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Choosing a Fitness Gadget

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Where to Start in Choosing a Health and Fitness Gadget

These days there’s almost as many gadgets and gizmos promising to help get you healthy and fit as there are diets and exercise programs. But if you’ve ever dieted or exercised, you know it’s not a one-size-fits-all world.

While many of the tools out there can help you meet your weight loss and fitness goals, it’s about why you’re using them that matters. Buying apps and gadgets shouldn’t be any different than how you tailor a diet and exercise program to work for you. If swimming is your thing and you dread running, then you probably aren’t going to choose a 5K as a goal for getting in shape. Just like if you’re a strict vegan, a paleo diet might not be the best choice.

When people ask for my opinion on what apps or gadgets they should use to get healthier, I respond by asking them about their goals. If you’re main goal is to start losing weight and to get more active, you’re going to benefit from a different set of tech products than someone who has been dieting and exercising for awhile but is having a hard time staying motivated.

Here is where I usually start with friends and family when suggesting what tools might work for them, depending on their goals.

Goal: I want to lose weight and get off the couch.

The absolute best place to start when taking that first step in eating better and being more active is to use a free calorie counting app such as Lose It! or MyFitnessPal. Ask any trainer or nutritionist out there, and they’ll tell you one of the most effective tools in trying to lose weight is keeping a food and activity journal. It’s simply about calories in and calories out, and this is where advancements in technology make getting healthier much simpler.

Gone are the days of putting pen to paper and manually calculating your calories. Most apps will help you figure out what your calorie intake should be based on how much weight you want to lose per week. Then each day you simply enter the food you’re eating (sometimes by just scanning a barcode or searching for a particular restaurant) and then logging minutes of activity. From exercising to cleaning the house to walking the dog (and even “business time” in the bedroom), it all counts and an app automatically does the calculating for you. It’s amazing. And as a bonus, many apps will also break down your ratio of carbs, protein and fat each day.

When I took the first step in committing to a healthier and fitter lifestyle several years ago, this is where I started. I didn’t start with changing what I ate right away, I started with learning about what I was eating and how many calories I was burning, which naturally led to making healthier and wiser choices. I’ve used both Lose It and MyFitnessPal and have had great success with each (look for a side-by-side comparison in a future post).

Goal: I’ve plateaued in diet and exercise and am having a hard time staying motivated.

We’ve all been there. The pound and inch shedding seem to come to a halt, and your exercise routines are no longer interesting or new. As simplistic as this sounds, the key to staying motivated is knowing what motivates you. Do you thrive off challenge and competition? Or do you like having a supportive network to engage with? Are you a goal setter who likes to cross tasks off lists? Or maybe you’re a numbers nut who likes analyzing information?

Based on your answers, my recommendations could go on and on. To get you started though, here’s a rundown of tools I’ve either tried or friends have tried.

If you have a competitive nature, a gadget like the Nike Fuel band might work in helping you set missions to complete along with competing against others for how many fuel points you can earn.

If you like more of a supportive community to engage with, try an app like Fitocracy that gives you ideas for mixing up your exercises and allows you to join virtual groups of exercise buddies.

If you’re a goal setter who like lists, try an app like EveryMove that lets you earn activity points for real-world rewards like merchandise and gift cards. Fitness Buddy is also a good app that shows you how to do different exercises and lets your create a schedule of workouts to do each day that you can check off as you go.

If you’re a numbers nut, a gadget like a FitBit, Jawbone Up, or bodybugg might be a good investment. All of them provide an extensive amount of information on calorie burn, sleep patterns, steps taken, and sync up with different apps like Lose It and MyFitnessPal.

Got a health and fitness gadget you love? Tell me about it in a reply below!

Photo credit – Fitbit Force, Fitbit website

About Vanessa

Vanessa is a content strategist by day and marathoner by night. A reformed asthmatic couch potato, she found her way from topping the scale at more than 200 lbs. with her five-foot frame to living the life of an endurance runner who eats hills for breakfast. She’s completed everything from marathons to 200-mile relay races. She’s not a natural born athlete, but truly believes determination and a little bit of laughter can go a long way in accomplishing big goals. Her insights on how technology can help in living a healthier lifestyle come from mixing her passion for fitness with her in-depth of knowledge of user experience design. With almost a decade of experience working in the high-tech city of Seattle, she’s excited to join the FitJourney community and share all she knows about the good and bad of gadgets and gear.
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