Junk-Free January + Polar FT4

This is not a resolution post.


Ok, maybe it sort of is…

Happy New Year’s Eve!!!

2013 is going to be the year of going BIG.  To start it off, I’m implementing Junk-Free January.  For me, this means being diligent about following my nutrition plan, eliminating the processed foods, and staying off the sauce.  (I’ll miss you, red wine.)




I’ll also be placing more emphasis on being present during my workouts.  I want to maximize my time in the gym by giving my all and making sure my form is on point.

My second figure competition will take place at the end of March, and I hope to do a few more throughout the year.  Focus and discipline will be the name of the game.


Bad diet


As luck would have it, I received an opportunity through the FitFluential Ambassador program to review the FT4 Heart Rate Monitor by Polar USA.

I’ve never worn a heart monitor (HRM) before.  All I really knew of them was my dad used to wear this plastic thing around his chest while on the treadmill.  (He was drinking protein shakes and preaching about “bad” carbs before it was “cool”… in fact, we called him “weird.” LOL!)



Honestly, I didn’t think HRMs were relevant to me because I lift weights.  HRMs are for runners… aren’t they?  Wrong.

The FT4 consists of 2 pieces – the watch and a strap (a WearLink transmitter).  I wondered if the strap would bother me while working out, but I honestly forgot the soft band was there.  The five buttons on the wrist watch are easy to navigate..  Being the man stubborn person I am, I set the watch up without consulting the directions.



As someone who obsessively tracks what goes in my body in effort to gain muscle weight efficiently, the Smart Calorie feature is my favorite.  It tells you how many calories you are burning in real-time throughout your workout.  Seeing that against my heart rate “zone” was extremely helpful.  I geeked out.

We all know that knowing your heart rate during exercise is the only truly accurate way of measuring effort exerted.  Logically I know that weight training burns calories, but as a former runner I still have a problem getting out of the “cardio is the only way to burn a lot” mentality.  I burned 369 calories during a back and tricep workout!  I reset the watch to checked out the afterburn.  Again, I was shocked.  In the hour following my weight session, I burned another 150 calories.



My FT4 is going to be invaluable this competition season!  The information I’ve gain has shown me I was not eating enough calories in my post-workout refuel.  Now that I know how much I am burning of, I’ve added another 100 calories to my post-workout snack.

I made my traditional non-traditional smoothie, but amped up the toppings.  This is a chocolate version (use chocolate protein powder instead of vanilla) of my zucchini bread smoothie.  I added oats and edamame to the top to bulk it up.  Strange… but good.



We all know life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies.  There are a couple of things I don’t like about the FT4:

  1. If you want to record your data online, you have to buy the data transmitter separately
  2. The app only works with the iPhone 4S and 5 (I have the 4)
  3. Mine is pink… but there are other colors available… I’m not complaining or ungrateful.  This tool rocks… I just don’t like pink. 😉


Want one of your own?

The Polar FT40 retails for $89.99., and h.h. gregg has given me a $100 gift card to pass along to one of you!  you may use the $100 toward anything (though I do recommend the Polar FT4).

 Receive up to 4 entries by:

  1. Follow h.h. gregg on Twitter
  2. Tweet: You could say something like: I entered to win a $100 @hhgregg gift certificate in the @sprint2thetable #giveaway http://wp.me/p16jDn-1T6
  3. Be Social: Facebook Follow MePinterest Follow Me and/or Pin Something of MineTwitter Follow Me
  4. Comment: Have you ever used a HRM?  What did you think?


Please leave a *separate comment* for each entry!

Contest ends at 11:59pm EST on Thursday, January 3rd.  The winner will be announced on Friday, January 4th.


Another way to win…

Check out  h.h. gregg’s Facebook page or click here for their website get more info on their “Get Healthy and Win Big” promotion.  It runs from 12/31 until 1/7.  Every day there are giveaways for items such as Polar HRMs, ellipticals, and treadmills!

They also made a cute little turkey on a treadmill promo video.  It’s actually pretty cute!  #BeTheTurkey



I was provided with the Polar FT40 through my FitFluential Ambassadorship. No other compensation was provided. All opinions are honest and my own; I’m happy to answer any specific questions about my experience!

