Tag Archives: Heart rate

Don’t Write That Obit Just Yet

Meeting Natasha

Apologies for not writing sooner. I hope none of you were too concerned about my safety given my latest adventure. For those who may have forgotten, I spent last Friday attempting to conquer my fear of all things eight-legged.

For those who have been worried since I last wrote, know that this post is evidence that I survived my adventure unscathed. Better than that, I have a new understanding of spiders and their ways. I’m not saying that I’m cured of my fear. I’m sure if a spider were to drop down in front of me right now – praying to the almighty FSM that doesn’t happen - I’d probably freak out. But, I’m pretty sure the fear is no longer completely debilitating1.

How do I know this? Well, the mere image of a spider isn’t completely freaking me out anymore. Yes, my heart rate might elevate slightly, and they might give me the willies, but I’m

My afternoon heart rate. Normal resting heart rate ~50bpm.

not immediately running from the image. In my books, that’s progress.

Of course, getting to this point wasn’t easy. I spent the bulk of Friday completely freaking out, especially as each passing minute brought me closer and closer to my date with Natasha2. It started off with a lot of fidgeting. I had a hard time sitting still – but fortunately managed to distract myself for most of the morning with meetings. However, around 1pm things started going downhill. I was having some serious misgivings about what I was about to do. My stomach hurt – a lot. I was running to the bathroom far too frequently, and I had the shakes. I couldn’t get warm, or I was suddenly too hot. My heart was racing3. I was pretty much the picture of discomfort.

And then the time came to meet Natasha. She arrived in a covered cage. I could feel my heart race knowing what was inside. I could also tell that my blood pressure was jumping. I have no idea how high it spiked, but I can say that I could hear the blood rushing through my ears; I could feel the pressure in my head. My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. Visibly my hands were shaking. In fact, it felt like my entire body was trembling.

Just prior to meeting Natasha. Scared much?

I’m not exactly sure what was going on around me. All I knew was what was in the cage. I kept my distance while keeping my eyes trained on the cage. While I didn’t want to see her, I wanted to know where she was at all times.

And then the cage was moved to the floor4. I was shaking while I watched the cage being opened. I was shaking while I watched Natasha being released. I have no idea if I was breathing. I have no idea how long all of this took. I recall that Natasha’s owner Nichelle and previous owner Andrew were talking to me, telling me things about her, but I wasn’t really hearing any of it. I was focused on Natasha and the sound of my heart trying to burst out of my chest.

I remember someone holding Natasha first – I have no memory of who it was. I don’t even remember how long they held her. All I know is that at some point I found myself making my way to her level. I was on my knees first but quickly decided to sit cross-legged as I didn’t think I’d be able to support myself. I remember watching Natasha. I remember shaking.

Just before I took the plunge.

And then I remember stretching out my arms, placing my hands directly in her path. And then someone nudged her and she started moving. Towards me. I remember the first of her eight legs touching my hand. My brain froze, my body felt like it couldn’t stop shaking, my heart raced. Her second leg. And then her third. And then she was completely in my hands.

So many things ran through my mind. I know there were a bunch of people around me, but I didn’t hear any of them. I barely sensed them. All I knew was there was a tarantula in my hands. Was it going to bite my hand? If so, how would it feel? Or was it instead going to climb up my arm or jump at my neck? Would I have enough time to react?

And then something happened.

I started breathing.

Holy hell. Holy hell. Holy hell.

After that things changed. I started to recall the things Nichelle and Andrew had been telling me. Natasha was extremely delicate – a simple fall could kill her. More than that, Natasha was mostly blind, seeing the world as shades of light and dark, managing to navigate her surroundings using her web.

For whatever reason I stopped seeing Natasha as something to fear. Instead, I started seeing her as quite delicate and vulnerable. Don’t get me wrong – my heart was still racing – although far slower than it had been. But I had stopped trembling. I had stopped fearing.

I had a tarantula in my hands and I wasn’t afraid.

After the event concluded I returned to my office; to breathe, to reflect, to decompress. It was only when I sat down that I realized how exhausted I felt. Having my heart race and my blood pressure spiked all afternoon, coupled with the rush of fight or flight hormones when I met Natasha had wiped me out.

Getting to know Natasha.

But there was something else. As I sat at my computer desk I managed to catch a glimpse of my reflection in my computer monitor. I was smiling, and the more I thought about what I had done, the more I couldn’t help but smile. And then chuckle. And then full-out laugh.


1 In the past I would react in one of several ways at the sight of a spider: 1) I’d run away, 2) I’d freeze and not be able to move, or 3) I’d manage to kill the spider by throwing something from a very safe distance at it, only to leave whatever thing I threw at the spider wherever it fell for a period of weeks, for fear that the crushed spider might actually be still alive and plotting my death, or possibly not alive but in zombie-spider form – also plotting my death. I wish number 3 were a joke.

