Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How a Polar F11 Heart Rate Monitor Turned Me into a Jogger at 56


Hi,
I’m Catherine and I hang out a Words World and Wings most of the time. But I wanted to tell you all about what made me a regular exerciser, and that is a heart rate monitor. I bought a Polar F11, and I can’t say enough good about it. There are probably other heart rate monitors on the market, but because I use the F11, that’s the one I’ll talk about.
I spent most of my life thinking I wasn’t athletic, and that I could never be a jogger. When I saw a woman on our street, who used to jog four miles a day, run by our house, I secretly envied her. She must be a born athlete, I thought. Any time I tried jogging, I’d get out of breath almost immediately. It was pathetic, when all I was trying to do was jog between two telephone poles! I was convinced that I didn’t have it, and never would.

But then, when I was 56 years old, I bought a Polar F11 Heart Rate Monitor, and discovered my inner athlete. It not only made me a jogger, it changed the way I view myself. Heck, if I could jog four miles a day, several days a week—and I discovered that I could—then I could do anything.

Here’s how the F11 can make you a jogger (or a walker, or a regular exerciser): You program it with your sex, height, weight, age, and starting level of physical fitness, as measured by a test that determines your cardiovascular fitness. On the day I first tested my fitness, I scored 26, which was low average for my age.

Once you have the key information programmed into your watch, you then select a fitness plan. You can maintain your current fitness, improve, maximize, or go for peak fitness. If you haven’t exercised for a while, you should see your doctor to make sure it’s safe to stress your heart with exercise. Prior to buying my F11, I’d been having chest pains, which sent me to the doctor. A treadmill test showed that I was okay, so he said I could exercise without any restrictions whatsoever.

By the time I’d been exercising regularly for two months, my cardiovascular fitness had jumped to 46, which is elite for my age. (For my age, anything above 33 is elite.) I was feeling fantastic! Kick-butt strong. I could hardly believe it. I was jogging 18-24 miles per week.

Here’s why using a heart rate monitor works: Each time you exercise, your monitor sets a heart rate range that is specific not only to you, but to your energy level that day. It generally gives me a 15-beat range. When I go above the upper limit, it beeps at me to slow down. When that happens, it’s very important to slow down.

It doesn’t mean you’re about to keel over from a heart attack, but it does mean that if you go over the limit for several minutes, and you do that every time you exercise, you will soon burn out. It’s what always happened to me before I had a monitor. I would work too hard, get too tired, and decide I didn’t have what it takes. When you’re tired before you even start out, you lose all motivation to exercise. It feels like hard work, instead of exhilarating fun.

On the other hand, if you’re exercising below your lower limit, the watch beeps at you. That’s very good too! Sometimes I start daydreaming, and forget that I’m supposed to be pushing myself. The F11 is your personal trainer, after all. It won’t let you slack off.

The F11 keeps track of the number of times you exercise over the course of a week. If you fulfilled your Exercise Plan at the rate of 75% or higher, your watch displays a trophy for the following week. The trophy is a visual reminder of how often you stayed with your exercise plan. I might lie to myself, but my F11 doesn’t lie to me. I’ve had my watch now for 15 months, and in the first year I stayed with my program, (which is set to maximize my fitness), 82% of the time, or 42 out of 52 weeks. It is such a great motivator!

In addition, the F11 keeps track of the number of calories you burn during each exercise, plus a weekly total. Once your fitness increases, so does the amount of calories you burn for the exact same exercise. I have to admit that when I see I’ve burned 573 calories on my morning jog, I often go through the day forgetting that I am someone who, despite all, needs to watch my calories. Too often, I eat that bowl of ice cream after dinner. So instead of losing weight over the past year, I’ve gained. But my shape is much sleeker than it would be at this weight if I didn’t exercise at all.

Polar F11’s cost about $160. If you shop around, you could probably get it for less. My results with the F11 have inspired my husband, my mother-in-law, and three of my friends to buy one. My daughter and daughter-in-law also want to buy one, and my son-in-law would like to try it out. For months after I first got it, my husband went around telling everyone that I'd become a jogger by using the Polar F11. It's that exciting.

Would a F11 be right for you? All I can say is that it did nothing less than change my life and the way I view myself. Who would’ve guessed that I could become athletic at 56? Or that I would feel so great because of exercise? Or that jogging would become so important to me that I can’t not jog? It’s all because of the F11.

8 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

I have a heart monitor as well (another model but very similar) and they are wonderful! It is like having a little man at your side telling you to speed up or slow down, and giving you a pat on the back when you finish. What a great story!

Trish said...

Wow Cathy--this is such a fantastic post! I'm 28 years old and in fairly good shape but I really struggle when it comes to running. I *want* to be a runner but find myself burning out rather quickly. I'm guessing that I'm pushing myself too hard at the beginning and not leaving myself with enough juice for the rest of the run. 4 miles is the most I've gone EVER and I'll admit to running maybe a little more than half the time. Sounds like this could really change my running patterns and help my longevity.

Thank you so much for the post.

Lisa said...

I am completely failing at the challenge and yet I want one of these. If I could do anything it would be running, but without a treadmill this is just not possible. I still want the monitor.

Catherine Ensley said...

I'd much rather jog in fresh air, but I'm probably going to need to go back to Anytime Fitness next week, due to foul weather. The Polar F11 jives perfectly with the monitors built into the treadmills at Anytime Fitness, and so--big bonus!--I don't even have to look at my watch to see what's up. It's being displayed on the treadmill itself. A monitor might be exactly what you need to motivate yourself.

Kim Frazier said...

Hi there! Another good week for me...I think I am still riding the wave of a terrific vacation with friends from my childhood. Anyway, somehow, I managed to walk a total of 31 miles this week taking me to 105 miles. I have decided to see just how far I can go by Dec 31! I am not sure where this motivation and energy are coming from but I am not going to question it.

Kim Frazier said...

Hi there! Another good week for me...I think I am still riding the wave of a terrific vacation with friends from my childhood. Anyway, somehow, I managed to walk a total of 31 miles this week taking me to 105 miles. I have decided to see just how far I can go by Dec 31! I am not sure where this motivation and energy are coming from but I am not going to question it.

Vicki said...

Love this post!! I'm seriously thinking about replacing my Polar with an F11!

Shore Debris said...

Wow - heart rate monitors do more than I ever thought. I think I need to look into getting one.