Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Wednesday Workout Wrapup: With a Side of Fitness Trackers - Friend or Foe?

Let's talk about fitness trackers and daily goals when it comes to working out.  

When I wore a Fitbit, I would have a daily Step Goal.

With my Apple Watch, I have a daily Move Goal (Calories burned while exercising).

With a step goal OR a calorie burned goal, I feel like I am always inclined to do a cardio session, like running, in order to reach my goal for the day.  I basically burn 100 calories or take 2000 steps for every mile ran, so even a 5 mile run would allow me to hit my daily goal very easily.  Running those five miles plus walking the dog or just living life for the rest of the day would bring me to my daily goal.

However, when I research exercise and nutrition in my spare time, I am always left to believe that incorporating weight lifting is the better option in the long run.  It builds muscle, which increases metabolic rate which allows you to burn more calories at rest.  It strengthens our bodies to do daily tasks.  It helps prevent osteoporosis by building strong bones.  It makes us appear leaner, as muscle takes up less bulk than fat on our body.  And on and on.  Plus, I kind of like lifting weights at 6am when I'm still waking up, whereas running that early requires a lot more motivation.

The annoying hangup for me is that I can complete a 45 minute weight-lifting program, like EPIC III and see such little calories burned and so few steps taken:

If I ran for 45 minutes at a ten minute pace, I would burn at least 450 calories and have taken 9000 steps.  One of the workouts only had me burn 90 calories!  For 45 minutes of work!  I understand that I burn more calories at the day goes on with the weight training, but in order to hit my Move Goal or Step Goal, I also seem to need walk a lot of miles in that same day.

My husband, on the other hand, feels very accomplished doing the same weight lifting program alongside me each morning, and then walking the dog in the evening.

The difference?

He doesn't wear a fitness tracker.

Is that the secret?  To stop tracking via a fitness watch and just work out as normal?   To have different daily goals depending on if I'm weightlifting or doing cardio?  Truthfully, I get a little anxious just thinking of not wearing a fitness tracker, but I also don't like feeling disappointed in a workout.

Wednesday, March 6:

EPIC III - Day 17 before work

3 mile walk at lunch

1.75 mile walk with dog in evening

Thursday, March 7:

EPIC III - Day 18 before work

3 mile run on treadmill at lunch

Friday, March 8:

EPIC III - Day 19 before work (I love her full body workouts the best!)

3 mile walk at lunch

 1 mile walk with dog in evening

Saturday, March 9:

6 mile run + 1 mile walk cooldown with dog

Sunday, March 10:

Maggie (#21 Outside Hitter) had a Volleyball Tournament from 8-1 so in between games, I walked around the indoor track which overlooked the volleyball courts and took some videos.  I guess it was an active rest day :)

Monday, March 11:

EPIC III - Day 21 before work

3 mile walk at lunch

2 mile walk with dog

Tuesday, March 12:

EPIC III - Day 22 before work

3 mile walk at lunch

2 mile walk with dog after work


  1. Colleen, you are active, bright, and beautiful. Have fun and do the cadio workouts and don't worry about the calories. You're building a strong body which will pay off in the long run. I don't think you need to worry about calories given how active you are and how much you enjoy running and getting exercise. I say this as a concerned stranger on the internet; please forgive me if I overstepped.

    1. You're not overstepping at all!! I like to think of you as my bloggy commenting friend who always gives good advice :) I'm definitely a Type A competitive perfectionist who gets stuck in my own head about details and anxiously overthinks and then has guilt about everything. It's fun to be me ;) I know I shouldn't care about a calorie move goal, but my mind would still add up my workouts even if my watch wasn't, ya know? This weightlifting program is at least challenging me on the notion of getting a workout completed vs. burning calories or getting steps. I appreciate your comment so much and I will try to take it to heart.

  2. I love my Garmin watch but I don't ever look at "calories burned" because, having read a lot on the subject, no one really knows how that works. They really don't, it's astonishing how much non-knowledge there is in that area! I do check my steps and my active minutes, etc., but I don't get too bothered about it. I mean, does it really matter if you burn 250 calories or 300 calories? Not really, because it's such an inexact science. For me personally, thinking too much about calories is a dangerous situation and I won't do it. It's very mentally unhealthy for me. So I just focus on the activity and the happiness it brings me to be able to do it.

    1. Thanks Nicole. My brother who is an ER doctor said to me recently "You know those things are inaccurate, right?" and I was like yeah but it's just a day to day gage for me. However, I really don't need the fitness tracker to give me motivation...I already have it in spades. I do think they are a GREAT tool for people who are trying to figure out activity levels or training for a race or need some motivation to get off the couch. Like you said, I can just focus on the activity and the happiness it brings me. I think this apple watch may be headed off my wrist soon :)

  3. My most recent Fitbit is dying, and I don't know if I will get another one. I set a modest step goal which I do really like to hit, but I found that I was a little more tied to the device than was helpful, obsessing about those numbers. I'm finding as I age (gonna be 50 this year) that I need more core/balance/flexibility attention just to stay functional, and those are not big number activities. Don't care anymore: I'm much more motivated now to do what my body needs at this moment. Type A, obsessive perfectionist here who's just happy now to remain active, no matter what my fit meter has to say about it.

    1. I think giving up on the fitness tracker would make me vary my workouts more to include core and flexibility, as you said. Something I could definitely use!! It's a beautiful gift to care less about certain things as we age - freeing :)

  4. Colleen - you need to listen to me! I am 68 yrs old, and a long-time runner. I loved running, racing, training, marathons, 5 k's and ran 5-6 days a week. Now I run a modest amount but really struggle to build muscle. I did very little weight training back then, and it shows. I do my best to strength train, do pushups and squats daily but it is so very hard to build muscle. Ditch the calorie & step counting -- you are active and fit -- I am 100% sure that building & maintaining muscle will serve you better as the years go by. My goal is to be able to play on the floor with & chase my grandchildren for a few more decades. We need strong muscles to do this!

    1. OK I'll listen to you!!!! Haha, I know it's so good for us, especially as we age. I do not struggle to build muscle, I have a very muscular physique and eat tons of protein, but I know I need to maintain that. Thanks for your advice!

  5. Such good insights about the fitness tracker and I totally agree - it makes it seem like weight training is not giving you much bang for your buck when the opposite is true! I also get annoyed at mine not counting my steps properly if I'm pushing a grocery cart or a stroller (but I don't care enough about it to loop it onto my shoe as I've heard some people do).

    How are you liking the Hokas? I'm due to replace my running shoes - my current ones are almost 2 years old and I know my feet have changed with pregnancy so it may be time to try a more cushioned shoe.

    1. I reeeeeallly love the Hokas BUT I wish I could have tried on a bunch of different styles and I probably would have picked a slightly narrow-er toe bed. I feel like my pinky toes can move around too much in there. I love the cushioning.


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