Taking the Brakes Off For Great Health

IMG_2896I’m in Atlanta preparing for our last preseason game against the Falcons. We’re just ending our press-season training camp which includes living in the hotel away from our families for about five weeks,  17 hour workdays and up to 90 players on our roster.

I went for a great run this morning with one of my coworkers Brandon Roth. As I finish my 7 mile run and watched the sunrise, I was overwhelmed with the reality of how truly fortunate I am to be able to run like I do. Just as I entered my hotel room, I received a phone call from a colleague and friend. When I told him I just got back from a run you could hear a sigh of disappointment on his end of the phone. He shared with me his recent extensive orthopedic issues and difficulties he’s been going through over the last two and half months.

He’s an avid runner with a very impressive running resume’. As I listened to his story I couldn’t help but reflect upon my thoughts 10 minutes earlier of how blessed I am to be as active as I am. I turned 50 years old this year and I’m committed to staying very active for as long as I’m alive.

Knowing What You Have

Like the old quote:  “You never know you have until it’s gone“, it’s never been more true than when we’re talking about our health.  When our health worsens and life’s daily activities becomes painful and/or difficult to perform, that’s when we truly appreciate our bodies.

Why do we take our bodies, our health and our fitness for granted?

We, myself included, are guilty of doing so.  When we do, it’s a grave mistake. If you don’t believe that just ask anyone you know who’s in chronic pain “What would give to be pain-free?”  After asking such a question listen to what they say and look into their eyes. Their dismay and frustration will be obvious.

Taking Care of Business

There are a few things we all need to do if we want to enhance our health and preserve an active lifestyle.  Both of these are very important to me and I hope they are a high priority for you as well.

Take the Brakes Off –  Stop limiting yourself because of your age, your schedule or your health. It can be as simple as thinking like a 15-year-old in setting a goal that is grand. “Take the brakes off” of your mind and your body and have some fun with it!

Count Your Blessings –  Look yourself in the eyes (not your belly or figure) in the mirror and realize what you have. From your health to your family to your friends to the quality of your lifestyle, you probably have more than 95% of all the people in this world. It’s time to do something to protect those gifts by making them better.

Learn to Move, Then Move –  Stop waiting for a great reason to be more active. Joining a gym or simply getting out for walk 1 to 3 times a day can change your body and your life. It doesn’t have to be a fitness plan, sometimes it’s simply the act of moving and moving some more. Stop making a complicated and just move.

Stretch Something –  Flexibility may not be as sexy as lifting heavy weights or running a three-hour marathon. As we age our muscles and tendons tighten and it’s our job to keep them loose. Stretching tight areas, be it your hamstrings or your hips or your shoulders or your ankles will make you feel better and allow you to move with much less effort.

Set Three Activity Goals –  Set three goals to accomplish in the next three months that involves some type of physical activity. Doesn’t matter what they are or how difficult they may be, just do it.

Find A Healthy Mentor –  Why reinvent the wheel when you have smart and healthy people around you doing what you want to do? Find a friend or coworker who seems to understand what to eat and what to do to stay healthy. Asking for help and support is all you need to do. You may  not be able to do everything they do but having them as a mentor will help you improve your diet, your workout routine and, most importantly, your compliance with both of these.

In closing… Today is the best day we all need to truly appreciate what we have and to take daily steps to showing our gratefulness by improving both our bodies and our minds for whatever tomorrow brings us!

Burning Body Fat the Smart Way

I received an email from a follower with a simple and important question:  “How to I determine how hard to exercise when I want to burn more body fat?”

I loved the question and I want to share my answer.

If your main objective is to reduce body fat, your target heart rate (THR) zone should be between 70 – 75% of your maximum heart rate (MHR).  There are approximately 7 different methods to calculate one’s MHR.  To keep it simple and avoid the all-too-often “paralysis by analysis” found within the world of Wellness, I’ll make it easy:

Max HR = 220 minus your AGE

Your Fat Burning Target Heart Rate Zone  =  70 to 75% of MHR or MHR x .7 to MHR x .75

Examples:

  • 30 year old – MHR = 220 – 30 = 190 beats per minute (bpm)

Fat Burning Target Heart Rate Zone is 70 to 75% of MHR = MHR (190) x .7 to MHR x .75

190 x .7 = 133 bpm      190 x .75 = 142 bpm

The Fat Burning THR for a 30 year old is 133 to 142

  •  55-year-old – MHR = 220 – 55 = 165 bpm

Fat Burning Target Heart Rate Zone is 70 to 75% of MHR = MHR (165) x .7 to MHR x .75

165 x .7 = 115 bpm      165 x .75 = 124 bpm

The Fat Burning THR for a 55-year-old is 115 to 124

Biggest Obstacle

Boredom.  When working in this fat burning target heart rate zone, you’ll find it to be moderately intense but not overly fatigued.  Dust off the iPod because if you want to burn off the fat, avoid injuries and get ready for the beach, you’ll have to win the battle against a little boredom of the longer workouts.

Interestingly, that 70-75% of the MHR intensity for most runners is at a point where the runner can still carry on short conversations without being too winded.  In other words, at approximately 70% intensity, an average runner can say 5-10 words without catching their breath but not be so exhausted while running as to not be able to talk at all.  I’ve found this trick helpful when I don’t have my heart rate monitor on but I’m still interested in burning off that bowl of ice cream that I ate the night before.

Benefits of Working Out Within the Body Fat Burning Target HR Zone

  • You WILL burn the fat & drop the weight
  • You minimize the risk of injury compared to the traditional high intensity “huffing & puffing” workouts.
  • Your soft tissue (muscle & tendons) adapts to such workouts and tend to be more accepting to more work at any age.

Tips For Burning the Love Handles

  • Buy a heart rate monitor.  It will prove to be your MVP training partner.  It doesn’t have to be an expensive heart rate monitor with all the complicated components.  A simple heart rate monitor watch with beepers to warn you if your HR has gone too high or too low along with a timer to show your progress will do.
  • Find an activity that you enjoy doing and get busy doing it within your THR zone.  It doesn’t have to be running or lifting weights.  Whatever activity you can do to get your HR into the proper zone for an extended period of time will reduce your body fat.
  • Hydrate, hydrate & hydrate.  A well hydrated body burns 50% more fat than a dehydrated body.  A 50%/50% water to sports drink ratio is my rule for anyone exercising over 30 minutes.
  • Cardio exercise takes time.  The longer you exercise, within reason, the better.  45 minutes is better than 30 and 60 minutes is better than 45.  You get the drift.
  • Get excited about your fitness and reward yourself for both your effort and your results.  Having an upbeat and optimistic attitude will significantly enhance your results compared to the “I have to do this exercise and I’m not looking forward to it” mindset.  You have so many wonderful things to do in your life and reducing your body fat and controlling your pain WILL improve the quality of your life!
  • What you eat vs what you burn: It’s Simple Math. Decrease your fat consumption, avoid eating after 8 PM, create a habit of going for a walk after every meal, avoid all cream sauces on your foods, increase the amounts of fruits and veggies that you eat and master the art of “listening” to your body.  Your body is much smarter than we give it credit for.  Listening to your body will help you do what is needed to let your body do it’s job.  It sounds crazy but those that “get it” reap the rewards of a strong and healthy body.

It’s time for YOU to make the changes that gives YOU the body you deserve.