Exercise for Cardiovascular Health

Exercise for Cardiovascular Health

Have you ever looked in the mirror or hopped on a scale and thought “I sure would like to be more toned” or “I need to lose weight”?

Have you ever carried a heavy box or gone up the stairs too quickly and thought “boy, I need to get in shape”?


It’s not a new concept that these goals can be achieved through the same healthy lifestyle changes. However, the idea of how much work is required to achieve these goals can often be overwhelming. Because of that we never get started more often than not. 

The point I want to stress in this blog is that simply increasing daily, intentional activity has the potential to change your body composition for the better. This will also improve your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and reduce the chance of developing heart diseases and stroke. 

No minimum miles needed to be walked or run. No need to monitor your heart rate zones throughout your workout or exercise in a fasted state. 

Let’s put aside the exercise myths and focus on the simple and overlooked basics of how to exercise for cardiovascular health. 

Cardiovascular Training Recommendations

One of the foundational principles of strength training says in order to grow muscle size and strength, the musculoskeletal system must be repetitively taxed. In the same way, cardiorespiratory training is also contingent on the specific adaptation to imposed demand (SAID) principle. The human body will adapt to the type of exercise, intensity, and environment in which it trains. 

I want to encourage you that no matter how short of time, and no matter the equipment used, repetitive training will cause adaptation. Adaptation, when following an appropriate plan, will progress you to your goals. 

Depending on your time available and desired outcome, let’s talk about how to modify general exercise prescriptions for your goals. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Ideally, your week consists of both, but if you need to keep your routine simple and consistent, 30 minutes of moderately strenuous cardiovascular exercise, ranging from about 4-6 on a 1/10 scale, 5 days a week, will meet the official recommendations. 

Modifications may be needed depending on any known or suspected medical/ health limitations. (In this case, I would suggest seeing a fitness professional such as myself who is qualified to give you more personalized recommendations to follow.) 

Now, if you look at 150 minutes and think: “not possible right now”, a smaller goal may be needed as you begin an exercise program from scratch, and that’s ok! Remember what I said earlier about adaptations on imposed demands? A consistent schedule of 5 to 10 minutes a day is enough to build on, and in time, reach 30 minutes a day. To help you hit the general recommendations and then some of your other goals, your programming needs to be as specific as possible.

How to Program for Your Cardio 

Most trainers use the acronym FITTE principle to create a specific program. Research has proven, and I bet that many of you can attest, that in any new habit change the more specificity you use in outlining how to reach your goals, the more consistent you are in your habit change behaviors. 

FITTE stands for frequency, intensity, time, type, and enjoyment. I encourage you to use this example to make your own program based on your goals. If improving general cardiorespiratory fitness is your current goal, in a bout of exercise you should aim to feel like a 4-6 exertion level on a scale of 1-10. 

If your fitness goal is to improve performance and complement a strength training program then intervals can be useful to increase the workload and while allowing you to keep up your endurance. The more difficult interval should feel like a 7-8 on a scale of 1-10. 

Finally, if your goal is an increase in muscular power and strength short, repetitive intervals that feel like a 9/10 on a 1-10 scale are effective.

Now using the above intensity recommendations based on your goals, you can use this table example to create your own program. Be specific to what types of cardiovascular training you enjoy most, and the amount of realistic time you have available. 

F (Frequency) 4-5 days/ week
I (Intensity) 65-75% HR Max or 4-6 on a 1-10 scale.
T (Time) 30-45 minutes
T (Type) Neighborhood walk or water aerobics
E (Enjoyment) Love exercising outdoors during the fall, when it’s too hot or too cold the pool is ideal.

Costs of Inactivity to the Population and Exercise Modalities

According to a study by the Journal of Medical Science in Sports and Exercise, sedentary lifestyles are the leading cause of preventable death via a variety of disease processes including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and lipid (cholesterol) disorders. 

A medical paper discussing physical activity and associated diseases and disorders reported that the longer the period of inactivity, the greater the degree of systemic(structural) dysfunction. 

