What’s For Lunch This Week?

Here’s another set of recommendations for healthy lunch choices at restaurants that are hopefully in your area. Once again, these are from a nutritionist at Northwestern Hospital, and she’s once again my Rainbow of the Week.

Corner Bakery

  • Asian Wonton Salad: 530 calories, 39g protein, 11g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 1910mg sodium
  • Mom’s Sandwiches, Turkey: 470 calories, 39g protein, 6g fiber, 0.5g saturated fat, 1400mg sodium
  • Mom’s Sandwiches, Roast Chicken: 500 calories, 42g protein, 6g fiber, 0.5g saturated fat, 1400mg sodium
  • Lentil Soup (cup): 140 calories, 8g protein, 9g fiber, 0g saturated fat, 930mg sodium
  • Chicken Noodle Soup (cup): 140 calories, 8g protein, 1g fiber, 1.5g saturated fat, 1080mg sodium
  • Tomato Basil (cup): 200 calories, 8g protein, 3g fiber, 0g saturated fat, 1500mg sodium
  • Chicken Tortilla (cup): 230 calories, 7g protein, 6g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 1310mg sodium

Jimmy John’s

  • Turkey Tom: 515 calories, 24g protein, 1g fiber, 3g saturated fat, 1094mg sodium
  • Tuna Slim: 401 calories, 27g protein, 0g fiber, 0g saturated fat, 1075mg sodium

Pret A Manger

Sandwiches:

  • Balsamic Chicken & Avocado: 530 calories, 23g protein, 12g fiber, 2g saturated fat, 940mg sodium
  • Slim BC&A: 265 calories, 11g protein, 6g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 470mg sodium
  • Hummus & Garden Veggies: 410 calories, 12g protein, 13g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 560mg sodium
  • Slim H&GV: 205 calories, 6g protein, 6g fiber, 0.5g saturated fat, 280mg sodium

Baguettes:

  • Vietnamese: 550 calories, 30g protein, 4g fiber, 2g saturated fat, 1070mg sodium
  • Slim Vietnamese: 275 calories, 6g protein, 2g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 535mg sodium
  • Slim Chicken & Mozzarella: 310 calories, 18g protein, 3g fiber, 3g saturated fat, 530mg sodium

Wraps:

  • Avocado & Pine Nut: 440 calories, 9g protein, 9g fiber, 5g saturated fat, 470mg sodium
  • Turkey, Basil & Hummus: 400 calories, 22g protein, 5g fiber, 3.5g saturated fat, 1030mg sodium
  • Spicy Shrimp & Cilantro: 290 calories, 22g protein, 3g fiber, 2g saturated fat, 640mg sodium

Salad:

  • Chicken & Avocado (balsamic dressing): 540 calories, 22g protein, 12g fiber, 3g saturated fat, 190mg sodium
  • Farmer’s Market (lemon shallot dressing): 360 calories, 8g protein, 12g fiber, 2g saturated fat, 620mg sodium
  • Harvest (lemon shallot dressing): 360 calories, 7g protein, 5g fiber, 4g saturated fat, 350mg sodium
  • Tuna Nicoise (balsamic dressing): 390 calories, 29g protein, 4g fiber, 4.5g saturated fat, 650mg sodium

Subway

  • 6” Oven Roasted Chicken: 320 calories, 23g protein, 5g fiber, 1.5g saturated fat, 640mg sodium
  • 6” Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki: 380 calories, 26g protein, 5g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 900mg sodium
  • 6” Turkey Breast: 280 calories, 18g protein, 5g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 810mg sodium
  • Apple Slices: 35 calories, 0g protein, 2g fiber, 0g saturated fat, 0mg sodium
  • Light & Fit Yogurt: 80 calories, 5g protein, 0g fiber, 0g saturated fat, 80mg sodium

Nutritional values include toppings and dressings as listed on the menu, unless otherwise indicated. Enjoy, and here’s to your health!

