How many steps do you walk in a day? How long can you hold your plank? How many calories have you eaten since this morning? How does all of this compare to where you were a year ago? Why does it even matter?
Using tools like tech gadgets or apps to track exercise, your heart rate or number of reps (even thousands of steps) may seem irrelevant or even obsessive. However, when kept in perspective, the information from fitness-tracking tools can help us in very real ways to make positive strides toward our goals. And, the gadgets can make the often tedious chores of tracking and documentation fun. In this post, we’ll take a look at two devices and an app that raise the fun factor along with your game.
High–Tech Walking: Fitbit
Conventional wisdom in the fitness world suggests that to reach your weight loss or fitness goals, logging 10,000 steps a day is a must. Ever tried counting 10,000 paces? Makes walking and chewing gum at the same time seem like a breeze by comparison. Enter the pedometer. The simple, tried-and-true pedometer that clips onto your waistband has been around for decades and takes the guesswork out of counting paces. Clip it on. Walk. Forget about it until you want to check how you’re doing. Add more paces until you reach your goal or put your feet up with the satisfaction you hit 10,000 by day’s end. Too old school? Step aside pedometer. Enter the Fitbit.
My wife was gifted a Fitbit by her tech-savvy son. I was skeptical at first, but now, having experienced what a device no bigger than a piece of bubble gum can do, I’m a convert. Not only does the little baby count your steps, it uploads them to your computer where you can graph and record your progress. It measures the intensity of your walking from light to moderate to intense. Stairs anyone? And—check this out—if you wear it to bed at night, it measures the quality of your sleep. Fitbit offers many models, and the entry level retails for around $59. To check a Fitbit out locally before you buy, put on your walking shoes and head to: REI, Target, Brookstone, Sports Authority or check out Fitbit.com to find the most convenient source near you.
Hold Yourself Accountable: MyFitnessPal
My Neighborhood Notes pal and all-around great guy Ken Aaron recommended that I try the free smart phone app MyFitnessPal as a means of recording my energy/caloric intake and output. As with the Fitbit, I was dubious at first, but quickly came to enjoy the benefits and cleverness of the tracking app. Wow. This little program keeps you on track with how much and what kind of food you’ve eaten over the course of a day, how many glasses of water you’ve guzzled, and it provides a way for you to log your daily exercise—which informs how much and what you can eat. The app also does a credible job of reminding you to check-in periodically—makes holding yourself accountable doable. I like the little nudge that MyFitnessPal gives me to check-in. Something like: “You haven’t entered in what you ate for breakfast, Craig.”
Tired or overwhelmed with the thought of counting calories? MyFitnessPal does it for you. It has a seemingly endless list of foods and associated calories per portion: You select the food and portion from a dropdown and bingo, it calculates and records how much you’ve eaten and how many calories you have left to stay within your caloric needs or goal for the day. A great way to keep you on track.
By tracking your daily eating and exercise habits, MyFitnessPal can be an eye-opener when you see that you don’t eat enough vegetables or that you’re not meeting your minimum daily caloric requirements—like I was! To get started with MyFitnessPal, simply connect to your phone’s app store, search for MyFitnessPal, install and start tracking.
Keeping Time on Your Side: Gymboss
From high-tech to low-tech: If you are only counting reps in your sets, consider timing your intervals to mix it up. Twelve reps or keep pushing for 30 or 45 seconds with a 15-second rest? A simple digital timer like the Gymboss MiniMax takes the guesswork out of how long you’ve been working your interval. The vibration and/or bell feature gives you the freedom to focus on your breathing and form and not on the second hand. I see many people using their cell phones to mark time, which is certainly fine, but may be a little risky. Consider that it doesn’t matter if your timer gets sweaty, dropped, bumped or—uh oh—crushed by a 40-pound kettlebell compared to the same happening to your cell. Of course, a timer doesn’t play Bruno Mars or Beyonce either, but it will keep your intervals precise and on track. This little retro, battery-powered device is great for holding you accountable to time and well worth the $20. You may be able to purchase the Gymboss MiniMax at the same outlets listed above or surf to Gymboss.com and check out the dedicated interval timer selection.
Keeping your healthy lifestyle fun, in sync and on track is easy enough with a little help from our tech friends. Mix it up and Go Well!