I want to encourage you today to create and begin a personal, cardiovascular program that, most importantly, uses a type of exercise that you enjoy. My clients who choose varieties of cardiovascular exercises they enjoy end up sticking with their program longer than other clients I’ve had who choose their cardio based on what the science at the time or opinion of their friends says is best. 

I suggest that the best modality of exercise is the one you will enjoy, and therefore will engage in the most often. Now let’s get you moving! 

Kathryn Terry, MS, CPT, PN 1

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How To Have A Healthy Relationship With Food

How To Have A Healthy Relationship With Food

Ladies, when was the last time you evaluated your relationship with food?

We often critique and judge our bodies based on how they look in the mirror, how our clothes fit, or based on a number from the scale. But when was the last time you really examined your relationship with food? 

Most of my clients, myself included, have tried many types of diets and workout plans only to see results that don’t last. Not only do they not last, but any strict way of thinking about food or exercise is going to impact your relationship with your health. 

I find that many people who have excelled and seen results with a specific diet or workout regimen in the past (when once life gets busy and they fall off the wagon) believe that eating or exercising that same exact way as before is the only way to achieve significant results in the future.

Have you ever thought that way? 

Yes, noting where previous successes have been attained in the past can be beneficial, but I want you to acknowledge that the female body contains ever-changing sets of hormones that sometimes complement each other, and other times clash due to added metabolic factors being out of rhythm.

Is controlling our weight as simple as calories in vs. calories out?

The metabolism is made up of factors in our control and factors that are not in our control. Height, genetics, gender, and age all affect our metabolism (to simply put it) in a positive or negative way. Now I didn’t bring those up so some of us could have a pity party, but to draw a contrast to the factors you do have control over. 

Weight, body composition, and hormones can be affected by your day-to-day decisions of how much you move, how you move, stress levels, sleep habits, and what + how much food you put in your mouth. 

Many of the controllable factors are influenced by others and therefore can complicate the simple thought of just monitoring calories in vs. calories out mindset. Some people will see short-term success with tracking of calories and macros, but long-term success only can come with working in tandem on healthy behaviors to improve/ manage the above controllable factors. 

No longer a simple game

So we’re realizing losing weight is not as simple as making a few changes to what you eat or how much you move as previously thought. Or maybe you already knew that and I’m preaching to the choir. 

But beyond the research, have you ever considered how your relationship with food impacts your metabolism? 

A new favorite model of mine, created by Precision Nutrition, uses the biopsychosocial perspective to look at 3 key influential factors of our relationship with food. I believe that if we obtain a better understanding of the factors at play we can feel and truly be more empowered to execute progressively healthy behaviors.

Number 1: Biology. Long ago back in the caveman days when food was scarce, it was necessary for survival to overeat when food was abundant. That instinct once hardwired to help us survive now makes our choices harder when it comes to avoiding highly processed foods with high levels of fat, sugar, and salt. Quite the deadly combo, yes? My brain immediately pictures tailgate foods, birthday parties, and lavish work dinners. In these places and events where processed foods are overabundant, we are forced to override the instinct and instead rely on our weak or strong self-regulating behaviors. (This is just one example of the many biological factors we have at war within ourselves.) 

Number 2: Psychological. Research supports the observation that stress, mood, boredom, and irritability are all triggers for binge eating. Then comes the guilt and shame. For many, food can become a safe place of comfort when life is overwhelming. If this is you, I recommend a behavior awareness worksheet that can help you observe patterns of triggered eating. Then with full awareness, you can disrupt these patterns to create a different outcome.

Number 3: Social Factors. Due to certain social environments, some people may be exposed to highly processed foods more on a regular basis. These instances can range from business dinners and catered lunches at the office, all the way to food deserts where grocery stores only offer white bread, packaged snacks, and canned fruit. All of these environments make nutrition harder to manage. So instead of stressing over nutritional value (or lack thereof) focus on how the foods make you feel. Tune more into hunger and fullness cues. Avoid foods that cause bloat or digestive stress. Choose to make habit changes that over time will aid in a practical, adjustable, everyday type of relationship with food- while feeling good about yourself!

So forget the fear of the past!

