My Myzone Musings

My Myzone Musings

I have now been going to the gym (12Rnds Fitness) for a little over 1 year… (and have posted previously about my exercise obsession “passion”). I have been using a Myzone Heart Rate Monitor for nearly 6 months and (remarkably) for the last few months have been “topping” the Myzone Table for our local Gym, and am (for now) even Top 10 nationally (currently #2) across more than 2,600 participants. 🙂

However, I have recently started to notice some oddities in our local gym results…. some members have, all of a sudden, started getting amazing Myzone (MEP) scores for their workouts… which seemed odd. Some of the national figures also seemed a bit iffy (with some members getting scary big MEP scores consistently, day in, day out).

This prompted me to do a bit of research into how Myzone actually works… here is what I discovered 🙂

What is Myzone

Myzone is a heart rate monitoring system used by many fitness clubs that uses wireless and cloud technology to monitor physical activity.

It involves members wearing a heart rate monitor (on an elasticised strap around the chest) during their exercise sessions. It can be worn in the gym, (tracked by a monitoring device in the gym), or externally (either recorded on the device itself or tracked via a smart phone).

The device records heart rate over time, and the Myzone system generates a LIVE view of your heart rate on a gym-based monitor (as a color-coded, easy-to-read “tile”) as well as recording it against your account.

Myzone Tile

How does Myzone Work

When you purchase a Myzone device and create an account, your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) is automatically determined (based on your age)… The MHR represents a heart rate that is considered to be the Maximum Heart rate you should be able to (safely) achieve with exercise. The MHR is used as the basis for the calculation of MEPs.

MEPs is an acronym for MYZONE Effort Points, and it’s the metric by which everything is measured in the myzone system. MEPs are earned by exercising in your target heart rate zones over a period of time. The more effort you put into each of your workouts, the more MEPs you earn!

There are 5 different Heart Rate Zones (based on your heart rate as a percentage of your MHR)… and each zone contributes a certain amount to your total MEP score.

  • Grey = 50-59% – Earns 1 MEP/minute
  • Blue = 60-69% – Earns 2 MEPs/minute
  • Green = 70-79% – Earns 3 MEPs/minute
  • Yellow = 80-89% – Earns 4 MEPs/minute
  • Red = 90-100% – Earns 4 MEPs/minute

…so if you exercise for 45 minutes with 10 minutes each in the Blue, Green and Yellow heart rate zones and 5 in the Red, you would earn 110 MEPS (10*2 + 10*3 +10*4+ 5*4 = 110)

Under normal circumstances, if you start to regularly hit 100%, then your MHR is automatically adjusted UP by the Myzone system. However, it is possible to also CAP an MHR so it does not increase above a specified level (although I am unsure under which circumstances this is set).

You are unable to adjust your own MHR, but your Gym owner, or Myzone support can do it.

Myzone can be a great Motivator

One of the primary goals of Myzone is to encourage you to pay attention to your workouts – with the aim of motivating you to work a bit harder… or a bit smarter… to achieve your fitness goals…. and it can do this VERY effectively…

It’s amazing how often you find yourself pushing a little harder to reach a different level… or training a little longer to get to a particular MEP or Calorie target… or finding that extra energy to push you to achieve your MEP goals.

The leaderboard can also be a great motivator…

  • striving for Top 10
  • or working hard to be #1
  • or pushing a bit harder to beat someone else’s score
  • or even just trying to improve your own score

If you are getting good MEP scores, or doing well in the leaderboard, or seeing your fitness levels increase with the extra effort you’ve been putting in, Myzone can be a fantastic motivator….. but… when things aren’t going “right”, Myzone can also be a powerful de-motivator…

Myzone can be a great De-motivator

I have noticed some members training REALLY hard but still struggling to reach RED or sometimes even YELLOW Heart Rate zones… but other members seem to be able to achieve very high scores (even hitting 100% for most of their workout) with seemingly relatively little effort.

I realised that it was pretty simple to “reverse engineer” the Maximum Heart Rate and Zone (%) readings on an individuals Myzone tile… and pretty accurately determine their MHR and “Excercise Age” (I plan to do another more technical post with more information about this).

