Category Archives: swimming

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?

Weekend of Celebrating

The celebrating started Friday when I picked Logan up from daycare. He made me a Mother’s Day present at daycare! Footprint butterfly and a handprint on the bottom. 🙂

On Saturday we went to a friend’s house for a little surprise birthday dinner for another friend. My friend Star and her boyfriend Larry made a feast! They made marinated chicken and veggie kebobs and grilled them up. There was also rice (I skipped that to save my carbs for dessert!). I made a spinach, kale and chard salad topped with carrots, strawberries and feta cheese.

Yummy dinner!

Star made our friend Samantha a gorgeous Polish cake.

How beautiful is that cake? So pretty. It was really delicious, sort of like shortbread with custard and whipped cream. Logan ate some rice, chicken and strawberries and he LOVED the whipped cream. 😉

Here is the recipe:

Kremowka Papieska "Papal Cream Cake

From: http://www.europeancuisines.com/Poland-Polish-Kremowka-papieska-Papal-cream-cake-recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces butter
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 egg yolks
  • A pinch of salt
  • Custard cream:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 6 egg yolks

Instructions

  1. Grease well 2 8- or 9-inch baking pans / tins: coat with bread crumbs and set aside.
  2. Cake mixture:
  3. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender.
  4. Beat the egg yolks into the water: mix into the flour. Mix well.
  5. Divide in halves and spread/press each half to completely cover the bottom of one of the baking pans.
  6. Bake for approximately 30 minutes in a medium-low oven (325F / 160C): remove and let cool. Remove from pans when cooled.
  7. Cream:
  8. Scald the milk and vanilla. In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, salt, and egg yolks. Stir until very well blended (ideally, whisk to make sure there are no lumps). Add milk gradually. Cook over low flame, stirring constantly, being careful to scrape bottom of pan.
  9. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 3 minutes, still stirring constantly. When finished cooking, remove from heat and pour cream into a bowl; allow to cool, stirring occasionally until cold.
  10. When the custard cream is cold:
  11. Whether you're using puff pastry or cake, spread the custard cream thickly over the bottom layer. (If the custard is at all runny, put one baked layer back into a baking pan of the appropriate size and then do the spreading.) Then top with the second baked layer.
  12. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Cut and serve (possibly with thick whipped cream on top, if you like). A note about cutting: This is where calling this dessert a "cake" comes slightly into question, as it doesn't handle like a cake at all: the thick pastry cream center makes that impossible. The kremówka will always squish down somewhat when you slice it. However, it tastes so good that no one's going to care...
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=52143

The cake wasn’t overly sweet. It looks like it would be really sweet and rich but it was light and summery.

It was such a nice night! We had a great time and it was so lovely spending some time with friends.

On Sunday we celebrated Mother’s Day by going out to breakfast. (But first Logan woke me up in the cutest way…I was still asleep and then all of a sudden Michael said “Wake up mommy! Happy Mother’s Day!” and I open my eyes and see a big goofy grin on Logan’s face and then he giggled and laughed and crawled all over me. It was probably the best moment of the day!)

We went to Genie’s Cafe. We got there early enough that we got a table immediately! That is unheard of in Portland!

I got a complimentary Mimosa for Mother’s Day and a delicious mug of coffee (much needed). It was a busy morning but we got our food pretty quickly. I’ve been craving French Toast for about a month and kept putting it off. I decided to save it for my cheat meal for Mother’s Day.

The French Toast was perfect and delicious and really satisfied my craving. The one downside to cutting out carbs is that when you finally do eat a bunch of them, they sit like a rock and make me really sleepy. I just don’t like the way I feel after eating heavy carbs now. 🙁

Michael got the caprese hash and said it was really good:

Logan had a bunch of my French Toast and he loved it. 🙂 First time having it and first time having maple syrup. He’s a fan. Logan got me a gift (a new heart rate monitor–will review it soon!) and a card, which was very sweet.

After breakfast, Logan took a nap and I went swimming. It felt wonderful. Then we all ran some errands and went for a walk in between the rain showers. For dinner Michael picked up Pad Thai to continue my carb cheat day. It really hit the spot. Pad Thai is something else I’ve been craving for a long time!

It was a really lovely Mother’s Day and I was glad I got to spend the weekend with some of my favorite people!

As for the diet: I am going to reign it in today and tomorrow and try and really cut the carbs and weigh in Wednesday. Although I’m not looking forward to it!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!