Have someone take a phone video of you performing an exercise that you find particularly challenging while in the gym. Seeing yourself performing an exercise (not in the mirror when you are doing it) will provide objectiveness that you don’t get from body feedback or mirrors and can help make the exercise more effective, if not reduce the possibility of injury.
Here we are in February, four weeks out from our New Year resolutions. How many of us are still on the path of fitness and weight loss and seeing results? We all had totally good intentions. Many of us had crossed the line into disgust for the body we had created over the holidays and so motivation was extremely high. So why are most of us no longer on a program? New insights and technologies are emerging that not only answer this question but provide options for truly changing behaviors.
From the anticipated Apple Smart Watch to Weight Watchers Activity Monitors, these devices have gone viral for good reason. Apparently we have become a nation of number crunchers, at least when it comes to fitness. I think that is because the numbers tell a real-time story of what we are actually doing versus a virtual reality world of what we think we are doing! For instance, I have a client who has tracked her activity level by a Weight Watchers Activity Tracker given to her to use for two weeks by her Weight Watchers representative. Before she wore the monitor she contended that she was more active than most other women in her age group (65 years old) because she walks regularly with friends and in the summer bikes and goes on weekend bike trips. Upon analysis of her daily activity per the monitor, she found that the bulk of her average 24 hours was spent sitting and expending minimal calories. Every 24-36 hours there was a 30–60 minute surge of calorie burn, but for the rest of the time the energy expenditure was dismal at best. She is a psychotherapist who spends her work day sitting and listening to clients.
Seeing your activity pattern is an eye-opener for most people who do not have an accurate picture of their own daily lifestyle patterns. This is why Fitbits and similar devices can be the missing ingredients to sticking to a fitness plan.
Apps that track workouts
Other new options for tracking activity are apps on our phones, such as Map My Run, STRAVA and others like them. These apps are designed to use the GPS systems in your phone to monitor activities like fitness walks, outdoor runs and outdoor biking. As long as you have them turned on and you keep your phone with you, they will map terrain, speed, distance and, in some instances, heart rate. When the activity is completed, view your data. For many people, that becomes motivation to match or best the same route again. The quantification somehow makes the workout more real and gives you bragging rights to others while socializing and talking workout proficiencies. You can whip out your phone and prove your prowess. But you also can upload into social media sites and onto the app’s central hubs where other people who have the same apps can see, compare and even send comments. It appears that broadcasting our workouts into the ether is more motivating, resulting in more adherence than exercise without quantification/social networking devices.
Phone cameras for eating coaching
As a food coach, I am using camera phones for monitoring and changing eating behaviors of my clients. Using food tracking apps did not provide the weight loss results many clients sought, even when I monitored their food logs. But having clients take and send camera pictures of their meals not only makes them plate their food (as opposed to eating out of boxes and container—unquantified) but promotes self-monitoring of portions and food selections. That’s useful but I believe this tool helps my clients stay aware of how much and what they are putting on their plates and then into their mouths. I am having a 100% weight loss success rate with my phone camera food coaching program.
It is 2015 and we have an incredible amount of technology that can aid our efforts to change fitness and consumption behaviors. Tracking numbers for activity levels, fitness output, and food choices and portions via pictures sent to eating coaches are three examples of the newer methods that are increasing levels of success for weight loss and fitness adherence. Why not give one a try yourself?
Judy Torel, MS is a USAT Certified Coach, Level I. ACSM Certified Health Fitness Specialist. Healthexcel Certified Metabolic Typing Consultant, Level I. MS, Counseling Psychology, State University of New York at Albany. Yoga Instructor – 200+ hour training level/Anusara style. 6 time Ironman Triathlete. 24 Hour Ultra Run Winner, 1st Place Masters Woman. For more information visit www.judytorel.com or call 469.0815.