The Benefit of Fitness Trackers

Fitbit ForceI’m a huge fan of anything that motivates someone (especially me) to be more active and get fit. Fitness trackers like the Fitbit Force, or Jawbone Up are excellent at motivating the wearer to get up off the couch and get moving.

Personally, I have a Fitbit Force, which is no longer made by Fitbit. In fact, they recalled it just a few months ago. I have yet to send mine back.

Benefit of Fitness Trackers

So, how beneficial are fitness trackers? Aren’t they little more than glorified pedometers?

Well, yes and no.

The Fitbit Force tracks steps and distance like a normal pedometer, but it also tracks the stairs you take along with how many calories you’ve burned during the day and your sleep patterns. But the benefit of the tracker is the motivation it provides. It essentially lets you challenge yourself by showing you how far you’ve gone and taunting you to beat your goal.

When you reach 10,000 steps (or whatever your goal is), the Force vibrates and the display shows fireworks or another celebratory display and blinks your goal – in my case it blinks 10,000. For me, that’s a great feeling. I love the fireworks! But in all seriousness, it’s essentially a reward for reaching your goal.

My account on Achievemint.com

My account on Achievemint.com

Granted, it’s not a tangible reward like money or a new outfit, but it is an immediate recognition of your achievement. Although, if money motivates you, check out Achievemint. They reward you with real cash when you get a certain amount of points. In my case, whenever I hit 25,000, they send me a gift card for $25, which is then sent to my PayPal account.

You also compete with friends on a leaderboard via the Fitbit website, which provides another level of motivation. My sister is actually on my leaderboard, and I’m constantly trying to stay ahead of her since she’s a physical therapist and walks pretty much constantly.

Another benefit is that the Fitbit can adjust your calorie allotment for the day based on how many steps you take. Since it works with My Fitness Pal, for me this is indispensable. As a freelance writer, I’m sitting for the majority of my day unless I’m at my part time job as an ophthalmic technician. So on my writing days, my calorie allotment is adjusted so that I stay under my goal of 1900 calories.

Choosing a Fitness Tracker

To get the most out of your fitness tracker, there are a few things you need to think about before you make your purchase.

  1. Know what your budget is. Fitness trackers are an investment in your health and should be chosen with this in mind. While the most expensive trackers offer a lot of bells and whistles, some of the mid range trackers offer the necessities at an affordable price. So it’s important to know how much you are willing to spend on a device.
  2. Do your research. With so many choices out there, you can’t just pick one randomly, or go on one person’s suggestion. Read reviews, check out the company’s website, and do a Google search for any customer complaints before making a decision. Check out my ultimate guide for information on the top four trackers that give you the most bang for your buck.
  3. Know what features you want. Most fitness trackers are glorified pedometers, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. Fitbit trackers have the ability to track steps, stairs, sleep and calories. But they don’t have heart rate monitors. Basis B1 has a heart rate monitor and sweat gauge, and can track walking, biking and running, but their heart rate monitor doesn’t always work when your moving… you know, when you need it. So make sure you know what features you want, and that all the features actually work.
  4. Consider the device’s wearability. I’m not talking about just how it feels on your arm or in your pocket. I’m also talking about how user friendly their phone app and/or website is. While the tracker should be a stylish, comfortable fit and not cause a rash, the app should be user-friendly, show you the information you want and work with a variety of devices including laptops, tablets and smartphones.
  5. It only works if you use it. Once you decide on a tracker and finally receive it, you have to use it. All the features in the world can’t help you if you don’t actually wear the thing. It’s a commitment to health and ultimately to yourself. One of the nice things about armband trackers is all you have to do is literally wear it. The device does all the work and you can see your stats on either a phone app or on the device’s website. Other trackers, like the Fitbit One, you have to wear on your belt, or put in your pocket. If you forget your tracker in the morning, you won’t get any stats for the day. This is why I decided on the arm band version. Since I wear it at night to sleep, it’s hard to forget the next morning.

Whether or not a fitness tracker will be beneficial for you depends on your personality. If you have no problem with motivating yourself to workout or go to the gym, or you’re already an active person, a fitness tracker may not be as beneficial as it would be for someone like me who has problems with motivation and is primarily sedentary.

Ultimately, it’s up to you. But the benefit of fitness trackers is real… at least for some people.

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Do you have a fitness tracker? If so, has it motivated you to push yourself when you wanted to skip your workout? Tell me about it in the comments below.

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Fitness Trackers of 2014

I love my Fitbit Force.

I really do. In fact, I think it’s one of the best fitness trackers out there. But I’m a little biased.

I have found it to be extremely motivating, especially on days when I work out. I always strive to reach a minimum of 5,000 steps during a workout so that I can easily hit 10,000 steps by the end of the day. So on the days I feel like I just don’t want to keep going, or don’t want to do the classes that get me the most steps (and incidently raise my heart rate the most), my Fitbit is there to taunt me by letting me know I’m nowhere near my minimum of 5,000 steps or that I’m only 200 steps away.

Fitbit Force

I love my Fitbit Force.

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Should You Exercise When You’re Sick?

This is a common question among those of us trying to lose weight. When we exercise, obviously our heart rate increases and blood circulates around the body much faster. This means the immune cells, especially the sentinel cells, flow around the body much master than they normally would, which is one of the reasons exercise improves the immune system. But is it wise to exercise when your immune system is already compromised by sickness?

Pardon My Absence

You may have noticed I haven’t been posting recently.