What’s For Lunch?

Nothing is more valuable than our health and, as the saying goes, you are what you eat. For many of us, when it comes to lunch, what we eat comes from a fast-food type of restaurant. Here are some recommendations for healthy lunch choices at restaurants that are hopefully in your area. I got this information from a nutritionist, and she’s my Rainbow of the Week.

Cosi

  • Bombay Chicken Light Salad: 164 calories, 19g protein, 4g fiber, 0g saturated fat, 735mg sodium
  • Cosi Signature Lighter Side Salad: 383 calories, 10g protein, 6g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 504mg sodium
  • Shanghai Chicken Salad: 316 calories, 26g protein, 5g fiber, 2g saturated fat, 850mg sodium
  • Tandoori Chicken Light Sandwich: 376 calories, 35g protein, 2g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 889mg sodium
  • Hummus & Veggie Sandwich: 397 calories, 13g protein, 7g fiber, 0g saturated fat, 532mg sodium
  • Turkey Light Sandwich: 391 calories, 26g protein, 2g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 526mg sodium
  • Tuna Sandwich: 447 calories, 40g protein, 3g fiber, 2g saturated fat, 856mg sodium

Freshii

  • Vegetable Burrito: 593 calories, 15g protein, 6g fiber, 4.5g saturated fat, 524mg sodium
  • Bangkok Burrito: 639 calories, 24.5g protein, 4g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 918mg sodium
  • Vegan Wrap: 671 calories, 14.5g protein, 12g fiber, 2.5g saturated fat, 414mg sodium
  • Tuna Garden Wrap: 535 calories, 28g protein, 4g fiber, 5.5g saturated fat, 979mg sodium
  • Spicy Noodle Bowl: 505 calories, 19g protein, 4g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 139mg sodium
  • Asian Noodle Bowl: 600 calories, 26g protein, 3g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 544mg sodium
  • Warrior Chicken Bowl: 496 calories, 23g protein, 7g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 717mg sodium
  • Chicken Teriyaki Bowl: 420 calories, 24.5g protein, 5g fiber, 0.5g saturated fat, 1489mg sodium
  • Bliss Bowl: 491 calories, 10g protein, 6g fiber, 4g saturated fat, 73mg sodium
  • Spicy Lemongrass Soup: 348 calories, 20g protein, 2g fiber, 0g saturated fat, 988g sodium
  • 7 Vegetable Soup: 255 calories, 11g protein, 3g fiber, 0g saturated fat, 877mg sodium
  • BBQ Chicken Salad: 287 calories, 18g protein, 9g fiber, 3.5g saturated fat, 633mg sodium
  • Wild Pacific Salad: 188 calories, 26g protein, 4g fiber,0.5 g saturated fat, 669mg sodium
  • Antioxidant Crunch Salad: 420 calories, 24g protein, 7.5g fiber, 2g saturated fat, 409mg sodium
  • Asian Chop Salad: 338 calories, 23g protein, 6.5g fiber, 0g saturated fat, 596mg sodium

Panera

  • Smoked Turkey Sandwich: 420 calories, 33g protein, 3g fiber, 0.5g saturated fat, 1650mg sodium
  • Tuna Salad Sandwich: 510 calories, 29g protein, 5g fiber, 4g saturated fat, 1160mg sodium
  • Asian Sesame Chicken Salad: 450 calories, 32g protein, 4g fiber, 4g saturated fat, 810mg sodium
  • Thai Chopped Chicken Salad: 470 calories, 36g protein, 5g fiber, 3.5g saturated fat, 1460mg sodium
  • Vegetable with Pesto Soup: 150 calories, 5g protein, 12g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 930mg sodium
  • Chicken Noodle Soup: 120 calories, 8g protein, 3g fiber, 0g saturated fat, 1380mg sodium
  • Black Bean Soup: 240 calories, 12g protein, 9g fiber, 0g saturated fat, 1270mg sodium

