Fitness Trackers And What It’s Used For


 

Over the past few years, fitness trackers have evolved from a mere pedometer (device that counts your steps) into a basic fitness partner for the average person. I have yet to see a professional athlete use one of these during a race or while training, however that may yet change.

A fitness tracker, as the name implies, tracks your daily physical activities and some even track your heart-rate. Knowing how many steps you’ve actually taken in a day, how long you’ve slept and how much time you’ve spent on exercising is great. However, most people I know who own a fitness tracker only look at their daily readings and the time. Just because you’ve join a gym and you wear an expensive fitness tracker, doesn’t mean squat if you are not improving on your actual fitness.

A fitness tracker only starts to be useful when you start to look at you activities thru the weeks. See how you have actually performed in comparison to the previous week would motivate the average person to gear up and do better. As you improve, you can gradually increase or intensify your physical activities; from walking 10,000 steps a week to 6,000 steps in a day, then going into 20 minutes jogs and stepping it up to 40 minutes runs 6 weeks later. That is what a fitness tracker is supposed to do for you.

How Should You Use It?

Each fitness tracker have many features and some more than others. There is the pedometer, the calories counter, sleep tracker, heart-rate monitor, call and message notifications, reminders, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. There are just too many to go thru all of them. So, let’s talk about the more common and useful features in fitness trackers.

Fitness-tracker-wristThe Pedometer

This is a basic step counter. It is generally assumed that you need to take 10,000 steps a day in order to stay fit. This is pure bollocks if you already have other physical activities. The pedometer however, is a good way to look at how much time you would rather spend walking than taking the car out. It is a good way to stay fit and looking at your daily steps can actually guide you in that direction. All you need to do is ensure that your weekly average increases each and every week. Now at this point, I have to bring to your attention the weakness in this activity. Just counting your steps is not enough. That is quantity over quality. Just because you took 8,000 steps today, doesn’t mean much if you we doing it in high heels or sandals. You could easily take 500 to 1000 steps while browsing thru a clothing store and trying on dresses. Firstly, there is no prolonged increase heart-rate and no actual physical effort. This means that that 1,000 steps is as useful as a pair of flippers is to your car. Walking 10,000 steps in high heels or sandals is also counterproductive to your overall health.

Sleep Tracker

I don’t know about you, but I actually know how much sleep I do or do not get. That being said, some people do need to look at the figures to realise that they haven’t been sleep much, or as in most cases, sleeping way too much. You don’t have to get 8 hours sleep each day but you do need your rest. Some people work efficiently with 6 hours sleep while others need the full 8 hours. Whatever the case, your body will tell you if you have had too much or too little sleep. Too much sleep and you will constantly feel tired and lethargic. Too little sleep also have the same symptoms but it also makes healing and recovery difficult for your body.

Calories Tracker

This one is purely useless unless you are training for something. If you are fat, overweight or obese, you need to cut back on your food. If you are slim, slender or skinny, you just have to watch what you eat and not how much of it. Now here is another problem in today’s society. I have heard a 156 cm tall lady weighing at 44 kg saying, “I need to lose weight”. In case you can’t picture it, that is a skinny woman saying that.

Check your Body Mass Index (BMI) and see where you actually are in terms of body weight. It is not an accurate method but it is a good guide if you are not physically active. If your BMI is 25 and over, you need to start exercising and controlling how much you eat. If it’s under 18 you need to build muscles and eat properly. It is that simple.

Visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi-m.htm to check your BMI.

Targets

This is a really good feature for you lazy bums. Fitness trackers generally can set targets for you to achieve in order to stay relatively fit. Achieve those targets and you will see some improvements in your fitness. As your fitness improves further you can adjust those targets for higher goals. I use this a lot.

Heart-Rate Monitor

HR

I am surprised to discover that many are yet unaware of heart-rate monitors and how to use them for training. I suppose that’s ignorance on my part, not realising how fitness trackers have come into the market promoting heart-rate monitoring without explaining how it can help a person to improve their fitness levels.

In order to get the most out of this you need to understand Training Zones and maximum heart-rate (MaxHR). I’ll explain this further in a future article. For now, I’ll just say that the average person should be have a resting heart-rate of around 70-80 beats per minute. When you exercise, your heart-rate should be around 120 to 130 for a period of 20 to 40 minutes for that workout to be effective. If you exercise in this heart-rate zone twice to three times a week, you will see improvements in your fitness levels within the first two to three weeks.

Call & Message Notifications

Do you really need this? Seriously?

Is this the reason you spent RM1,000 on a fancy fitness tracker?

If your answer is “yes”, then what you need is not a fitness tracker but a kick in the buttocks. If it is too much of a hassle to just pick up your mobile device and actually go thru your messages and such, then you are obviously a very lazy person. What you really need is a personal assistant who can not only go thru your messages and screen your calls but he/she could also reply for you.

