Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Heart Rate Monitors and why YOU should buy one

I shared awhile back that I started using a BodyMedia fit media arm band and I want you to know I am continuing to use it. Let me say really quickly, that I think this is a really GREAT tool for most people, but, I am now completely sold on heart rate monitors. Let me tell you why I love heart rate monitors and then in another post I'll go over the fit media arm band or the body bugg, they are essentially the same product branded differently. I'll let you know why I think it may really work out for you. But back to my new obsession, heart rate monitors.

So you know when you go to the gym and they have all those heart rate charts on the wall, like this?

I see all those charts and all the numbers kinda make my brain want to throw up and shut down. I have always avoided looking at these things, because it's too much effort. I undersand their point. I understand the validity of them, but I just want to keep things more simple. Honestly, I'm just kind of lazy about it. Who wouldn't be? Those charts are for super freaks. ;)

However, I have been kicking my very own butt spinning 4 days a week and I just realized in order to do this weight loss, become an awesome athlete thing, I need to be more effective. The idea is this. If you're going to workout and drench yourself in sweat, why would you want to waste time not being effective? If you are committed, if you're doing the work, why not do the best work? Unfortunately, you are rarely a good judge of the BEST work for your body, exercise wise. Our brains are terrific liars, they says, slow down, relax, I can't do this... but you know what? You can. Then sometimes you can do TOO much. It's a tangled web.

Let me tell you in simple people terms what I want. If I want to burn fat, loose weight, I need to be in the 60-70% zone, and so do you. I could calculate this myself or you could. I could stop in the middle of intense exercise and take your pulse and then calculate it while you are pushing myself mentally and physically. I could make excel spreadsheets, I could figure this out all by my lone or you I just buy a heart rate monitor. See what I mean? Just buy a heart rate monitor!

Real quick, lets look at my goals for this year. My ultimate goal at this point is to loose weight right? My secondary goal is to become a good athlete. Then my third goal, to measure all this effort is to complete the Tough Mudder in December.

What I've learned about my body using a HRM

Spin class rarely keeps me in a fat burning zone, it burns a lot of calories, almost 500, but it only has about a 21% fat burn effect. Meaning that for my hour of working out... I'm only loosing 100 calories of fat. It burns through my glycogen stores, but it also helps to increase endurance and oxygen capacity. This is a GREAT zone to be in to become an athlete and to prep me for the 10 miles of running in the Tough Mudder. So I have no plans to stop, but for now, spin isn't the class I am making a priority, because it's not the big fat burner.

Where do I burn the most fat? Those classes are fast moving heated yoga classes, pole where I'm utilizing a lot of core and upper body strength and conditioning class where we do squats, push-ups, sit-ups and all that 'fun' stuff. Those classes are upwards of 50-60% fat burn. Even though overall, I burn less calories, they are more effective in working towards my first goal, which is weight loss.

The theory and evidence should work like this. If you are counting calories and you should be. You can go with lower impact classes to start and burn more fat and less calories, as long as you are still in a negative calorie deficit. Does that make sense? If you start your journey this way, you build more muscle, which burns calories throughout the day.

I would never have known any of this, without a heart rate monitor. You hear me? It's one of the best $100 you could ever spend.

I HIGHLY recommend you go with a heart rate monitor that has a chest strap. I was really weirded out by the idea of wearing a strap on my chest. You know what? It's not a big deal at all. The only time it's a lil' funky is when I'm laying flat on the ground, but that shouldn't happen a lot when you are exercising anyway. The thing with monitors that are JUST a watch, they may look better, but you have to STOP, insure good contact and get a measurement. Lets face it, you may look kinda tarded stopping in spin to measure your heart rate. Just get a chest strap, trust me on this, it's one less step. Real quick: You do have to slightly wet the chest strap when you put it on, so it gets a more accurate read. Don't freak out, you get used to it.

After reading a lot about HRM's I purchased the Polar Ft40F from Amazon. It's $110 and the one I kept coming across when looking up weight loss and heart rate monitors. I am in LOVE.

I also purchased the flow link from polar. This allows me to upload all my workout info to the polar website for free. It shows training zones, etc. The website is VERY thorough and I'm still not sure it's user friendly, it's one of those things that kinda makes my head spin, but I'm figuring it out. I really like having the data in front of me and figuring out what I can do. All of these numbers come in handy with my calorie counting.

So the point of this? GO BUY A HEART RATE MONITOR! If I was Oprah, I'd totally buy you one. I'm not though. But be your own Oprah. If you are really trying to loose weight through exercise and eating better, this is one of the best investments out there.

Another thought, I know a lot of runners talk and coo about their Garmins. These are even more fancy heart rate monitors. They can tell you the color of your hair, the exact location of the president, wind speed, chill, what toenail polish you wear, whatever. They are super cool.... for runners. If you're a runner, if you have a goal to be a runner, upgrade to this type. If you aren't, I don't know that they are really necessary. Unless you can't remember your toenail polish color.

I don't care what you get, unless it's not a HRM with a chest strap! Do it! Change your life! Feel the love. Dedicate. Hardwork. Live better. It's so worth it!


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