Potbelly

  • Turkey Breast (originals): 395 calories, 29g protein, 6g fiber, 1g saturated fat, 1550mg sodium
  • Chicken Salad (originals): 530 calories, 29g protein, 6g fiber, 3g saturated fat, 1180mg sodium
  • Tuna Salad (originals): 490 calories, 35g protein, 6g fiber, 3g saturated fat, 1040mg sodium
  • Grilled Chicken (originals): 444 calories, 29g protein, 3g fiber, 3g saturated fat, 1886mg sodium
  • T-K-Y (skinnys): 270 calories, 20g protein, 4g fiber, 0g saturated fat, 1048mg sodium
  • Little Tuna (skinnys): 444 calories, 29g protein, 3g fiber, 3g saturated fat, 1886mg sodium
  • Chicken Salad (salad, with no-fat vinaigrette): 510 calories, 22g protein, 7g fiber, 5g saturated fat, 1052mg sodium

The nutritional values include toppings and dressings as listed on the restaurant’s menu, except the Freshii salads include a half portion of dressing. Enjoy, and here’s to your health!

No Junk In The Trunk

Next month, I leave on my Global Expeditions trip to India, Nepal and Tibet. It promises to be a very active trip, with most of our time spent in the Himalayas. At 17 days, this will be my longest sojourn outside the U.S., with temperatures ranging from toasty at the Taj Majal to frosty at Mount Everest base camp.

On this type of trip, the number of bags you can bring is limited: no room for junk in the trunk. Here’s my current packing strategy. I would love to hear your tips for packing for a longer, active, multi-climate trip abroad.

It Begins With The Bags

On my trip to Peru, I learned the benefits and flexibility of traveling with a large duffel bag instead of hard-sided luggage. This time around, I’m taking a large, red, Base Camp duffel from North Face (easy to spot in the many instances when I’ll need to fish it out from a large pile of luggage). Bag number two is a combo backpack/roll aboard by Eagle Creek. The zip-off day pack is perfect for day hikes.

Since duffels lack internal compartments, I bought several packing cubes from eBags. These are great for storing and easily locating smaller items like electronics that tend to get lost in a large bag, and for separating dirty clothes from clean.

My Beautiful Laundrette

Speaking of dirty clothes, a friend suggested bringing a travel clothesline and detergent for doing laundry while on the road. This is a fantastic idea that will allow me to pack fewer clothes. I’ll be taking a latex clothesline and laundry kit (which includes a sink stopper) from Lewis ‘N Clark.

One trick to make this work is to pack clothes made from quick-dry fabrics. There’s an abundance of choices these days. Patagonia and REI have large selections of quick-dry travel clothes. Another option is Sierra Trading Post, a web site with an enormous selection of clothing at discounts of 35 to 70 percent.

It’s All About The Benjamins … Or Rupees

I’m very excited about Day 5 of our trip, which will be in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Jeff and Kevin (the owners of Global Expeditions) have advised that “this is a great day to pick up supplies for our trip to Tibet, such as inexpensive warm clothing.” To shop in Kathmandu, I’ll need to have the local currency: Nepalese rupees. For India, I’ll need Indian rupees. And for Tibet, I’ll need Chinese renminbi. For the best exchange rate, I’ll go to my bank in Chicago before heading to Asia.

Bad Hair Days

Dealing with your hair on active trips is always a challenge. This time around, I invested in a couple of colorful buffs. These are tubes of fabric made from breathable, wicking fabric that convert into about a dozen different headbands and hats. Here’ s fun video about different ways a guy can wear a buff. (Couldn’t find an equally good girls’ version.)

You Never Know When Mr. Right May Appear

Especially on active trips, I like to pack as little make-up as possible. But Jeff and Kevin always have something fun planned for us at night, and you never know when a cute Sherpa might show up. So I was happy to find a travel-size set of organic, combo lip and cheek color sticks (plus a moisturizing stick) by Josie Maran at Sephora.

