Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My first fitness investment -- Motivation in the form of a HRM watch

So I see photos ALL THE TIME of friends and people I follow on social media with their special workout watches. I've never really understood the point --- nor did I want to fork up $100 - $200+
to buy one, especially when the treadmill or elliptical would tell me my calories burned as long as I entered in my age/weight and used the HRM (heart rate monitor) sensors.

That's enough.................right?

Well, maybe, if you're not concerned with calories burned and getting the most out of your workout. For me, I am focusing not on losing weight and burning normal calories--- but rather, burning FAT calories. Little did I know that your HR makes a BIG difference on what kind of workout you get and where the calories that you burn are coming from.

To lose weight in the past, I would jump on the treadmill and jog/run for a certain amount of time or miles -- without concern to my HR. After talking to a few trainers and doing my research online, I realize that working out at a certain HR can give more results and help towards whatever your goals are -- whether it is trying to lose pounds (high HR for burning more calories) or lose fat (lower HR for burning more calories from fat).

I started looking at HRMs that I had seen from other people I know or follow a few weeks ago. Most people either had a polar fitness watch or a garmin watch. Both were watches, and both came with chest straps. I didn't even know where to start, what to look for, etc. This was a first for me in the fitness world --- so off I went!

For me, since I'm not a crazy hardcore athlete -- I decided that the most important things in a HRM watch  that I needed were:
  1. Ability to accurately track my heart rate
  2. Ability to show calories burned (specifically, those burned from fat!)
  3. Ability to show/keep time (its a watch, duh!)
Simple, right? I didn't need anything fancy or with crazy extra features.

So, after deciding my needs as a consumer, I went where I know best to research --- online! I read information about watches, HRMs, whats best -- whats worst, average costs, reviews, etc. until I worked it down to three main watches of which two, coincidentally, happened to be the same two that I had seen many friends and people that I follow wear.  The two were the FT4 ($65) polar watch and the pink/grey garmin ($190). The other being a polar upgrade -- the FT40 ($102).

I did more research, comparing, reading reviews and asking people that had them what they thought. I came down to a couple conclusions:
  1. I wanted to be able to get the watch/HRM wet, in case I ever forgot to take it off or wanted to count calories from swimming
  2. I didn't want to spend a small fortune on a HRM
  3. I shouldn't pick a HRM based on which color I love the most
After realizing these few things, the Garmin HRM was OUT and I was left to the two polar watches. Again, I went back and compared the two.


Both had what the basics of what I needed, but the FT40 had a few extras -- like the ability to use it in water, it had a fitness test and a training mode, it shows % fat burned, minimum and max HR, and even holds your data weekly!

So, I got on amazon (I have a prime account -- good prices, free 2 day shipping and only $3.99 for next day, an excellent return policy, etc.) and bought my FT40 in white (fyi: they come in LOTS of other colors) for $102. I paid for next day shipping because I was ready to get started!
I set up the watch the evening it came in the mail -- SUPER SIMPLE, basically like any watch you had to set date and time, as well as set your age, weight, etc. BOOM - DONE!

Using the HRM strap/sensor was suuuuuuper simple -- you just clip on a sensor to an adjustable strap that goes just under your chest -- and then put the strap on. The watch is automatically connected to the HR sensor -- so there isn't any work in getting things "configured." The data just goes wirelessly from the sensor connected to the strap around your lower chest to the watch. MAGIC.

I used the HRM the first night for a brief 20 minute jog but didn't really use it other than to monitor my HR.

Last night I went to the gym with a friend and really got some use out of it. I worked out for 35 minutes --- a warm up on the treadmill and I hit the elliptical hard (I love those things because I burn like double the calories in the same time as I would on a treadmill I feel like... not to mention the whole "less impact on your body" thing). Anyways, I ended up getting my HR very high and then working to raise my resistance, lower my speed, and eventually got to an area where I was burning more fat and was more within a zone that would, as I was trying, to burn more calories from fat. I ended up burning 437 calories total. It was a great workout and I am excited to learn more about the watch.

A couple IMPORTANT things that Ive noticed about the watch:
  1. It makes me more aware of where my HR is and then I can make changes to get my HR where I want it to be to achieve that workouts goals.
  2. Its motivating! Getting on a machine is so much more fun and interactive because I actually get to measure my workout and change things to accomplish what I want
I also noticed that the HRM kept basically the same HR as my machine did (so that's good, they're on target). However, during my warm up my treadmill said I burned 87.8 calories and my HRM said that I burned 134. I'LL TAKE IT. --- treadmills aren't always accurate, and a programmed HRM (meaning your weight, age, height, etc. is already in there -- you do this during set up) is more accurate.

Anyways... that all goes to say that I LOVE MY HRM!! Its simple, functional, motivating, and is just what I needed to start making progress towards my goals.

I would definitely recommend getting a HRM watch if you have any fitness goals at all... its seriously worth it! Do your research and get one that fits your needs and your budget --- I SWEAR you wont regret it!