Tag Archives: HRV training

Author of “Less Doing, More Living” interviews Ronda Collier


Ari Meisel interviews Ronda Collier on HRV. See below for a summary and a list of topics. At the bottom you will find a link to the original podcast.


In Episode #104 Ari talks with Ronda Collier, CEO of SweetWater Health™, a company striving to revolutionize mobile health monitoring and stress management by combining verified medical research with the most recent mobile-tech innovations. During their conversation, Ari and Rondatouch on the frequently overlooked value of Heart Rate Variability and the future of health technology. 

7 Key Points:

  1.        The heart does not beat at a consistent interval like a metronome
  2.        Stress isn’t “bad”; How we react to it – our inability to come down – is what makes it bad
  3.        People who are in constant “fight or flight” mode normalize stress in their brains, which makes it difficult for them to institute change because these individuals don’t “feel” stressed
  4.        Monitoring HRV is a great way to maximize recovery from physical training and keep track of stress
  5.        When HRV levels are low do “busy work”; When they are high do “creative work”
  6.        Sensitivity to certain foods can significantly impact stress and HRV levels
  7.        Good nutrition, consistent exercise and self-awareness are the pillars of healthy living

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  •          02:05 – Happy Thanksgiving from Ari and the Less Doing Team!
  •          02:55 – Felix and Ari address tryptophan
    • Editor’s Note: Ari mentions that tryptophan occurs naturally in the body – he meant to say the opposite, we can only get it from outside sources vl
  •          03:25 – Tryptophan is not what makes us tired…overeating makes us tired
  •          07:56 – June 9th-12th of 2015, Ari will speak at the Fortune Leadership Summit
  •          19:27 – Ronda discusses her background and the journey to founding SweetWater Health
  •          20:40 – HRV: Heart-Rate Variability
  •          22:28 – It’s not that stress is a bad thing of and in itself…it’s how quickly we can recover from that stress.
  •          23:00 – Why should we care about HRV? Why even track it?
  •          25:55 – SweetBeat and how the SweetWater apps work
  •          27:00 – The SweetWater and the Vital Connect HealthPatch
  •          29:57 – HRV has been used by athletes for decades to help them mitigate the risks of overtraining
  •          29:05 – How can HRV monitoring work for a non-athlete?
  •          30:50 – SweetBeat can alert people to everyday behaviors that induce commonly overlooked stress
  •          32:10 – Meditation has always been a challenge for Ari
  •          33:15 – How Ronda personally uses her HRV monitoring tools
  •          33:39 – The bucket of willpower
  •          34:30 – When HRV is low; do busy work. When HRV is high; do creative work
  •          34:45 – When you are “in-flow”, HRV starts to go up naturally
  •          35:32 – Food sensitivity and how it relates to stress
  •          39:10 – Most people are not aware of modest heart rate spikes
  •          40:23 – The future of SweetBeat
  •          41:35 – The value of correlation
  •          43:27 – Ronda’s Top 3 Tips for Being More Effective:
  •          43:43 – Improving nutrition; eating fresh
  •          44:00 – Being self-aware of what’s going on inside your body
  •          44:30 – Exercise, even minimally, every single day
  •          45:10 – BeatHealthy.com

Click here to hear the podcast!

Announcing Our New Partner in Intelligent Recovery – Restwise

We believe that sharing data between multiple devices and software providers is a vital key to understanding and creating meaningful feedback. Over the last few years, we have found several partners who feel the same way. Through collective design we have brought our users the most comprehensive view of their health and fitness.


The partnership between Restwise and SweetWater Health offers athletes the world’s most accurate, comprehensive picture of global fatigue state outside of a laboratory. Users of SweetBeat and SweetBeatLife will be able to export their heart rate (pulse in Restwise) and heart rate variability to Restwise with ease.

What is Restwise?

Restwise design was driven by two principles: simplicity and accuracy.  The biggest challenge in recovery monitoring is getting athletes to adhere to the protocol, so the process needs to be fast and easy.  But it also needs to paint a reliable, global picture of recovery state. To achieve these goals, Restwise combines several bio-markers, each of which is easy to record and is clearly supported by sports science, into a single algorithm. Restwise takes less than a minute to complete, and it has been validated through work with UK Sport and through years of successful field use.

If you have a Restwise account and SweetBeat or SweetBeatLife, please follow these instructions to authorize the export:

  1. Login to your account on our website.
  2. Scroll down until you see the Restwise banner.
  3. Enter your Restwise account information and click “connect”.