For moisturizing and sun protection, I like Oil of Olay with SPF. It’s an inexpensive and effective all-in-one. For shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, I’ll use squeezable silicon travel bottles called GoToobs. You can suction them to walls (which comes in handy in unpredictable, foreign hotel situations), and they have a ring that you lift and rotate to identify the contents (Soap, Lotion, Sun, etc.).

Charge It!

To minimize the number of cords in my luggage, I’m bringing a Callpod Chargepod. This cool device allows you to have one charging device with multiple plug-ins for different electronics. I’ll also pack an extension cord with room for three plugs so I can charge multiple devices with a single converter/adapter.

Oh, My Aching Hips

With all the hiking and walking we’ll be doing, my hips will be complaining loudly. To minimize their pain, I’m bringing a Trigger Point Performance Self Myofascial Release and Deep Tissue Massage Quadballer Roller. That’s a mouthful! It’s similar to a foam roller but it’s travel size. I’ll use to roll out my hips, and whatever else hurts, before bed.

Staying Healthy On The Road

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Northwestern Hospital’s Travel Clinic, I got all the shots I need for this trip, along with prescriptions for Diamox (for altitude sickness) and Azithromycin (for Montezuma’s revenge). They also gave me the following warning about monkeys:

“Monkeys may transmit a number of diseases, including rabies and herpes B. Avoid feeding monkeys; if bitten, immediately soak and scrub the bite for at least 15 minutes, and seek urgent medical consultation.”

Darn. There goes my plan to come back from Asia with a cute little vest-wearing capuchin monkey like the one in The Hangover Part II.

I still have time to perfect my packing strategy. If you have any suggestions for minimizing the amount of junk in my travel trunks, I’d love to hear from you….

My “Really, Really Middle-Aged Woman” Hero

She was the keynote speaker at More magazine’s Reinvention Convention in Chicago three years ago. I vaguely knew who she was but wasn’t expecting that much from an athlete. She blew me away that day with her grace, humor, determination and character (not to mention those abs!!). She blew me away even more this past week with her performance at the U.S. Olympic trials.

At the age of 45, competing against swimmers less than half of her age, Dara Torres missed a spot on her sixth Olympic team in the 50-meter freestyle by less than a tenth of a second. Torres won a total of 12 medals in the 1984, ’88, ’92, 2000 and 2008 Summer Games. This includes three silver medals at the Beijing Olympics at the age of 41, which she started training for shortly after giving birth to her now six-year-old daughter, Tessa. Referring to herself as a “really, really middle-aged woman”, Torres had knee surgery in 2009 to combat osteoarthritis. Last year, her coach, Michael Lohberg, passed away from a rare blood disorder.

But after her last race at the Olympic trials, Torres offered no excuses. Her tweets evidence the strength of her character:

“Well, I gave it everything I’ve got & left no stones unturned. Time to cheer on all the amazing USA swimmers heading to London!”

“I guess it’s time to figure out what I wanna do when I grow up!”

Thanks to Dara Torres, when I go to the gym this morning to do my 45-minute run, I won’t let the fact that I’m surrounded by people half my age bother me. And I won’t use the surgical scars on my knee or any of life’s other hard knocks as an excuse to not work hard. Thanks to Dara Torres, us “really, really middle-aged women” know that with strength, determination and a healthy dose of humor, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.

Connect to Source Part 3: Iyengar Yoga

From meditation to journaling, we move now to the most active form of Connecting to Source: Iyengar yoga. After taking Iyengar yoga classes for more than 5 years, I’m still a beginner. This isn’t because I’m a bad student or have bad teachers. I’m still a beginner because Iyengar yoga conveys a wealth of information: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Many people think of yoga as physical exercise but, in it’s purest form, it’s an active meditation that coordinates body, breath and mental focus.

