Weight Loss Monday, Part 7

The best news is that when taking my blood pressure and pulse, my BP was 106/72 and my resting pulse was 62.  Not only am I losing weight, my cardio fitness is great!  It’s weird to me that I don’t have the body of an athlete (albeit a weekend warrior), but the abilities of one.

Last week, I rode 118.3 miles and lifted twice for a recorded time of 120 minutes, which burned 13,235 calories according to Map My Ride. I lost 2.6 pounds, which is 1 pound for every 5,090 calories.

Provisionally, I think that if you want to work out efficiently, a person needs to get a heart rate monitor. All of the calorie calculator sites I’ve looked at have been useless. Map My Ride says that I used 13,235 calories last week. Strava, probably the most popular fitness site, says that I used 4,400 calories. So, according to Strava, it takes only 1,692 calories of effort to lose a pound of weight. Which is a higher rate of inaccuracy as Map My Ride! Other sites are all over the place.

Which makes me think that no one knows what the fuck is going on. Both Strava and Map My Ride use a normal formula to determine how many calories one uses, though, like, coming from peer-reviewed stuff.

Increasingly, it is evident to me that there are no good calorie estimators. Without additional data, at the bare minimum a heart-rate monitor, they’re all just guessing. However, since both sites use known, peer-reviewed data, that means that your doctor is also guessing.

Which is a mess for people who want to lose weight. Exercise is fucking hard! It is much harder when you’re out of shape. Knowing how much exercise will produce benefits for people who are out of shape is incredibly useful. Telling a person to go out and walk for forty minutes a day will have no effect on their weight. But telling them that they should engage in moderate-intensity bicycle riding for three hours a week is a fantasy – it will take them weeks, if not months, of less intense exercise to get to the place where they are physically able to ride for three hours a week.

And, while my weight loss numbers are fucking great – averaging nearly 2.5 pounds a week for seven weeks – right now I’m riding about 10 hours a week and lifting weights 2 hours a week. Most people won’t even have the time for that, even if they had the desire or level of fitness required to do it. I am an outlier.

With a heart-rate monitor, though, the estimations grow far, far more accurate. The best tests for calories burned do so by testing your oxygen use, because the physical process that creates energy in human bodies, factually, burning. Since it is pretty easy to estimate your blood-oxygen and heart-rate maximums with simple tests one can do at home – or even slightly rougher but still useful estimates based on your age, weight, and level of activity. Because of the relationship between heart rate and oxygen use, I’m concluding that a heart-rate monitor should be basic equipment for any workout program. That way, armed with data, people can dial in their exertion to match their fitness levels.

While you can get one for about $30, I’m going to wait – clearly, I’m doing enough exercise – until I can afford one that I can use as my bike computer, too, which won’t be for a bit. But if you’re looking for one sports accessory to help you exercise? Heart rate monitor.  They should be covered by insurance because they’re so useful.

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