coach to help me improve my form in mid-August, 2) had my sister holding our team to our commitment to attend and complete the race.
- I love my family, but watching for them around the track probably slowed me down. Turned out the moment I stopped looking, they were at the finish line standing by cheering me on. Lesson learned: keep your head on the race and give hugs when it's over! (Thanks for coming, my family!) Note to observers: Cheer enthusiastically! Spatters of weak claps are not very encouraging...
About racing for the first time:
- Six months ago I was only learning to do a 5k. Now I feel I could do an entire triathlon if I wanted to. I've proven to myself I can work one hour of training per day into my week, so I wouldn't be the fastest, but I could complete the event fairly well.
- Of the 400 people signed up for the triathlon, about two-thirds registered the 4 weeks prior to the race. This was this event's 1st year; I've heard registering for larger events like the Boston marathon is a whole other process and experience. Just like I mentioned about attending conventions or your first group exercise class, a little advanced planning and registration is incredibly beneficial toward your successful inclusion.
- Everyone was incredibly FRIENDLY. I expected elbow jabs, foul play, and harsh competition, but I made more friends in four hours than I have in the past four years. Only about 10% of the competitors were there to win and vanished at the start line; everyone else was focused on their personal achievements and out-doing their own race performance.
|My Awesome Team: Heidi, Me, Mary|
GREAT articles and resources from the professionals for your first event:
- 10 Tips for First-Time Triathletes, Gale Bernhardt, Active.com
- How to Run Your First 5K, Jen Murphy, Active.com
- RaceFinder, Runner's World
- Free Training Guides, Runner's World
(Sorry readers: If you'd like to know what the drills are, contact Dr. Karp!)
Readers: Comment with your tips/treats for race day!
Or, how are you planning/preparing for your 1st race?
Now that you know a bit about your cardiovascular system, let’s get started on understand your heart by taking some baseline measurements. Your Resting Heart Rate (RHR) is the slowest heart rate for you and gives valuable information regarding your current fitness level.
Take your resting heart rate when you first wake in the morning but are still lying in bed. Find your radial (wrist) pulse with your first and second fingers of the opposite hand and count the number of beats you feel over 60 seconds (one minute). If you have a Heart Rate Monitor with Touch Screen, just reach over to your bedside table when you wake up, strap it to your wrist, and take an instant reading. Do not move around much as your heart rate can instantly jump 10-20 beats just reaching across your body; lay still for a few minutes when the monitor is in place.
Resting heart rate varies from 50-90 beats per minute across the adult population. Athletes are known to have resting heart rates as low as 30-50 beats per minute. I recommend you take your resting heart rate at least three times a week in the morning as your fitness improves, then at least once a week when you reach your goal resting heart rate and are in a health-maintenance stage.
This link has a RHR chart: What does your RHR say about your fitness level? For example, I am a 31 year old female, 5 ft 5" and 115 pounds. I take 7,000-12,000 steps per day and I exercise about 5 days a week for one hour at a time. My resting heart rate for the past month has been 45-55 beats per minute (bpm). Readers: What is your RHR? Comment below!
Resting heart rate declines over time when fitness improves due to an increase in stroke volume and increase in parasympathetic innervations (Robergs, 2003). After one month of increased endurance training (walking, running, swimming, biking more often) your resting heart rate can decrease by 5-10 beats per minute and stay lowered, showing you have improved your blood volume to supply oxygen to your healthier body, increased your heart muscle strength and capacity, and improved your nervous system. With a regular, appropriate cardiovascular program, your resting heart rate will drop around 5-7 beats a minute each month until you reach your best health and fitness level at around 50-70 beats per minute (Horton, 2011).
Day to day changes in resting heart rate: If your resting heart rate at any time jumps 15-25 beats during the week on a given day, it may be that you are overtired, overstressed, exposed to illness, and/or lacking recovery time. Mine RHR usually reads 60-70 bpm on these mornings. Aim for a gentle workout with walking, yoga, or mind-body meditation on this day and try more cardio when your resting heart rate calms down (Burke, 1998). Combine both long term improvements (decreases) in resting heart rate and day to day changes from stress and recovery, and you’ve got great motivation to track your resting heart rate as I mentioned above.