What Is Iyengar Yoga?

Iyengar is a form of hatha yoga developed by B.K.S. Iyengar. Born in 1918, and still actively practicing and teaching, Mr. Iyengar pioneered the use of props (blocks, blankets, straps, bolsters, chairs, etc.) to help yoga practitioners perform asanas (different poses) with attention to details of correct physical alignment. Poses are held for longer duration while interrelationship of different parts of the body is studied and alignment is perfected.

Another key aspect of Iyengar yoga is the sequencing of asanas, which creates powerful cumulative effects. In an Iyengar class, you won’t have a “yoga bingo” type of experience (where the teacher randomly calls out names of asanas, as if they were popping up on balls in a bingo machine). Instead, the teacher purposefully sequences the asanas to impart particular lessons, and each class is unique.

Mr. Iyengar has written several classic texts on yoga, including Light of Yoga, Light on Pranayama (the science of breath), and The Tree of Yoga. As Mr. Iyengar explains in this last book:

“Yoga means union. The union of the individual soul with the Universal Spirit is yoga. But this is too abstract a notion to be easily understood, so for our level of understanding I say that yoga is the union of body with the mind and of mind with the soul….”

“Through the performance of asanas, I become totally involved and find oneness of body, mind and soul. For me, this is active meditation. Although asana is sometimes described as physical gymnastics, this is a quite mistaken description, because asana means pose, and after posing, reflecting and reposing. Asana is not just exercise….”

“You have to make an effort of understanding and observation. ‘Why am I getting pain at this moment? Why do I not get the pain at another moment or with another movement? What have I to do with this part of my body? What have I to do with that part? How can I get rid of the pain? Why am I feeling this pressure? Why is this side painful? How are the muscles behaving on this side and how are they behaving on the other side?

“You should go on analyzing, and by analysis you will come to understand. Analysis in action is required in yoga. …. You have to see what messages come from the fibres, the muscles, the nerves and the skin of the body while you are in the pose. Then you can learn.”

How Are Iyengar Yoga Teachers Trained?

What initially attracted me to Iyengar yoga, and keeps me coming back regularly for classes, is the quality of its teachers. Before I started practicing yoga, I had several very good personal trainers and I explored other physical disciplines like Pilates. My Iyengar teachers have taught me far more than anyone about my body and its problems, habits, weaknesses and strengths, and how to work to bring my body – and in the process, myself – into balance.

In The Tree of Yoga, Mr. Iyengar emphasizes that “you have to work with a competent teacher to see why there is pain, what happens when you are doing which movements, what mistakes you are making in your postures, where the stress is when you are working, whether it is necessary to give stress to that point or whether it should be shifted elsewhere to nullify the pain.” Certified Iyengar teachers are beyond competent.

To begin Iyengar teacher training, you must have been a student for at least 3 years, attend at least 3 classes a week, and practice daily on your own. From there, you must complete at least 2 years of rigorous training for an introductory certificate. Subsequent intermediate and senior levels of certification are available. As stated on Mr. Iyengar’s website: “It is not just the ‘time’ or ‘years’ of practice that makes one eligible for a particular level of certification but the ‘quality’ of the practice.”

Manouso Manos, who holds one of only two Advanced Senior certificates granted by Mr. Iyengar, previews what you can expect from an Iyengar teacher in class:

“Most of us think we can write the script of who our yoga teacher is but we can’t. Of course, you have to find a yoga teacher who speaks directly to your understanding. But that doesn’t mean that the yoga teacher should not be pushing your buttons once in a while, saying, ‘Hey, there’s a little more to this.’ You can’t structure the box of what your yoga practice is. In fact, yoga is, by definition, transformative. The joke that I tell, and I’m not the first one to say this, is that you cannot change and stay the same at the same time.

