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I recently read an article that reviewed many of the fitness technology bands/watches. It spurred me to finally weigh in on this topic. This article took me back to the beginning of my career in the fitness industry. I started out with a job/internship selling the Bodybugg for a big box gym in the area. For those of you unfamiliar with this device it was the greatest thing since sliced bread hit the market. It tracked your steps, measured your calories, had an interface to log your food all in the name of being able to be more fit and take the guess work out of gaining or losing weight. It had a lot going for it.
Nowadays, there are several options out there. You have the Nike Fuelband, or the Jawbone Up, the FitBit or a dozen other such products. While I haven’t tried out all these products, they all have the same benefits going for them. By giving someone a cool little gizmo, you draw awareness to something by both the wearer and those around them. Remember the Livestrong bands? By simply wearing, or having this gadget, many people are more motivated to move more-which is GREAT! We all should move more. How many of us take the recommended amount 10,000 steps/day? Even if wearing the LiveStrong band didn’t make you move more (or want to move more), it was a social movement that everyone wanted to be a part of.
Whether it’s the Bodybugg or another similar product, the thing you need to know is that they aren’t precise. They give general ideas and glimpses into your movement etc. It is not exact. Once you try to split hairs and get down to the nitty-gritty, you’re going to be disappointed and probably become disillusioned with the product and stop using it. Most track your steps or movement, but can’t adequately account for EPOC (Exercise Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) and it’s effect on calorie burn and metabolism. How they claim to see if you are sleeping soundly or not is besides me-and they never disclose that information.
The other component of weight management is nutrition. You have to enter into a database what you’ve eaten. Most have you pick a preloaded item that is the average. This is the big selling point. If you know how much you move, and you can now know how much you eat, you can regulate it and lose weight. Let’s not even bring up the point that we tend to underestimate what we eat by sometimes 50%…unless we’re tracking something healthy. All of a sudden that tiniest morsel of vegetable becomes a serving or two. So you track what you eat, but this part isn’t exact either-EVEN IF YOU MEASURE IT OUT. Yes, Subway can test their sweet onion chicken teriaki sandwhich and they can know that it has 370 calories, but not every sandwhich is the exact match of what they had tested. Yes, you can get out your food scale but again, how many calories you’re exactly burning, your exact BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) will need to be determined in an exercise science lab. Costly and not realistic. The sooner you can grasp and embrace that concept the following tips will help that much more.
No Exit Strategy
The other concern is that these devices are sold as the end all be all for fitness tracking and weight management. Very few people actually thrive tracking the minutia of their lives day in and day out for the rest of their lives. Most use this expensive gadget and lose interest and stop using it within a couple months. If you stop doing something, it’s not a lifestyle. I thought these were suppose to create a healthy lifestyle? The other side of the spectrum I’ve seen are those that start obsessing about their food or movement to the point of being unhealthy and having disorders.
I think the solution is 2-fold. 1- track behaviors not calories, and 2-have an exit strategy. If you need a little more help with reaching your fitness goals, check out my article, The First Step in Starting a Healthy Habit.
Track Behavior Not Calories
Instead of obsessing about the minutia (calories in and calories out) and getting frustrated that it isn’t precise, how about you track your behaviors and choices? Those are easily tracked, and what gets tracked at this more global level gets changed. To faciliate your quest for a healthy lifestyle, we’ve created a FREE choice tracker when it comes to food and exercise. No guesswork, no inaccuracies, just create an account and see your progress in reaching your fitness goals and healthy habits you’re attempting to change for the better.
Have an Exit Strategy
Even this tracker isn’t the solution by itself. It’s a starting point. With any tracking device I recommend using it short term (couple weeks to 1 month). This will give you great starting data with which to make some informed decisions about specific behaviors you need to change. You can then start tracking these changes. Once again, this is all done in about a month. The biggest step to autonomy is just that, putting it on auto-pilot. Things like meal planning come into play so you can reach your fitness goals with greater ease.
For more help with your exit from fitness technology give us a call. We’re happy to help.