Know Your Stats!
I basically never buy myself anything big, but my $10 watch from Target that survived years of lifeguarding on the beach, four marathons, and thousands of workouts over the years, finally died on me. I’d say I got my money’s worth out of that watch. I was going to just go buy the same one again because it’s been about three months now that I’ve been without one and I really like having one on when I workout. However, in spin class the instructor always talks about trying to get to a certain heart rate, and I see the fitness influencers in my life talking about these awesome watches that track your heart rate, calories burned, and whatever other stats you desire. So I did some research and found out that there are several different variations out there, but I finally found one that I just had to have; not only is it cute and small enough to fit on my tiny wrist without looking ridiculously bulky like the others I had tried on, but it also comes with a great heart rate monitor, calorie tracker, and tells me what percent of my calories burned were fat! This particular one is made by Polar, and it is the FT40 model. It was certainly pricier than my $10 basic one, but I figured if I got that much use out of that one then I could get that much out of this one and then some. So I bought it for myself and my guilt went away after yesterday morning when I did my first workout wearing it.
I must warn you, it is kind of addicting. I always knew I was blasting calories when I do cardio, but to actually know the real numbers is so exciting (or maybe just to workout freaks like me). Honestly, if my chest strap heart rate monitor wasn’t soaking with sweat after my workouts, I would wear it all day out of curiosity just to track my stats. When you set it up, you enter in all your information, gender, weight, height, DOB, which helps give you accurate stats on your workouts. What I found most interesting is the differences between the results my watch told me and what the cardio machines told me. Yesterday, before spin class I walked on the treadmill at maximum incline (15.0) and a speed of 4.4 miles per hour. I had entered in my weight on the treadmill but that was the only information it asked for. When I was done it told me I had burned 225 calories. My watch told me it was around 150. That’s a pretty big difference! All this time I thought that was such an awesome calorie blast if I was short on time—apparently I was wrong. Today before spin class I used the Stairmaster. Again, I entered in my weight when prompted, and at the end it told me I had burned 158 calories yet my watch told me I had burned 192 calories! I was pleasantly surprised since I expected my watch, the more accurate count, to tell me that I had burned significantly fewer calories again. Now I am even more thrilled about my new present to myself! I couldn’t believe the differences in calorie count, which, let’s be honest, is most important to us; especially for one machine to overestimate it by 67% and the other to underestimate it by about 25%. Then in spin class, I never had an idea of how many calories I was actually burning, I just knew by the amount of sweat dripping off me that it had to be a ton. It’s pretty exciting to know now that by the time I stroll into the office at 7:00 a.m., that I’ve already torched anywhere from 600-900 calories.
I am not suggesting you become compulsive about your body stats, nor am I telling you to go buy the watch that I just splurged on, but I do want you to know that if you’re basing calorie intake and output numbers based off cardio machine readouts, that you might be mislead. Also, being aware of your heart rate is really neat, and something that until yesterday, I couldn’t easily monitor. Sometimes you need that little readout to confirm that you are or aren’t going at your max to give you the extra push to kick it up a notch.
One last little tidbit, if you’re concerned about the heart rate chest strap monitor being uncomfortable, itchy, causing a rash, etc. (I was very apprehensive about this part), don’t be. You don’t even notice it, I promise!