“And this is an example of what most of us want to do in a yoga class. Okay, I want to control this. I want to have this, I want to understand this and you’re not going to push my button. And the answer is, the yoga teacher should always push you into at least a minor state of discomfort. This will encourage you to move into a state where you’re willing to step out of that hard box that most of us are in, out of that control freak and that ego that tries to box us in.”

Yoga Samachar (IYNAUS newsletter), Fall 2011/Winter 2012 edition. “You cannot change and stay the same at the same time.” In addition to being funny, that observation is pretty darn powerful!

How Do I Find An Iyengar Yoga Teacher Near Me?

A complete listing of Iyengar yoga teachers worldwide is available on Mr. Iyengar’s website. To search for Iyengar teachers in the U.S., go to the IYNAUS (Iyengar Yoga: National Association of the United States) website. I practice at Yoga Circle in downtown Chicago, where I take classes from two instructors who I love: Todd Howell and Bob Whittinghill. For a schedule of classes at Yoga Circle, click here.

Remember, as Mr. Iyengar points out in Tree of Yoga, “It is never too late in life to practice yoga.”

Loosening The Grip Of The Big Five

Recent news about mad cow disease in California is a good reason to rethink our diets, and to check out Kathy Freston’s book, Quantum Wellness Cleanse: The 21-Day Essential Guide to Healing Your Mind, Body and Spirit. This isn’t a cleanse where you starve yourself, take pills, or drink concoctions made with maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Instead, for 3 weeks, you refrain from eating what Freston calls the “Big Five”:

  • Caffeine
  • Refined sugar
  • Gluten
  • Alcohol
  • Animal products (dairy, eggs, meat, poultry, fish)

Benefits from Taking a Break from the “Big Five”

Freston’s book explains in detail why each of the “Big Five” can cause problems for our bodies and minds, and how we’ve become dependent on “artificial boosts” and have forgotten how to feel good naturally. Positive effects from the Quantum Wellness Cleanse can include:

  • Release from addictive habits
  • More energy (and better sleep)
  • Clearer skin and eyes
  • Weight loss
  • Cessation of certain aches, pains and digestive ailments
  • Deeper awareness of the effect that we and our eating habits can have on the world

As Freston explains:

“Doing this cleanse is one of the best ways I know to discover any negative emotional material we are covering over with food, so that we can shake it right out of our system. And the beauty of it is, you can take what feels right from this program and leave the rest behind. Once you’ve done the work, you can add things back in, though many people find they want to stick with the changes that have so improved the way they look and feel.”

Why 21 days? According to Freston, “because that’s about how long it takes for your tastes and cravings to begin responding to healthier and simpler foods.” Also, some researchers say that it takes about 21 days to form a new habit. Don’t worry about having some lapses during the three-week period:

“People often ask me about ‘discipline.’ They worry that they won’t be able to get through it or do it perfectly. Here’s what I tell them: challenge yourself, but don’t make yourself (or others around you) crazy. Do the best you can. …. Our goal is progress, no perfection.”

My Experience

About a year ago, I was feeling tired, like I needed to recharge my battery, so I downloaded Quantum Wellness Cleanse on my Kindle and decided to give it a shot. I’ve always eaten healthy, but I had never eliminated sugar, gluten or animal products from my diet. And I was a regular at Starbucks.

I find Freston’s advice to be easy to follow. She provides day-by-day guidelines, shopping ideas and recipes, but you select your own foods every day. There are lots of food choices that meet the guidelines these days, especially at Whole Foods. One thing I really like about the cleanse is that it forces me to break out of my food habits and try things that I would normally pass by at the grocery store. Some of them have become favorites foods of mine. (Amy’s Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap, anyone?)

As a result of the cleanse and the new habits it taught me, I have more energy, sleep more soundly, and my skin looks great. Although I’m not a vegan like Freston, I now eat far fewer animal products, and when I do buy meat or poultry or eggs, I buy products that align with  values of kindness and integrity (free-range, grass-fed, cage-free, etc.). As a bonus, my food bills are lower now that I consume less of the Big Five!