IMPORTANT: After you finish a SweetBeat or SweetBeatLife session, it is important that you save the session as the pre-existing tag, “HRV”. This ensures that your latest heart rate and heart rate variability numbers export to Restwise.


A message from Restwise to their users:

Heart Rate Variability in Restwise Your Enter Data page has a new field: HRV, which stands for heart rate variability. HRV is a relatively new recovery marker, but there is a rapidly growing body of evidence that it is a reliable indicator of central nervous system fatigue.

Why are we adding HRV now? There are two reasons.  First, you asked for it. When we initially designed Restwise we chose markers that give you the most accurate picture of your global fatigue state possible in the least amount of time.  Completing Restwise takes less than a minute, whereas getting a reliable HRV reading takes 3 – 4 minutes.  We simply did not want to require users to spend this much time. But enough of you have said you are willing to invest a few more minutes to get a more complete picture of your recovery state that we are now providing this option.

The second reason is that we have found a great partner, Sweetwater Health. They offer a simple, accurate, and affordable way to capture HRV. If you take HRV using the SweetBeat or SweetBeatLife iPhone apps, your HRV and pulse numbers will automatically load to Restwise, where you can chart HRV against your Restwise Total Recovery Score, Load, and other individual inputs.

What’s next? HRV does not yet affect the algorithm, but it will soon. We will also update our apps to capture and display HRV. Meanwhile, if you want to get a better understanding of HRV, listen to Ben Greenfield’s 20-minute Podcast featuring Sweetwater CEO Ronda Collier. 


Don’t have a Restwise account?

We are working with Restwise to provide our users with a free trial using their intelligent recovery system. Check back soon for instructions on how to sign up!

Other partners in data-sharing:

  • Our newest application, SweetBeatLife, includes the ability to import data from Fitbit, MapMyFitness and Withings for correlation with the app’s metrics. To authorize these fitness devices to work with SweetBeatLife, please read over, “Starting Up With SweetBeatLife”.
  • Both SweetBeat and SweetBeatLife work with AchieveMint, the dashboard that earns you money. To authorize your AchieveMint account go to your app’s account settings and select AchieveMint login. You can create an AchieveMint account from there or enter your already existing AchieveMint email.BlueBirdieIcon                                                                     SweetBeatLife

Why Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat: What Do We Do Now?

SodaWe’ve been hearing for years that artificial sweeteners are bad for you and can actually cause weight gain. This flies in the face of logic. After all, if you’re consuming fewer calories than you would if you were using sugar or honey, how could they encourage weight gain? And just how bad are they for you in other ways? We decided to stop asking ourselves these questions and get down to what appears to be the truth of the matter.

Artificial sweeteners have been around for more than 130 years; saccharin was developed in 1878 from coal tar derivatives (yum!). It didn’t enter widespread use until WWI, due to sugar shortages. But artificial sweeteners experienced a huge boost in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, as new sweeteners were introduced to satisfy the sweet tooth (teeth?) of dieters.[1] The rising tide of American obesity increased in step with the increase in consumption of artificially sweetened products, particularly diet sodas.

Artificial sweeteners have been controversial and subject to scrutiny almost from their inception. The USDA began investigating saccharin in 1907, and then proceeded to flipflop, proclaiming it an adulterant in 1911, then stating in 1912 that saccharin was not harmful to human health.

Cyclamates underwent similar scrutiny by the FDA in the 1960s, and is still banned in the U.S., spurring the development of alternatives such as aspartame and sucralose. Artificial sweeteners are in widespread use today in sodas, candies and other processed foods, as well as available on (almost) every restaurant table in America. Some, like stevia, claim to be derived from natural sources, the implication being that they are better for you than completely laboratory-derived products. (Most stevia products are actually highly processed.)

The basis for the story that artificial sweeteners promote weight gain comes from a study at Purdue University.[2] Rats were fed yogurt sweetened with glucose (table sugar) and compared to a group of rats fed yogurt sweetened with zero-calorie saccharin. Three different experiments were conducted to see whether saccharin changed the rats’ ability to regulate intake of calories. The saccharin-fed rats later consumed more calories, gained more weight, put on more body fat and didn’t make up for it by cutting back on calories. This phenomenon occurred at statistically significant levels.

The researchers postulated that when the body detects sweetness, it gears up to consume a high-calorie food. When the false sweetness is not followed by the anticipated calories, it confuses the body’s connection between sweetness and calories. This leads to increased intake of calories and a blunted satiety response to overeating, leading to increased accumulation of fat.