For your information this feature is there to make your life easier when you are exercising and may not want to stop to check if your friend is buying the red top or the green one. People who are serious about their health and fitness, prioritise during a workout. They don’t chase Pokémons on their runs. They just run.

Conclusion

I don’t believe that a fitness tracker is as accurate as their more reliable counterparts but that being said, fitness trackers can be a great fitness training buddy for the average person. Unfortunately, the fitness tracker seems more of a fashion statement than anything else. Get a basic fitness tracker to help you achieve a better fitness level. Keep constant track of your activities on a weekly basis and improve on it. However, if you are already fit as a fiddle, then maybe you might want to look into a proper heart-rate monitor or a more sport specific device.

Fast Result; Fast Return


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I’ve often preached that fast results from crash-diet programs and extreme exercise programs like Bootcamp, won’t keep the pounds away. Losing weight is easy; try eating not more than half a rice bowl of food and a glass of water everyday for two weeks. I guarantee results. You will lose weight, but is it the right way to do it? Will there be any side effects? Will those pounds come back?

Weight loss is a lifestyle. It’s about developing the right habits, getting your body to adapt to the changes and seeing results over a reasonable period. Disagree with me?

Check out this article about the contestants from the Biggest Loser.

If you want to learn more about weight management, click here.

Weight Management – A Real Diet Plan


This is a continuation of my previous article, The Problem With Weight Loss.

DFL-Poster-201404Most would easily confuse weight loss programs, diet programs and other such fads with weight management systems. If you have to cut-off food groups, meals, purchase large quantities of sub-grade supplements, subjugate your body to a variety of new and enhanced fat trimming procedures, then it is a weight-loss or diet program. It is a program that helps you lose weight over a short period of time; believing it works, you spend more money on the program and even recommend friends. After about RM3,000 and 3 months later, you hit a wall and you program director tells you, how the changes in your weight is now effecting you hormones and metabolic rate, so for an additional RM500 a month, they will add a fat burner or two into your diet that will balance everything. Two more months pass, and your weight has not changed nor has it increased. The story now is that you have achieved you stable weight, but (and here is the clincher) if you want to maintain this weight or further reduce it, you need to sign up on the advance program. Some of you go on spending the money on this patch job, but most would dropout and in a short span of time, you regain the weight you had lost.

Give me that RM3,000 and your 3 months, and I will do so much more than just help you lose weight; I will teach your body to manage and maintain that weight.

In my previous article, I gave you an idea of what weight management is and the four basic things you need to do to get started:

  • Eat at regular intervals
  • Eat moderately
  • Exercise
  • Drink lots of water

Here, I want to get into more details of each of the four things and maybe give you a better understanding of why this works.
Push-ups

EAT AT REGULAR INTERVALS
Set yourself to have a meal every four hours. Yes, that probably means having an average of four meals a day; breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner.
Eating regularly tells your body that it does not have to worry about not getting food. Once a habit is developed, your brain will reduce its habit of food storage. It is important that you eat even if you do not feel hungry during a meal period.

The important thing here is that you must eat what constitutes a meal size serving, no more and no less. Instead of giving you portions you need to measure, you merely gauge the right quantity by how you feel at the end of the meal – you should no longer feel hungry nor should you feel stuffed. Remember that you will be having another meal in the next 4 hours. Another way you can gauge this is by comparing your meal size to a standard fast-food combo or value meal serving. It normally consist of a burger, a fries and a drink. Your mains should be about the size of a cheese burger, a side serving of vegetables or salad about the portion of your fries and large cup of water.

Snacking
There’s a chance that you will develop some cravings in between meals; feed that too but stick with protein based food. This is what we call snacking but it does not in anyway imply that you can load yourself with unhealthy, processed snacks you buy from the convenience store. Healthy snacking is merely adding onto your meal routines so you don’t feel so hungry before your next meal.
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Protein is the best option as it takes a longer time to process and thus will keep you feeling filled for a longer time than something carb based. You can take a small portion of low sodium, no carbs, protein based food, drink or supplement. You can also choose from one of the following or go with something similar

  • Half a protein bar,
  • A small serving of tuna,
  • Two or three slices of bacon, chicken or turkey strips
  • Steamed or boiled tofu,
  • Plant based protein drink supplement,
  • One boiled or poached eggs,
  • 2 slices of cheese

That should give you an idea of what and how much you can snack on. Remember that this is just to keep your belly from feeling hunger until your next meal.

EAT MODERATELY
You are not a turkey on Thanksgiving, so why do you stuff yourself at every meal?
Over eating is how most of us cope with hunger pangs, but we do it so often, we only feel like we have had a meal when we have stuffed ourselves silly.

