« Jen's Den

Fit Friday's In The Den

by Jennifer Taylor

Over the past two years I have found my "Fit Life" and decided to share what I have learned with you every Friday. With the help of Kalea Delezenne (pictured below) who is a AFAA-Certified Personal Trainer at YMCA Downtown Wellness Center in Lansing, MI we will give you our insights on how to incorporate small changes into your life to make for a more "Fit Life."  

I hope you enjoy,

Jen Taylor

Music And Heart Rate BPM

By Kalea Delezenne,
AFAA-Certified Personal Trainer
YMCA Downtown Wellness Center 

When it comes to the cardiovascular portion of an exercise routine, people have mixed reviews. They love it and eagerly await the next challenge or they try there hardest to avoid it like the plague or they begrudgingly accept it as an inevitable part of the routine. Regardless of your view, the benefits are undeniable.

Cardio helps to build lean muscle tissue and burn fat, which helps showcase that six-pack you are working on much faster than sit-ups and planks could do alone. It improves your workout tomorrow by delivering oxygen rich blood to muscles it assists in speeding recovery time thus ensuring that your workout tomorrow is all that it can be. It also improves memory, fights chronic diseases and improves stamina because being smart and fit is a good way to go.

Before you begin you need to put in some legwork and ask yourself a few questions. Be honest. This is going to be what you base your workout on so make sure that it is something important to you.

1.   What is my goal? (Do you want to lose weight, train for a race, feel better – make sure you know why you are doing what you are doing, as this will increase your adherence and help with motivation)

2.   What steps do I need to take to reach it? (Becoming fit and healthy does not happen overnight, so if your goal is to lose 10lbs set a goal to lose 2 lbs. in 2 weeks and so forth. That way when you reach your short term goal on the way to your longer term you will feel accomplished and improve your confidence – who doesn’t want that?)

3.   How much cardio is enough? (Recommended guidelines from research done by the experts is 150 minutes of moderate intensity and/or 75 minutes of intense activity per week to maintain or earn a fabulous physique and improve your health)

4.   How do I measure the intensity? Grab a pen and paper, your calculator if you need it, and let’s go. Take 220 and subtract your age (if you are 25, take 220-25 =195bpm) or a more accurate formula is 208-.7 (your age) which again if you are 25 would be 208 -.7(25) =190bpm.

5.   The answer to whichever formula you choose to go by is your maximum heart rate. Your max heart rate is the highest number of heartbeats per minute your body can maintain for a very short period of time, as you would be pushing yourself to the ‘max.’

6.   To determine your level of intensity we take a percentage of your max or MHR. If you chose the 195bpm multiply this by .5 (for 50% - moderate intensity) and by .85 (for 85% - more ‘intense’ intensity). This would give you: .5(195) = 97bpm and .85(195) = 165bpm

7.   This range (97bpm to 165bpm) is called your heart rate range. These are the bpm (beats per minute) you want to try and maintain (depending on your current level of fitness) to help you to accomplish your goal. If you have not been exercising you may reach this level in only a few minutes (and only be able to workout for a short time) or if you are more conditioned it may take several minutes to reach this (but you will be able to workout for longer.)

8.   Whichever level of fitness you are currently at, remember this is your starting point. It will take some time and commitment but you will reach your goal.

9.   Now let’s look at how to really teach your cardio machine of choice a lesson!

There has been a lot of cool research going on that looks at how songs and their bpm have an effect on how we feel during our workout and even how long we can last during each cardio session.

In the above section we learned how to take a percentage of our heart rate to determine the level of intensity we are reaching; we use the same thing to determine what type of music (and how fast or slow the beats should be) to help us gain the most benefit from our effort. (Which is really what exercise and fitness is about! Besides the whole confidence and feeling good about ourselves it also reduces our risk for chronic disease.)

For lower intensity workouts (30-70% of our max heart rate) we want the beats of the music to be between 90-120bpm.

For higher intensity workouts (70-80% of our max) we are going to see the most benefit from using 120-150 bpm music.

These include songs such as:

Van Halen-Jump129 bpm

Beastie Boys-Intergalactic 98bpm

Drowning Pool-Bodies 130 bpm

Soundgarden-Been Away Too Long 150bpm

Linkin Park-In The End 105 bpm

For music by bpm check out bpmDataBase.Com

Whatever your favorite genre of music is, check the bpm. Then correlate them on your iPod with your workout, so the beat steps up just as you do. Your results will be well worth your effort!  

All Carbohydrates Are Not Created Equal

healthy carbs: whole grains carbohydrates

By TakePart.Com

“What are some healthy choices when craving carbs?”

—”Healthy ways healthy days”

People have been obsessed with carbohydrates ever since the 1992 publication of Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution—the runaway bestseller sold more than 15 million copies in the decade—and A Week in the Zone, by Dr. Barry Sears, which followed in 1995. Since then, umpteen other proprietary low-carb diet plans (ka-ching, ka-ching), not to mention conflicting scientific studies, have followed. It’s no wonder that almost 20 years later, many Americans remain confused about which, if any, carbohydrate-rich foods they should be eating.

