What motivates you to exercise?  Do you exercise to be able to reduce stress, to wear a size (?) belt or dress, to be able to consume more calories, because it is fun, because it makes you feel good, doctor’s orders…I say “Yes” to all of these reasons.

I have one 30 something client who wants to get back to her ideal weight of 105 pounds.  She now tips the scale to 143.  She is almost angry, frustrated probably that she is at her current weight.  When we began to talk about the differences in her lifestyle then and now it was like a light bulb went off in her head.  Then, she had a retail job in which she was on her feet and walking most of her work day.  She walked her daughter to preschool and back.  She walked to the bus because she doesn’t drive.  Now, she has a desk job, her daughter walks with friends to grammar school and her husband drives her to the bus stop.   Need I say more?

How do you weave exercise into your daily life?  This client realizes that she needs to carve out time to exercise if she wants to reach her goal.  My rule:  “Don’t let more than one day go in between some sort of exercise” applies here.  Through further questioning I discovered that this client, when she does exercise, gets on the elliptical machine and goes as fast and as hard as she can until she has to back down.

I gave her the Carl Foster “Can you  Speak Comfortably?” test and ascertained that her maximum heart rate is 210.  She was using speed to drive her heart rate up to 181 bpm and exercising in Zone 4 uncomfortably close to her second threshold. One’s second threshold is a heart rate number that cannot be, by definition, sustained  She had to force herself to exercise because it was not enjoyable.  (Please see my blog #2 for an explanation of Sally Edwards’ heart rate training, Heart Zones.com.)

During the test I monitored her heart rate every 1:30 minutes and asked her the question:  “Can you speak comfortably?”  She would have to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at each interval.  If she can continue, i.e. “speak comfortably”, she then adds another level of resistance and continues.  At a heart rate of 176 she is winded but productive.  This is her sweet spot, a number that is very productive, yet is sustainable.  This is a perceived exertion level of “6” on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest.

She does want to ‘work-out’.  She does want that feeling of working hard; I want her to work out smart.  We discussed her zones.  She does not need to improve her speed; she is not interested in athletic performance.  She does want to lose weight and reduce her abdominal fat.  She can do this by working out in Zones 2 and Zones 3, not in Zone 4.

She smiled when I told her this, “Less is more?”

Next I asked her to make a list of 5 favorite foods that she eats on a regular basis.  She cited rice, and said she loved it!  When we looked at the chart, 1 cup of white rice cooked has 205 calories.  She exclaimed that when she works out on the elliptical she burns about 200 calories!  She felt defeated because she eats more than one cup of rice at one sitting and now working out will not help her unless she works out for hours.  I explained that this is not correct.  It is not as simple as calories in and calories out.

Fabio Comana, MA, MS writes in an article in the IDEA Fitness Journal, “One key indicator is the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendation of 2000 kilocalories (kcal) of exercise per week for successful weight loss, compared with the minimal requirements targeting 1000 kcal per week to improve health”.  He goes on to say that regular exercise is the key.  If you exercise every other day, you will be able to log 2000 kcal if that is your goal, your intention.  I will keep you posted on her progress.

For instance today, I have walked to and from my parked car a total of 6 city blocks and I have taught a yoga class in which I did not participate.  I walked around the room giving instructions.  According to my fitbit I have burned 737 kcal so far today.  I have taken 2836 steps; did I mention 3 of those blocks were up hill?

I give my USF students an activity sheet.  It is a bit old fashioned, in that it is not electronic.  On it I have the days of the week with 8 weeks listed and on the bottom a list of activities.  I ask them to record their activity, the duration and their average heart rate or the highest heart rate during this activity.

If you exercise every other day you have choices.  Perhaps you ski, perhaps you go to your health club, perhaps you take a Zumba class.  It all counts.  At the bottom of the chart are abbreviations for several activities:  Aerobics (AR), Basketball (BB), Cross Country Skiing(CCS), Cycling Indoor(CI), Cycling Outdoor(CO), Dancing(DR), Hiking(HK), etc.  You get the point.  I even include “Read an inspirational Thought”, “Smile/Laugh”, “Heart to Heart with a Friend” because these activities count in our overall wellness profile.

What we can measure, what we can quantify, we can control – we can see and feel the results.

Whispers of the Breath Diva:  I am Healthy; I am Fit!