Of course, these were rats, not people. Other studies have shown that at some level, the brain can distinguish between real and artificial sweeteners—but not, as it happens, if the person regularly consumes diet soft drinks. A diet soda drinker’s pleasure center in the brain will respond equally to either sucrose- or artificially sweetened sodas. Activity was diminished in an area of the brain called the caudate head in diet soda drinkers. Decreased activation of this area is associated with elevated risk of obesity.[3]

So far, we’ve learned that artificial sweeteners may blunt people’s satiety response, but that if they come in the form of diet soda, this effect may be worsened. Is there anything else out there to worry us about artificial sweeteners?

Although there have been many hoaxes perpetuated around artificial sweeteners and their alleged danger to human health, according to the FDA, all sweeteners currently on the market have been conclusively proven safe for human consumption.[4] There is no credible evidence that any of these sweeteners cause toxic reactions, cancer, seizures, or any of the other claims that have been lodged against them.

However, there is ample evidence they can make you fat. What more do we need to know? Artificial sweeteners are products that do the exact opposite of what they were intended to do.

So what alternatives do we have? We know that sugar isn’t good for us, and we know that high fructose corn syrup is worse. Sugar alcohols (which are not alcohols) can raise blood glucose levels, although not usually to the level of sugar. Sugar alcohols (including maltitol, sorbitol and xylitol) can also cause gastric symptoms, especially in children.[5] Honey is no better than sugar, healthwise, especially if processed (raw honey may confer some health benefits in the form of trace minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals).

Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives for sweetening the morning cup of tea or coffee. Which you choose depends on your personal taste, plus where it falls on the glycemic index. Diabetics in particular need to find a low-glycemic-index sweetener they can live with if they wish to avoid artificial sweeteners.

Brown rice syrup. This has a distinct malty or nutty flavor. It falls high on the glycemic index at 85, which makes it unsuitable for diabetics. It does contain minute traces of arsenic because brown rice contains minute traces of arsenic, but not enough to harm you unless you’re really chugging the stuff—in which case, you might have other worries.

Coconut palm sugar. This is a pale brown, granulated sugar made from the sap of coconut palms. It has a pleasant, light flavor and is relatively low on the glycemic index at 35.

Barley malt syrup. This is derived from malted (sprouted) barley that is cooked until the starch converts to sugar. It comes as a syrup or powder and is 42 on the glycemic index.

Agave nectar. Made from the juice of the blue agave plant (the same plant used to make tequila). It’s low on the glycemic index, between 15 and 30, depending on whether you are using raw or refined syrup. The raw syrup is darker and has more flavor, while the refined is a light color and has less flavor.

Stevia. Stevia is 0 on the glycemic index although it is 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar. It is touted as a natural product, but the white powder you put in your iced tea is in fact the product of an intensive refining process (and may also contain maltodextrin, which is highly processed and may elevate blood sugar[6]). There are liquid tinctures of stevia available that are not highly processed.

The sweeteners mentioned here are widely available, affordable, and palatable to most people (although some people react strongly to the taste of stevia). Find out more about sweeteners and where they fall on the glycemic scale at http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com/healthy-sugar-alternatives/

SweetBeat Tuned for Athletic HRV Training

Front crawl swimmer speeding through the pool


Many of you are athletes or fitness-focused individuals and currently use SweetBeat to monitor and track your HRV as it correlates to your training routine. In an effort to better meet your needs, we have added some features that are specifically designed for HRV recovery and training.

The latest release of SweetBeat can now be downloaded from the App Store.

When you press start, you can view a selection screen to monitor stress, run HRV For Training session or run a Heart Rate Recovery session. If you select the Help icon (question mark in a box) at the right of each session type, you will see the following screen.

Session Selection Screen

Select session


You can learn about the HRV For Training feature set by swiping to the left after you select the help ? button. The following six screens give you an overview of the new SweetBeat functionality.












HRV for Training over time


To run an HRV For Training session, select the session option, and press the start button on the main monitor screen. SweetBeat will automatically filter your HRV readings from your heart rate monitor and begin counting down a three-minute session.

The SweetBeat learning algorithm will establish a reference line over a few days as shown in the HRV For Training Over Time graph.

We recommend that you initially do light training or no training for a couple of days.  If you do train during initial sessions, the algorithm will compensate and adjust over the first 10 days of use, improving accuracy over time.

The HRV For Training Over Time graph will provide recommendations after each daily reading for a regular training day (HRV is above reference line), a light exertion day (HRV is below reference line for one day), or a rest day (HRV is below the reference line for two days).