What are your resolutions/goals this year?

Does anyone want to join me in a Junk-Free January?  I need all the support I can get!



  1. says

    I am dying to get a HRM for this reason exactly! Since I started weaning myself off of cardio and focusing more on weight lifting, I have no idea where I am at in terms of calorie burn and the efficiency of my work outs. When I was doing cardio and running, there are tons of apps and machines that can at least give you an estimate, but when I weight lift I feel so lost in what I am burning.

    I actually asked for one for Christmas, but I think it was a bit too pricey for the hubby to get. So on my wish list it sits!!

  2. says

    I’ve never used an HRM before, but given what you said about it, I may look into getting one. I have absolutely no idea how may calories I burn, and I suppose it would be good to know.

  3. Ashley P says

    This Polar FT4 was sold at the Jazzercise center where I work out. I really wanted one, especially since I have started working on more strength training than cardio, but they were a bit too pricey for me. I would still love one!

  4. amelia says

    I sit here just having eating a couple handfuls of peanut m&ms and of course feel guilty. Damn husband for putting them in my stocking. 😉 I told him I’m lacking control lately. Luckily I worked out today but I know ill feel the effects tomorrow. Sugar really does make ya feel like crap the next day. Onward and upward!!! Thanks for your continued motivation and workout inspiration!!! Love your blog.

  5. Laurel C says

    You don’t know how badly I’ve been wanting to try a HRM!!! I’ve heard sooooo many good things, and I think it would really help me accomplish my goals!

  6. says

    oooh Oooh OOOH I was *just* looking at these today! I have never used one but I have a new workout plan I am starting next week with a new trainer, and I want one now. perfect timing 😉

    (and if I win I’ll trade you the pink) 😉

  7. sarah says

    Oh man, I reeeally want a HRM!!
    And that’s super interesting about your burn/after burn from your weights workout! Just imagine how much you’d burn with a bigger muscle group( leggies)! You really must be a beast in the weights room:D.
    For my strength training, at the moment , I’ve been doing Zwow. I’d love to find out how much I burn during this style of workout.

      • sarah says

        Zwow= Zuzana’s Workout Of the Week ,from Zuzana Light ( the original BodyRock presenter). Crazy enjoyable, challenging ,circuit style workouts that I’m smitten with.

        Oh girl, I’ve been wanting to tell you that your recipage is like my cooking bible right now:).
        I made your green protein frosting, apple breakfast cupcakes, sweet potato pie smoothie( holy YUM) , & sweet potato mexican pie( can.not.wait for the left overs)…and that’s all just today!
        I’m just so inspired by your healthy approach to figure competing, and your rockstar ways in the gym and kitchen<3.

        • Laura says

          Oh! I know about her. :)

          Seriously?! That is the nicest thing. I am SO glad you are liking everything. If you liked the sweet potato mexican pie, you have to try the chili. similar flavor profile, only it has beans instead of sweet potato for carbs.

          Do you compete?

          • sarah says

            ThankYOU for the amazing recipes. I considered making the chilli actually, but I’ve never had/tasted/have beer, or any alchohol at all for that matter. So I went with the pie…it was quite difficult not to go to town on the whole pan of pie:). And I used the green protein icing on your chum, Heather’s ( kissmybroc) chia pancakes- it made QUITE the dinner!
            And no, I don’t compete. But I could 😉 , haha, I dunno , maybe one day. I don’t think figure competing is all that big here in Scotland.

  8. Jasmine A. says

    Yup I’ve used a HRM, I love it, just so I can see where my heart rate’s at so if I need to challenge myself more or slow it down a bit!

  9. says

    REALLY interesting to see the calorie torching during a strength workout! I wear a FitBit and love geeking out over the stats. Seems like a good gateway drug for a HRM…

  10. Judy says

    I asked Santa for a HRM, but didn’t get one. When it comes to working out, i tend to be a numbers geek, too. This would be perfect. i love pink, too!