Don’t let not knowing what or what not to do stop you from starting one healthy behavior today. Food logs will help you find out what agrees with you and what doesn’t. Maybe keep a journal by taking a picture of every meal. Then look back after a week or two and reflect. 

If psychological or social-induced overeating is a struggle for you, create a list of replacement activities instead of eating. Then when the cue arises to self-regulate you have a variety of options to choose from.

Please don’t put the pressure of the world on yourself into flipping your diet or exercise routine a full 180 when you feel your confidence start to slip. Instead, come up with a few small behaviors that when executing just those make you feel like you’ve got a win. 

Hold yourself accountable to a plan that works. Use simple behaviors that will give you structure, yet flexibility to your goals. These simple, yet important behaviors will be different for everyone. For example, a basic behavior could be eating one vegetable today. Or it could be pre-plan snacks for the week.) 

Lastly, don’t do this alone. Partner with someone who cares. Gather yourself a team of like-minded people to support you and encourage you as you examine and make positive behavior changes to your relationship with food. 

Kathryn Terry, MS, CPT, PN 1

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A Guide To Supplemental Protein

A Guide To Supplemental Protein

“Holistic” / “Organic” / “Sugar-free” / “Plant-based” / “Natural” / “Keto-friendly”

These terms and more are placed in bright colors or in bold on the labels of our protein powders and hundreds of other supplements consumers take on a regular basis. 

How do you choose the right supplements for you out of the hundreds (should I say thousands) on the market right now? 

In a previous blog post about micronutrients, I discussed who should supplement their diet with multivitamins, why, and who I trust most. But today I will talk specifically about protein supplementation with hopes to shine a light on protein drinks and powders that saturate our supplement industry today. 

Why shouldn’t I take this product?

When considering a new protein supplement such as whey powder, creatine, BCAAs, and EAAS keep in mind what your personal needs are, then compare that with the product. This may seem simple, but often we get caught up in taking a product because the influencer on tik-tok recommended it, or you heard one of your teammates take it to elevate his performance. 

Ask yourself: “Why are you looking to supplement beyond the nutrients that can be consumed in the diet?”

“Does this said product meet the needs you are trying to fill?” If yes, then let’s take a deeper look into what the supplement is made of.


Have you ever gotten a coupon in the mail, been sent a free sample, or seen an ad for a protein supplement online? If so, did it have a bold claim with it? 

The latest one we received in the office was a premade protein drink with a bold label of “Powerful Nutrition Inside.” 

On one hand, I applaud the marketing team for the design. On the other hand, I’m bothered because this is the type of advertisement that sucks people into buying a product, rather than looking at what should really be considered when buying a product- the label. 

Food Labels and Exceptions

A food label contains approximate calorie amounts, macronutrient details of how many carbs, fats, and grams of proteins are in a product, grams of sodium, and daily value percentages of any beneficial micronutrients. Food labels also contain a list of all the ingredients in the packaged product listed from the ingredient of the greatest amount all the way down to the ingredient that is the least present in the product. 

You can learn all sorts of information about a packaged product from the food label. Some things might surprise you. Like that, a serving of Oreos can deliver 8% of your daily iron. (But that’s not why we eat Oreos is it?) Or you might discover your Trader Joe’s (seemingly healthy) Chicken Low Mein has more than 40% of your daily sodium intake in just one serving size!

While some of these facts may or may not turn you off from food, at least we are well informed to make the best decision for ourselves and our goals, right? 

What if I told you that the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration that regulates food label honesty and verifies product ingredients) does not test or regulate the supplement industry? 

Are you shocked? Do you understand the implications of that statement? 

No regulation by the FDA means companies can lie about what a product does, and lie about what is or isn’t in a product. So if you do take the time to read and understand ingredients on the label like erythritol, milk solids, and vegetable oil (why is that in there?!) you might not be even reading the whole truth because the company wasn’t required by anyone to print it. 

Before “gluten-free” was a trend and companies wanted to start adding it as a trendy health claim to the front of their product, gluten was often added as a filler to tablet vitamins and protein powders. However, gluten still doesn’t have to be listed thanks to the lack of regulation in the industry.  Folks with food sensitivities didn’t even see it coming.  

