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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Question of Heart Rate

Another obsession is brewing. Like I don't have enough obsessions already: cycling for hours on end, eyeing the calories burned number on the Garmin, keeping the speed over 17 mph . . .. Now I'm all ga-ga over heart rate. I had an idea that heart rate is directly connected to calories burned, and calories burned are directly connected to pounds lost, and pounds lost are directly connected to my happiness. So I began reading anything and everything about heart rate, how to use it to keep the pounds off. During my reading, I came across aerobic vs. anaerobic and became all confused. I get the idea of aerobic. Aerobic is the fat burning stage. This is pretty much what my entire summer ride consisted of. Long, slow distances (LSD), hence losing 12 pounds in two months. The anaerobic, though, throws me because if I'm understanding it correctly, this is a level you don't want to reach often as it burns carbohydrates rather than fat. But the anaerobic level is necessary to build stamina, speed, and economy. I want to achieve both fat loss and stamina, speed, and economy. Is there a training plan that will help me see improvements in these four areas?

Part of my fat issue is my age. I've reached an age that for women (I really should just speak for myself) makes losing fat more difficult. However, putting the fat on is incredibly easy. All I have to do is look at a donut and I've gained a pound. Before leaving for BTUSFMS I was cycling every day, upwards of three hours, burning anywhere from 1500-2000 calories a ride. One week I gained two pounds. The next week I gained three pounds. I was tracking my food intake, being careful with my nutrition, and I was never eating more than 2000 calories a day. The weight gain frustrated me tremendously. During BTUSFMS I ate pretty much whatever I wanted, not counting calories at all. I lost weight without even trying.

Now that I'm back and pretty much into the same routine I was in before BTUSFMS, I'm terrified I'm going to gain the weight back. With work and daylight giving way to darkness earlier and earlier each day, I can't ride every day for four to six hours, so the long, slow rides have been cut way back. And the eating whatever I want doesn't make sense because I'm not cycling as long each day, meaning the amount of calories burned is much lower. What a vicious cycle.

My quest now is to see if I can use the heart rate monitor to keep the weight off. I kept reading anything and everything I could find about heart rate, finally coming across a book that promised to spell out very clearly, for dummies like me, the whole heart rate matter. I bought the book, read it, and will follow one of the plans laid out for a cyclist. I'll have one bike on the trainer inside, using it for rainy days and days when the only time I can ride is after dark. I'll keep my bike at the ready for the days I can get outside. The plan will take me into December, and at that time, I'll share the results.

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