Heart Rate Lessons from my Fitbit

If you’re anything like me, you’re an exercise nerd who cares about how their body functions. You worry about things like Resting heart rate, blood pressure, VO2max and even sleep quantity. Each has an impact on the way you move and feel throughout the day.

If you’re nothing like me, Congratulations! You’re pretty normal. I’m going to do my best to convert you.

Last year at some point, I decided to see what Fitbit was all about. I heard all about the different versions, variations and qualities of fitness trackers. Some had GPS and some were glorified phones. But when it came down to it, I wanted something that would track my heart rate  and steps throughout the day. I wanted accountability to fitness, on my wrist as a reminder to focus on my health while also tracking heart rate. Not another toy that would force me to obsess over text messages or shoot lazer beams.

So I spent $99 at Target to get a Fitbit Inspire HR.

It’s bare bones but works great! Long battery life (charge it about once per week). The only gripe I have found is that during a hard workout, the measured heart rate jumps around once my heart bounces up higher than ~150 beats per minute.

Which bring me to the question, why does your tracking your heart rate matter?

Your heart rate says a lot about your health. First, I wanted to look at ‘bookend’ heart rate data, to assess my general health. The lower your resting heart rate, the stronger your heart muscle itself . As you adapt to exercise, our heart muscles gets stronger, allowing it to pump more blood with every beat. In one study, individuals with a resting heart rate lower than 70 beats per minute were half as likely to die from heart related illness than those whose resting heart rates were between 70-85.

Conversely, as you attain a higher level of fitness, your maximum heart rate goes up, relative to others in your age group.  The higher your maximum heart rate, the stronger your heart! 

Outside of the bookend data, there is importance in short term changes in resting heart rate. Variations in daily resting heart rate can be indicative of health issues – whether it is as simple as a lack of sleep or an illness abound – Resting HR can be an indicator of a change in health status. As an exercise guru, it also helps me with exercise prescription. For instance, if I wake up today with a resting heart rate of 55 but my ‘normal’ is 45, something is off. This information gives me a lot of feedback when structuring workouts – my own and my clients. It can tell me whether to push someone hard, or just make it a survive-the-day type of workout. In the end, my goal is to help you get stronger and FEEL better at the end of our workouts together.

As far as workout data goes, heart rate matters in comparing similar intensity/workloads. Let’s say you run two miles for the first time in six months. Your average heart rate during your workout will be relatively high, as your heart hasn’t adapted to the stimulus of your runs. And you probably regret eating all the donuts. After a month or two of training, you go on to run the same two miles at the same pace you initially ran. What you should see, is that your average heart rate will decrease with the same workload(distance).

At this point, this is kind of my bread and butter when tracking my own exercise on Fitbit. The other stuff is cool and I’ll dive deeper into other features another time but I felt this was an important piece to share if you happen to be tracking this kind of stuff on a daily/weekly/monthly basis! There are tons of other features like sleep, steps, community challenges, workouts that all mean something, and I promise I will get into them in the future!

 

 

Goal Setting: Tell a Hell of a Story

There’s a lot unfold in every life.

You walk down the street, on the way to the store. You see someone walking by and you give them a quick smile. They pass by, shooting you finger guns and a head nod. You meander by each other with nothing more than a head nod, a creepy closed mouth smile and some finger guns.

Smirk Sealed Lips GIF - Smirk SealedLips Yep GIFs

A blip on the radar, a second in time. This person walks by and is out of your life, forever. But then you realize, that person has an entire lifetime of memories, ideas, emotions, experience and perspective. A lifetime of stress, a lifetime of family and friends that they deal with on a daily basis. And to you, their entire existence comes down to a singular, passerby moment with a creepy smile.

 

There’s a word for that – sonder. The realization that every person has a story, no matter how small of a part they play in your own.

Which brings me to the meat and potatoes.

What story do you want to tell in life?

When your family dives into WHO you are, where do you want that discussion to go?

That story is told Every. Single. Day. It’s in the way you act. It’s in the people you impact. And that story is more than a blip. They can talk about the fun times, excitement you brought. Or they can say you were a great friend, a great musician, or a crazy fitness nut.

You are 100% in charge of your story.

Here’s a practice.

Write your story down. Write down who you are. Your values, your leisure activities. Stuff you do with family. Stuff you do with friends. Stuff you do for fun and for work. What are you passionate about? And make it as awesome as you can. If you were turning it into a movie, would it be an action movie? Drama? Maybe suspense? For me, I’d be honored to be a featured cartoon. Some days I’m Wylie Coyote, others I’m the Road runner.