HIGH MEPs

I was stunned to discover that some people (often hitting 100% multiple times within a single session) had a MHR of just 160 or less (an effective “Age” of 80 years old)… and one even had a MHR of 120 (an exercise Age of 142)… This would have been very impressive if they actually were that old… but I really don’t think they were.

I also realised that for some, their MHR did not seem to be changing over time (as it should – to reflect regularly reaching 100% effort). The average person would only be getting a BLUE or GREEN level for that type of HR.. These people seem to have their MHR Capped…so were getting significantly higher MEPS for each workout – and an unfair advantage for the Leaderboard.

These people are often quite motivated (and are sometimes training pretty hard) because they are seeing great Myzone scores… but their scores are a great de-motivator to everyone else who simply can’t compete because of the unfair advantage.

I would like to see the MHR Cap removed for these people (unless there is a specific medical reason) and their MHR reset to more closely relate to their actual age… then let the Myzone system do its thing and adjust accordingly.

LOW SCORES

I had also noticed some people training hard who really struggle to get into the red zone (if they can get there at all). These people mostly seem to have reasonably accurate MHR and Age levels (i.e. close to their actual age), but they find it VERY difficult to get decent MEP scores and almost impossible to show up on the top 20 leaderboard ..despite the effort they put in… This is pretty de-motivating for most of them.. there is little added incentive to work harder.

I would like to see the MHR of these people adjusted down to a level where they are consistently able to reach the red zone (at least once per session).

Myzone HEROES

I also noticed that a few people in the Leaderboard had VERY HIGH MHRs (some as high as 200 – an effective training Age of just 17). These people, through training VERY hard, are still able to achieve decent HR levels and good MEP scores. There MHR has most likely been automatically adjusted up over time by the Myzone system.

As far as I am concerned, these are the real heroes of the gym and although they are clearly motivated… probably deserve more recognition.

My Suggested Resolutions

As a lowly gym junky, I clearly have no actual say in how this works… but as far as I am concerned Myzone and the gyms should be doing whatever they can to “level the playing field” so that as much as possible everyone has the same chance to get decent MEPs. I would suggest :

  • Ensure that all MHR CAPS are removed (unless there is a specific medical reason) – allowing the Myzone automated MHR Upgrade system to work properly – this will reduce the chance of any unfair advantage caused by Low MHRs
  • Introduce an automated MHR Downgrade process… so that the MHR is automatically reduced for accounts that have not (say) reached the Red zone in the last 5 sessions – this will help reduce the chance of people working hard but getting little reward
  • Have a mechanism to flag for manual review (by either Myzone or the Gym owner) accounts where the Myzone Age (calculated from MHR) is significantly different to the actual age….. Those with a much higher Myzone Age are probably getting an unfair advantage… those with a significantly lower Myzone Age may deserve a pat on the back.

O.M.G… What a Difference a Bowl of Muesli Makes !!!

O.M.G… What a Difference a Bowl of Muesli Makes !!!

You might assume from the title that this post is about food… You’d only be partially correct, as it is mostly about Exercise – and a bit about Nutrition

I’ve been going to the gym (see Why I Love 12rnd Fitness) for almost a year now… and for the most part do morning workouts… usually before I have had anything to eat or drink… This has been going pretty well, but recently I have started to do a few more (extra) Lunchtime and Evening sessions.

I have noticed that I seem to have more energy in the training sessions I do later in the day… I can train harder and longer without feeling so exhausted…

This Mornings Training Session

This mornings session in particular was tough. I found it difficult to raise my heart rate into yellow (80-90%) on my Myzone Heart Rate Monitor, and only managed an hour and 145 MEPS – my “worst” session for months….. (see workout graph below) :

I have been pushing it pretty hard at the moment because of a Myzone 6 Week Challenge (shockingly, I am currently ranked #1 in Australia – out of more than 2,500 12Rounders)… and I did 10 sessions last week, and a double session yesterday, so it is probably not surprising that I am feeling a bit “flat”… However, I wondered if maybe food was a part of the issue, so decided to go home … have something to eat… and try again at lunchtime…

After a Bowl of Muesli..

