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Can a FitBit Make Me Thinner?
Everyone is looking for a way to reduce their weight and be healthier. One of the hottest holiday gifts this year was the FitBit health tracker. My 13 year old son Nick received one and I have noticed him being more mindful of eating sugar and staying active. He said that "It's made working out and exercising fun and easy. Almost like a game, and your opponent is yourself."
Wearable trackers make you aware of your activity level or lack thereof, and motivate you to move more. They help you monitor your sleep patterns and loosely help track calories. I say loosely because unless you prepare and measure/weight the food your eating, it's difficult to be accurately estimate your exact daily calorie intake. That being said, studies have found that wearing a tracker has been found to help people lose weight, as if they attended in-person weight-loss sessions (EatingWell.com).
One pitfall of the trackers is that it gives you a false sense of calories burned, which many people believe means you can eat that many more calories and break even. The most accurate way to track calories burned during exercise is with a heart rate monitor. But utilizing either shouldn't communicate a 'free-pass' for unhealthy foods if weight loss is your goal.
If your expectation in using a tracker is to lose weight, then your mindset surrounding food needs to change to promote the healthy goals of walking more steps. Whole foods, versus processed, should be chosen for flavor, but also for nutritional value and energy boosting qualities. Protein from meat and non-meat sources helps the natural process of muscle tearing/rebuilding when you exercise. It also makes you feel more full for longer. Whole fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and often times, fiber.
Another 'halo-effect' of trackers is the recommendation for 10,000 steps. It's a great start for beginners but 10,000 steps won't produce significant weight loss; it will help to improve your health. For greater results you will need to raise the bar which should include weight based exercises as well as cardio. Even including Pilates or yoga can improve muscle tone and flexibility.
Beware though that these tools can be addictive! I've heard stories of people not wanting to go to bed until they walk around the house because they haven't met their step-goal. There are worse problems to have. If you choose to include these tools as part of your healthier-lifestyle plan, I hope you see the health results you desire.
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