What is your story right now?

If you were to draft yourself from a clean slate, what story would you want to tell?

What daily habits can you create to tell that story?

What are you doing currently to contradict the story you want to be told?

And most of all, how do you create a story that YOU would want to read?

50 Best Quotes for Storytelling — The Storyteller Agency

Whoever you are, know that I am proud of you. Your story is important and I hope the actions you take are consistent with the story you want told, today.

 

Goal Setting: Differentiating Failure from Absence

Hey! Sup?

Let’s talk about falling flat on your face.

Take a second and think about a time you when you failed. It sucks to look back. It takes over your brain. It reminds you of your inadequacy and disappointment. There’s a deeper hurt that is only felt because you STILL wish you had accomplished the goal you were so adamant about.

Now pause. There’s a caveat.

That time you failed – it can’t be a time you bailed. It can’t be a time you gave up before it even began.  It can’t be a promise you broke. It can’t be an unused treadmill. It can’t be a promise to run a 50 mile race only to realize a month later, it doesn’t sound fun anymore.  That is being absent.

What is failure? It can be a time you prepared to accomplish something great; you followed through and came up short. It can be a time you saw some progress along the way, followed through on the commitment and still felt the pain of loss. It’s second place after busting your butt to win first. 

The pain from failure or absence comes from your own perception. You are the only one who knows where you lie.

You can feel the pain of failure when you wish you had been just a little more prepared. Just a quicker step left to intercept a pass. Or came up a few strides short in a race.

I can’t impress the importance of differentiating between failure and absence.

Looking back at my time, I think of only a few truly painful experiences representing failure. I don’t really care if I came in first, second, third or last. I know if I followed through, it was a positive experience. Failure sucks, but I am better off having gone through it because I can look back at it and I want to learn from it. 

Being absent hurts. Absence is a lack of even showing up. There is no room to improve because you were never there. You bask in the dread and regret.  There are broken promises. Moments of indifference leading to pain. And if you are anything like me, pain of absence is way worse than the pain of failure. 

How do you fight absence?

You battle absence through action. 

Action defeats absence.

Whatever you are setting out to do, act. Don’t wait for the perfect time – that will never come. Are you trying to lose weight but want to finish off the rest of your food before you start eating healthy? All you’re doing is enabling yourself by keeping it around. Throw it away. 

Discipline yourself with action every day. You don’t need the perfect program, the perfect plan. You just need to show up. Even if it’s taking a walk to the end of the street and back in preparation for a marathon, something is always better than nothing. The hardest part is showing up.

And you DESERVE to give yourself the CHANCE at failure because you know as well as I, the pain of absence hurts that much more.

Park Workout 101

In this time of social distancing, the hard part is finding time and space to break free from our little bubbles. Waking up this morning, I rolled out of bed angst-y, angry and a grump to the Nth degree (just ask Heather).

Bout time to get out, shepherd some strength and HIIT something to calm the nerves.

I’m challenging you to this workout today. Whether it’s at home or at a park, the goal is to break from from what you are used to. Reach outside your comfort zone and develop a bit of freedom despite our tightly packed world.

Goals of the workout: Upper body strength-endurance, core and Sprint conditioning.

Needs: Stretch band to loop around something (basketball pole, door frame anchor, etc) and space (preferably a straight shot)

Set 1: Upper body strength – endurance (2-3 sets of 15-20 reps with minimal rest)

2 arm kneeling overhead band press

2 arm band Rows

Pushups (6-8 reps)

2 arm band curls

2 arm Banded Tricep press

Set 2: Core and Gut strength-endurance (3 sets with minimal rest)

Plank Hold (60 seconds)

Spinderman crunches (20 total)

Leg Raises (20)

Set 3: Finisher (10 sets)

Sprint 10 seconds at 90% intensity

Rest 60 seconds

The Duplicity of Self Thoughts

Today, I found some clarity.

You ever find yourself so deeply engulfed in your thoughts, thinking so deeply about your situation that everything just accumulates and sends you into a space that gets you thinking exclusively into a worst case scenario?

I remember a point, specifically, three weeks ago where I was driving in my car. Wondering why anybody would look to me for inspiration in health, when my own health and fitness is ‘suboptimal’. Why would anyone DARE take a grain of information from someone who struggles with binge eating. Why would someone decide to work with me, when I also have a hard time getting the workouts in? Why would anyone work with someone who doesn’t flaunt their six-pack like a Greek God?