  11. says

    We’ve only used HRMs in my gym class. The goal on “fitness days” (every Tuesday and Thursday) is to keep your heart rate between 130 and 180 (the fat-burning zone) and get at least 20 minutes in that zone. It’s a basic polar watch and I really would like one of my own! Thanks for the opportunity! :)

  12. says

    Jason had a great idea for Junk Free January. Instead of having a party that’s BYOB, we should have a BYOF or BYOV party. Bring your fruits or veggies and we can make all kinds of juice combinations in the juicer! I think that would be really fun. It’d be like a juice tasting party instead of a wine tasting party.

  13. says

    Yes, Ive used a HRM before, and it was a Polar that I loved, but it’s time for something bigger and better! (And I lost my chest band to go with it!) Thanks for the opportunity to win one!

  14. says

    I have used a HRM! And I wish I still had mine. :( I, like you, want to track my burns during weight lifting because I am trying to build muscle and I just feel flat/fluffy all of the time. Probably not eating enough.

    I have a question for you as well… I see that you track your food to ensure you are eating enough to build. So, you probably plan out your meals in advance? I am trying to get back into this, but I feel like people might think I am being obsessive (especially my boyfriend). You see, I’ve had an eating disorder in the past, so tracking food and planning does kind of bring back those days of being so obsessive about what I ate. However, now I am making sure I eat enough, so I don’t see where it can go wrong. I am being very selective about what I am eating, though, making sure they are very clean eats and not eating certain things (lots of cheese, high fat meats, etc) because I don’t want to waste calories.

    Anyway, what are your thoughts on this? And, do you have any tips for me? I feel sort of overwhelmed since getting back into tracking and meal planning. I eat 6 meals a day + a pre and post workout meal to compensate for calories lost in my workout. You can reply to this or email me if it would be easier :)


    Ps: Oh, and I am a long-time follower, I just don’t comment very often. Love your blog :)

    • Laura says

      Kate, thanks so much for you comment. I hope my email helped.

      You should check today’s post for the winner… 😉

  15. keira says

    i’ve never used a heart rate monitor, but i’d really like to! I’d be curious to see how much i’m burning as I don’t do traditional cardio workouts either, I do weight training and yoga!

  16. says

    I took a running class where we performed speed tests at the beginning and end to measure progress. It was interesting to see how high my heart rate got at the time, but I just haven’t felt like investing in one of my own yet.

  17. says

    I would love to be able to buy myself a new HRM. I just got home from the gym and was telling my husband how frustrated I am with my HRM–it’s not working! It’s pretty old, and over the past few months it’s gotten a little flakey on me.

  18. Amanda Sakovitz says

    I’ve never used a heart rate monitor before but I think its really important to monitor your heart and all physical activity.

    pokergrl8 at gmail.com

  19. bryanna says

    I have never used a HRM, or not a legit one anyway. I have always been curious though, as I am in the same boat as you and feel as if I probably burn way more than I eat, and I’m trying to gain! Thanks for this awesome giveaway.

  20. Morgan says

    I have never used a HRM but I would love to start using one to really see just how effective all my workouts are!!! This will help me to better judge how much more (or less) I should be eaten!

  21. Carol says

    Totally joining your junk-free January challenge and looking forward to reading about the progress you make for the competition.

  22. Rosalie B says

    I’ve never used an HRM. I had a BodyMedia armband for a few days but returned it (it didn’t seem to line up with my actual energy needs). I think something designed for workouts more than 24h wear would be better for my purposes.

    I’m hoping to join in on junk-free January–the last month has been a bit of a sugar coma.

    • Laura says

      I heard that about the BodyMedia thing… sorry it didn’t work for you.

      Cheers to Junk-Free Janurary! I already feel better. :)

  23. Layne says

    I have the garmin HRM that also has the GPS for running, very helpful w/ my marathon training but the HRM is awesome!!!

  24. tiggy says

    I already follow you on facebook so i will comment as well!
    i’ve never used a heart rate monitor but i think i would find it very useful as i am trying to gain weight but am super fidgity and probably am burning a lot more than i realize..

  25. Tamra says

    What a fantastic tool! I’ve been really looking in to using a HRM in my routine and you’ve definitely sold me on this one! I’ve never used a HRM before, but please count this a an entry! Thanks!

  26. says

    I am doing a Whole 30 Paleo Challenge for January so will be a tee-totaller with you! Goodbye red wine. SIGH.

