The numbers game

Ok, so by now you all know how anti-“numbers” I am, in general.

I hate scales. Stepping on one immediately dashes my confidence and forces me to focus on the number that lights up – if its too “high” in my mind, I beat myself up, always striving for the “perfect” number (let’s be honest ladies, will any number on that scale EVER make our eyes light up??).

And for that matter, I don’t think one should be measured by the size of her jeans or what size t-shirt she buys at Banana Republic.

I no longer keep a food diary because it made me OVERLY conscious of what I was/was not eating. Given my Type-A tendencies, this was a smart move for me – I know for some a food diary works, but for me it got to the point where I thought about food and calories much more than was healthy or sane.

Those are the numbers I hate.

The ones I like? Calories – as in calories burned.

At least I *thought* I did until I tried out my handy-dandy new Polar F4 heart rate monitor this morning. It was like an immediate response too – as soon as I realized I was burning fewer calories than I thought I was meant to/should be burning while running through my Kick tracks at home, I started to freak out a little bit. Ok…I started to panic.

I thought – ok so all this time I thought I was burning WAY more calories and I’m clearly not so now what? Am I a moron? Have I been working “hard” in my mind without that hard work translating to results (i.e. calories burned)?

Then, I realized (with my sister’s help, as usual) that there are SO many factors that go into that calorie burn. Today? Those factors were numerous – I woke up feeling like lead. My body was not moving as fast as it normally can and should. I’m burned out from the week and overtired due to PMS (it always wreaks havoc on my energy levels). So, long story short, I was not working nearly as hard in my living room running through Kick as I would under more normal conditions, and definitely not nearly as hard as I would in a team practice or in a teaching setting.

Yet, as soon as I saw numbers, all rational thinking went flying out the window. Like seriously, I need to get a grip or this whole heart rate monitor thing may end up going out the window along with my rational thoughts. 😉

I think I’ll give it another shot – with a good run, or a regular Kick class or a spin class to see how it goes. I’m also anxious to see how I burn during a weight lifting class or during STS. All fun environments to test out the monitor.

I think (and hope) I just need to realize that a number is still just a number – the benefits of a good workout are far greater than just how many calories I burned or how many miles I ran. I know this, based on the zillions of posts I’ve done on why I love to workout. Calories burned is just one of the zillions of reasons.

With that said, I still need to figure out all the nuances of using a heart rate monitor, especially as it relates to running. I haven’t gotten that far yet. Would love to hear from ya’ll on your heart rate monitor experiences though – am I alone in this numbers craziness??

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14 thoughts on “The numbers game

  1. I love my heart rate monitor, I have the F6. Here’s the thing, even if your HRM isn’t showing you the amount of calories you thought you were burning during your workouts, you are definitely speeding up your metabolism which is burning calories all day long like a furnace. Do not let these numbers affect you – at all. What I like most about HRM’s is to see where my heart rate is to keep it in the zones I’m looking for to improve my health and fitness levels.

    • I know, you are right Em, the metabolism thing is huge. I think I just need to get comfortable with my HR monitor and also either get more comfortable with these numbers for learning purposes or forgo it altogether. I’m hoping for the former vs. the latter. 😉

  2. I don’t like numbers either. I actually have a very hard time using the measuring part of the Garmin too because I feel like I’m never running fast enough and I’m always looking at it to gauge my speed.

  3. I think those numbers are just as hurtful. I wore a Go Wear Fit that measured my daily burn during my comp prep and I got so obsessed with burning more more more every day it was running me down. I think it is best to just work at a level that challenges us, eat healthy, and let our bodies be happy. 🙂

    • Tina, Lee – you both made me feel much better about being a numbers hater in general. At least I’m not alone in that mentality…I need to get back to just focusing on enjoying the workout for what it is, not for what numbers I’m hitting.

  4. Seriously sis, I hope you re-read your post and realized how this sounds – you are so fixated on the numbers and it’s not good for you, it’s just hindering you and you aren’t seeing the forest from the trees – WE WORK OUT EVERY DAY for the most part, and sometimes TWICE – so who the heck cares WHAT the number says, it’s how we feel, it’s the ridiculous amount of sweat pouring off us and it’s the feeling after you had a really great run, Ride, Kick, Power or STS – THAT is what I measure (and how I look and feel in clothes) and that is what you should focus on! You look awesome, and don’t let numbers fool you. XO.

    • Ok so yeah, I feel like a total moron after reading your comment, Jo. I needed to hear that, very clearly. I need to stop letting my obsessive tendencies from overriding what it is that I love about working out, how I FEEL afterwards, how I feel overall, and how healthy and fit it’s made me. You are right (mark that one down in the history books – I said it, you were RIGHT)

      • don’t feel like a moron – I’m just trying to get you to see what really matters 😉 It’s a learning process, it won’t happen overnight!

  5. Hey girl – like I have said before. My HR monitor is both a blessing and a curse! I expect every single workout to have the same calorie burn (in that I mean when I do Step Blast on Monday, then the next time I do it, it should be the same). It doesn’t work that way at all. Sometimes it’s close, sometimes NOT. Jolene is really right – so many factors to consider. Were you hydrated enough, did you work legs the day before, did you get enough sleep, etc. It’s a huge battle for me – that shiny pink HR monitor. Love/Hate.

    When running, I just use it to gauge how I feel overall in comparison to what the monitor actually says. Not sure if that makes sense. But like the other day when we pushed out that PR record run and I thought my lungs were going to freaking explode, my HR was never over 184. So, not gonna really explode like I thought.

    • I think it’s gonna become more hate than love for me, I’m afraid. Maybe I need to use it differently than I thought I was going to use it – more for running than anything else. At the end of the day I’d like to up my endurance in that area, especially for the half marathon coming, but I really don’t need to be obsessing over every last calorie spent. Seriously. It’ll do me no good, mentally. Thank you for hearing me out!

  6. I totally get this, since I just got my HRM a couple of weeks ago….a blessing, and a curse – right? 🙂

    I do find it interesting to see what the difference is in cals burned in, say, different spinning classes. But I’ll admit…I was taken aback when I was strength training (and doing Body Pump) and I didn’t burn many cals at all. And I think that *&^% is hard!

    But I think it does go back to what Em said – we have to focus on how it boosts our metabolism, long after we are done. And it is perfectly okay (actually, really healthy!) to have those days where our body is in recovery, and we might not work quite as hard to prevent injury.

    I’m trying to get the focus off the number, too – I realize they are NEVER good for me. Except maybe the heart rate number….now that I find interesting!

    • Maybe that’s the key, Holly – ignore the calorie burn number and focus on the HR number only. Hmm, food for thought.
      PS. Agree with you – Group Power and Body Pump – those are tough weight lifting classes, no matter what the darn HR monitor reads off 😉

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