Fitness Friday #8: How Do I Love My Heart-Rate Monitor, Let me Count the Ways ...

After a brief hiatus, Fitness Friday is back, better late than never!

I am cracking up, though, about where we all are in our quest for fitness. Remember the first of the year? Remember the resolve that comes from a) getting plenty of rest after Christmas when everything has died down and b)eating WAY too many holiday cookies? Then, remember the great snow-storm of January "aught-seven"? Then, remember the great snow-storm of February "aught-seven"? And you no longer have resolve for anything except getting warm and staying warm and piling as much insulation onto your body as you possibly can by way of creamy soups, hot desserts, and coffee with more calories than a hot-fudge sundae? Well, spring has sprung (momentarily, anyway) and resolve is beginning again because some folks are thinking of the pool! I am in a glorious break between basketball and baseball -- which means I can go to the gym on Saturdays (I know, it doesn't float everyone's boat, but it makes me happy) and I can take a few moments during the week to actually prepare a healthy meal.

So, moving on:

Have I mentioned my heart-rate monitor? Like 500 times, maybe? 'Cause I LOVE it, I really do. Here's why: I hate to run. Yes, that's pretty much why I love my heart-rate monitor. I hate to run (I try to run, I HAVE run, I will run out of frustration or duress, but I hate it) so I enjoy walking with my dog. However, I find that if I don't pay attention to what I'm doing, I will be off collecting daffodils in my brain (I never actually collect daffodils, but I usually make brilliant speeches or write Nobel-prize worthy articles) and slow to a speed where any Granny could just shoot right past me. Before my heart-rate monitor, I could lie to myself and think, "well, I'm walking, therefore I'm exercising, right?"

Enter my heart-rate monitor. My beloved gave it to me one Christmas, on the condition that I wouldn't TELL anyone that was what he gave me for Christmas (kind of like when my mom wanted decent scales -- yes, bathroom scales -- for her anniversary; I come from a long line of weight-kooks). I had REALLY wanted one, though, and he pulled through!

My monitor has a chest strap that fits right about where the bottom of a sports bra goes and a watch that displays the beats per minute (BPM). When I first got it I was surprised at how little it took to get my heart rate up to 70% of maximum, which is a good training range. I also noticed, though, that when my brain would vacate my body and I would be off picking daffodils or something, my BPM were approximately at TV-watching level. Knowledge is power! So now I have 30-45 minute walks that are actually doing some good now that I can pay attention to my heart rate (w/o having to try the whole "pulse-on-your-neck-while-walking-THEN-there's-multiplication-involved" trick). I know my walks are doing some good because now that I've been watching it for over a year, I have to REALLY kick it into high gear to get my BPM up to about 70% -- my body has accustomed to what I was doing, so I have to constantly focus more to have an effective workout. This evening, I even had to run to initially get my heart-rate up. Bummer.

A side benefit is that I now wear my heart-rate monitor in my RPM (spinning) class. I wasn't worried about not getting my heart rate up high enough in there, nor am I worried about getting it too high, but I find that I give the class a little extra effort when I can see I'm not in any actual danger of passing out (vomiting, maybe, but I should keep breathing just fine). I find that I will challenge myself to go just a little further and get my BPM up just a few beats higher for a short amount of time before I take advantage of a recovery period. So, I think I'm getting a better workout there, too.

AND -- oh, my gracious, I can't believe I almost forgot this -- on the rare day that it rains or is yukky weather (like 22*!) and I go get on the treadmill at the gym, my treadmill reads my chest strap! I can set the treadmill on "fat burn" program and it will alter the incline of the treadmill to keep my heart-rate where I tell it! Isn't technology awesome?

This is the same brand of heart-rate monitor that I have, but it's really a step up. This one has some other features, including calculating how many calories you burned based on your heart-rate. Y'all know I'm DYING for that feature, right? Seriously, I am. Because I take this whole fitness thing to a creepy, mathematical level. You can buy heart-rate monitors at Target, Best Buy, Academy -- basically anywhere that fitness gear and/ or electronics are sold. As I mentioned earlier, they cost about as much as a decent pair of walking shoes. However, I have now had my heart-rate monitor for 15 months and have only changed out a $4 battery. I'm on my third pair of walking shoes in 15 months!

Obviously, you don't HAVE to have one, but I think it can really allow your workouts to work for you in the time that you have.


Roxanne said...

Much like, "You had me at hello," you lost me at "I even had to run." But, as always, I love reading anything you have to write and getting to peer even FURTHER into your psyche regarding exercise gadgetry.

I HAVE gotten the body fat measuring scales that not only tells my weight and body fat, but also tells my fluid content and what I am thinking of eating next Tuesday. I also write award winning speeches--or blogs--but the more I think the faster I go. . .unless, like tonight, my muscle begins acting up again so I pack it in and go home.

But Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday after I got my adjustment on Friday, I was bookin'.

Roxanne said...

That should say, "I also write award winning speeches--or blogs--WHEN I WALK. . ." seeing as how I've not been awarded anything in quite awhile.

The Lazy Organizer said...

I think we have an old HRM packed away in a box somewhere. Is it going to be pretty much usless compaired to the new monitors? My main problem used to be that I worked out too hard and made myself sick. I have learned that it helps to work out in the evening and I have also learned how to slow down before I push myself too far.

Finally we are all feeling better. For two weeks in a row I've made it to the gym five days a week! Please do not let anyone else get sick!!!

Linda said...

Off the subject here ... thanks for stopping by my blog. Any friend of Roxanne's is a friend of mine. And anyone who says that about my dog is like a blood relative. So glad you'll be able to make the funeral. Seriously--nice of you to visit and comment. Looks you're into fitness--it's a major theme in my life.

Merci said...

Cracking up at "you lost me at 'I even had to run.'" I can totally relate! The treadmills and bikes at the Y also have the heart rate feature - you just hold onto the silver handles and it'll tell you your HR. Kinda creepy really. I can walk, I can bike, but I will never ever run unless I'm being chased by a large hairy man weilding an axe. My body can't take it, my b**b* can't take it and my knees would positively crumble beneath me. I admire your running abilities though! Keep on keepin' on! And yeah, I'm headed to the gym this morning too. Darnit.

Amber said...

I, too received a Polar heart-rate monitor for Christmas but after an eight-week bout with illness, I have yet to do it. Oh, and the crummy weather. I'm actually dying to hit the trail to try mine out.

Happy partying!

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