    I use my HRM occasionally when I want to check up on my pace but am too lazy to wear it all the time. I do use the watch from it all the time when I run though.

    Would love to win this gift card.

  27. says

    I once tried a HRM during a spinning class. It didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know: when I worked harder my heart rate went up! However, I love how you used it.. I wonder how accurate the calorie monitor actually is… because they are certainly off on the gym ellipticals. 😉

  28. says

    What do you mean life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies? So says the girl who doesn’t like pink. I bet you don’t like sparkles either. Humph.

    I’m afraid this changes things between us unless you meant to say life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies because it’s truly rainbows, butterflies and unicorns. Then that would be acceptable. :)

    On a serious note, I’m never worn a HRM but only because I haven’t wanted to shell out the money. I did an at home, on the fly work out, yesterday (my first in a week!! I miss my gym; my heart weeps) and it sure would’ve been nice to know how many calories I burned.

  29. says

    i always wear my heart rate monitor! It’s very helpful to determine how hard I am working out and if I need to take it down or up a notch….although mine does do on the fritz sometimes if i’m outside near a lot of power lines

  30. says

    I do have a HRM – and I currently am really enjoying it. When I am in a tough spot, I can get sort of obsessive with the amount of calories I burn. This was over a year ago, and I’ve since learned that a high HR, high calorie burn.. most certainly not the best workout! Lower heart rates…when you are in the “zone” are much better and burn more fat!

  31. Carolsue says

    I have never tried an HRM, but it is certainly something that would be worthwhile to look into! Maybe if I win this ……. LOL

  32. Ellyn says

    I don’t have a HRM and have never used one but am very interested. I use a GPS watch for my runs but I am curious to see my heart rate when doing other things…especially because I have recently gotten into weight lifting

  33. Emily says

    I currently have a Garmin heart rate monitor and love it, but have heard great things about Polar! I’d love to try it out!

  34. Laura @ LauraLivesLife says

    I have used one, but couldn’t get my HR monitor to work consistently! I need a new one, but haven’t budgeted one in yet!

  35. says

    You’re giving up wine?!

    For good???!!!

    Maybe it’s the hedonist in me, but I will make a resolution to drink more wine in honor of your sacrifice. 😉

    • Laura says

      I know, I know… but just for a bit! Please do drink my share this month. :)

      OH! I might be coming to France for the holidays next year!!!

  36. says

    Hehe, I heart pink 😛 I would have done the same [man] thing as you and just jumped in without reading the directions… Guess I should look at those when my Polar arrives tomorrow! I ordered the FT60, fingers crossed it’s easy-to-use too!

  37. Shari says

    and I have never used an HRM but have been thinking about getting one as I joined a gym and see a lot of people are using them to keep track of everything.

  38. Courtney says

    I’ve been meaning to get an HRM! I have no idea how many calories my workouts burn and therefore no idea if I’m eating too much or too little. Could be the reason why I’ve stalled in losing weight.

  39. Mo says

    I would love a HRM to track calories especially while I’m breastfeeding and want to fuel enough for baby and me. Love your review – very thorough.

  40. says

    Great review of the HRM. I actually have a Polar FT60 and enjoy using it to monitor where my heart rate’s at throughout my workouts. Unfortunately, mine’s been going a little wonky lately, such as losing my HR signal frequently and also saying that my heart rate is way up in the 200s when it clearly is not. I’m not sure what the deal is, especially since I haven’t even had it for 2 years. I wonder if this is a common issue with the Polar HRMs or just a glitch with this one… Hopefully it’s the latter. :)

  41. Katie says

    I would love to try this heart rate monitor to track the intensity of my workout and whether I need to step it up or even back it off in certain situations. Great giveaway!

  42. Joyce says

    I’d love a HRM – it would definitely help figure out how calorie burn changes with different workouts, and would help me figure out what I should be eating because I really have no clue what my calorie burn is!

  43. annie says

    followed you on pinterest/repinned. this hrm seems really fun and move accurate than those i have previously investigated!