So.. I went home, had a bowl of Bircher Muesli (and a couple of pots of tea), did a couple of hours work (sitting in front of the computer)… and went back to 12rnds for a Lunchtime training session.

Oh.. My.. God… What a difference it made !!!

The Lunchtime session felt SO much better…I was almost immediately (in my warmup) able to get into the yellow zone (80-90%) and managed to sustain it (or higher) for most of the workout – giving me a 270 MEP, 80+ minute workout. 🙂

Workout Nutrition ??

The above should probably not have come as a great surprise to me, but I had not really thought about it much before…Apparently if you work out first thing in the morning before eating breakfast (what’s known as a fasted cardio state) it is believed to help with weight loss. However, working out after eating may give you more energy and improve your performance.

Looks like I need to do some more research (watch this space)… but in the interim, I think I will start having a small meal/snack at least 1/2hr before my workout… and see how it goes.

Why I Love 12RND Fitness

Why I Love 12RND Fitness

My Obsession Passion for Exercise has gone a long way to helping me through the process of losing weight and getting fit… and to a large extent, I attribute my new found interest in exercise to 12RND Fitness

12RND Fitness is an Australian based Gym Franchise, founded by Tim West and Danny Green in 2014. It is based around a “circuit” oriented exercise “system”, focused around boxer fitness training techniques.

A 12RND workout session is designed to be like a 12-round championship fight – 12 x 3 minute rounds with 30 seconds rest in between. That’s 36 minutes of total training time at high-intensity with structured breaks in between.

Each round, includes two movements (which change daily) that involve either punching combos on a bag, bodyweight exercises (sometimes with dumbbells, medicine balls, or sand bags) and/or functional fitness movements. 

Here are some of the things I LOVE about 12RNDS :

  • No Scary Machines – some rounds may include a simple exercise machine (Rower, Ski erg, Cycle), but there are NO treadmills in sight and definitely no scary exercise machines (with more cables, weights, pulleys and levers that you know what to do with). Most exercises are bodyweight based. I’ve done machine based gyms before and are OK with them… but have been surprised how many people feel overwhelmed and put off by all the scary technical exercise machines at the typical gym.
  • No Fixed Start Time – 12RNDS are not 24×7 Gyms, and they only open certain hours of the day (times vary depending on location)… but you don’t have to turn up at a particular time for the start of a “class” or session. You can arrive whenever you want and start your session at a time that suits you.
  • Quick Workout – a “full” 12RND Session of 24 different exercises takes less than 45 minutes, but you can easily do fewer rounds if you are pushed for time (or more if you want a longer workout)
  • High Intensity Training – Each of the 12 rounds includes 2 different exercises, and typically at least one of the exercises in each round is based around High Intensity Training.
  • MyZone – 12RNDS supports the MyZone Heart Rate Monitoring System… this is a fantastic way to measure and monitor your activity level – providing feedback on how you are doing, and motivating you to push a little harder.
  • Variable Workout – The exercises that make up each of the 12 rounds change EVERY day… so you are not “stuck” doing the same boring exercises over and over. Every day/workout brings a new set of exercises (and a whole news set or sore muscles – in a “good” way).
  • Flexible – You don’t have to do the assigned exercises at each round… you can choose your own alternative exercise -e.g. if you need to go easy on a particular exercise, or are working on a specific muscle group… or if you just don’t like it… You can also do fewer, or more rounds if you choose… When I first started I could only manage 6 rounds.. but these days I often do 16 or more…
  • Not Cheap – 12RNDS membership is cheaper than comparable gyms, but it is more expensive than some of the 24×7 gym franchises… I think that paying a bit more is actually a bonus. It is a great motivator… because I damn well want to get my moneys worth (and I really do… I typically do 6-9 sessions a week, costing me less than $5 per session).
    I know too may people with “cheap” or even free gym memberships who just don’t value it, and go weeks or even months between workouts.
  • My own Personal Trainer (for free) – at 12RNDS there is ALWAYS at least 1 personal trainer on hand (and sometimes 2 or 3 at busier session times). They will :
    • explain any exercises you are not familiar with…
    • point out any “technique” issues you may have…
      and (most importantly)
    • encourage you to work harder – at least once per workout (and sometimes 2 or 3 times) a trainer will tap you on the shoulder and coax you through a quick (but often Very High Intensity) sparring, padwork or HIIT session – pushing you way harder than you can yourself, and reminding you of your capabilities 🙂

I am definitely a BIG fan of 12RND Fitness as it is a perfect fit for my lifestyle and the type of exercise regime I need.

