Not everything works for everyone when it comes to losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Starting my journey 6 months ago, I think I knew that. The problem was knowing where to start.
Before all of this, I thought I’d have to go back to the ways of counting calories and figuring out what I could eat. I’d be reduced to celery and water and wayward scents wafting from bakeries.
I can’t tell you how relieved I was to find common ground between total discipline and a much-coveted double chocolate chip cookie.
I like trends and I like technology. Knowing that I’m a social media specialist, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Based on these facts and a wild stab in the dark, I asked for a FitBit for Christmas, and the rest has been one of the best decisions I could have made.
For the uninitiated, FitBit devices are little bullet shaped monitors that fit inside silicone bracelets. By wearing the tracker all the time, the device can monitor things like the number of steps you’ve taken and the quality of your sleep. This information syncs wirelessly with a corresponding app where you can also log your meals and details of your exercise. All of this gets added or subtracted from a daily bank of allotted calories based on how well you did that day. At the end of the day, you have a complete picture of what you ate, how much you moved, and how close you are to your pre-set goals.
Since FitBit calculates how many calories you burned doing normal tasks like walking to your car or running up and down the steps doing laundry, that’s perfect for those “I live on the second floor so I deserve another slice of pizza” folks like me. You can actually visualize that, no, it takes a lot more than running to the basement to get fit. Every little bit helps, but the actual nutrition and exercise part is where you get the most mileage. And that’s where the manual input comes in. I know, I know. I promised this wouldn’t be calorie counting. Bear with me!
If you’re like me and your phone is practically surgically attached to your hand, this part is actually pretty painless and a little bit fun. You can use the accompanying FitBit app to track what you eat and how you work out, but I personally prefer the MyFitnessPal app. It keeps tabs on the amount of fat, calories, vitamins and minerals you’re getting through your food, and offers little messages of encouragement when you eat something particularly healthy. It also tells you when that greasy pizza had 75% of your daily fat allowance.
When you track everything you eat, and I mean everything, it’s a pretty sobering way to see where you’ve gone wrong in the past. I happened to start tracking my meals around Christmastime and let me tell you, that was not fun, but it was important for me to see that. Once I applied some basic knowledge about fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates to my diet, I’ve stayed under my daily calorie allowance fairly consistently.
Tracking your food also helps you better budget for those times you want to splurge a little. I’m proud to say that I’ve lost 3 pounds just in the last month, but you know what I still had? Pie. French fries. A donut. I’d be a lot better off had I not had those things, and I think every cardiologist would agree, but MyFitnessPal and my FitBit taught me that there is always a give and take. I pack each day with healthy foods so when I allow myself a treat, it doesn’t come as a major setback. And I log the splurge food so I’m honest with myself about how I’m doing. I’m finding I want fewer and fewer splurge items too. It’s a badge of honor to look at your food diary and realize everything you ate that day is wholesome. You want to keep it up.
Tracking my food has brought me a great deal of discipline, but it’s also given me some perspective, and when embarking on any goal, these two can be very valuable. The key for me has been finding a sustainable diet I can be happy with. Slow and steady wins the race.
There is another feature my FitBit has, but you won’t read about it on any tech blog or fitness site. This silly little black ring that stays on my wrist 23 hours a day isn’t just a health monitor; it’s a constant visual reminder to make good choices. They say it takes anywhere from 21 to 66 days to form a healthy habit, so it’s safe to say this is one habit I’ve picked up that won’t be leaving me any time soon.
Tell me about your experience with fitness trackers and what keeps you motivated in the comments below!