You must practice eating moderately during every meal. Over eating is putting unnecessary excess food into our system. Excess carbohydrates that you do not use, binds the fats that you do not burn. This will then be store in your body in what some call “water weight”. All this excess food can lead to all kinds of health problems and complication. It will force your body to work harder at processing the food you ate and that is why you feel lethargic after a large meal. That being said, too little of anything will also lead to health complications. Malnutrition does not necessarily mean a lack of food. You can suffer from malnutrition when your body is not getting enough of a certain food group. You need to have a sufficient and consistent supply of everything.

The key is being consistent. By increasing the frequency of food intake and reducing the quantity per meal, you give your body the time to process what you eat and never allowing it to feel hungry. This way, your brain stops telling your body to store.

EXERCISE
When your body stops storing excess nutrients, your muscles will eventually use what is already stored. Muscles continue to burn energy even when you are just sitting down and watching television. For this to work properly, you need to build your muscles a little. The more muscles you have, the more energy is burnt.

This makes exercise a vital part of weight management. I’m not asking you bulk-up for a Mister Universe contest, just build your natural muscles. Start a simple daily and weekly exercise routine. Your daily routine only needs to be a ten to fifteen minutes workout, preferably when you wakeup in the morning. Your weekly routine should be 30 to 60 minutes. You could join an exercise group or get some friends together on a weekly basis for a sport activity. This is an excellent way to create a weekly routine.

DRINK LOTS OF WATER
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You would be surprise how drinking water can even help you lose some weight. You should be sweating during your exercise routine and as such, you will need to constantly replenishing the water you lose. Get a sports water bottle for your exercise routines. Make it a habit to sip water as you exercise instead of taking a big gulp at the end of it.

Water keeps your body hydrated. Water flushes out unnecessary waste and toxins from your body. It is a good idea to keep a bottle of water at your desk and in the car and take little sips every five to ten minutes. Go to the toilet when you need to as this is all part and parcel or your body’s cleansing and rejuvenation system. This is why people who drink lots of water, tend to look younger.

There you have it; the four basic steps to starting a weight management program. There is a lot more to it but I wanted to keep it simple enough for you to start a healthier lifestyle. It would take 45 to 60 days for your body to properly accept this new routine; however, if done properly, you will start to see significant changes in your body within the first 14 days.

Visit my Facebook page for some basic exercise routines and more regular tips on what you should and should not eat.

Try it out. What have you got to lose, except maybe some weight?

The Problem With Weight Loss


Everyone I know wants to lose weight, even the skinny scrawny ones (which I truly don’t get); unfortunately, very few actually do anything, or at least anything right, about it. Most would opt for the easy way out – quick fix diet programs. At one point in time, it was “eat less”, skip meals, no food after eight in the evening; then came the “no-protein” diet, followed by the “no-carb” diet, the “no-sodium” diet and of course the all supplement only diet. Seriously, did anyone actually take notes on any of these diet programs?
All-in-all, I concluded that all these programs are ever saying is “don’t eat”; and I total and undisputedly agree with it. If you don’t eat, you will lose a great amount of weight. Try it for two weeks. Don’t eat a Goddamned thing. I guarantee you will drop at least four dress sizes down. I have seen corpses. They are freakishly thin; bone like thin.

Weight ManagementHere is the plain and simple truth, your body needs everything. It needs carbohydrates, proteins, fibres, fats, sodium and anything else that you can find in nature. The cave men did it for many centuries. They ate anything that was edible and they probably lived far healthier lives than most of us today. Two to three decades ago, we would not bat an eyelid to walk a kilometer to the bus station; but today we drive to the store that’s just two hundred meters away. We have become a very spoilt and lazy society.

So, What Is The Problem With Weight Loss?
There is a huge difference between weight loss and weight management. If any of you have ever gone on a diet or exercise program, you would likely agree that the hardest part of losing weight is keeping it off. It is easy to lose weight. Just starve a few days and you will lose weight. The problem with weight loss is that it deprives your body of necessary nutrients and basic building blocks. Most weight loss programs are basically starvation programs and starving your body of any food group is bad. Our body is adaptive and when you starve it of anything, it will compensate any way it can and the most common method is excessive storage. If we do not eat regularly, our body will store any excess food for those periods that you do not eat. That is basically how we regain the weight we worked so hard at losing.

The key is not in weight loss rather in weight management. Weight management takes more effort and a longer time period but it pays off. To understand weight management, you would first have to understand how food effects our body and how it is processed. The first most basic problem with most of us is that we eat more than we need to and we also eat rather erratically. What weight management does is it teaches our body to take what it needs and when it needs it. Have you noticed that your weight tends to fluctuate at a plus or minus 2 to 3 kilograms? This is because your brain is managing your weight at what it had always known itself to be. The weight increases and decreases are only temporary effects due to some random activity such as increased stress at the office or a party you attended two nights ago. Other than that, your body tends to stay at more or less the same weight. Weight gain, as with weight management, happens over a long period of time.