If you wish, SweetBeat will remind you to take a daily HRV reading, with a selectable time that you preset. This reminder will appear initially when you select your first HRV training session. If you want to change the daily reminder time, you can access the preset in the settings menu under application settings.

Daily Reminder Setting

Daily Reminder


Charts for each session are included in history tab as well as cumulative charts for all sessions. HRV training sessions are tagged as HRV in the history screen.  You can also still select your own tag.

Good luck with your training! If you have any questions you can email us at support@sweetwaterhrv.com and we will reply within 24 hours.

SweetBeat Gets the Blues

Bluetooth is a wonderful invention. It enhances the mobility of the athlete, who no longer has to mess with wires while working out. It’s also a boon to the person who likes to garden or do other chores while listening to music. (I know one gentleman who bought Bluetooth headphones because he liked to garden while listening to music and snipped his wires with the garden shears once too many times.)

But when it comes to heart rate variability, not all Bluetooth is created equal. When SweetWater Health came out with our Bluetooth-compatible version of SweetBeat™, we tested several BT sensors to assure accuracy. Heart rate requires a lower sampling rate, and all sensors performed well for heart rate detection. But HRV requires a more frequent sampling rate to be accurate, which is why the iPhone camera sensor, at 30 frames per second, cannot deliver accurate HRV data.

You can use any Bluetooth v4.0 low-energy heart rate monitor with SweetBeat, including 60Beat and newer Polar H7 models with the iPhone 4S, 5, iPad 3 and newer iPod Touch 5 devices—with one exception. You cannot use Wahoo Blue HR. It’s fine for heart rate, but is not suitable for heart rate variability. This is noted in the app store description of SweetBeat.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause our Wahoo Blue HR owners. We have worked closely with Wahoo on this issue, but as of this writing, the technical issues have not yet been resolved.

Questions? Please contact us at info@SweetWaterHRV.com.

Important Information for SweetBeat Users

SweetWater Health is a very young company. SweetBeat™, our iPhone app, has been on the market for just a little over a year. We started with no users at all (except for us SweetWaterites), and during the months that followed SweetBeat’s debut, we have watched with interest as our audience of users has grown.

And you, our users, have surprised us. We thought that most people would purchase SweetBeat to help reduce stress. There are certainly some users that fit that profile, but the dedicated users, the ones who really use SweetBeat all the time, are athletes—often elite athletes—who use SweetBeat for HRV training to help understand their bodies better and to optimize training schedules.

And you—our dedicated users—told us that the product needed tweaking so you could use it even more effectively. So tweak it we did, and we need to tell you about the changes we made. This is important to know even if you are not an athlete, as your HRV levels will appear lower than in previous versions. This does not mean your HRV has changed—only the scale.

SweetBeat version 1.2.2 (and beyond) includes a refinement of the HRV calculation algorithm to fine-tune it for athletes. Some of you ultra-fit individuals were “maxing out” the HRV reading at 100. The new algorithm fixes this with the result that the calculated HRV will appear lower than in previous versions of SweetBeat. We have included some charts to illustrate what you can expect with version 1.2.2.

For SweetBeat users who have been measuring HRV for athletic training, your HRV will appear to decrease with version 1.2.2. For this reason we recommend starting with a new baseline taken on a day that you know you are fully recovered. We believe this will provide more accurate results in the long run as your fitness levels improve.

Below are a couple of charts that illustrate how your new HRV scores may differ from your previous scores.

How is HRV calculated? SweetBeat measures the RR intervals (the time between heartbeats) then calculates the HRV parasympathetic parameter rMSSD. We then run a scaling algorithm on rMSSD to create an HRV value. Typical values will be in the range of 0-100. rMSSD is the square root of the mean squared difference of successive RRs. Elite athletes will experience very high rMSSD scores compared to others.

If you want to see the raw numbers, look at the “Geek Screen” on the flip side of the ECG heart beat screen. To see the Geek Screen, press the button in lower right corner of the window where the animated ECG appears. You will see the summary numbers from your last session. Below are the same charts from above that include rMSSD.

As a reminder on how to use HRV for training:

  1. Take your HRV every morning prior to any activity.
    1. This session can be measured sitting, standing or lying down, but be consistent in the position you select.
    2. Do a five-minute session.
      1. HRV is time dependent so be consistent in the length of the session
      2. If HRV drops significantly (more than 10 points) a low exertion or rest day is in order.
      3. If HRV drops significantly two or more days in a row, a rest day is in order.

Questions? Please send them to support@sweetwaterhrv.com. We’d love to hear from you.