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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I've gotten addicted to Heart Thrives, these ridiculously good things that claim to be energy bars but which are like no energy bars I've had before. They come two to a package - a whole pack makes a great breakfast and one of the hearts (they're shaped like hearts!) is a great pre-workout or late afternoon pick-me-up snack. Unlike most energy bars I've had, they actually stay with me for a significant amount of time, not leaving me starving an hour later. They have a great mix of protein, complex carbohydrate and (low) fat, so they don't spike the blood sugar and then cause a crash. They're also really tasty. My favorites are apricot and poppyseed. The only place in town (Ann Arbor) I know of that carries them is Espresso Royale; other than that you can order from the website. I don't go around randomly endorsing stuff; these are nuritionally and deliciously just about perfect and I feel the need to share. :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Visualize it

I have a short post for you today on a motivation technique. Everyone has heard of visualizing success, but most of us seldom use it. In the realm of fitness, everyone has different goals. Perhaps you want to be pain-free, or have more energy. Maybe you want to look better in a swimsuit. You might want to be able to do something like cross the finish line at a 5K or even a marathon. Whatever it is, visualization is a great technique to keep you motivated and even get you better results. You can try it while you're exercising, when you get up in the morning before you start your day, before you sleep at night and whenever you need a little extra boost (like when a carton of ice cream is staring you in the face).

It's called visualization, but vision doesn't have to be the only sense involved. The more you can get involved in the moment you're imagining, the better. For example, if you want to lose weight, you can picture yourself looking the way you'd like to, feeling lighter, moving with more ease. Imagine what your clothes feel and look like on you, how it feels when you walk or run, your breathing being easier as you exercise. Get wrapped up in the experience and enjoy it. Don't chastise yourself for not being there yet. This should be a positive time. Smile and know you are on your way to making this vision a reality, then continue about your day, whether it be going to sleep, getting up, continuing to exercise, or ignoring the ice cream newly at peace with not needing it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Target Heart Rate, Elliptical Machines and the "Fat-Burning Zone": (Not So Much)

Here is a question a received recently (and I receive ones like it often): "Hi Lynda. I attended a workshop you gave in February, and I have a question that I bet you can answer. I joined a gym this week! My target heart rate is 112 and it doesn't go much above that when I use the treadmill. I tried the elliptical trainer today and my heart rate got all the way up to 130. Is this bad? I did have a stress test about 6 months ago and the doctor found no problems. The elliptical seems like a much better workout, but I worry about my heart rate. Should I?"

Here is my answer, plus a bit more info:

I am not at all concerned about your heart rate at 130, especially given that your doctor found no problems on your stress test. Target heart rates are a confusing issue since there are several formulas determining them and so much individual variation. But a target heart rate given as a single number instead of a range represents a number somewhere on the low to middle end of what your heart is theoretically capable of doing based on your age, gender, and depending on the formula used, sometimes your fitness level and resting heart rate. Many times, it is recommended that people stay within their "fat burning zone", which is a number about 60-65% of their maximum heart rate and sounds like your 112 number. The reality is that while you burn more of a percentage of calories from fat in this range, at higher heart rates you burn more calories, and thus more fat, overall. Studies are also suggesting that exercising at a higher heart rate will actually cause the body to burn more calories even after you finish exercising. As far as your general health is concerned, your heart is more than capable of sustaining a higher heart rate than 65% of your maximum, and exercising at a range between 65 and 85% of your maximum will definitely increase your cardiovascular health if you have no other health issues that would contraindicate this (this would include high blood pressure and coronary artery disease, so if you are concerned that you may have these issues be conservative about your exercise intensity and ask your doctor specifically about heart rate recommendations!). has a short article here explaining more about this principle.

Your number of 130 is well within a normal range and again, I am not concerned. Always pay attention to how you are feeling, though. If you are exercising comfortably at that heart rate, you're fine. If you start to feel weak, dizzy or otherwise off, you may need to slow down (although often this just means you just didn't have a snack before you worked out and your blood sugar is low).

Personally, I love elliptical machines because you can work harder without the strain on your joints from pounding as you step, which is why it tends to feel so much easier on your body. So keep it up, enjoy, and good luck!


Welcome to BPF's new blog! I'm going to try to post here at least twice weekly, more when possible. If you have a question you'd like answered or a topic you'd like posted on, e-mail me at Otherwise, I'll be posting fitness and health-related stuff as it comes to mind. Enjoy!