Why Do We Gain Weight?
The question is, why do we gain weight? There are several factors for this. The first and most obvious reason is our eating habits. As I said earlier, eating erratically and excessively causes the body to store food unnecessarily. Missing two meals in the day, does not justify eating double the amount later at night. It is just as bad if you skip meals to compensate for the birthday party you had the night before. When this happens too often, you brain starts to prepare for these starvation periods. If it happens too erratically and too often, you brain will get confused and continues to store more and more because it doesn’t know when your body may actually use those backup resources.
The second component is inactivity. Most of us were physically active when we were in school and college. All that excess food and energy gets burnt off with all that activity. After that however, most of us got a job where we spend most of the time at a desk. Suddenly, our bodies are not as active but the brain is still sending that signal to store energy and other resources for those activities that we used to do. To make things worse, most of us eat more when we are stressed. Now your food intake is gradually increasing, your eating habits are all over the place and you are getting less and less physical.
Over time, our muscles start to degrade and less energy is burnt and that is the third component. See, our muscles burn energy even when we are laying about doing nothing. So the more muscle mass you have, the more energy is used and that is why body builders need to consume a lot of food. After months have passed, you realized that you are gaining weight but now lethargy starts to set in. The excess sugars processed from food, builds up in our system and that causes that weak, lazy feeling you get on the weekends. Remember how you used to be able to go on playing games, partying, staying up late at night and still have the energy to wake up and repeat that process? Well, that was because all that energy was eventually used.

On the flip side, some of you may have always been overweight. This means that your body was programmed to be overweight since you were a child. You too can lose weight, however it would take a longer time and more likely a greater amount of effort.

What Is Weight Management?
Weight management is a gradual process of reprograming the brain to take and store only what it needs and to maintain your weight at a more ideal level. In order for this to work, you need to start a regular eating habit with regular physical activities scheduled into your daily or weekly routine. Yes, weight management is a set of routines or habits. Now, here is the good news; it doesn’t only get easier, but it becomes part of you. After that your brain will take over and you’d probably never have to worry about gaining too much weight for a long time. Except for the occasional soirée, you will naturally eat what you need and exercise becomes a necessary part of your day. You will no longer worry about that serving of desert and you would have better control on your cravings.
There are only 4 things that you need to do to begin your journey in managing your weight:

  • Eat at regular intervals – Set yourself to have a meal every four hours. Yes, that probably means having up to four meals a day; breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner. You eat even if you don’t feel hungry during a meal period.
  • Eat moderately – Practice eating moderately during each meal. Eat to fill and not to stuff. You are not a turkey, so don’t stuff yourself at every meal.
  • Exercise – Build your natural muscles. Start a simple daily and weekly exercise routine. Join an exercise group or get some friends together on a weekly basis for a sport activity.
  • Drink lots of water – Water keeps your body hydrated. Water also flushes out unnecessary waste and toxins from your body. Have a bottle of water at your desk and in the car. Take little sips every five to ten minutes.

The bad news is that you cannot pick and choose. Weight management can only work with all the above component. It is 100% or nothing.

In the article Weight Management – A Real Diet Plan, I go into more detail on how to manage your weight. For now, this should be enough information for you to start. So, what are you waiting for?

Disclaimer
I am not a trained professional, so do not take this as any form of fact. It is a summary of personal research and experience I had over the years while learning to manage my weight and battle diabetes. I would advice you to seek professional help if you have health conditions that effects or can be effected by your weight.

Debunking The Paleo Diet


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There have been so many diet programs over the decades enticing people to lose weight the most efficient and fastest way possible. There is the Volumetrics Diet, The Paleolithic Diet, The Atkins Diet, Low-Carb Diet and then there are nutrition companies coming up with diet systems of their own to promote their products. Such as Herbal Life who encourage you to consume large quantities of their product and be healthy.

I have had my share of diet programs and I personally believe that if the program tells you to not eat certain food group(s) or if they suggest not eating real food or if they even suggest large periods of starvation, then they are on the wrong track.

Here are some basic points you should consider if you are considering a diet program:

  • All food groups are essential to your body
  • Starvation is short term and your body will retaliate at some point
  • Exercise is vital to an effective diet program
  • Diets should be about consumption management and deprivation

The most recent diet program to hit our shores is the Paleo Diet. The first time I was introduced to this was by a fitness trainer, who himself was on the program (to what reasoning I have no idea). As he explained with deep conviction about the diet I became more and more reserved about it. Well, I finally came across a talk that debunks this program and I share many of her viewpoints on the program.

Heck! Watch it yourself and you decide if this is a diet program worth your sacrifice.