Saturday, January 31, 2015

Here a Band There a Band

I’m a huge advocate of fitness trackers (like Fitbit, Band or even my Galaxy Gear) because it simplifies a very important part of your life. That would be the part of your life that involves getting more active of course. Everyone needs to take these things with a grain of salt though, because every fitness band created will give off different results.

I was reading an article lately from a woman who was curious about how well her fitness band was working for her, and why the readings that it was giving her were so much different than the readings she was getting from the machines she was working out on. She took six different fitness bands from different manufacturers and wore them all at the same time. Each and every one of them gave her calorie totals that were so different she found it astounding. I wasn't exactly surprised with her results, and in my own fitness quest, I never really took calorie counting by exercise all that seriously, but tracked it all the same.

In my own personal experience I have always told people to be more active. In an earlier blog I had said that honesty was the very first thing that has to be worked on before you can even attempt to lose weight. Without delving into that topic too much, let’s get to the next important phase which is a two part of equally important measure, time and effort. Yes two of the most dishonest things you can possibly start making excuses for, and here’s how it works out and why a fitness band is only as good as what you are using it for.

First we will talk about effort. If you do not put some effort into increasing your activity and lowering your caloric intake, then a fitness band is a complete waste of time. In a lot of cases it is also a very expensive waste of time. If I were to just track my activity for a day it would look pretty impressive because I am a reasonably active person, but I was a reasonably active person when I was out of shape. I ate too much and I didn't raise my level of activity to counteract that. Before I even realized that activity trackers would give you calorie burn totals I had always told people that the good old pedometer would change your life. Write down what you had for steps and increase it by 10% a week until you realized weight loss. Simple enough right?

In a general caloric intake that would inspire responsible weight loss it is simply bringing your calories as close to 1500 (for a man) or 1200 (for a woman) and DO NOT go under it. Going under either of these amounts will force your body to store fat because your body itself will assume that you are starving, and try to counteract it. Regardless of what your fitness band or pedometer tells you, the goal is to reduce your calories to the minimum you can and then use the activity (exercise) increase to lower the body fat levels. Again this is simple enough right?

Here comes the excuses though, and this brings us into the time factor. It will take a certain amount of time each day to burn calories if you want to lower your body mass. I lift a lot of weights at the gym and on the days I do not, I require at least 40 minutes of activity even if it is just plain walking. Unfortunately it does need to be done in a singular burst to have the greatest effects. I can easily log 40 minutes of walking from my desk to the refrigerator a day but that doesn’t put my body into a burn zone that strips the fat off of me, as opposed to walking 2 miles or so in a 40 minute period. My body starts tapping into my fat stores within 5 minutes of that.

Here’s where I tell you the great news about the fitness trackers regardless of how accurate they are. If you put in the time and effort to simply eat the right amount of calories each day, the rest is gravy. Think of it this way. You eat about 1300 calories a day, and you really want to punish yourself for that (which you shouldn't but work with me here) all of the activity that you put forth during the day is working against that. If you got in a few miles worth of walking and your fitness tracker says that you burned 500 calories, it doesn't matter if it was only 200 calories. You have actually (in theory) eaten less than the 1200 calorie threshold that will get the weight off of you, while NOT starving yourself.

Now getting back to what I was saying earlier, take that fitness tracker and just do more. That thing tells you that you burned 500 calories today; get it to say you burned 505 tomorrow. It took us a while to put the weight on, and it will take us a while to burn it off. Thankfully with diet trackers and fitness trackers we have come a long way to making it a lot easier to take that journey. Just remember to not sweat the small stuff, because in the end it is all small stuff.