Category Archives: gym

Garmin VivoFit Heart Rate Monitor Review

For Mother’s Day Logan (Michael 😉 ) got me a new heart rate monitor as a gift. I’ve been talking about getting a Garmin for a few years now.

I’ve been a faithful Polar HR monitor wearer for years but I feel like the Polar watch has gone downhill the last few years. I’ve had nothing but problems with them. The battery life is not great and even replacing the batteries when it dies, I was having issues with the watch just not working anymore. The price point for the Polar is “cheap” enough that whenever the battery replacement crapped out on me, I could just buy a new watch. But that was a pain and felt like a waste of money. It also irked me that I was basically having to buy a new heart rate monitor every year. I don’t know why the battery replacements wouldn’t work (at least 50% of the time). It was very frustrating.

So I started to look into some of the entry-level Garmin watches and I got really overwhelmed with reading reviews and trying to figure out which one would be best for me that I gave up.

I was really excited when Michael got this watch for me because he’s in IT and a tech guy and he reads ALL the reviews about this kind of stuff and is very knowledgeable about what is good, what is crappy, what features to look for, etc.

What I need in a watch or app is pretty basic. I want:

  • Calories burned
  • Heart rate
  • Miles ran/biked

That’s pretty much all I’m looking for. But this watch has so much more! It has dozens of activities to choose from. You can personalize it a bit, too. It also tracks steps and sleep.

I use the Garmin Connect App on my iPhone. I synced it with the watch and a few times a day it syncs automatically with the app and updates everything. ALSO, a cool feature, you can connect it to your MyFitnessPal app and it will record your steps/calories/activities in the app for your day. I like that feature. One less place I have to LOG everything! It just does it for me.

If you want to read a step by step instruction of the watch, with photos, check out this link. It was very helpful for me when I was first learning my watch. My review today is more about the functionality of it.

I didn’t think the sleep tracking would be all that interesting to me, but after using it for a few weeks I actually kind of liked that feature. It was interesting to see how well  I slept — it tracks light sleep, deep sleep, and when you are awake. It’s funny seeing the graph for the nights I get up with Logan!

It also tracks steps, which is interesting to see how active I am but I don’t really track the steps in any other way so I rarely look at that info. I will say that at work I have a standing desk and I walk around a lot to the printer, mail room, around the office, etc, so I move a lot during the day. The only time I really sit at work is in meetings!

Fitness

I’ve used the Garmin watch for a few different activities now. Hiking, walking, running, cardio in the gym and strength training.

When I used it hiking in Bend, I feel like the calorie count was WAY off. But I didn’t wear my Polar heart rate monitor to compare (I had planned on using both for the first few weeks to compare the stats and see how accurate the Garmin is).

I’ve worn it going for walks–long and short–and I also feel like the calorie burn is a little on the high side. Again, I need to wear my Polar on my next walk to compare the calories and see. Maybe I’m wrong.

Running — It’s accurate and it works great! I’ve worn it running outside three times now and I compared it to my Polar heart rate monitor and the Cyclemeter iPhone app for mileage and it’s accurate in the mileage and it’s accurate in the calories burned within about 10 calories.

I’ve worn it running on the treadmill once and the mileage was NOT accurate. It was off by about half a mile. Which is no big deal to me because I have the mileage on the treadmill I can look at. I am more concerned about it being accurate when I run outside.

Running on the treadmill gave me a fairly accurate calorie burn, when I compare it to the Polar HRM. It was about 20 calories more than the Polar. Not a big deal. Anything more than that and I’d be concerned, but 10-20 calories isn’t a huge deal to me.

The above photos were from my treadmill run. I started the Garmin 1 minute late and stopped it 1 minute earlier than the Polar, but despite that, the calories were pretty close. This particular run was 3 miles on the treadmill but the Garmin thought I did 3.58.

I like the screens that show heart rate and distance. It’s easy to scroll through and see quickly while you are doing the activity.

Swimming – I wore it in the pool to check it out. The first big issue I have with it? It doesn’t track heart rate while swimming. I found that odd and I’m not sure why it doesn’t do that. It gave me a calorie count at the end of my swim session but I doubt it’s reliability because it didn’t link in my heart rate. At this point in my life, swimming is very very easy and I’m very efficient when I swim–meaning, I don’t burn the same amount of calories in a session as I used to.