Iron Infusion – A Burst of Energy ??

Iron Infusion – A Burst of Energy ??

My Gastric Bypass surgery has been a spectacular success…

  • I have lost more than 45Kg (over 62 weeks) – am still losing weight
  • I am now Non-Diabetic – My blood sugar (Hb1ac) levels are normal and I have had no diabetes medications since the day after surgery… in fact pretty much the ONLY “medication” I have had since surgery has been multivitamins
  • My Liver function is perfect
  • Almost all my Blood tests are normal (or better than normal)

Iron Deficiency & Anemia

The ONLY medial issue I have at the moment is low Iron levels (apparently) – which is actually a very common outcome following Bariatric surgery.

I have been taking Iron supplements (daily Maltofer tablets) however, because of the bypass surgery, it is not being properly absorbed.

Iron deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t have enough of the mineral iron. This leads to abnormally low levels of red blood cells (because iron is needed to make hemoglobin – a protein in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen around the body). If your body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin, your tissues and muscles won’t get enough oxygen and be able to work effectively.

Iron deficiency can therefore lead to anemia.

Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency vary depending on the severity of the anemia, how quickly it develops, your age and current state of health. In some cases, people experience no symptoms.

Iron Deficiency Symptoms

Here are some signs and symptoms of iron deficiency, starting with the most common.

  • Unusual Tiredness – Fatigue is one of the most common signs of iron deficiency. This is due to less oxygen reaching body tissues, depriving them of energy.
  • Paleness in general or in specific areas such as the face, lower inner eyelid or nails may be a sign of moderate or severe iron deficiency. This is caused by lower levels of hemoglobin, which gives blood its red color.
  • Shortness of breath is a symptom of iron deficiency, since low hemoglobin levels mean the body isn’t able to transport oxygen to muscles and tissues effectively.
  • Headaches and dizziness could be a sign of iron deficiency. The lack of hemoglobin means not enough oxygen reaches the brain, causing its blood vessels to swell and create pressure.
  • Heart Palpitations – In cases of iron deficiency, the heart has to work extra hard to transport oxygen around the body. This can lead to irregular or fast heartbeats and even heart murmurs, an enlarged heart or heart failure.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome – People with iron-deficiency anemia have a higher chance of experiencing restless leg syndrome. This is a strong urge to move the legs when at rest.

I am not really suffering from any of these symptons (that I am aware of), but my blood analysis, IS showing low iron levels.

Iron Deficiency Causes

Some of the common causes of iron deficiency in adults include:

  • Inadequate dietary intake – there are two types of dietary iron, haem iron (found in animal tissue) and non-haem iron. The body absorbs haem iron much more easily than non-haem iron. There are many reasons why the dietary intake of iron could be inadequate, including a poorly balanced vegetarian diet, chronic fad dieting or limited access to a wide range of fresh foods – for example, as a result of living in remote areas or having a low income.
  • Blood loss – iron deficiency easily occurs in situations of chronic blood loss. Common causes include heavy menstrual periods, regular blood donation, regular nosebleeds, chronic disorders that involve bleeding (such as peptic ulcers, polyps or cancers in the large intestine) and certain medications, particularly aspirin.
  • Increased need – the adolescent growth spurt, pregnancy and breastfeeding are situations when the body requires more iron. If this increased need isn’t met, a deficiency can quickly occur.
  • Exercise – athletes are prone to iron deficiency because regular exercise increases the body’s need for iron in a number of ways. For example, hard training promotes red blood cell production, while iron is lost through sweating.
  • Inability to absorb iron – healthy adults absorb about ten to 15 per cent of dietary iron, but some people’s bodies are unable to absorb or use iron from food.