Unfortunately, even within honest companies we still have room to be concerned about product contamination/ cleanliness. A study conducted in 2018 on protein powder found that out of 134 top-rated powders on amazon 55% of the products tested high for BPA(plastic- no thanks,) certified organic powders tested for 2x the amount of the regulatory limit of lead(what?!,) and 74% of all products in the study tested high for cadmium, which can be toxic with chronic consumption/ exposure.

How do you feel about your confidence in making the best choices for you and your family now?

Label Rules and Product Testing

To help combat all of the confusion caused by the marketing industry I work with all of my clients on label reading. What ingredients to watch out for, a max amount of sugar to ingest per serving, and other daily value %s to keep an eye out for depending on the product and personal needs. 

To help combat product contamination I only recommend a few select supplement companies that all have their products 3rd party tested. 

To have a product 3rd party tested is no small feat, or a cheap one either. Companies like Thorne, Cellucor Sport, and Klean, all pay a nationally recognized product testing organization to come to examine their manufacturing plants and check for contamination along the whole line. They examine everything from the raw ingredients to the final product and verify that what the company claims the product provides is truly in the product. They also test for unwanted (toxic/ harmful) substances that may contaminate a product and potentially have substantial negative health impacts if consumed long and short term. 

I’ve created a guide with some key “label rules,” that will help you with dissecting all types of supplement labels. In the guide, I’ve also added my top three 3rd party testing organizations that you should look for on the bottle of the next supplement you purchase.  My purpose in designing this guide is that you can feel best educated in making good decisions for you and your family regarding supplementation.

To Recap

My best advice: ignore bold claims on the label and do your research on supplement brands before you purchase. Look for their certifications and manufacturing standards. And finally, if the product has some ingredients that don’t look right or you can’t verify their product cleanliness, the supplement isn’t worth your time. 

If you don’t have time to research and dig for these important factors that influence choosing the right supplements for your needs, let me help you. Start with this guide I’ve created here. Or reach out to me for a free consultation. 

Kathryn Terry, MS, CPT, PN 1

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Want- Will- Won’t: Self Reflection for Success

Want- Will- Won’t: Self Reflection for Success

In my time so far as the health specialist at Bianco Primary Care in Alpharetta, Georgia, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with a diverse group of our patients. Most goals to improve their health usually stem from a unique “why” that motivates them to meet with me and start a change. However, that personal, motivating factor isn’t the only thing that sets my patients apart from one another. Along with a common goal of working toward a healthier version of themselves, most of my clients have unique actions or habits that they are not willing to try or give up just yet. 

And that’s not a bad thing. 

In my initial consultation with each patient, we discuss overall goals, limitations, and priorities. I do believe it is important to acknowledge up front that there are necessary trade-offs to make certain goals happen. As Precision Nutrition puts it “for X to happen, you may have to change Y.” 

If you are looking to make changes to your health, it is time to be honest with yourself, or the health professional you are partnered with, and be clear on what you are willing and not willing to compromise right now to reach your goals. 

Your perspective on what I call “worth it’s” will evolve as your health journey evolves. No need to stress right now that working toward your health goals means giving up everything you love. Trust me when I say there are many ways to work toward a healthier you (beyond strict rules and deprivation) when you are honest with yourself. 

If the idea of giving up your regular Friday pizza night with your kids sounds unreasonable, then let’s talk about portion sizing or adding a side salad. 

If you are worried you have to “go Keto” to fix your blood sugar numbers, in most cases, let’s take a deep breath and talk about what you would be willing to change so you don’t have to give up your beloved french fries for good. 

The more upfront and honest you are initially, the saner you will be as you progress into your wellness journey. It is a beautiful thing when your expectations line up with the reality of your progress. When you acknowledge the habits you are not willing to give up, you achieve real insight into the speed at which you could expect true results long term. 

My patients who do not share trade-offs are unwilling to give up and often struggle because my suggestions don’t match them personally. 

