Home Exercise 101Fat Loss An Ode to My Heart Rate Monitor

An Ode to My Heart Rate Monitor

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Oh, heavenly heart rate monitor, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love the way you, you sexy thing, you… I love the way you cling to my wrist and tell me the time all day, also inadvertently reminding me that I need to make sure I get in my workout for the day. You’re a regular watch, and you tell me the time, sure… but you’re a heart rate monitor. I look at you and expect to see a count of how many calories I’ve burned! Looking at you for just the time isn’t nearly as rewarding, satisfying, or enlightening. You force me to remember, like a string around the finger, that I need to get my workout in.

I love the way you help me monitor the effectiveness of my workout routines. I love checking you throughout my workout to see my heart rate nice and high, and it feels like validation. I’m really challenging myself! And, while I could just learn my body and fatigue levels, having that quantifiable figure on my watch makes a huge difference. Besides, I like being able to look down at my watch and see that, though I may feel like I’m dying, I can keep going.

I love the way the telemetry strap – the strap that you wear around your chest – syncs with the equipment at my gym and helps give me a more accurate heart rate reading as well as a more accurate depiction of my caloric burn. Grabbing onto heart rate sensors during my workout is hard – I feel like I have to slow down, stop, or move in unnatural patterns to get a feel for my heart rate, and quite frankly my arms are too darn long for all that… you’re not about to have me elbowing myself repeatedly just to take my heart rate! – having my heart rate transmitted to the machine lets it know that I may be working harder than it thought (or not as hard as it expected) and give me a more accurate caloric reading.

I love the way you keep track of how much time I’d spent working out each week, and I love that you try to set goals for me. You helped me set up fitness zones for my heart rate – Zone 1, Zone 2 and Zone 3 – and tell me which zone you think I should be working in if my goal is weight loss. You also try to set weekly goals for me – a minimum of how much time to shoot for within each zone, and how many hours I should spend working out to help me get closer to my overall goal.

I love knowing how many calories I’m burning throughout my workout. I like being able to account for that in my food diary – since I also journal about the things I turned down as well as the things I did eat, being able to include my caloric burn and the details of my workout for the day helps me make more of a “wellness journal” instead of just a “weight loss, tedious food intake journal.”

I even love your little attachments. I bought an out-of-date model of you, and though you didn’t come with the ability to monitor my speed and distance, I was able to get my hands on an additional attachment that could tell me both.

I especially love you for the full 24 hour periods I’ve spent with you, testing my metabolic rate to get an estimate of how many calories I burn each day. You helped me figure out just how much I need to be eating in order to power through my workouts… and you helped me understand why I felt so ravenous after certain days. Remember that day I ran eight miles, training for the Army Ten Miler, then went to the Under Armour event and forgot about the Core Fusion workout they were hosting, then still had to walk home? That was a 5400 calorie day…. and I was glad I knew that, so that I could understand why I inhaled that chicken.

Don’t ask me whether or not it was the whole chicken. Just… don’t ask.

I love you for the way you make me feel accomplished – you give me visible, viable metrics with which to understand my successes and failures, and you even show me a little trophy whenever I’ve managed to achieve all the goals you set up for me! You’re so supportive. It’s no wonder that my partner finds it suspect that I sleep with you every night.

He’ll just have to deal, though… because I’m not letting you go. Ever.

For those of you who are looking for your own heart rate monitor, I couldn’t recommend mine enough: the Polar FT60, available on Amazon. The Polar telemetry strap comes with your purchase, but also is available for sale individually for those who may have other monitors/fitness tech devices who want to be able to read their heart rate continuously on their machines. While I’m sure that more current models of the Polar monitors manage speed and distance information, if yours doesn’t, check for the Polar G1 and see if its compatible with your watch and your needs. I love my monitor, and I strongly recommend it!

*This post originally featured my Polar FT60, but a weird glitch in my site made the images disappear, so I replaced them with photos of my more current HRM, the Polar RC3 with GPS.

