treadmill

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?

Accountability Buddy

Guess what? I’m done nursing!

In December I talked to the lactation consultant about the issues I was having with breastfeeding–Logan didn’t seem interested anymore, he was easily distracted and would squirm and fidget and only nurse for a few minutes. As a result my supply was tanking. I did a last-ditch effort with some Mother’s Milk Tea and lactation cookies and didn’t see much of a difference. The consultant said it sounded like Logan was losing interest and if we wanted to wean soon, it was ok.

My goal was to breastfeed for 9 months. We ended up making it 10.5 months and I was ready to be done. While I loved breastfeeding and I knew I’d miss that part of it, I hated pumping at work, I hated being tied to the pump and a schedule and…all of the other stuff. The weaning process was actually pretty easy and I did it in such a slow way it was never that uncomfortable. I was so glad to be done pumping, too!!

So now that we’re done breastfeeding that means I have my body back! And I can start focusing on losing the baby weight!

Even though I’ve been counting my calories and exercising consistently for the last 11 months, I wasn’t really losing weight. I was talking to my friend Debby recently and she suggested that we become accountability buddies to try and lose weight together. We both wanted to lose 20 pounds. I agreed to give it a shot!

Debby does Weight Watchers and has been successful in the past. WW never really appealed to me because I’m a calorie counter and trying to re-learn something and figure out a point system didn’t appeal to me. Plus, I never felt like I needed the accountability and support with Weight Watchers meetings. I still don’t feel like I need the support, but I kind of feel like I need the motivation. I’m hoping buddying up with Debby will give me a little boost to get started.

We made a Google spreadsheet to share our weigh-ins, exercise, calories (or points) and Debby added water. (I need to figure out how to track my water because I don’t really drink it out of things that have measurements.)

Week One

We picked 2/13 as our start date. We both weighed in and logged it on the shared Google Drive Spreadsheet we created. I had recently lost almost 3 pounds (no idea how) but was bummed to see it back on the scale the morning of my official weigh-in. Oh well. I put it in the spreadsheet.

For the last 10 months or so I’ve been logging my calories in MyFitnessPal per usual and I was doing around 1700 calories as a base. If I worked out, I ate a little bit more. I did not factor in the extra calories I burned breastfeeding because I didn’t want to get comfortable having TONS of extra calories!!

So for Day One I reduced my calorie base to 1600 instead of 1700.

Day Exercise Calories for the Day
1 Rest Day 1685
2 Bike trainer, 238 calories burned 1407
3 Strength training at home, 390 calories burned 1732
4 Rest Day 1744
5 Run at lunch, 2.75 miles, burned 363 calories  1730
6 Swim, 300 calories burned 1650
7 Sick Sick

It was kind of fun seeing what my friend was doing. We gave each other encouragement, leaving comments in the spreadsheet kind of like Easter Eggs. 🙂 It wasn’t empty “good job” comments but nice encouraging words.

I was feeling REALLY awesome about running during my lunch break again! I think I can make that happen once a week, which will free up my evening to be with the family, instead of rushing to the gym. I felt very accomplished after running during lunch. It had been so long.

I was doing really well for almost 2 weeks and then….

Screeching halt on my momentum. I got sick. It happened right around my cousin’s wedding (TERRIBLE TIMING!) and so I took a few days off from working out (I still counted my calories) and the day I got back to it working out? I pulled a muscle in my back.

Like really, Universe?!

The story doesn’t stop there. THEN the next day (after a few visits to the chiropractor and massage therapist) I got sick again. This time? Strep throat. You have GOT to be kidding me. I spent three days in a fevered haze in so much pain, unable to swallow even water. It was truly awful. Thankfully the penicillin kicked in almost right away and I started to get better.

But damn, that was a bad week. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, but still managed to stay in my calorie range (under 1700 calories a day) despite being sick and not being able to (or wanting to) work out. The only upside to being sick was the lack of appetite. For three days my diet consisted of soup, mini bagels with cream cheese and ice cream. That was it.

By Monday, I was on the mend with both my illness and back. I’d say I was at 75%. So I decided to hit the elliptical during my lunch break at work. I did about 30 minutes on the elliptical, which made me happy, and I hoped that I was getting better on all counts.

I hope to see some progress soon. I may need to reduce my calories a little more than the 1600 but I will see how it goes! I hope to do another post with progress soon.