Your Turn

Freston does the Quantum Wellness Cleanse once a year. Writing this post inspired me to do it for a second time. A little too much refined sugar, caffeine and poor eating habits had crept back into my life over the holidays. Doing the cleanse again helped me get back on the right path. I even managed to kick the Starbucks habit! If you want to learn more about the 21-day cleanse, check out Freston’s web site.

Which one of the Big Five has the tightest grip on you, and are you willing to do the Quantum Cleanse to break free?

Heart Rate Monitor: Little Device, Big Difference

There are many things I don’t love about my job, but one really nice perk is a super duper “executive physical” at a local hospital every year. I first did this physical in 2008, when I was about 15 pounds overweight even though I worked out regularly. I requested an appointment with a trainer at the hospital and asked him how best to structure my workouts to drop some LBs.

He recommended that I do cardio 4 times a week for about 45 minutes per session, and – here’s the key – get a heart rate monitor to ensure I stay within my target heart rate zone. A heart rate monitor has two parts: a watch-like piece that you wear on your wrist (which shows how many times your heart is beating per minute), and a strap that you wear around your chest.

My Experience

The trainer told me what my target heart rate number was. I bought a heart rate monitor and was shocked that while I had thought I was working hard before, I was not in my target heart-rate zone during my cardio sessions. Trust me, the heart rate monitor doesn’t lie! After a few months of using the heart rate monitor and doing the recommended four 45-minute cardio sessions per week, I had dropped two clothing sizes and about 15 pounds. I’ve been using a heart rate monitor religiously ever since then, and I’ve never been healthier. Not bad for a 48-year-old!

How to Calculate Your Target Heart Rate

It’s easy to calculate your target heart rate. Just subtract your age from 220 (which is your maximum heart rate), and multiply that number by .8 (which gives you your target heart rate). For example, I subtract 48 from 220 and get 172 (my maximum heart rate), then I multiply 172 by .8 and get 138 (my target heart rate).

Before each cardio session, I put on both parts of my heart rate monitor. While I’m running or doing the elliptical or stair climber, I keep an eye on the watch part of  my heart rate monitor to ensure that my heart is beating around 138 heart beats per minute (a little lower when I’m warming up and cooling down, and a little higher when I’m at the “peak” part of each session).

Where to Buy a Heart Rate Monitor

You can buy a heart rate monitor at most any sporting goods store. Polar makes good ones, which you can get for less than $100. I usually order mine from Road Runner Sports because they don’t charge sales tax in most states, and if you join their VIP club, you get a discount on everything you order

Motivate Yourself with Music

I do my cardio before work in the morning. Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to get out of a warm bed and go down to the workout room in my building. My Ipod is a big help. As a motivator, you may want to create a mix on your MP3 player that includes some of the following songs, and whatever songs you love that give you positive energy. I call this mix “Positivity”, and it never fails to give me an emotional boost:

  • “Beautiful People” by Chris Brown.
  • “Perfect Day” by Hoku.
  • “Firework” by Katy Perry.
  • “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson.
  • “Don’t Rain on My Parade” by Barbara Streisand (the Glee version is good too).
  • “If You’re Out There” by John Legend.
  • “New Attitude” by Patti Labelle.
  • “Walking on Sunshine” by Aly and AJ.
  • “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown.
  • “Soar” by Christina Aguilera.
  • “Live Like We’re Dying” by Kris Allen.
  • “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield.
  • “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from the Hairspray soundtrack.
  • “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey.
  • “Step By Step” by Whitney Houston.
  • “Something to Believe In” by Parachute.

Just Do It!

Once you start using a heart rate monitor, you’ll never go back. And if you’re like me, you’ll want to tell everyone else to get one too because it makes such a big difference in the results you get from your cardio workouts. I’d love to hear if you get a heart rate monitor of your own, and about the result you get from using it.