The Fitness Tracker- Does It Really Work? July 26 2016
For better or for worse, our society is becoming increasingly obsessed with weight loss and physical appearance. More specifically, we are obsessed with controlling everything that goes in and out of our bodies, and knowing exactly how much is consumed vs. how much is burned on a daily basis. As such, more and more tools and devices are being created to help us track these metrics, which, in my opinion, can become a dangerous game that leads to obsession. Though it is important from a health perspective to stay active and exercise regularly, the line between health maintenance and obsession is too commonly crossed these days.
Fitness tracking bracelets (most commonly known as “the Fitbit” although this is just one particular brand) are all the rage right now. The Fitbit is an accessory (worn as a bracelet) that tracks your daily movement and calories burned. It seems like everyone and their mother are walking around with one of these fitness measuring devices- counting their steps, tracking their weight loss. But here in lies the misconception. It is not necessarily weight LOSS that the Fitbit is tracking, but burned calories. Weight loss is dependent on a combination of calories consumed vs. calories burned. So, the question is- are people really losing weight? Or is this yet another device to help us obsess over every workout missed, every calorie consumed, without any real benefit?
The problem with the Fitbit, is that it doesn’t actually track your caloric intake, and puts all of the focus on exercise. Naturally, effective and sustainable weight loss relies on a combination of a regular workout regimen and a healthy, reduced calorie diet. In plain English- you have to burn more than you consume to actually lose weight. By putting the focus solely on exercise, one might neglect the importance of diet and calories consumed by over-focusing on calories burned. That’s not to say that this device is totally useless. It is helpful to know how much we’re burning, but also to be mindful of what we consume. Basically, it is important to make the following distinction when investing in a Fitbit: this not a device that makes us lose weight, it is a device that makes weight loss easier, by giving us knowledge about how much we are burning.
To effectively lose weight, it’s more about a lifestyle. Getting super specific and counting calories eaten vs. burned is a slippery slope- it’s really not that important to be exact, as long as you are seeing results. You can use a fitness measuring device to help you keep track of your progress, but it’s important to remember that this information is only giving you one of the tools you need toward your end goal. So long as you are being consistent in your regimen, and burning a relative amount more than you consume, you will likely see results. If you aren’t, then just cut back on meal portions or increase your cardio. That simple.