  44. Cassie says

    I’d questioned whether or not to get a HRM. I wondered if they were accurate, worth the price, or whether it was a good idea to be tracking calories after I had worked so hard to let go of the ” power of the calorie,” and the need to burn them through cardio. But now that I’ve switched to lifting weights and building my body up, it would be interesting to see how effective my workouts are, and make sure I’m fueling myself correctly.

  45. Melissa says

    Ahhh, I would really enjoy winning a gift card to get one of these! I want to track my calories like this :) Never tried one before.

  46. Julia says

    I’ve tried using a HRM when working out, but my strap never stays put! I’ve been looking into buying a Polar HRM and giving it another shot.

  47. Christen says

    I have used a heart rate monitor for because we use them as part of my major. I love knowing what my heart rate is and the time is very helpful to monitor rest periods. I’m with you on the calorie count is nice to know because I too was under eating while trying to gain

  48. says

    Yeah, I really want to get a HR monitor. I think they are great tools for seeing how your body works in different ways, as well as, keeping on your toes by letting you know that it’s time to make a change when you’ve adapted to a certain exercise.

  49. Amelia says

    Another comment just because you’re awesome…..

    I have the polar ft 40 right now. I got it at the end of summer sale online and it has transformed the way I workout. I wonder what the major differences are between the models? Isn’t it crazy the amount of afterburner you get from lifting?! I compared it one day to a cardio session and it was about double for the weight sesh.

    I can’t wait to read more about your bulking and gaining this winter. You have motivated me to want to do a bikini competition! Now I just need to find a trainer/ more info about it in my area. Can a trainer give an ‘assessment’ of my body and let me know where I stand for a competition this year? I wonder……

    • Laura says

      Thank you, Amelia! I’m guessing you aren’t in Georgia? My trainer will do some phone/online consults… I’d advise trying to find someone local to workout with (even if it’s just a friend) so you have a spotter and can push it on weights!

      Send me an email and I can pass along his info if you’re interested…

  50. Meredith B. says

    I’ve never had a HRM, but I really wanted one for Christmas! Santa didn’t bring one though :( I think it would be beneficial to have one, as I just became a certified Spinning instructor and I think it would help me keep track of when I transition from aerobic to anaerobic exercise.

  51. says

    Aaaannnd I’ve never used a HRM before but I reeeeaaaallllly want one!!! I’m always so curious about what my actual exertion is. That is incredible the info you got about your lifting session. And the afterburn omg!

  52. says

    I have never used a HRM monitor as I too thought they were for only for runners and my workouts consist of hiit, plyo and weightlifting. But over the last 8 months I have become serious about fitness and after doing some research, I see that one would be great to help be keep track of my workouts.

    I follow you on Instagram, which is where I learned about this. This couldn’t come at a greater time as I have spent the last week researching and shopping around for one.

    Thanks so much for hosting this great giveaway!

    • Laura says

      Thank you so much for stopping by! I’m sorry you didn’t win this one… but I would say it’s work the money to get one. I thought they were just for runners too… so not the case. :)

  53. Tabathia B says

    I have used one (HRM) when I was part of a health study before and was on the treadmill and thought it was okay and accurate

    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

  54. Glen says

    I’ve never used one besides the one on the gym treadmill that wayyyy overegagerates, but I would love love love to have one!

  55. says

    In my ‘still in winter break mode’ laziness I missed out on this giveaway, but I REALLY need one of those. I am having incredible issues with figuring out how much I need to eat to balance out running and whatnot. I think once it gets warmer and I pick my runs back up [that just sounds like an intestinal disorder, but hopefully you know what I mean] I’ll definitely have to invest. I’m just a bit lazy in the workout department right now…

    Congrats on a second competition! You are FIERCE.

    • Laura says

      It would be worth the investment. It’s only $89 and I feel like in a week I’ve learned more than $89 of info.

      YOU, my #nuttylover, are FIERCE. Rawr.

  56. says

    I love the idea of a junk free January. I’m going to do another sugar-free challenge starting tomorrow on week days for this month. I find that when I eat super healthy on week days, it gives me a lot of room to indulge in the weekend! Good luck to you!

    • Laura says

      Thanks! Yes, part of junk-free is no sugar. It’s a tough one to break but so worth it. Let me know how it goes!


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