New to My Fitness Arsenal: Polar H7

Polar H7

Polar H7 Bluetooth heart rate sensor

Picked up the Polar H7 Bluetooth heart rate sensor this weekend. Tested it out a couple times on walks with the family. The unit itself seems to work pretty well. It synced easily with all three iPhone apps I tried (RunKeeper, Endomondo, and Polar’s own Polar Beat.)

The real issue for me – and the reason I purchased a new heart rate monitor – is that of calories burned. Each app calculates calories differently, apparently, with RunKeeper on the low end, Endomondo on the high, and Polar Beat in the middle. RunKeeper appears not to use the heart rate data in calculating calories burned, which is a problem. My gut instinct is to trust Polar Beat because Polar has years of experience in this kind of thing and because its results fell in the middle.

It’ll get put to the real test tomorrow when I take it on a run.

So, what works for you in determining your calorie burn on a given exercise? Do you trust estimates or use something more technical?

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10 Pounds Down!

10 Pounds Down!

10 pounds down – 1/8 of the way to my goal! (Lose It!)

It’s been a great week, and it’s not over yet!  Today, I weighed in at 249.6 pounds – 10.4 pounds below my starting weight!  That puts me at 1/8 or about 13% of the way to my goal weight of 180 pounds.

Just to give you a refresher, on Feb. 11, I weighed in at 260 pounds – the most I’ve ever weighed. And that’s the second time in my life I’ve been that heavy. After losing 52 pounds a couple of years ago, I regained it all.

This time around, I’m running, walking, and working out at home using Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012 for Xbox 360, which I’ll review later. This week is the most active I’ve had in the last few years, possibly in my life. I’ve gone 14 miles running and walking. I’m working hard. I feel energetic. I’m excited about exercise and losing weight.

14 miles

My most active week yet – 14 miles Sunday-Thursday. (RunKeeper)

The big difference from my previous weight-loss endeavor is my approach. Before, I focused mainly on cutting calories with some exercise. I’m still cutting calories, but I’m focusing primarily on the exercise. (When I exercise more, I can eat more, which makes things a little more enjoyable.) I have goals for the amount of exercise I want to get each day and a plan for how to do it. It’s become more about being active and fit than just about losing weight.

I’m also discovering that I like running (though what I do could barely be described as jogging). I like the challenge and the time alone in the fresh air. It’s really been great.

I know I’m in that euphoric “honeymoon” phase of my fitness journey. I’ve been here before. I’m just trying to enjoy it while still preparing myself for the inevitable difficulties ahead.

How do you deal with the difficulties when they come?

My Fitness Tools

Fat Man Triumphant

Getting Moving

I was running! (Disclaimer, these are not my feet.)

It may be a minor victory to many, but to me, today began with great triumph.

Overweight as I am, I have tried for the last couple years to maintain a habit of exercise. I went to the gym for a while, but there was a lot of hassle involved in scheduling that so in October 2011, I decided to start running. We’d just moved into a big, quiet neighborhood with a couple of parks nearby, so I thought it’d be a great place to start.  I could do it whenever I wanted (preferably in the dark when there was no one around to see).  Running in the morning before breakfast seemed like a win/win.

One of my first runs

It took me a few months, but eventually, I was able to run the entire 30 minutes/2+ miles without walking.  Granted, my running was slow (and still is – Lose It! doesn’t even recognize the speed at which I run to be actual running!), but my heart rate was up, and I was burning calories!  On April 18, 2012, I hit my high point.

Then, the first week of May, my back went out.  I still don’t know what happened, but I was unable to run until the end of June.  I was never able to get back to where I’d been.  Every morning was a combination run/walk.

Then in September, I was laid off, and that was right around the time when I started developing foot pain.  With my foot hurting and nothing getting me up in the mornings, I quit.

I started walking last month upon restarting my weight-loss quest.  Then, this morning – probably fired up by my new shoe purchase – I decided to go for a run.  It was like the last few months never happened!  I made the whole 2.24 miles WITHOUT WALKING!

I’m going to fight hard to keep this up, but I have no illusions about tomorrow.  I’m just going to thank God for this victory and fight for more like it.

My First “Real” Running Shoes

Asics GEL-Kayano 19I bought a pair of Asics Kayano 19s today – my first pair of “real” running shoes.

I started running over a year ago (never very well, but I was doing it), but I quit a few months ago, in part, because my right foot has been hurting me. That was the only exercise I was getting.

It took me a while to figure out that it was my New Balance 690s that were the problem – along with my weight. Not that they’re bad shoes. They just weren’t the right ones for me.

I spent more money than I really wanted to – and quite a bit more than I’ve ever paid for a pair of shoes. Thing is, I’ve never been able to find a really comfortable pair of shoes for exercising. This time, I decided I needed to spend a little more and get a good pair of shoes so I don’t destroy my feet.

I went to a specialty shop. Josh at On the Run here in Houston’s Clear Lake area was very helpful. He helped me determine that I needed a stability shoe (which the ones I had were not) and showed me several shoes at different price points with differing levels of stability. I picked the ones that felt the best, and we’ll see how they work out!

If you live in the Clear Lake area, I’d definitely recommend On the Run. The store is staffed with runners who are helpful and knowledgeable.

All that being said, I can tell you from first hand experience that it’s worth some extra money to buy a good pair of shoes, whether you’re running or walking. A bad pair may do you more harm than you realize.

Roller Coaster

The Weight-Loss Roller Coaster

The weight-loss roller coaster. If only it were this much fun.

Losing weight is a roller coaster ride, that’s for sure. In the past, I’ve come out of the gate at break-neck speed, and the pounds have come off in no time at all. Then things have slowed to a crawl as my weight has started climbing again.

The problem is that I’m a little OCD. (My wife might say, “A little?!”) I know they say you shouldn’t weigh yourself every day, but I just can’t help myself (on the off chance that I’ve dropped some poundage). Worse, if I stop weighing myself every day, that’s a sure sign that I’m giving up.

So, how to deal with it? I’ve tried to make sure that I’m fully aware that my weight will fluctuate (sometimes drastically) over the course of a week, but as long as it’s on a general downward trend, things are going well. That can be hard, though.

What about you? How do you deal with the weight-loss roller coaster?