Despite all the vitamin C I take, last week I actually caught the common cold. I know, crazy right? A patient came in who had just gotten back from a visit up north, and I figured I would probably catch something for one simple reason. Continue reading

Vegan Mayonnaise Recipe

Most of you may know that I’m a vegan. I started out vegetarian and then went vegan about three years ago. I originally did it for health reasons and now, it’s the morality of the thing. Since becoming vegan, I’ve had the opportunity to try a number of different recipes from various vegan cookbooks and I’m going to be sharing some of my favorites on this blog in the weeks to come. This one is probably my absolute favorite.

If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen this picture before:

Vegan Mayo

Vegan mayo made with cashews.

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Fitbit Sleep Tracking and Biphasic Sleep

I’ve been really watching my Fitbit sleep tracking data lately. I’ve been so tired recently, and I’m trying to figure out why. In fact, I’ve been so tired that I’ve had to use every last ounce of my willpower to get myself up and workout and one day last week it wasn’t enough. So I have to figure out why I’m so tired.

Well, I figured it out, I’m not sleeping well at all. According to my Fitbit sleep data, I toss and turn…. a LOT! Greg thought it might be the dog itching herself throughout the night and hitting the bed when she does, making my Fitbit record movement when I’m not the one moving. But I’ve left the dog in the living room to test that theory and sure enough, I still got lots of pink bars on my sleep pattern chart.

During this third week of my fitness program, I’ve been a bit worried about my fatigue, so I watched my sleep pattern even more closely. I took a few naps in hopes that it might help alleviate some of the fatigue I was feeling and that’s when I found something very interesting.

On Thursday last week, I came home with a pounding headache, and consequently I went straight to bed to sleep off the migraine. As always, I set my Fitbit to record my sleep. I woke up about 3.5 hours later, headache much improved, and synced my Fitbit. This is what I saw. Continue reading

Fitness Progress Report: Weeks 2 and 3

I was really excited to get started on my fitness plan for week two. I was going to try the Xbox One Kinect Fitness app again, but I don’t think I’m in shape enough ready to get through any of the classes. So I’m going to wait until about six weeks before I try again.

During week two, I planned on adding in some weight training on top of my cardio routine. This is one of the many reasons I love the original Your Shape Fitness Evolved, the weight training routines are more challenging than the ones on the 2012 version. One of my favorite weight workouts is the Nivea Tone Up with Sarah Maxwell. It’s 15 minutes long, and if you haven’t been working out, or you are at all out of shape, it will kick your ass.

I alternated weight training days with cardio days. So Monday I did the Nivea Tone Up along with some cardio boxing classes. Tuesday was all cardio boxing, and Wednesday I did Nivea Tone Up and a couple cardio boxing classes.

Monday, I burned 341 calories, 113 doing the Nivea Tone Up class and 228 with cardio boxing.

Tuesday I burned 478 calories with just cardio boxing. Unfortunately, my Xbox 360 didn’t upload my stats. Convenient I know. But My Fitbit did track everything! Here’s the proof! Continue reading

Getting Back to Working Out with Kinect

Up Before the Ass Crack of DawnI finally got back to working out with the Kinect. I last Monday – 02/17/2014, and  I’m so proud of myself!! I even got up before the ass crack of dawn to get in my workout!

But I’m so out of shape!! It make kind of upsets me because I apparently got so depressed that I really let myself go.

But I can’t let that get to me. I have to keep my eye on the prize. I want to see what my body is meant to look like, and to do that I have to workout religiously, like I did the first time.

I tried the Xbox One Kinect and was actually really disappointed, but I’ll save that for another post.

I ended up using the Xbox 360 Kinect and I played my favorite: Your Shape Fitness Evolved (YSFE). On Monday I burned 155 calories (and 31 on the Xbox One). I know it wasn’t much, but I also didn’t want to overdue it… I’m that out of shape, and I don’t want to risk injuring my knees and getting side-lined again. Continue reading

Dealing With Emotional Eating

FitspirationI’m an emotional eater. I admit it. I have been since I went to college. I eat when I’m stressed, I eat when I’m happy as a reward, I eat when I’m depressed, I even eat when I’m pissed off.

I gained 59 lbs when I went to college. I weighed 140 when I left home, and I was 199 when I left and got married to my first husband. Things just escalated from there. I was in a marriage that was unhealthy, and I was very unhappy. So I ate to make myself feel better.

I had a car accident in 1999, and ended up with a neck injury that left me with chronic pain and atypical migraines. My doctor at the time put me on Wellbutrin, and I lost about 20lbs because it curbed my appetite. However, I was already over 200lbs. I don’t remember what I weighed before starting the drug, but I think it was about 220lbs. Continue reading

Sleep Tracking With The Fitbit Force

I have found that my Fitbit Force is actually quite indispensable. The adjustments it makes to my caloric intake based on my activity for the day makes it easy to stay on target. If I’m not really active, the Fitbit subtracts calories from my allotment for the day. If I’m really active, it adds calories. Because of this, I’ve lost 3 lbs in the 3 weeks I’ve had the Force.

The sleep tracking information, however, is my favorite part of the Fitbit, and it’s extremely useful. For example, I conducted an experiment recently. The Fitbit has shown me that I really only get about 3, maybe 4 hours of real sleep every night, as shown in the image below.

Sleep Data for 2/12/2014 Continue reading

Overcoming Temptation

On Monday, I made a commitment to eat only a whole foods, plant-based diet. No more cheating with cheese and sour cream (although on occasion I might indulge in Talenti’s vegetarian ice cream).

I decided to start this strict diet last week, and in anticipation of the changes, I created a menu based on foods I found in some of my vegan cookbooks and planned a grocery list for a week’s worth of meals. I wanted to start small, so this month, I’m planning meals weekly instead of for the whole month (plus I have a lot of these weekly meal planner sheets to use!).

Weekly Meal Planner

Vegan Meals for the Week

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