Measuring your heart rate will help you lose/maintain your weight

Polar Heart Rate monitor--great help for achieving fitness goals

When I was working to lose all my baby weight after having four babies (over 8 years–not all at the same time), I didn’t wear a heart rate monitor.  But I should have.  It would have made things a lot easier.  Here’s why.


When I exercise, my body burns calories.  There are a number of factors involved in how efficiently my body does this, but when I wear a heart rate monitor, it tells me exactly how many calories I burned during any given period of time. That’s important because if I want to lose weight, I have to BURN more calories than I consume (which isn’t easy because I really like to eat).  So if I’m tracking the calories I eat (which I do loosely in my head), but not exactly sure how many calories I’m burning, it makes losing weight a guessing game.


When I was doing Insanity to get back in shape, the information packet said I could burn “up to 1000 calories” with one particular exercise DVD.  “Up to” is pretty vague.  And I really had NO IDEA how many calories I was actually burning.  Fortunately for me it ended up working and I lost the weight.  But it would have made my daily eating a lot easier to figure out if I knew exactly how many calories I had burned.  (I have since worn my heart rate monitor during that exercise  and I did NOT burn 1000 calories.  It was closer to 600).


You can use Google to find out how many calories you should be eating in a day to maintain your current weight.  Then if you want to LOSE weight, you subtract 500 from that number.   If you eat 500 less calories each day, you’ll lose about 1 pound a week.  Doesn’t sound like a lot, but generally slow and steady weight loss is more likely to KEEP the weight off.


So if I’m supposed to eat 1800 calories a day to maintain my weight, then I need to eat around 1300 calories to lose weight.  OR, I need to burn those calories off during exercise.  I prefer that method so I can eat more.  I eat around 1800 calories, exercise to burn 500-600 calories off and each week I should lose about 1 pound.


If you’re already at the weight/health level you want to be at, a heart rate monitor can still be helpful.  For instance, right now I’m trying to GAIN muscle.  In order to do that, I NEED to eat enough calories (energy) to fuel my muscles.  In order to do that, I have to know how many calories I’m burning each day and make sure I eat enough.  Sometimes when I do a particularly hard exercise routine and I burn a LOT of calories, it’s hard to eat enough calories (the right kind of calories–from healthy food not crap food).


Wearing a heart rate monitor takes the guessing game out of how many calories I burn during any particular exercise.


So, if you want to try it out (I highly recommend doing so), I did a lot of research on different heart rate monitors.  I finally chose the Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor (Purple/Pink).  It’s waterproof and works great even when I’m moving around a lot.  And, the band that wraps around your body is super comfortable (I’ve worn some that are really uncomfortable) and flexible so you really don’t even notice you’re wearing it when you exercise.  Some of the exercise routines I do require a lot of up and down movements (hello burpees) and it stays on great and doesn’t dig into my ribs.  Definite plus.


2014-10-18_0005Below I am listing a bunch of different exercise routines I did and the amount of calories I burned during each one.  I thought it was really interesting to compare the different exercises and the calories I burned with the time I spent on each one.  With some I got more bang for my buck (burned more calories in less time).


Please note everyone will burn a different amount of calories than I did with each exercise.  It all depends on YOUR personal heart rate.  Which is why it’s good to wear one.


The Polar heart rate monitor will tell you exactly what your heart rate is, if you’re in the “target zone” (I’m never in the zone–always higher–something I need to get checked), and how many calories you burn.


{The pics below aren’t matched with each exercise.  Just different photos I took to give an example of what the readout looks like.}


1.  Pure Cardio–Insanity by Beachbody

32 minutes.  389 calories.  I kept the monitor on after I was done and by 45 minutes I was up to 502 calories (your body continues to burn calories quickly even after you’ve finished an exercise).


2.  Pump Revolution (weight lifting DVD by Beach Body)

53 minutes.  460 calories


3.  Treadmill Shredmill (treadmill exercise by Jillian Michaels)

26 minutes.  365 calories (my treadmill said I burned 430 calories–heart rate monitor is the correct one)



4.  Running while pushing a jogging stroller with 2 kids in it (not my favorite–I like to run alone)

52 minutes (including stops to pick up sippy cups, see the cows, and find more snacks to eat).  660 calories


5.  Speed 2.0 —T25 by Beach body.

25 minutes.  331 calories

Then I did it again a few week later.  25 minutes.  303 calories.    Same exercise, different day, different amount of calories. Must not have worked as hard the second time.  Or my heart rate didn’t get as high because I was in better shape.  We’ll go with the second reason.

2014-10-18_00026.  Running outside

1 hour 5 minutes.  7.05 miles.  940 calories 


7.  Max Cardio–Insanity

44 minutes.  497 calories


8.  Regular run on the Treadmill

52 minutes.  5.27 miles.  617 calories (treadmill said 790–monitor is more accurate).

And another time.  1 hour 10 minutes.  7.0 miles.  965 calories

2014-10-18_00049.  100 burpee challenge

Did 100 burpees.  Took me 16 minutes.  220 calories.


10.  Immortal Stair challenge by Brenda Vance (these will make you sweat.  And all you need are some stairs)

47 minutes.  607 calories


11.  Treadmill.  Fast walk on an Incline (you don’t have to do high-intensity, high-impact exercise to burn calories)

40 minutes.  Incline 6.5.  Speed 4.0.  2.75 miles.  367 calories.

2014-10-18_000112.  Runners world Iron Strength workout.  This was super hard for me.  And left me sore for days.

50 minutes.  563 calories.


13.  Spinning class.  This was the first spinning class I’d ever been to.  It was hard.  A good hard.

56 minutes.  709 calories.

2014-10-18_0006I’m all about being efficient.  Especially when it comes to exercise.  Since I’ve started wearing my heart rate monitor, it’s easier to know how many calories I need to eat each day to lose weight, maintain weight, or gain muscle.  And it motivates me to work harder to get my heart rate up and burn more calories.  Go get yourself one here:

Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor (Purple/Pink)


{I don’t get paid by Polar or Beachbody (but I totally should).  I just recommend their products because THEY WORK!}



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