Using Technology to Get in Shape
I‘ve lost weight before, 40lbs, actually, back in 2006. I did it with calorie counting, and it worked very well. But in the past few years the weight has crept back on. I always had an excuse – too busy to eat right, too tired to go to the gym.
I’ve watched as friends of mine have undertaken some amazing weight loss and fitness journeys lately. My pal Casey Criswell has lost over 150lbs, and taken himself to new heights in terms of fitness. Jeff Pulver has transformed his body and his lifestyle and has shared it with us all, 140 characters at a time. Chris Brogan has been working on his health transformation too, and has been chronicling his journey online.
What I’ve learned through watching them share their stories is, this health and fitness thing? It can’t be something you just say you’re “going to do”. You can’t just put “lose weight and get in shape” on a to-do list and then check it off.
Finally, a couple of weeks ago, after months of beating myself up for not taking health and fitness seriously, a switch went off in my head. I had been trying to “find the time” to get to the gym or “get around to” eating properly. But that won’t work.
This is an entire lifestyle change. And I’m ready to make that change.
If you read this blog regularly, you already know that I adore technology. So, like any geek would, I went in search of some tools that could help me make the lifestyle changes I need to make. Here’s what I’ve found, and I now consider it my “technology toolbox” for health and fitness. I’m still learning, but here’s where I’m at so far.
I only had to reach out on Twitter briefly and ask one simple question:
I was flooded with responses. I am grateful to everyone who reached out, providing tips, people to follow, and sites to check on. I’ve discovered Nerd Fitness, thanks to Iain Robson, and found some great, inspiring people to follow like Maranda Carvell, Credible Edible, and Yoni Freedhoff. I’ve realized very quickly that there is a great conversation happening on Twitter about fitness and health. It’s an open, welcoming, supportive community, and I’m glad to be part of it.
Exercising the Mind
One of the issues I’ve always had with exercise is, I get bored easily. I’m okay with taking a long walk or hitting the bike or treadmill at the gym, but if I don’t have something to keep my mind active, I lose motivation quickly. I love music, but for whatever reason, don’t like it at the gym (I’m weird and get bored with it).
I love to read using my iPad’s Kindle App, but I have a hard time using that at the gym (I have to use reading glasses now and it just doesn’t work for me to read and walk/bike at the same time). I also enjoy audio books. But I don’t want to be reading one thing on my iPad and listening to something else on Audible, I like to read and focus on one book at a time these days.
Enter WhisperSync for Voice. Now, I have the same book in audiobook format AND Kindle format, and I can flip back and forth from one to the other, and never lose my place, and I look forward to being able to catch up on my reading while burning calories! Oh, and right now I’m reading Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” and it’s brilliant.
I’ve tried a bunch of different calorie tracking apps, but by far the best one I’ve used is MyFitnessPal. It’s free, available across platforms, and super easy to use. It has a huge food database and even a bar code scanner so you can just scan your foods in and go. It keeps me on track and it’s a great feeling at the end of the day when that message appears that I’ve reached or been under my calorie goal! It’s also a social network, so I have friends in there and we can encourage and support each other.
I invested in a Fitbit One the other day, and boy am I glad I did. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Fitbit is a fitness tracker. The Fitbit One, that I got, clips to your clothing and tracks calories burned, steps, stairs climbed, and sleep. All the information gets transmitted wirelessly to the website or mobile app, and you can track your whole fitness regime automagically. It’s really cool, and best of all it links with MyFitnessPal so I have everything in one place.
I can see at a glance how I’m doing in a day, if I’ve reached my goals of 10,000 steps or 10 flights of stairs, if I’m under or over my activity vs. calories for the day, and even gauge how well I’ve slept. This is the kind of tool that is going to really help me stay on track through this journey. The real time feedback is what I need to keep myself making the best choices. And, it’s also got a network so I can play along with my friends. I simply love it!
Of course, all of these tools are great, but they only get you so far. Ultimately, I know it’s up to me to make this change, to get up every morning and put on my running shoes and get out there and be active. To make sure that when given the choice between chips and carrots, I choose the carrots. To celebrate even the smallest accomplishments (like how I did 55 ab crunches yesterday – woo hoo)! and to keep going, even on the days when I don’t feel like it.
Are you on a fitness journey? I’d love to hear from you. And I’d also like to hear about how technology is helping you!
Awesome post. I’m still awaiting for the Fitbit Flex to become available in stores. Same functionality as the One, but I’ve read a lot of posts where people ended up putting their One through the washing machine after forgetting to unclip it from their clothing — this one just goes around the wrist.
I’ll have to check out the MyFitnessPal app!
Michael Nugent I’ve heard about a few weird issues with the Flex recording steps when it’s not supposed to. Also I don’t like having things on my wrist all the time so that’s why I went with the One. I hope I don’t forget to unclip it! I got the extended replacement warranty just in case 😉
Thanks for sharing! I’ve lost about 30 pounds since January 2012. Mostly exercise and calorie/fitness tracking with SparkPeople app. (Free.) I love that these tools — ones you mentioned and ones I use — help me eat normal food wisely. No gimmicks required. :)8