2 Natasha being the Chilean Rose Tarantula that I was to spend some quality time with.

3 My normal resting heart rate is around 50 beats per minute. Throughout the bulk of the afternoon it was 80+. Just prior to meeting Natasha it jumped again to almost 100. I have no idea what it was during my initial few minutes with Natasha, but I’m sure based on how I felt it was well over 100.

4 The cage was put on the floor to prevent injury to Natasha.

10 To 15 Pounds Of Fatty Fat Fat Fat

What the what are these things that have me squeeing?
Yay! Numbers!

In case you were unaware, I’m a big fan of numbers. And by big fan, I mean I love numbers. I’ve always been this way. Even as a kid I would often find myself doing math in my head, thinking about patterns in numbers, finding comfort in their logic. There were many very late and sleepless nights as I grew because I’d often be doing calculations in my head into the wee hours. If I thought of a math problem or learned some new mathematics at school, it would take a lot of willpower to shut my brain off. Failing to will my brain to stop would leave me with a brain set on overdrive.

The point is, my passion for numbers and mathematics hasn’t waned. I have, however, found the ability to shut my brain down when I go to bed. I think if I hadn’t done that in my teens I’d be insane right about now.

So why all this talk about numbers? Well, I use it as justification for another update on my 2012 goals.

Another update? 2012 is only 2 weeks old!

I know. I know. I promise that I won’t be doing these every week. The reason I wanted to post today was because I have been collecting a bunch of numbers and if I don’t share them or write them down, I might just burst. Plus, this provides me a record of my stats so that I can track how they change throughout the year. These include things such as my Maximum Heart Rate, Target Heart Rate, Resting Heart Rate, Body Mass Index, Basal Metabolic Rate, Body Fat Percentage, and Hip to Waist Ratio.

Why have I been collecting this info? Well, as I said, I love numbers. Also, it gives me an idea of progress, and reminds me that I am not the fatty fat fat fat kid that I once was. It’s also good to know these numbers for training – so that I know if I’m pushing myself in the way that I should to achieve the results that I want.

So, without further ado, here are my results (mostly gleaned from calculators available herehere, here, and here). Feel free to comment as necessary.

  • A-pear-ently I'm "pear-shaped". Ha! See what I did there? I kill me.

    Current weight: 64.86 kg, or 143.00 lbs (last measured Christmas Eve, 2011)

  • Current height: 170 cm, or 67″
  • Current age: 36.42 years
  • Resting heart rate: 52 BPM (measured on waking, confirmed by the doctor), or 66 BPM (measured now after a large coffee and chores)
  • Max heart rate: 186 BPM
  • Target heart rate: 80% = 159 BPM, 90% = 173 BPM, 100% = 186 BPM
  • BMI: 22.39 (normal range)
  • Basal Metabolic Rate: 1560.7 (the number of Calories I’d burn doing nothing but “living”)
  • Body Fat Percentage: 10.20% via the U.S. Navy body fat algorithm, or 7.14% via the YMCA body fat formula.
  • Hip to Waist Ratio: 0.88 (which means I’m pear-shaped apparently)
  • V02 Max: 48.65 to 54.73.

Now because I’m a nerd I thought – what would 7.14% or 10.20% of my body mass be? That is, how much of me is fat? Turns out, somewhere between 10 and 15 lbs assuming my calculator results are accurate. Seeing these results, I’d really love to go and have it tested using a more accurate method. And so, dear readers, this is a new item on my Not-So-Bucket-List list (item #264). I’ve also decided that I need to accurately determine my V02 Max, so this has also made the list (item #265).

How did I do with the rest of my goals? See for yourself:

  • Starbucks old-fashioned donuts are so freaking delicious. But for 400 Calories, they'd better be. Image via: http://lakocinera.blogspot.com/

    So far I’ve burned off enough Calories (~10040) to eat 25.1 Starbucks donuts (~400 Calories each), or 62.75 tall vanilla soy lattes (~160 Calories each).

  • I’ve walked or ran the distance of 2.62 marathons between January 1, and January 14, 2012.
  • I’ve spent 28.6 hours walking, running, or stretching/yoga’ing so far this year (excluding today).
  • I’ve hit 41%, 52% and 40% of my January goals for walking, running, and yoga, respectively (with more than half the month to go).
  • My average running pace is 5 minutes 15 seconds per kilometre. My treadmill pace is slightly slower than this, while my road pace is slightly faster. Weird. I would have expected the opposite.
  • My longest run for 2012 happened yesterday – 10 miles, or 16.09 kilometres (total time 1:23:51, average pace 5:13).

In honour of these successes, I’m currently treating myself to some Lindt Sea Salt Dark Chocolate. Because it’s all about balance.

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Just Call Me Lazy Pants McGee

This is not me. This is an athlete known as George Grey having his V02 Max measured. I want to do this. Image via http://www.cbc.ca

Since my surgery I haven’t been as active as I would like. There, I’ve said it. Sadly, that doesn’t make me feel any better about the situation, and this bugs me. I’m feeling quite lazy these days, and I really need to get back into the swing of things.