For me absorption is likely to be the main issue (this is fairly common in Gastric Bypass Surgery)… but the exercise element may also play a part as I am doing quite a lot of gym sessions… (6 or 7 one hour sessions a week at the moment – plus fairly regular 5 or 10km walks)

Iron Deficiency Treatments

The main aim of treatment is to restore hemoglobin levels to normal and replenish iron stores. The most common treatments are to increase dietary intake of Iron rich foods, and Iron supplements

Eat Iron-Rich Foods

If your doctor thinks your iron deficiency may be caused by a lack of iron in your diet, consuming more iron-rich foods, such as the following may help :

  • Red meat, pork and poultry
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots
  • Peas, beans and other pulses
  • Seafood
  • Iron-fortified foods
  • Seeds and nuts

Boost Your Iron Absorption

Eating vitamin C will help your body absorb iron better, so eating enough vitamin C-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables can help with absorption.

It may also be beneficial to avoid certain foods that can inhibit iron absorption when eaten in large amounts. These include tea and coffee and foods high in calcium such as dairy products and whole-grain cereals.

Iron Supplements

If increasing iron levels through diet alone is not working, then it may be necessary to take iron supplements – which sometimes may have unpleasant side effects such as stomach pain, constipation or diarrhea, heartburn, nausea and black stools. .

Iron Infusion

As I have pretty much tried (and failed at) the above treatments – primarily because the Gastric Bypass operation restricts the absorption of Iron, my next course of action is an Iron Infusion

Iron infusion is a procedure in which iron is delivered to your body intravenously (i.e. into a vein through a needle).

An iron infusion is a way to increase the body’s iron levels quickly. It’s a more immediate treatment than supplements or dietary changes.

Burst of Energy ??

Apparently, Iron Infusion will give me a Burst of Energy… which is pretty hard for me to imagine because I don’t at the moment feel lacking in energy (6 or 7 gym sessions a week doesn’t say “low energy” to me…) but I am very curious to see the outcomes 🙂

Oh Dear… I have Been Dumped !! … Again

Oh Dear… I have Been Dumped !! … Again

Despite being the fittest, healthiest and skinniest I have been for more than 30 years… and in fact, quite probably because of it, I have been dumped multiple times in the last few months !!!

I have had several people, who have played an important part in my life over the last few years, who have decided that our relationship is no longer necessary and that they no longer want to see me on a regular basis !!!

But it is not actually a bad thing… in fact it is a very good thing.. because it is my medical specialists who are “dumping” me in droves…. They have determined that because my health has improved so dramatically over the last 12 months, that there is no longer any reason to see me on a regular basis… and that just an occasional catch up (if that) will do fine.

Endocrinologist

As I have been completely Diabetes medication free for over 12 months (since the day after surgery), and my Blood sugar is well within the “normal” range, my Endocrinologist has declared me “Diabetes Free” and told me not to come back…

Liver Specialist

My Liver specialist says that despite permanent scarring (from Cirrhosis), my Liver is functioning beautifully and my blood data is giving no indication of liver problems at all. She suggests that I touch base in 6 months or so.

Bariatric Surgeon

My Surgeon and Dietician are VERY happy with the outcome of my surgery (62 weeks ago) – and so am I… I weigh nearly 10Kg less than I once thought possible and am still losing weight…. I will catch up with them in another 6 months or so too.

General Practioner

Even my GP is not in any hurry to see me again 🙂

My Gym Trainer/s

The only relationship which I am still fostering is with my trainers at the gym…:) … but even that might be on a downward trend, as I have determined that my Passion for Excercise (NOT an Obsession – I promise) maybe just a little excessive and am considering reducing my 6 or 7 workouts a week (although I am tempted to start swimming as well).

Perhaps I should consider establishing a NEW relationship…. with a Plastic Surgeon…. for an Abdominoplasty – Joking !!! (at the moment) ….