Heart Rate Variables in this Picture: Just to review, resting heart rate is your slowest/calmest heart rate number. Smaller people have smaller heart sizes, less volume pumped per beat, and therefore faster heart rates. Later we will explore how changes in posture (lying, sitting, and standing) cause instant heart rate changes as do changes in temperature (hot versus cold). NOTE: Check with your doctor before beginning an endurance program if you take medications that affect your heart rate, blood pressure, or metabolic systems.
Readers know I've wanted to share my recent experimentation with Heart Rate Monitors. But first it is important to share some Anatomy (body structure) and Physiology (body function) about our hearts.
Your Cardiovascular System is your heart (cardiac), blood vessels (vascular), and circulating blood. The wellness of these elements allows for oxygen transportation to your working tissues, blood pressure control, fluid balance, and body temperature regulation. Pulmonary refers to the circulation of blood through your lungs; Systemic is the circulation of blood through your body. Arteries (from the heart) and veins (to the heart) are smooth muscle and can change slightly increase or decrease blood flow or redistribute flow through the body.
What is one Cardiac Cycle? The right side of your heart receives blood from your body and sends it to your lungs for oxygen uptake. The left side receives oxygen-rich blood from your lungs and pumps it to your body. The left and right volumes of your heart are the same, but the pressure is highest leaving your heart on the left to the body and lowest where it returns from your lungs on the right.
What is Blood Pressure? 1/3 of your Cardiac Cycle is blood flowing passively into the heart, or Diastole. Systole is the other 2/3 of the cycle: the force of the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart) contracting. When you begin walking and progress to running, Systole slightly increases and Diastole should remain the same or slightly decrease. Both Systole and Diastole can improve (usually showing a decrease) within three months of beginning a regular cardiovascular program.
Did you know? Plasma Volume increases by 10% within 24 hours of an endurance workout which increases return to the heart and load/fill before each heart contraction.
Stroke Volume is the amount a heart can fill and pump per heart beat. This varies by gender (men have larger heart volume than women) and fitness level. During events, the stroke volume of an athlete can be as much as 70% higher than untrained subjects for a similar heart rate.
To help you understand more: An elephant has a huge stroke volume (large heart) and low heart rate. A hummingbird has a tiny stroke volume (tiny heart) and high heart rate. A baby has a lower stroke volume and higher heart rate than an adult; his/her heart rate slows as his/her heart and body grows larger.
With all other variables removed: In adulthood, the maximum number of heart beats per minute decreases on average by about one beat per year.
Cardiac Output is the volume of blood pumped for a given heart rate each minute, both controlled by the nervous system and hormonal changes in the heart in response to the body’s demands. Raise either heart rate or stroke volume and blood circulation increases.
How our bodies are limited: Oxygen Delivery or Oxygen Use?
During exercise above one’s aerobic capacity (where delivery meets demand), skeletal muscle can use oxygen quicker than our circulation can deliver it. This is why some athletes turn to Blood Doping (artificial increase red blood cell numbers through injections) although it is highly dangerous and illegal. The smart athletes can instead train at higher altitudes to increase the demand and production of red blood cells in a healthy and legal manner, the benefits of which occur after only one to two weeks but fade within three days of returning to lower altitudes.
Cardiovascular Drift: As you aerobically exercise anywhere from 10-60 minutes, stroke volume decreases due to increasing demands from temperature regulation, decreasing hydration levels, and increasing muscle metabolism. Heart rate will therefore increase to keep cardiac output constant.
Now you know some basics on what the cardiovascular system is all about, I’ll be sharing posts on:
- The Value of Knowing Your Resting Heart Rate
- The Benefits of Warm Ups and Cool Downs on Heart Rate
- Variables: What Changes our Heart Rate
- How and Why to Use Heart Rate Monitors
- Training Zones and How do you Calculate Yours
- Training Tips and Special Considerations for Endurance Work
AND a page of the resources I’m using to bring you this valuable information.
PHEW! This is why these posts are slow to be published… there is so much to know about how to achieve and maintain your best heart health. But don't you feel smarter already?