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30 comments

Kitana January 22, 2013 - 2:32 PM

Womp, consider it bought! I was just thinking I wanted to pick up a heart rate monitor because I don’t trust the machines at the gym (that keeps saying my heart rate is ridiculously high when I feel fine) and then… you post this! 😀

melissa January 22, 2013 - 2:32 PM

I said my next investment was a heart rate monitor, thnx 4 this!

kiesh January 22, 2013 - 2:38 PM

I love my HRM too! It definitely makes me work harder @ the gym. I’m going to wear it for 24hrs to see what my total daily burn is on a non-workout day.

Lilly January 22, 2013 - 5:05 PM

I got the Polar FT40 for Christmas and I LOVE it. I was disappointed that my carlorie burn was not as much as a thought it was, but it is pushing me to do more at every workout. I need to try it over a 24 hour period to check my metabolism.

Jeff R. January 22, 2013 - 5:41 PM

Totally cool! I’m using this a lot myself and I can’t do any more workout without it! Once, I came across an article talking about oxygenation and heart beat rate. It’s quite proven now that the best way to do a workout is to not keep it to long, but the time you spend on it must be quite intense. I use it to check if my beat rate is high enough, if not I just do it harded. Very very useful.

Briggitta January 22, 2013 - 6:35 PM

Bought ! But what should your heart rate be at when working out?I am on my second month of Insanity,and they constantly speak about checking your heart rate.What is the magic number to be looking for ??
And once again thank you for an amazing post!

Erika Nicole Kendall January 22, 2013 - 8:46 PM

Hmmm… doesn’t Insanity give a fitness test? You should use that as your gauge… but the watch DOES give you generic template zones that you can use until you take the fitness test that the watch gives you to figure all the numbers out.

Briggitta January 23, 2013 - 6:36 PM

Ok ,thank you! Next fitness test is a week away 🙂

Mavis January 24, 2013 - 3:56 AM

Thanks for the review of your monitor. I’ve been wanting to invest in one for awhile but have held off. Now, I may just go ahead and splurge.

Valencia January 24, 2013 - 3:27 PM

Erika…ok…..you are so on point in my life…..I have a gym at my job with the most awesome staff….so I did a quarterly fitness assessment and my cardio….is sub normal…but it gave me a base and to try and make a super long story short….the staff is keeping a telemetry strap out for me to use….and I was working out and I had a similar love conversation with this heart rate monitor….I love it whoever invented this needs an award….I mean I didnt have to keep checking on those bars which is good for me cause I almost killed myself one day ….my coordination is not there yet….but it was like a sense of confidence,it kept me focused and attentive ….like ok this is how I feel at this rate….and because I’ve never really listened to my body it bridged the gap between my ignorance and what is actually taking place with my heart…not to mention I had the wrong idea of how to condition my heart….I was skipping past this fat burn zone and going so hard I was burning sugar and not fat….come on now…..I want to purchase one and I got lost at all the options…so guess what I did….last week I searched your blog high and low and couldn’t find a review for a heart rate monitor….and look what you did…thank you so much….shoot I’m not missing the ship….I said it last week you’ve got my attention….I check here more than my bank account….thank you so much for the direction,lessons,and the details you are providing…ima go sing this heart rate monitor a love song now….Beyonce style….lol.

DeeJay January 27, 2013 - 12:38 PM

I wholeheartedly (pun intended) agree! I’ve used my heartrate monitor as part of my daily workout for years. While I don’t have a fancy model, mine keeps track of the calories burned, the time spent below, at, and above my target heart rate. I tend to work harder than I should, so knowing where my heart rate is when I’m expending a lot (or not enough) energy has been helpful! I’m on my second monitor in 5 years (my dog at my watch a year ago!) and use it for every workout! I love the idea of using it to track caloric burn on a non-workout day!

Thanks -really enjoy your blog. Keep up the excellent work,lady!

Laetitia January 28, 2013 - 7:06 AM

Totally Cool, will buy one soon. But first, a question. 🙂
I really want to have this 24h calorie counting in it, do u know which of the many polar functions that is? distance and speed information are not so important for me xD

Erika Nicole Kendall January 28, 2013 - 1:16 PM

It’s just the general function! You cut your monitor on, and just leave it on for 24 hours.