So, here’s the deal: All carbohydrates are not created equal. The easily digested carbs from the refined white flour in breads, pastries and other sweets, as well as sugary drinks and other highly processed foods have certainly contributed to America’s rapidly spreading waistline and related health problems. But many obesity and public-heath experts think that excess calories from any source is the bigger problem: Americans simply consume more calories (and more frequently throughout the day) and exercise less.

After all, like protein and fat, carbohydrates are a macronutrient—that is, a nutrient that provides calories or energy. Carbs provide the essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients we all need to maintain body functions and fuel physical activities, from a daily run or chasing after the kids to sitting at a computer and contemplating three measly paragraphs.

I’ll get to some tips on choosing healthy carbs in a minute, but first, some basic science. Carbs are one or more sugar molecules (saccharides) bound together. Single sugars (monosaccharides) include fructose (from fruit) and glucose (from plants, and our bodies’ primary energy source). Two linked sugars (disaccharides) include lactose (from milk) and sucrose (called table sugar when commercially processed from sugar cane or sugar beets). Monosaccharides and disaccharides are so-called “simple” carbohydrates. Small and, well, simple, they’re easy to digest and enter the bloodstream quickly. A “complex” carbohydrate such as starch (which plants use to store energy), on the other hand, consists of long, branching chains of sugars (polysaccharides). Our digestive enzymes break down starch into smaller and smaller chains and, eventually, single glucose molecules. Complex carbs take longer to digest than simple carbs.

Once glucose crosses from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream, the level of blood glucose (aka blood sugar) increases. The pancreas then secretes the hormone insulin to transport the glucose out of the blood to where it’s needed—your muscles and brain. What helps keep blood sugar levels in check (and hunger at bay) is fiber, which is what gives plants physical structure and strength, and which can’t be broken down into glucose molecules. If you want to read more about how fiber keeps your body in good working order and helps prevent disease, the Harvard School of Public Health has you covered.

Foods that contain carbohydrates can be ranked according to how easily glucose is absorbed from them in a system called the Glycemic Index (GI). In general, highly processed foods have a higher glycemic index than unprocessed foods do, but as NYU nutrition professor Marion Nestle points out in What to Eat: An Aisle-by-Aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good Eating, there are many exceptions. “Carrots have sugars ... and these are rapidly absorbed. But the total amount of sugars in carrots is so small—less than 5 grams (a teaspoon) in one large carrot—that their rapid absorption hardly matters. You would need to eat at least ten carrots to ... raise your blood sugar appreciably.” Even though the Glycemic Index of carrots may be high, she notes, their Glycemic Load (GL), which takes the quantity of food (thus calories) into account, is low, and that’s really more to the point.

Nestle doesn’t take much stock in published lists of GI and GL values. “The numbers vary depending on who is doing the measuring and how it is done, and they change drastically when you eat more than one food at a time (which, of course, is the typical situation),” she writes. A number of other variables that affect GI include a snack or earlier meal (GI is based on blood-sugar levels after fasting); fat, fiber, or acid content; and degree of ripeness.

That is way too complicated for me. Like Nestle, I think GI/GL values serve as a helpful reminder to avoid heavily processed foods, especially those made with refined white flour, as well as foods high in added sugars. A more realistic way of incorporating healthy carbs into your diet, though, is to simply enjoy a wide range of unprocessed foods. If weight loss is your concern, focus on portion size, how often you eat during the day, and getting more exercise. Personally, I’m thinking about one of those treadmill-desks.

Tips on choosing healthy carbs

Work whole grains such as barley, oats, wheat berries, or farro into your diet. They’re low in fat and contain vitamins, minerals, and all-important fiber. Swap out white bread and rice for whole-grain breads and brown rice. If you absolutely cannot give up your favorite pasta brand, eat it less often, mix it with a whole-wheat pasta, or serve it with a fiber-rich vegetable like broccoli.

The complex carbs in legumes come packaged with protein and other nutrients. If your family is legume-phobic, ease them along with hummus (which is made from chickpeas) and crudités as a snack, or include pinto or black beans on taco night (and serve corn tortillas instead of flour ones). Organic edamame (green soybeans), cooked in the pod and served with a scattering of flaky sea salt or a dipping sauce, are easy to love, and just one-half cup has 12 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of fiber—not to mention 11 grams of protein.

Many people don’t realize that vegetables and fruits are a terrific source of quality carbs. Those especially high in fiber include avocados, broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach and other greens, berries, melons, citrus fruits, bananas, pears, and apples. And even though regular potatoes are much maligned for their high GI value, they’re a rich source of vitamins (including vitamin C), minerals (calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium), and protein. Dairy products, too, are a significant source of healthy carbs, but I’m talking yogurt and milk, here, not an ice cream sundae.