gad-gets • noun: small, useful devices
More Sophisticated Options
Once I started my journey to physical wholeness, I realized that just walking 10,000 steps a day wouldn’t cut it if I wanted to improve my health. As I read and studied the latest research on fitness and weight loss, I realized that I had lazy exercise habits. In order to actually condition my body, I had to get my heart rate up on a regular basis. That discovery sparked an interest in heart rate monitors.
I wondered why I always struggled to lose weight. My heart rate monitor helped solve the mystery. I have an unusually low resting heart rate—not because I’m a super athlete or anything. According to my doctor, some people just have low heart rates.
Since I have a lazy attitude about exercise, I need the accountability of something beeping at me telling me that I need to work harder. Not everyone needs this. Some people will want the community that comes from some of the more comprehensive apps and equipment packages.
Chest Strap and Watch or Phone Combos
For about $50, you can purchase a chest strap that works with the fitness program on your Android or iPhone. I haven’t tried one of these, because my I purchased my first chest strap and watch combo before phones got smart enough to interface with them.
If you don’t have a smart phone with a fitness app (the app comes pre-installed on iPhones), there are many reasonably priced chest strap/watch options. I used this combo for three years. One drawback of the chest strap involves getting it to adjust properly and actually read your heart rate. I learned I had to wet the sensor before it would work (ick).
Once again, think about how you want to make the gadget work for you. If you only plan to use it when you exercise, don’t spend a lot of money on it. If you like data and plan to adjust your habits based on data, you might want to consider a fitness tracker.
Fitbit offers a wide variety of fitness trackers. I started with the Fitbit Charge HR (HR stands for heart rate) because I wanted a heart rate monitor that didn’t stick to me. Some may wonder if a tiny monitor on one’s wrist can accurately read a heart rate. Let me assure you, it works better and faster than a chest strap.
The wrist heart rate monitor uses the same technology that doctors use when they attach a little finger clip on your finger to measure your pulse and oxygen rates. I had to spend five days in the hospital shortly after I got my Charge HR. I passed the time comparing my Fitbit and the readouts on the hospital monitors. The readouts remained the same throughout my visit.
The Fitbit measures more than heart rate, though. It uses movement algorithms to discern what kind of exercise you happen to do. Aerobics, walking, running, bicycle riding, and elliptical training all show up correctly.
In addition, the Fitbits with the heart rate feature (Charge HR, Blaze, and Ionic) will even track the quality and duration of your sleep each night. You can also set it up to remind you to move.
I love the Fitbit community for motivation. I have a friend who constantly pushes me to take more steps (her weekly accumulation hovers around 120,000—needless to say, I like it when she goes on vacation). You can set up workweek or weekend challenges with Fitbit friends.
Other companies make gadgets that do the same thing, the Apple watch, for instance, now has a heart rate feature. I just happen to know more about FitBit because I’ve had one for three years.
I first discovered Fit Star (not an affiliate link) when I upgraded from my Fitbit Charge HR (the charging mechanism kept going out) to a Fitbit Blaze. For $40 a year, you can choose a workout plan and access it on your computer or phone. None of the workouts require more than simple equipment (most of them require no equipment at all).
After each set, the user can rate the move as being too easy, just right, or too difficult. This helps the program determine your fitness level and what moves to send your way. While I enjoy having an adaptable trainer, I discovered that once I locked into a plan, I couldn’t swap to another one. For example, I think I’d rather use the yoga moves, but since I purchased the conditioning moves, I can’t change. I would need to subscribe to the premium yoga plan for another $40.
Nike Training offers the same sort of program, only it doesn’t cost anything. The workouts are quite as elegant as the Fit Star workouts, either.
If the name Shawn T rings a bell, you’ve probably already heard of the Beach Body line of products. I purchased my first set of Beach Body DVDs five years ago, and powered my way through the entire Insanity series. After that experience, I decided that maybe T-25 might suit my age and time limitations better.
In the intervening years, Beach Body has added an on-demand service (not an affiliate link). This makes their products much easier to use. For $99 a year, you can have ANY of the Beach Body programs on demand—no DVD required. I paid twice that amount for the two DVD series that I purchased. My laptop doesn’t have a DVD drive, which makes it difficult to exercise on the road.
Either way, Beach Body products provide the perfect solution of motivation, variety, and encouragement.
The Importance of Accountability
As an introvert, I enjoy interacting with people on my own terms. I can cheer my Fitbit friends every day, but never have to wait for them to show up to exercise with me. I can challenge them to a friendly duel (of steps, of course) when I feel the need for extra motivation.
Nurture Yourself Takeaway #23—find some way to track your progress, someone (or something) to encourage you on your journey, and healthy ways to celebrate your success.