The negative voice is loud some days.

The negative voice is motivating on others.

But I have to admit – negative thinking is an integral part of my everyday thinking. It’s the voice that tells me to spend more time with Lily. It’s the voice that beats me up when I KNOW I’m slacking. It helps me grow. It makes me accountable to myself. It tells me that I don’t KNOW anything despite working hard for the last ten years to figure out how I can better serve people.

And I think that’s the crux of negative thoughts to me. It eventually reminds me that I have a shit ton of people with a shit ton of confidence in me. It reminds me that I’m not flying solo.

That’s when the other voice rears its head. The positive voice we don’t appreciate because it’s way too easy to focus on negativity. It tells us we’ve got a squad. It guides you to drive your squad. It guides you to open a book and start learning. Or to go the extra mile with a deeper conversation, with someone who needs it.

The positive voice invites you to be your whole self, without worry. It helps you realize your world is a shared place, with an abundance of love.

So it’s really up to you to decide who to listen to. You can’t have one voice without the other.

Without fail, one thing is certain…

Your voice leads you to your thoughts, the thoughts lead to words, the words lead to actions, the actions lead to habits, the habits lead to your character, the character leads you to your destiny.

Just be careful when you decide who’s worth listening to.

 

At Home Hacks – Getting your Butt off the couch

Hey! Sup?

A couple people I work with have asked about being motivated/excited/disciplined enough to workout at home. Man, it’s not that hard! I guess I’m one of the weirdos though. I have my good days and bad days. It’s true.

But with the weather warming up, and the opening of the CHOPSHOP I figured I’d share some of my personal tips on working out at home.

  1. Make the workouts fun. You’re not going to be competing in the Olympics anytime soon. That shit got delayed until 2021. Ask yourself, what do you want to do that day? It’s much easier to workout if you can take a step back and throw in a few exercises that are fun to do. I always look forward to jumping, agility and power movements with a barbell. So lean on the stuff that you actually look forward to!
  2. Set aside a specific time to move every day. Instead of saying “I’ll do it later”, specify a specific time! For my schedule, I always take the first two hour break in my day to get a workout in, depending on what I’d like to accomplish on a given day.
  3. Reward yourself after your workout. A common method for brain hacking doctors who are way smarter than me say giving yourself a reward is good to keep consistent. For me, it’s having some tea or a cup of coffee at Starbucks (now at home) while finishing up client programs for the day. Makes it way more exciting for me to reward myself with something, even as menial as a cup of jo.
  4. Use the space you have available. You don’t need to take four days to clean every corner of the house to make a ton of room. If you can sit and stand up, you’ve got the space to hit a home workout.
  5. Be flexible with equipment. A ton of folks worry that they can’t exercise because the don’t have equipment. I had a client who had absolutely nothing to use for exercise equipment. BUT he did have a couple of half gallons of vodka laying around. What do you know, a couple of half gallons of booze can give you a helluva a workout?! Followed by a helluva good time post workout. Win-win!
  6. Challenge a friend. Shoot a quick text to a family member, friend, enemy or post something on a group. Way easier to do something when others are involved! And they’ll appreciate it, knowing you’re busting your butt while in quartantine!

 

What are your favorite at-home hacks for exercise? Cool movements you always look forward to?

Covid-19 and Owning a Small Business

With the very real threat of Covid-19, I find myself dancing on a fine line of anxiety and stress of the unknown.

If you don’t know what I am, what I do, I’ll do my best to explain.  I have built a small business as a fitness professional working with people at their location of choice. I do my best to support my family. I drive somewhere between 20k to 30 miles per year, from client to client busting my tail doing what I love. I’ve put four years of work, sweat and effort into helping individuals improve their environments. And when they struggle, I ensure they have a voice that helps them. Something positive, welcoming, judgement free and more than anything – a respectful perspective on whatever obstacles they want to zap from their solar system.

My business is a legitimate business (when the hell did that happen?). To me, that means that I am able to focus solely on my business without the security of a standard ‘job’. A couple of weeks ago, in the midst of my best year, I started receiving messages from people notifying me that self-quarantining (COVID-19) was their appropriate measure. And I can not do anything but respect them. It’s hard to continue moving when the world is telling you to stop.