Of course, I realize that I must temper my return to the old Dan so as not to anger up the innards, re-herniating myself, or even worse, doubly re-herniating myself. Because doubly re-herniating is clearly worse than regular ole re-herniating, if my math is correct.

Thankfully I am healing very well and have managed to start up yoga again. I’ve also managed some minor running, but nothing in comparison to what I was post surgery. I have yet to get on my bike.

To get myself at least feeling a little better about this inactive phase in which I currently find myself, I’ve decided to try a little retail therapy. That is, this Friday I shall finally purchase the trainer for my bike that I’ve been dreaming about for some time. The trainer will allow me to convert either my mountain or road bike into a stationary bike. It’s like magic, except with bikes!

I want one of these. It will magically transform my road or mountain bike into a stationary bike. Ooooooh. Aaaaaaah. Image via http://biketrainerreviews.com/

Having the trainer will help in a number of ways; I’ll be able to train for long periods without having to worry about hills (at least, for now); I’ll have an outlet for this energy that I’m not burning being a lazy ass; I’ll be able to train over the winter; and I’ll be able to check off item #64 from my Not-So-Bucket-List list. Clearly it’s a win-win-win-win situation. And that many wins can’t be wrong.

I also have decided that I want to figure out my V02 Max. The V02 Max is a scientific measure of fitness, more or less. It basically is a number that tells you the amount of oxygen your body can use when exercising at its max. The higher the number, the better the health.

To accurately measure ones V02 Max, you’d need to strap into a contraption like that pictured above. Then you’d be surrounded by science-y types who would monitor various machines that go bing, review pages of graphs and line charts, check boxes on clipboards, mumble to themselves, postulate, and finally, after much deep-thought present to you a number that represents your level of fitness (or so I imagine). I honestly have no idea how they measure V02 beyond strapping you into the aforementioned contraption.

One can also perform simple tests at home. I won’t get into those here, but there are several. These all come with simple equations where you’d perhaps enter you age, gender, weight, and some measure of physical activity. It might be your heart rate following a 10 minute run, or how long it took to run 5km. Regardless, the formulas are easy to use, and there are many websites on the interwebs that will do the calculations for you.

I perused a few of the websites to figure out mine. Depending on the formula, mine ranged from 48.65 here, to 58.27 here. In both cases, those values (for my age) are great. So despite the fact that I feel lazy, my V02 Max is telling me things are still pretty good. That is, I don’t have to start worrying that I’m eating too many bonbons just yet.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I have some bonbons to eat.

Does This Mean I’m Undead?

My nerdery has been well established by this point in time. As such, I’m not even going to explain why I have the following app, because it should be fairly obvious; I like numbers, I like data, ’nuff said.

Anyway, the app in question – none other than Heart Fitness. What does Heart Fitness do? It actually turns your iPhone 4 into a heart rate monitor. Seriously. It uses some fancy pants technology (also known as the camera light) to analyze the changing colour of your finger as blood pumps through it. And it’s amazingly accurate.

The basic application is free, however you can also pay 99 cents to have the optional ‘history’ component added on. The history module stores previous measures so that one can check their progress. Clearly, I bought the history module. I mean, it makes charts and stuff. How could I not buy it?

The purpose of the app is to promote healthy living. That is, one’s resting heart rate is measured and then compared against some standard values. In particular, the program suggests that resting heart rates between 61 and 65 are good, 65 to 81 are average, over 81 are poor. One receives a rating of excellent if their resting beats per minute are between 54 and 61. Anything below 54 is considered athlete.

Generally the idea is to measure your resting heart rate after a full nights rest; that is, first thing in the morning. I don’t always remember to do that, so my history has been all over the place. My highest reading was 79 beats per minute, but this was in May at 7:08 pm – which just so happened to be the same day that I had run 32+ kilometers. Regardless, up until recently I always expected my reading to be somewhere in the good range. That is, until I tested it first thing Thursday morning.

On Thursday morning, I woke up to Elliot pawing at the window because of some bird or squirrel or who-knows-what that caught his attention. As I rolled over to turn off my alarm, I decided I’d check my heart rate. When the program finished doing its thing, I looked at the result. I had to blink a couple of times because I really didn’t think what I saw was correct. Plus, I wasn’t wearing my glasses. I corrected that and looked again.

I tested it again, because clearly this had to be a mistake. The second reading was even more shocking.

What the what? I then decided to use the old-time-y method of stopwatch and finger to neck. This time I measured 48 beats per minute. Three measurements put me in the athlete category. Sweet freaking awesome.

Anyway, I’m fascinated by these readings, so I’m going to try to continue to test them first thing when I get up. I have a hard time believing that my resting heart rate is in the athlete zone. So much so, that I continue to test my heart rate. Even now, as I sit here to type out this post, my resting heart rate according to the app is 53 beats per minute. And that is after a run, and a coffee, and it’s post 11pm. Weirdness.

Ultimately, it leaves me wondering – how low does my heart rate have to go before I’m considered a Zombie?