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Fitness Tracker questions - all input helpful! (no complaining here)

Friday, February 03, 2012

I told myself I was divorcing my scale. I don’t know why I continue to go back to those people, places, and things that drive me so crazy. Well, I’m signing those divorce papers now until the next 5% Challenge starts. Then we’ll probably reconcile as we tend to do.

I was thoroughly disappointed in my scale reading this morning but still did my workout as scheduled. I was just not having as much fun as I usually do with my KenpoX workout. But alas. I did it. I have talked myself out of being a bum about the situation since I put on my smaller pair of jeans and I didn’t have to do that thing where I pull each leg up individually over my thighs and tighten the belt so they don’t slip down. Not slipping cause they are too big, slipping cause my thighs are big. So that didn’t happen. I’m not sure if these jeans ended up in the dryer or not so that could have something to do with that success as well. Anyway, I’m not going to let this ruin my healthy eating streak. I’m going to stick in my range that Sparkpeople has provided me and I’m going to ask for everyone’s help!

My question is about my calorie range. I have the M2, mytrak, which you may have seen as part of The Biggest Loser. Honestly, I have never watched the show so I can’t say if it’s actually been on the show or just endorsed by some of the contestants. Couldn’t tell you but I bring it up because you may have heard of it that way. I don’t remember exactly how much this cost me when I bought it last summer. Somewhere around $100-$125. I wear it all day everyday. I’ve been completely satisfied with it’s tracking until I started up with P90X. This tracker calculates movement. P90X is much more strength, balance, and endurance. When I do something while standing still, the MyTrak just doesn’t pick it up. For example, my Thursday workout was P90X Legs, Back, and Ab Ripper X. Then when I wanted to reach my calorie and activity goal on my MyTrak, after work, I decided to do a Bob Harper DVD. I thought I was going to do some light cardio but I was wrong. It was more of a cardio/strength endurance workout and 45 minutes. My MyTrak only caught my 32 minutes and 420 calories burned. Now, I did over 2 hours of exercise so I must have burned more than 420. Sort of less than satisfying to see that number.

On closer inspection, I have found that I can order the Polar Heart Rate monitor that synchs up wirelessly and will get those numbers. I’m going to do that today so some of these questions may be unnecessary if the heart rate monitor does what I need it to do.

I’m currently trying to save money to buy a home. I’m trying not to go crazy on my spending so I’m doing extra research we could say. I can order the top of line BodyBugg through my health insurance for around $150 which includes maybe one year subscription. I don’t really like that I’d have to wear the BodyBugg on my arm all the time. It’s not particularly attractive and would bring up a lot of questions. However, it is highly endorsed and helped my SIL lose 65 lbs in 9 months. She loves it. How well does it do tracking strength training calories? Does it work like a heart rate monitor even though it’s on your arm? Can you wash the band? Would it be better getting the one that links up to an app on your smartphone or does that not really make a difference? Is there a different heart rate monitor that gets worn during certain workouts?

Now Fitbit… Does this do anything with strength training? This seems very similar to what I use so it’s all about adding up those extra calories that I have been missing. Do you need to add the heart rate monitor to get good numbers?

Thank you for all of your input. I’m just trying to make sure I can adjust my calories consumed since it’s very frustrating working so hard and not losing the pounds. I know it’s not all about that, but it really helps. Really helps! I’ll be doing my P90X 30 day measurements and pictures soon so I can share (if I’m feeling confident about that) and see where I'm going with all of this.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    wow, you're making a technological science out of this, and an expensive one to boot. all i do is watch what i eat, and do some exercising that's fun, like walking and dancing, about 2 hrs daily; try to average a calorie deficit of about 500 calories a day, and that's it. then enjoy life....
    2318 days ago
    Hi Laurie,

    First, a big reward for you for your continued efforts to love healthy! You just keep it going, despite the obstacles, and I find really motivating.

    For your success, I would suggest to look at it with these two approaches, based on my recent experiences.
    emoticon If you want performance, do what "you have been always doing".
    emoticon If you want learning, "try something new". This latter probably won't give the results in the beginning, but will give you more options to reach what you want.

    As for your content:
    Hear rate monitors are considered by many as the best method to measure body effort. For exmaple, Mark Allen, ironman - triathlon world champ uses Hear rate as the basis for his triathlon coaching.