One of my favorite parts of my job is being able to offer personal recommendations. I can put the latest science and research from my field into practice to benefit each of my patients, and help them reach their individual goals. 

I would love to talk to you about what you may or may not be willing to trade-off to reach your health goals. Come, be honest with me, and let me help you reach your goals without compromising who you are in the beginning. 

Quit playing the comparison game with your friends, partner, or social media influencer who has a different journey than you. Their trade-offs are most likely different, so following their “food rules” or workout plan might not be the best place to start when looking for long-term results. 

As I said before, your views will most likely change, and that is a good thing! Instead of being forced and pressured, the changes will come naturally with YOUR journey. 


Kathryn Terry, MS, CPT, PN 1

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How To Handle Nutritional Speed Bumps To Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle

How To Handle Nutritional Speed Bumps To Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle

Fallen off the “new year, new you” wagon already? Have you finished your Whole30, or figured out that your body isn’t meant to run on fats as a primary fuel source? 

Did you finally realize how much time it takes to follow the strict rules of a fad diet and decide we no longer have time for that? Or maybe you just finished a challenge or detox and are looking for a new road map to follow so the scale doesn’t go back the wrong way. 

If you currently find yourself looking for a sustainable plan to optimally fuel yourself for a healthy lifestyle, look no further!


While we are mostly all aware of our self-proclaimed “good habits” and “bad habits,” we still struggle with changing them and breaking them long-term, even when we have good intentions. Fad and crash diets with well laid out road maps seem like an easy answer to breaking old habits, but unfortunately most of the time they do not do anything to transition you from poor, old habits to new, healthier ones. 

Usually cut and dry plans are the quickly successful ones, yet also the plans that only provide short-term success. To sustain your health and wellness goals beyond a 6 week or 60-day challenge, we must turn to true habit change. 

Where To Start

Step 1: Identify the habits that you want to change. And I don’t just mean continue to complain about how you can improve to your gal pal or your mom. I mean actually make a list of nutritional and/or health and wellness habits you would like to change over the next few months. (Yep, you read that right. This is a process and not a quick fix.) 

Step 2: Pick a starting point. Which habit that you change would make the biggest impact initially? Is it reducing your diet coke intake? Or putting up the cell phone before bed? Or is it getting up from your desk more than twice for a bathroom break during your workday? A starting point is personal, and I have a feeling you know what could make a big impact for you if you finally changed it today. 

Step 3: Replace the old habit with a new one. Our habits are rooted deeply in our subconscious. If we try to just toss one out and figure life out without it as we go, we’re gonna struggle! I recommend finding a new, healthier habit to put in the place of the old habit. Drinking 2 extra bottles of water. Establishing a new nighttime routine that includes stretching or mediation. A 7-minute desk movement detox every 2 hours of sitting down at work. 


So now we’ve removed something less healthy and replaced the habit with something more healthy. Sounds like a win to me! However, habit changes are not always going to be easy. You will not change your habits completely overnight.

I do not expect 7/7 perfection when it comes to daily habit changes each week with my clients, and you should not expect that for yourself. There will be days that are less than your new ideal, but those moments are when you have to stay strong and make up your mind to get back at it tomorrow! You have not fallen off the path but merely hit a speed bump. Don’t let that knock you out of the race to having a healthy lifestyle.

Know that your healthy habits should also adapt over your lifetime, particularly as your health and wellness goals change. As your daily routine changes, so should your habits. Each time you find yourself encountering a change or needing to hit a reset, go back to step 1 and look at what you want to change. You will continue to grow into the healthiest version of yourself each time you revisit that step. 

If you need help adapting to some tricky situations like post-pregnancy, menopause, or during a time in your life where you find yourself mostly sedentary during the day, please reach out. I love helping clients use habit changes to reach their goals, and create a good foundation beyond our time with each other. Together we can overcome some temporary speed bumps and get you right back on the road to success.

Kathryn Terry, MS, CPT, PN 1

Need Help With Proper Nutrition?

We are here to get and keep you healthy. We treat the whole person with affordable, accessible Primary Care, Nutrition, and Fitness guidance.