The Proof is in the Data

Fitness trackers are an easy, objective way to track your workouts. I say “objective” because perception has a lot to do with how much we think we are working out.  Lately, my trusted Garmin Fenix 6, whom I love dearly, has been quite snarky and judgmental. I have gotten back to my run routine and I have been feeling pretty good about my progress. Nevertheless, my fitness tracker has been telling me I am losing fitness. At first, I just blew it off. It is just a computer after all, right? Obviously, my human brain knows more than my watch, no matter how sophisticated my watch may be. When I kept getting messages that I was losing fitness, I started making up a bunch of excuses: I’m running slower because I don’t want to suck in all the smoke, I’m running at altitude and that’s harder (never mind that my watch knows I’m at altitude and it is supposed to take that into account), I have not kept to my normal eating routine and that must be the reason…etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

And then yesterday it finally hit me. I have ignored my strength training routine for MONTHS now!  Yes, I have been doing strength training. But ever since my crossfit gym closed in March for COVID, it just has not been the same. I have done some virtual workouts on Zoom, but not being in the same room with everyone has given me an excuse to slack off.  Since I do not have the same equipment at home, the weights I have been lifting have been much lighter than they would have been if I had been at Crossfit. I have gotten “busy” (oops! there’s another excuse!) and not done strength training as many days a week or for as long each time as I would have if the gym were open. Basically, I have just slacked off. At the beginning of COVID, I increased my running to compensate. But over time, I have migrated back to my normal running routine of 3 days a week and not done much else the other 4 days. I feel fine. Or so I think. Fitness is a lot like body weight. If you do not track it (by monitoring your health statistics or weighing yourself regularly), changes can be so gradual that you do not even notice them; until one day you cannot zip up your jeans, or you cannot lift the box of cat litter.  But apparently my fitness tracker knows better. By monitoring health statistics such as heart rate, oxygen intake, etc, it has identified that my fitness is declining despite my not even noticing…yet. An that is the pivotal word…YET. One day, I will find that lifting the 45 pound box of cat litter and carrying it up the stairs is a lot harder than it used to be. Actually, I have already noticed that.  But again, I let myself convince myself that it was not really true. I am just tired today, I told myself. I have not yet gotten to the day when the cat litter just will not make it up the stairs. But apparently, that day is on the horizon.  I guess I better get working on fixing that! And I have my fitness tracker to thank for alerting me.

While I am very attached to my trusty Garmin, there are many, many fitness trackers on the market and more are coming every day. Even Apple has gotten into the game as fitness trackers are really just mini-computers that you wear on your wrist.  So how do you know which is the best for you? Check out this fact-filled article that tested more than 12 different kinds of fitness trackers through over 200 hours of research. If you are curious about what fitness trackers actually do and how they do it, this article is a must read.

And if you are looking to expand your repertoire of exercises you can do indoors, without a gym, and without equipment, check out this video from Week 1 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Challenge. Every Thursday from October 8 through December 25, I’ll be going live on Facebook at 8am PST/11am EST with a new exercise. By the end of the Challenge, you will have at least 12 new exercises to help you stay fit during the busy holiday season. Be sure to follow along here.

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