    The most flexibility will be given by a smartphone app, that is linked to the hear rate monitor, and many applications give lots of possiblities, with graphs, post exercise, and so on. I use on my Nokia N8, which is basic, but for Android, endomond has a pro app (still low cost), which has all kinds of alarms and zones for in situ tracking and guiding during the exercise.
    If you want something for your arm to read, I would pick the Garmin 910XT.

    The main difference between heart rate monitor sensors is water resistance for swimming, or not.

    Otherwise, for precision the best are those that are wrapped around the chest.

    Fitbit - it's also on my list.
    The advantage it will give, is the steps over the day presented on a daily graph, so one can identify which periods of the day are the lowest in movement, and with an 80/20 rule, injecting movement onto those areas will give an immediate boost to overall movement.

    As a final notice, the golden rule for weight loss is it's about 70% nutrition, and 30% exercise. I can totally confirm this with my own experince, the first three months here on SP, I just ignored all the articles and warnings to do exercise, and I continued to do zero exercise. I was just changing my nutrition, and first tracking it, then staying in the calorie range. In three months I lost about 12 kg (26lbs).

    As for tracking in general, I think this is really good, and any kind of tracking you, will improve on your healthy life.

    To try something new:
    I filled a Kolb LSI learning test, and looked what is my preferred way of learning. And then I choose the advices from the other learning approaches, and teamed up with people from those areas. At the beginning it is slow, but on the long term it improves me a lot.
    For example, my highest points are in Accomodating, and it recommended to work with data, test theories. Therefore tracking, and analysing my data, improves for me always a lot, in whatever area of my life I look at, healthy lifestyle, projects at work, my finances.

    2318 days ago
    I also ditched a BodyBugg for the same reason as Nat. It really only works for activities with rhythmic arm motions like walking or elliptical -but only if you use the arm handles. You will find the same issue with iphone apps and anything else that relies on an accelerometer for motion based activity detection (which it sounds like that is also the mytrak). I did notice the new device on BL and wondered if it incorporated a heart rate monitor. The one thing that those devises do well is show you how little you burn when you sit at a desk job. That is really the only usefullness I found with it. When I wore the BB along with my Garmin HRM for a walk or run, the BB overestimated my calories. I found it frustrating and demotivating that every week it would calculate my deficit and then when I put in my loss it would tell me I need to do a better job of tracking my food because my loss didn't equal my deficit. Grrr. Sold that sucker on Ebay.

    There are many HRM's available and just as many differences in accuracy. I chose the model I have because it offered customization with actual calorie burn data obtained from a BMR and heart rate zone assessment. So what I have now is the most accurate tool possible for a recreational athlete and professional loser, LOL.

    My BB was off by 20% on what it did record. That's a lot. Then it was useless for spin class, ST and bootcamp type workouts. So I found a solution that worked for everything I did. HRM's are not intended to be worn all day for recording your every move although I know a few people that did it just to see what they would get. I don't think that's a reliable reporting. The best way to calculate your daily calories is to determine your BMR for your height/age/weight, add 20% for basic daily tasks with a desk job, then add in whatever you burn through exercise. That gives you a total daily expenditure. Take that number and subtract 300-500. That's the amount of calories you should take in daily to have a 1/2-1 pound average loss for the week. I use my HRM for my calories burned and enter that into my SP fitness tracker under my custom favorites.

    Your choice for a calorie measurement tool is very personal and depends on what you want to measure and the activities you regularly do. Once I knew my actual BMR, I didn't have a need for an all day armband. I was more interested in what I did during my workouts because the rest of my day was pretty much the same every day. Let me know if you have specifics that I can help with. You will find a tool that works for what you need once you determine what you really it to do.
    2326 days ago
    SP doesn't count ST exercises into cardio. however, I used to go to Curves with the Smart plan and it would show the calorie burn. I have figured that for my strength training, I'm burning 50 calories every 15 minutes. forgot how I came up with that, but I log that.
    2327 days ago
    I ended up ditching the BodyBugg. It's not good if you do bicycling on the exercise bike because you aren't moving your arms and you aren't going anywhere. Actually I had to take it off to log that in because you can only input other exercises if you aren't wearing it. It doesn't have a heart rate monitor.
    The FitBit only measures your walking/running/jumping type movement. You can tell it that you've done something different...strength training for example. You can put in your own calorie burn if you have a heart rate monitor but you can let it calculate for you as well.
    2327 days ago
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