It seems that fitness apps and wearable activity trackers are being used by everybody these days.
I saw a debate the other day that questioned whether that was a good thing, the against camp suggesting that it was making us obsess about our eating and movement. Whilst I get that I have only seen positive improvements from the people I know, myself included.
You see I think most of us actually over estimate how much we move and under estimate how much we eat.
If you have a device on you that can highlight how little you have moved today that can be your motivation to get up and go for a walk. Likewise if you are logging that takeaway the realisation in front of you of exactly how many calories you have eaten can be a great deterrent next time.
You see I believe the first step to change your habits is the awareness of your current habits. It is incredibly easy to lie to yourself, and I know this from personal experience!
I also know this from working with clients, when I ask people how they eat on a typical week most people will say “I eat fairly healthy”. Then I dig a bit deeper, so “What did you have for breakfast every day this week? What did you eat on Friday night? That’s when the truth starts to come out. The Wednesday muffin they grabbed with their coffee, the bacon roll they had as an office treat on Friday, the glass of wine they had watching their favourite drama during the week, the couple of glasses they had over the weekend, oh and then there was the takeaway and the follow up fry up, oh and it was Sue from the offices birthday on Thursday so I had a piece of cake………………………….
Do you see where this is going? I’m not saying that eating like that is going to kill you, but can you see how this might be hampering your weight loss? As when you know that for lunch you had salad every day and your evening meal Monday to Thursday consisted of meat and veg it is completely logical to consider yourself as having a healthy diet.
So when I get people to write down everything they eat and drink throughout a week, they can see how it is easy to forget all the little extras.
With the activity log I know I was definitely surprised at how little I move some days, considering I feed animals and do a job that required movement when I spend the rest of the day driving or sat down writing I can really struggle to get in my 10,000 steps. My tracker encourages me to go for a walk or move around more.
There are also so many on the market that I think there is something to suit most tastes and budgets.
Firstly, the most popular and arguably the best online food diary MYFITNESSPAL. This is free unless you upgrade to premium, so easy to use, downloaded as an app, so many foods/brands already inputted for you as well as a barcode scanner, you can set yourself targets and monitor it day to day. It also links with many fitness tracker apps so that your activity level is logged too. If you just want to monitor what you are eating this is the app to use. Although I will say the calorie goals it sets for weight loss are far too low so please set your own using the Harris Benedict Equation to work out your daily calorie needs and then subtracting no more than 20% as your daily calorie goal for weight loss.
I know most I phones have step counter etc. in them now but what I find is I’m not always carrying my phone on me for example when I’m with a client my phone tends to be in my bag, so if you are like me it just doesn’t cut it. So if you are an apple geek you will have to go super flash and get an Apple watch that will track your every movement from around £300 upwards depending on how much tech you want.
The most popular wearable trackers have been the Jawbone Up and The Fitbit. These are closer to the £100 mark and have built in steps counters, heart rate monitors and sync straight to an app to log your information. Personally I have a Fitbit charge hr and I like that it is also a watch and the steps, calorie burn, hr etc. are all visible on the watch at the click of a button. With the Jawbone you have to log into the app to see this but it is more aesthetically pleasing so people may prefer this to wear every day.
On a side note, I have found the heart rate very useful not just from a training perspective where you may be looking to hit certain heart rate zones, but from a day to day monitor of my bodies stress levels. As it turns out my heart rate is pretty high for most of the day, this means whether I feel it or not my body is stressed and it makes me address this on a daily basis.
Garmin and Polar have also brought out their own trackers although these are closer to £200 and you have to use a separate belt to use the heart rate monitor, but they do have further features in relation to specific sports, music controls etc. so if you are more of a gadget geek they may be up your street.
So if your new year’s resolutions to be more healthy and active are waning maybe some tech could give you the boost/constant reminder that you need!