Q. When I exercise, I usually wear my polar heart rate monitor and track my distance with an app on my smart phone (either my Couch25K app or MapMyRide, etc). My heart rate monitor often tells me that I burned up to twice as many calories as the apps suggest. Which do you think is more accurate?
A. Using a heart rate monitor is more accurate than the apps that just take into account your weight, distance, etc. But if your heart rate monitor is giving you some crazy high number, than it may not be working correctly. In general, the more you weigh, and/or the more effort you put into an activity, the more calories you burn. Your heart rate is a way to judge how hard you are working, so that will change your calorie burn. The apps use a simple formula that doesn't take your effort into account, so therefore, it is just a generalization and not specific to YOU. So to answer your question, I wouldn't be surprised it that is an accurate number if you are very heavy, or you get your heart rate up very high.
Q. I've been reading your blog for a while and really enjoy it! My question is this; What did you wear to exercise in when you first started? I have a hard time finding workout clothes in plus sizes... large ladies like to exercise too! :)
A. I actually had three people ask this question recently... so here goes. When I first started exercising, I knew nothing about proper clothing. I assumed that the whole "moisture wicking" ability was just a way for companies to sucker money out of people. I bought some $7 cotton capris from Wal-Mart and used some old cotton t-shirts. Those worked just fine, because I didn't know any better. I also was a size XL when I started exercising, so I didn't feel like I had many options. This was a typical running outfit:
|Cotton shirt (see the sweat?!) cotton capris|
The moisture-wicking fabric makes you feel dry even when you're sweating heavily. When you wear cotton, the cotton absorbs all that moisture, making your clothes wet and very heavy. There are cheaper options than the Under Armour--I know that Target has a line of workout clothes (I don't know much about them, so I can't tell you how I like them). I bought a couple of items from Wal-Mart that are moisture wicking. They work, but I can tell the quality isn't nearly as good as the UA stuff. I'll wear them when my UA stuff is dirty ;)
But regardless of what brand you buy, you won't be sorry for getting the moisture-wicking clothing! It makes a world of difference. I don't buy shirts anymore, because I use my race shirts to run in. Almost all races give out technical (moisture-wicking) shirts now, so those are perfect to run in.
I know that Wal-Mart has a lot of plus-sized workout clothes (because I bought them), but even the sports brands like Under Armour have larger sizes. If you can't find your size in the store, you could always order some online.
Q. Does your weight fluctuate wildly? This is my problem. I can be +/- 4 lbs in one day (and this has no relation to my menstrual cycle). I don't eat a lot of salt/processed food. I get really frustrated...I know I'm supposed to look at the "trend," but when I'm up 4 pounds for no apparent reason, I get upset, start eating, and the cycle goes on. Do you have any advice for fluctuating weight or continuing to plow ahead with good eating habits even when the scale doesn't seem to be responding immediately?
A. My weight fluctuates like crazy!! In fact, when I go away for a weekend, I will usually come home about 10 pounds heavier. But if I go right back to into my routine, the weight drops off within a few days. There are many different reasons for weight fluctuations, and you really shouldn't get upset about being up a few pounds--especially if you know that you're not eating so much as to gain that much (to gain 4 pounds of fat in a day, you would have to consume 14,000 extra calories!)
The #1 thing that makes my weight go up is eating restaurant food. It doesn't even matter what I order, I ALWAYS gain up to 5 pounds in a day from a restaurant meal. Which is one of the reasons I avoid eating out most of the time ;) Another is sodium, but you said you don't eat a lot of processed food, so that may not be a factor for you. But even foods that are "healthy" may have more sodium than you think--cottage cheese, or any type of cheese really; breads; soup, etc). The third thing that makes my weight increase is actually when I do a long run. After a 10+ mile run, I will put on a couple of pounds of water weight that hangs around for a couple of days.
I know it's hard not to get discouraged when you see a gain like that, but keep in mind that if you're doing everything right, it's only going to be temporary. Water weight falls off just as quickly as it comes on (for me it does, anyway). So don't give up when you see that gain!