I find myself on the other side today. Today I sit here thinking about how I can change. My brain wants normal. It wants everything to just snap back into place. It tells me to wait it out and that ‘my people’ are loyal.

Truth is, all that does is make me worry. And that’s the opposite of what I want.  I’ve busted my ass everyday to provide and it seems like overnight every hour and breath just sort of…stopped. But the truth is, who knows when all this craziness will end? Is my business viable in THIS world? 

With that said, the weight of the world has told me I need to pivot. Pivoting doesn’t mean more than diversifying streams of income to make sure I can keep supporting my family. It means starting something new to keep my world evolving.

Today, the world tells me to figure something else out for tomorrow. Where that takes me, I don’t know. But what I do know is that all this anxiety and stress of unknown outcomes is giving me a ton of motivation to shift from my ‘normal’. Which I KNOW will be good in the long run. But today, it’s stress.

And that’s my word therapy for the day.

I woke up this morning, stressing about the position of my business. So I decided to load up my mission statement and core values. I began today with my intentions. And today, they hit a little harder than it normally does.

  • Core Values
    1. Bring your best every single day
    2. Improvement through empowerment
    3. Knowledge drives discipline
    4. Discipline drives progress
    5. None of us is as smart as all of us
    6. Have a good-ass time and bring a positive voice

I know I’m not the only one who needs to let it out. So please, let your voice be heard. Say it out loud and let it be heard if you’re worried, freaked out, scared. Whatever it is you are feeling, let it be known because that’s going to affect the change you need.

Is Carbonated Water Bad for You?

Hey! I was chatting with a client the other day and he had a question that made me say ‘Hmm’. He asked the question in the title of the post.

As with every other answer I ever give, I want to be confident in saying Yay or Nay. On this one I more concerned with what was actually in the drink he was talking about.

So far, I’m having trouble finding anything credible that says adding air to water is bad. Plain carbonated water doesn’t seem to have a negative impact on your health.  Where it gets a little fizzy is when they start to add crap to it  from electolytes like sodium and folate to ‘natural flavors’/sweeteners, artificial sweeteners and the dreaded sugar. In seeing a few sources, it seemed like there was no harm in anything that was plainly labeled ‘carbonated water’.
Conversely, La croix is a popular drink these days, which is touted for it’s natural flavors and carbonated water (what the hell is a ‘natural flavor’ in the context of an ingredient, anyways?). La croix has recently been studied and found to increase a hormone called ghrelin in rats and non human populations. Ghrelin is one of the hormones in charge of hunger. So you could become more hungry with La Croix. But it also holds more in the ingredients than just carbonated water.
Where there is plenty of research, is in the world of calorie free soda/pop. Calorie free pop has phosphorous which has been linked to decreases in bone density. And certain sweeteners have been linked to brain tumors. 
So I’ve gotta throw that stuff into the ‘crap’ category.
As far as plain carbonated water goes, the jury is still out but nothing so far points to any worse than regular water.
Ok, there’s my take. Hope this helps! Have a great day!

Lessons from March Madness

If you’re reading this you probably know who I am. If not, here’s a quick wrap up – I am completely, utterly obsessed with college basketball and March Madness.

We are coming off the craziest weekend of March Madness that I can remember.  Tons of upsets, a rough loss for my Spartans but a ridiculous amount of fun. After ascending from my cave of college basketball – I came out of it taking a lesson from the University of Virginia’s basketball coach, Tony Bennett.

For anyone struggling with the idea of failure, I present to you the most humbling post-game interview I’ve seen. In context – the University of Virginia came into the tournament as the highest ranked team in the country. They faced off against the lowest ranked team in the tournament (UMBC). After taking a humiliating loss by 20 and becoming the first 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed, UVA’s coach came up to the podium to face the media.

Thinking about the stage and the long term implications, Bennett knows that this loss will mean something for years to come. To me, the acknowledgement of the risk being taken in showing up for the game really struck home. Demonstration of the fear of failure is a primary reason individuals get detracted from their goal. And to me, I see it everyday. You may gain weight one week. Or get demotivated because of stress and sleep. Or you just end up screwing up your diet. It’s not a big deal. Becoming comfortable taking risks in trying – as well as failing – needs to become something we all experience. Shoot for the friggin stars. Attack what you want to achieve. And when you fail, brush it off and accept it. The only way you truly fail is if you give up. And that’s not even an option.

I just became a fan of UVA and know they’ll bounce back next year!

Have a great day!

Mike Goose