5 heart-healthy gym-bag must-haves!


before we wrap-up BLOG YOUR HEART OUT for 2011 and pack our (blogger) bags until next year, i want to leave you with a gym-bag full of tools to keep you heart-healthy year-round.   so grab your gym bag (i heart these from livewell360) and toss in this gear to keep that ticker strong all year long:

heart-rate monitor

whether you invest in an uber-pricey one or even get a more cost-effective heart-rate monitor, the most important thing is that you get one you use.  me…i hate the straps and i know i won’t use it, so i opt for a mio.  true – they don’t give you real-time heart rate and you have to stop to get a read…but for me it works.  take your age minus 220 to get your max heart rate (so mine is 189)…then aim to do cardio at about 80% of your max.  so mine would be 151ish.  according to the american heart association, you need to get “at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week OR 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week, or a combination of the two.”  note: this is just for a healthy heart…wanna lose weight or get fit?  you’ll need to up the cardio!


not only does this little music-maker motivate you with heart-pumpin’ tunes, but research has found that listening to music while working out results in up to 20% longer workouts and more calorie-burn.  i personally like to jam out while lifting weights…it’s a great way to tune out (pun-intended) and ward off any gym-lurkers that may interrupt your workout.  same for cardio: a fast-paced playlist can pump up my run.  i LOVE my little nike ipod+ too…i retired it there for awhile since my sensor died, but alas i have a new one just in time to train for my first 1/2 marathon. :-)

weight-lifting gloves

if you haven’t got the memo yet….strength training is a must.  and rather than go on and on about all the benefits i shall focus only on heart-health to stay on topic and avoid my blog, yet again, spanning 2 page lengths.  here’s the deal: you won’t bulk-up (ladies!)…if you’d rather be thin with no muscle-tone then i will leave you to your 1/2 hour of elliptical that will in no way, shape, or form give you lean muscle.  [disclaimer: author does not claim to rock that body at this point in time, but still religiously follows a 5-day-a-week lifting schedule]  the american heart association recommends “moderate to high intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 or more days per week“.  so don those weight-lifting gloves or even these lynx grips (which i got courtesy of my sweet buyer at 24 hour fitness) to avoid nasty calluses and push some iron around the weight room.

gym-bag-friendly snacks

i’m a big proponent of avoiding most processed or un-natural foods (in moderation, of course – my darling golden spoon) but you have to be prepared for emergency hunger attacks. and i’m sorry but greek yogurt with fresh berries do not cut it when i’m toting my gym bag in a hurry to squeeze in a workout before running off to meeting in less than an hour!  (whew!)  so i keep quick treats with me –  for emergencies only.  note: an emergency is not “hmmm…that yummy snack bar looks tasty and i’m stuck in traffic, so why not?”.  an emergency would be more like “i have to endure an hour of spin and need a quick snack to give me fuel”…or “i just rocked my workout and won’t be home for another 3 hours and i need to re-fuel the bod a.s.a.p.  capiche?  i’m a big fan of kashi golean bars (or anything kashi, for that matter).  the golean bars are higher in protein for good pre- and post-workout and a lot of their bars pack in heart-healthy nuts, dark chocolate, and whole oats.  all for under 200 calories and less than 10g of sugar!  other yummy options: kind bars, luna, or make your own at home.


lastly, if i must say so myself…keep a fitbook with you at all times.  here’s why: 75% of fitbookers lost weight within the 1st 12 weeks of using one…and research shows you lose more than double the amount of weight if you write down your workouts and your food.  we all know that being overweight isn’t good for you – in fact, if someone is 40% or more overweight, they’re twice as likely to die from serious medical conditions, such as heart disease.  as you know, heart disease is the #1 killer of women (and men) – and overweight people are more likely to have high blood pressure and cholesterol – both precursors to a heart attack or stroke. but instead of focusing on the negative – let’s look at the positive, and that is this: losing just 5%-10% of your bodyweight is proven to decrease your chance of developing heart disease!  so if something as simple as writing it down works, do it.  you won’t hurt my feelings if you use a blank notebook – the important part is just writing it down, putting pen to paper. i just happen to be a bit biased that it’s the best fitness + nutrition journal out there (p.s. i’m not the only one!).

so there you have it: 5 must-haves to pack in your gym bag.  note: not one of the companies or products above know i’m even writing this, much-less paid me to say any of this. i’m a fairly opinionated critter and just talk about what i like…and if sharing it with you can help your heart, well then so be it.  do me a favor: take a quick minute to either GO RED and tell 5 people you know about the risks of heart disease AND forward the link to this blog post to them in the body of the message!

with all my HEART,


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