Laetitia January 28, 2013 - 2:07 PM

Nice, Thanks 😀

Lashawn January 29, 2013 - 10:39 PM

That is a really great review, I’m ready to run out and buy it, but….
Do you recommend this model for beginners? I have been stopping and starting with my workouts because I get frustrated that I don’t really understand the whole heart rate thing and where I should be with that. I’m always afraid that I’m not working out hard enough, or too hard and I’m going to end up with EMTs around me in the gym. I’ve done the research but there is so much info that it all just seems to be going over my head.
I’ve looked at the FT7 on the Polar site and it doesn’t have the weekly goals and such. It’s pretty basic, but since I’m not confident in my HR knowledge… sigh. Would the FT60 help with that (basically tell me “you are *here* and you should be *there*) or would I need to have MORE knowledge to use it?

Erika Nicole Kendall January 30, 2013 - 8:21 PM

I would think the FT7 would be better for beginners, but if you want the goals and the “training” guidance, then the 60 is better. They DO have far more advanced guides – some of the later model watches are FAR more intense – but I like my FT60. *hugs it close*

Natalie February 16, 2013 - 6:14 PM

This looks so cool! I went and found it on Amazon and it seems most people are crazy over it, but I found quite a few complaints that their ft60 stopped working after a few months.

How long have you had yours? have you had any problems? It’s a little pricey, so my only paranoia is if I bought the ft60 that it might die on me within a few months, hopefully this won’t be the case. Have you heard many complaints about this too?

Erika Nicole Kendall February 19, 2013 - 10:35 AM

I’ve had mine for over a year, no problems at all. Bought mine on the recommendation of my training mentor who had hers for a few years, and had an extra two watches she used exclusively with her clients.

Merica March 5, 2013 - 12:21 PM

What would you suggest your heart rate be for maxium workout?

Erika Nicole Kendall March 5, 2013 - 1:37 PM

I would say going no higher than 80% of your heart rate and, as a beginner, I definitely wouldn’t stay that high for very long.

Diatta April 21, 2013 - 1:05 PM

I purchased the Polar FT4 and really love it because it is simple to use and gives me what I am asking for – the amount of calories BURNED! *Drops mic*

Monique May 16, 2013 - 9:46 AM

I took your advice and purchased the FT60, and let me tell you. I’m in love. I wear it every day to remind me to work out at least once a day, and the trophy and the little jingle when I hit my weekly targets make me feel extra special, especially because it keeps me wanting to be consistent. It tells me when I’m overdoing it, and when I need to kick it up a notch. I couldn’t ask for anything more! Before getting the HRM I loathed exercise, because I didn’t find what I liked, and I hadn’t had a way to really quantify what I was doing. As a person with a lot of weight to lose it is nice to see some numbers that make you happy on a daily basis, especially on those days where maybe the scale hasn’t moved enough.

Lakila June 15, 2013 - 7:56 AM

Thank you for this post. I have debated about investing in a hrm. Searching tge web now.

Tarah November 12, 2013 - 10:02 PM

If you are monitoring 24hrs you have to keep the chest hem on all day, every day?

Erika Nicole Kendall November 13, 2013 - 11:00 AM

Nope. Just for 24 hours, to get some kind of idea of how many calories you’re burning throughout the day.

Dani February 2, 2014 - 12:59 PM

I’ve been looking into purchasing one of these but what’s the max length the strap can go to? I’m just starting my weight loss journey and I’m afraid to buy one of these things and have it not fit since I’m a size 26 at the moment.

Erika Nicole Kendall February 2, 2014 - 3:38 PM

Hey, Dani – the standard chest strap that comes with all Polar watches is a size M-XXL, which accommodates between 30-45 inches following the same area as the band in your bra. One of my fellow Polar Ambassadors shared that he was using his Polar when he was well over 400lbs with the strap, so my intuition thinks you’ll be fine. 🙂

Renee Barry February 5, 2014 - 10:39 PM

Just bought mine today! Thanks!

Craig October 15, 2014 - 12:16 PM

You are awesome, Erika. I was pleased to come across your inspiring story. I was just googling how to delete that Trophy on my heart monitor and found you. I am still trying to figure out the Trophy. I mean–thank you, Polar, for the support, but that thing is there very day now!

Erika Nicole Kendall October 15, 2014 - 12:47 PM

You should be proud! That means you hit your goal last week! Cheers!

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