Elliptical

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?

Meeting the Greats!

Road trip!

Over the weekend we took Logan up to Seattle. I had planned on taking him up there to meet my grandmas a few months ago but I honestly wasn’t ready for the undertaking. It seemed like an overwhelming feat to go up to Seattle with a teeny baby. I don’t know why, but now I was ready.

I was a little worried about all the crap we’d have to pack for the trip–just for Logan! The pack n’ play folds up pretty well. But we’d have to bring a lot of clothes and diapers (you never know what the day will hold–his record is 6 outfit changes in one day).

Anyhoo! The day started early. Michael went for a long run and then I went to the gym for a quick weights and elliptical workout before we hit the road:

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Logan did GREAT on the drive up to Seattle. He pretty much slept the entire time until we got to Boeing Field, then he woke up and started making noises, getting a little fussy, but not too bad. We got to my parent’s house and unloaded the car and then went to visit my grandma Helen.

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She was SO happy to finally meet the babe! It was so wonderful seeing her face light up at the baby. It was pure joy. It made me happy and brought some tears to my eyes, honestly. I was really happy that Logan could meet Great Grammy Helen!

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He did really great and was in good spirits–probably because he had a three hour nap in the car! We spent about an hour and a half at her place. He got to show off all his skills to his great Grammy and we got to take some photos and get all four generations in one photo, too.

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Then it was time for her dinner and time to get going. It was such a lovely visit and I’m really happy we got to spend so much time together and she got to meet Logan. My grandma is going to be 95 this year! She’s doing great, too.

We went home and my mom fixed us all dinner. Salmon, broccoli and her delicious mustard bread (it’s seriously like crack–I can eat way too much of that bread).

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Dessert was fresh berries–strawberries and blackberries with whipped cream on top.

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Logan did so great. We were definitely out of our element, the schedule was all willy-nilly, but he rolled with it and was a rockstar pretty much all weekend. He slept pretty well, too, despite being in a new place. It’s awesome to see that he can be so flexible.

I’m sure part of it was that he was getting so much attention! He’s definitely spoiled. 🙂

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Sunday morning Logan woke us up bright and early, per usual, and I went to get coffee (not Starbucks–I think I’m the only Seattlelite who does not like it) and my mom made us buttermilk pancakes for breakfast. She used the recipe and Bob’s Red Mill mix that she used for my baby shower and they turn out perfectly!

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I had two small pancakes, a fried eggs and some bacon. It was perfect.

We had some time to kill before we were going to go visit my other grandma, Mary (my dad’s mom) so we drove to Roosevelt and went to the Maple Leaf park to do some walking.

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I think it was about half a mile loop around the reservoir and we did two laps around it. My dad pushed the stroller (which was super adorable). He was way into it and talking to Logan and telling him about the bike he’s building for him and then popping wheelies in the stroller. Dads. LOL

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So after the walk we drove down by the zoo and visited with my Grandma Mary for a bit. She lives in a nursing home after having a lot of strokes over the years. It’s hard to visit, honestly, it makes me sad and it’s hard because she tries to communicate but usually can’t. But this visit was different! She was able to get a lot of words out and she was ECSTATIC to meet Logan! And it was my dad’s birthday on Sunday and she remembered. All good signs if you ask me!

After our visit we went to get lunch at Dick’s, of course.

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Love me some Dick’s. It’s second to In-n-Out but it’s still pretty awesome. We went to the Wallingford one, which is the original.

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Then it was time for us to hit the road.

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We did not get as lucky on the drive home. It ended up taking 4.5 hours. We stopped twice to tend to Logan. He was pretty ok for most of it but when we had an hour left of the trip he got REALLY grumpy and started crying. It was pouring rain, too, so visibility wasn’t great. We stopped at a rest stop and fed him and changed him again and gave him a little play time and attention, hoping that would help.

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Then he fell back asleep and slept the rest of the way home. So even though we had to stop twice to feed/change him and he was a little fussy here and there, it wasn’t too bad.

Bella had been staying overnight at the dog walker’s house with her boyfriend Raja. 🙂 First stop in Portland was picking up Bells!

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She’s so funny. She LOVES Amy and Raja. I’m glad she had a good weekend, too. It was good to be home, though, back to our routine, back with all the animals under one roof and back to normal. It was a great weekend and I am so glad we finally did it! And it makes me want to do some more weekend trips to show Logan our favorites places!