training

Fall Into Fitness

I love Fall! I skip the Pumpkin Spice Lattes (gross) and the Pumpkin Beer (even grosser) but I love Halloween and Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie and cooler weather. I love the fall leaves and crisp air. And I love getting re-focused on my fitness goals.

For me, I tend to gain weight in the summer time and lose weight in the winter time (kind of the opposite for most people). Part of that is summer BBQs and vacations and indulging. And part of that is that in the summer time my fitness switches to the outdoors–hiking, biking, running. So lots of cardio and less weight lifting. Once the weather turns bad, I move my workouts indoors and focus on weight lifting.

Maybe you are the same. Or maybe you are ready to make a change in your life and want to kick start the plan before the mad-rush of January 1st!

So no more excuses! Here are some ideas on how to get started (or restarted) on your path to fitness!

Schedule It

If you are new to fitness or trying to get back on the bandwagon after a break, I think the best way to get into the habit of working out is to schedule it. I’ve done this since the beginning. I schedule my workouts in my Google Calendar like appointments that can’t be missed! It makes it a lot harder to skip the workout!

I know a lot of people say “never miss a Monday” because it sets the mood and motivation for the week. I kind of agree with that. But if it’s not your thing, maybe Mondays are the hardest day of the week for you, make your workout week start on Tuesday. Maybe you aren’t a morning person–schedule your workouts during lunch time, or go after work if you can. Figure out what works for you and what you will stick with, and do it!

Fit It In When You Can

Sometimes you just don’t have time for an hour long sweat session. In the past, I would have tried to make it happen no matter what, but since I had my son and went back to work full time, I am finding it harder to make that happen. Weekends are my long workout times because I do have more time. But during the week I just don’t anymore. I work long hours and when I get home I have about an hour or so to spend with my baby before he goes to bed. So I fit in my week day workouts during my lunch break at work. It’s not the same as before, but it’s better than nothing! And if you are really short on time, try interval/HIIT training or kettle bell training.

I have access to a shower at work, so that makes it easier. I have a bag of toiletries that I keep at work (travel sized) and mini hair dryer. I keep some towels at work, too. All of that makes it easier to workout at lunch. If you don’t have access to a shower, my tip: BABY WIPES! You can clean up and freshen up before going back to the office.

Favorite Lower Body Workouts

I is for Intervals

Too Busy to Exercise

There are actually a lot of weight and body weight exercises you can do without belonging to a gym!

Injuries

I was talking to a friend recently who is dealing with an injury that is lingering. I suggested that she try and find something she can do, if nothing else, for her mental health. I’ve been through too many injuries to count. I remember the worst, when I couldn’t run at all for months, I still had to find some kind of exercise I could do. That was when I started lifting weights. I needed some activity to maintain my fitness level and to help stave off depression from lack of activity. I focused on upper body weights and core and it made a huge difference!

8 Mistakes I Made While Injured

W is for Walking

Try Something New

If I lived in a place where the weather was a little more predictable, I would totally sign up for a Turkey Trot type of race. I think it’s a great idea! Signing up for a 5k in the Fall is a great way to give you something to focus on, a goal to work towards.

Couch to 5k

It’s even better if you can get a friend your partner to sign up with you! Doing something like a Halloween costume 5k or Turkey Trot with a buddy makes it more fun. Even better if you can get that person to train with you. Having an accountability partner can do wonders to staying on track.

If running isn’t your thing but you are lacking motivation to do fitness on your own, sign up for a fitness class you’ve been curious about!

Food

Another way to get back on track for Fall is that clean up the diet. This is especially important this time of year before the holiday “eat everything bad” season starts! Here are a few of my favorite recipes for fall:

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Rice Soup with Lime and Cilantro

Crockpot Cranberry Chicken

Garlicky Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash

West African Cashew Soup

Pecan and Wild Rice-Stuffed Squash

Enjoy!

QUESTION: What are your favorite ways to get fit in the Fall?

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?