I highly doubt I burned 440 calories swimming. I wear my Polar HRM once or twice a year in the pool just to check in and see where I am at calorie-wise and it rarely changes–one session according to Polar is between 300-350 calories burned. So that is a little disappointing.

I do like that it gave me the break down of the strokes, etc. It also synced to the app and gave me info:

I kind of love the charts and break down of pace and when I rested and stroke info. One other glitch? When I tried to swim some laps with the paddle board, it stopped counting my yards. I guess it’s calculating everything by arm movement. That was kind of frustrating.

So in that particular session I did 2000 yards, even though it didn’t quite calculate it correctly.

PROS

  • No chest strap!!! It’s just the watch
  • Long battery life in between charging
  • It finds GPS quickly and doesn’t seem to lose the GPS signal
  • Accurate mileage and calorie burn
  • Easy to use
  • Syncs with Garmin Connect app for full data
  • Touch Screen on watch
  • LOTS of features
  • The watch is light and fairly comfortable
  • It notifies you to move if you’ve been inactive for too long

CONS

  • A lot of features that I’m not sure how to use yet, if you’re not really “techy” it can feel overwhelming
  • Sometimes it takes too much time to scroll through all the screens on the touch screen watch
  • It doesn’t show your calories being burned DURING the activity, only once you are done
  • Exercise limitations–You can add more activities to personalize it but it would be nice to have other options instead of just “other”
  • The limitations in the pool are a big con for me

I haven’t had a chance yet to test it out biking. I’m hoping to bike to work sometime in the next few weeks and write a review on it then.

QUESTION: What kind of heart rate monitor/activity tracker to you use? Thoughts?

Light Carbs Update #1

Recently I wrote a post about going “light carb“. I wanted to do another update post updating you guys.

A little while ago, we had some friends over for lunch who were in the middle of doing Whole 30. We made steak salad and grilled veggies for lunch. I’ve read a little bit about the diet as it was going around the blog world. Lots of people seemed to like it. Some people lost weight on it. A lot of people said it was a struggle, too much prep-work, and not something they could do long term. Our friends said that they felt less bloated while on the diet.

But Whole 30 just does not appeal to me. I cannot cut out dairy. If you are a long-time reader, you may remember that I did an experiment a few years ago–going gluten and dairy-free. After a month of doing it, my conclusion was that I could go gluten-free/low carb fairly easily but I couldn’t go dairy-free. Especially since I didn’t get a big pay-off for it!

Here are a few posts about it:

When The Diet Stops Working

Mourning Pasta

Dairy-Free Conclusion

Yes, I understand that Whole 30 is only for 30 days but…I tried that with the other experiment. It just didn’t appeal to me. Maybe had I seen some big results I could get behind doing it for a month.

So I’m eating carbs still in fruit and veggies. I’ve ditched bananas because they are too high in carbs and sugar.

The second week on the light carb diet I weighed in and was down 2 more pounds, for a total of 4 lost. I had to admit, it was a good jolt of happiness and encouragement! I know that that’s probably bloat/water weight and I should get too excited yet, but it definitely helped me stay motivated to keep trying.

Over the weekend Michael’s dad came to visit for Michael’s birthday so Friday night I had my “cheat meal.” Michael picked up pizza and I had two slices.

The three of us split a Bourbon Ball from Papa Haydn’s for Michael’s birthday:

So not great on the carb/calorie front for Friday night but Saturday morning I turned it around. We went out for breakfast and I got scrambled eggs, two sausage patties and instead of potatoes or hashbrowns I got fruit and instead of bread or biscuits, they gave me some extra fruit. I really wanted that biscuit! But I stayed strong.

After the gym I had lunch (some low-carb Indian food) and cottage cheese. Dinner was a salad with a cheeseburger (and no bun). It was a pretty good day for limiting my carbs.

On Sunday I had eggs and side of strawberries for breakfast, went swimming, and then had a salad topped with flank steak for lunch.

Today I weighed in and saw that I was down another .6 pounds! So slowly but surely I’m starting to see some movement in the right direction.

I really hope I don’t yo-yo like I have done for the last year. If I can lose 2 more pounds I will know for sure that this diet is working. I just need to get past that yo-yo threshold I’ve been struggling against since having Logan!

I also had a non-scale victory–a shirt that I wear fairly often (a large size) was super loose on me this weekend! Yay!