More than half of all Americans (51 percent) report using a fitness tracker on a daily basis.
From apps that help them monitor the number of calories they’re consuming to watches that tell them how many calories they’re burning, there are tons of different tracking tools and devices that people can use to stay focused and make sure they’re continuing to work toward their unique health and fitness goals.
Do you currently use some kind of fitness tracker? Do you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of it? If so, be sure to keep these 10 tips in mind.
1. Personalize Your Profile
Regardless of the specific type of fitness tracker you’re using, it likely comes with an option for you to set up a profile when you register the device or download the app.
When you’re setting up your profile, be sure to personalize it with your specific information. It might be tempting to just skip through the set-up steps or work with pre-set information so you can start tracking sooner. It’s worth it to take the time and do this part correctly, though.
The more personalized your profile is, the more accurate and relevant the information that you get from your fitness tracker is likely to be. After all, if you’re a six-foot tall man, you don’t want to be following nutrition advice for a five-foot-six woman, do you?
2. Wear Wearables on Your Non-Dominant Hand
If your fitness tracker of choice is a wearable like a FitBit or Apple Watch, be sure to wear it on your non-dominant hand.
If you wear these devices on your dominant hand, you might end up thinking that you’re taking more steps and burning more calories than you actually are. This is because you likely use your dominant hand more often during the day.
Wearing it on your non-dominant hand will give you a more accurate reading at the end of the day and will help you avoid overeating because you think you burned more calories than you really did.
Wearing these devices on your non-dominant hand also prevents them from getting in your way as you’re going about your day. If you want to wear your device on a regular basis, it’s best if you can set it and forget it.
3. Link All Your Apps
These days, lots of wearable fitness trackers have their own app that accompanies them. Be sure to utilize this app so you can enjoy all the functions your tracker has to offer. For example, the app might make it easier for you to set specific goals for yourself or personalize your device to meet your specific needs.
Don’t forget that, in most cases, you can also link all of your fitness tracking apps together.
For example, you might be able to link your step counting app with your calorie tracking app. By doing this, you can get a more accurate representation of how many calories you’ve burned throughout the day. This, in turn, can help you make sure you’re not eating too few calories to support your activity levels.
4. Be Consistent
There’s a lot of talk out there about the “best” fitness tracker that you should be using. The truth, though, is that the best fitness tracker is the one that you’re able to use on a consistent basis.
Maybe you’re the type who doesn’t like to wear a watch or always forgets to put it on. If this is the case for you, a wearable fitness tracker probably isn’t your best option. You might be better off sticking to an app on your phone.
No matter what kind of tracker you’re using, the key is to be consistent with it. If you’re logging your food in an app, log your food every day. If you’re wearing a wearable device, wear it every day.
You’re not going to see great results if you only use these devices in a sporadic way. Remember, the purpose of them is to help you learn patterns and establish new and healthy habits.
5. Be Honest
It’s important to be honest with yourself when you’re using a fitness tracker. This is especially true when it comes to calorie counting apps.
It’s easy to fudge the numbers and convince yourself that you’re eating less than you are. Or, you might legitimately think you’re eating a small amount when you really aren’t.
Make sure you’re being honest with your tracking so that you can get more accurate results.
For many people, this means weighing and measuring their food for a period of time. After a while, you’ll likely get to a point where you can estimate with relative accuracy how much you’re eating.
At first, though, using a food scale and/or measuring cups and spoons can help you to get a clearer picture of your serving sizes and how many calories your meals truly contain.
6. Keep it Charged/Updated
For those who use wearable fitness trackers, make sure you keep them charged. Your step counter or smart watch doesn’t do you any good if the battery is always dead. Try to make a habit of charging your device every night or every few days depending on its battery life.
As for fitness tracking apps, be sure to update them on a regular basis. This will help you enjoy the latest features and avoid bugs that could give you inaccurate results. This can also help you avoid losing data, which can happen sometimes if you go too long without making necessary updates.
7. Use it to Connect with Friends and Family
Many fitness tracking apps and devices allow you to connect with other users. The social aspect of fitness trackers can be very motivating for a lot of people, especially when they use them to compete with friends or family members.
Use the social function of your calorie tracking app to help you stay accountable or to get ideas for new meals from other people in your life who are also using the app.
You can also set up step competitions between yourself and your friends, family members, or co-workers using your wearable device or step-counting app.
There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to help you keep your eyes on the prize and maintain your motivation even when you’re struggling to stay on track with your goals.
8. Set Realistic Goals
One of the many great things about fitness trackers is that they make it easy for you to set specific health and fitness goals for yourself.
For example, instead of setting a vague goal like, “I want to exercise more,” you can use your fitness tracker to get specific and say something like, “I want to walk 8,000 steps every day.”
When you’re setting goals using your fitness tracker, make sure those goals are realistic.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by promising that you’re going to walk 8,000 steps per day when you know that you currently only average three or four thousand. Instead, aim for 5,000 steps per day to start out. Then, over time, you can work on slowly increasing to a higher number.
9. Reward Yourself
Once you reach your goals, make sure you find a way to reward yourself.
Fitness tracking apps and devices will often give you a little shout-out when you reach a milestone or accomplish a new goal. There’s nothing wrong with doing a little extra celebrating, though.
There are lots of ways that you can celebrate your accomplishments. Plan a night out with your friends, treat yourself to a new piece of workout clothing, or enjoy a relaxing evening in.
If possible, try not to make your reward something that will sabotage your goals. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s not ideal to reward yourself with junk food, is it?
10. Don’t Live and Die By It
Finally, remember that, at the end of the day, fitness trackers are just tools.
They can be very helpful when you’re trying to reach a specific fitness goal or when you first start taking your health more seriously. They’re not the end-all-be-all, though.
Your worth should not be tied to the number of steps you take in a day or the number of calories you consume. Keep in mind, too, that these numbers are just estimates. They might be very accurate estimates, but they’re estimates nonetheless.
There’s nothing wrong with using fitness trackers on a regular basis as a reminder to get active and eat healthy food. Don’t let yourself become too reliant on them, though.
Try These Fitness Tracking Tips Today
Whether your fitness tracker of choice is an app or a wearable device, these fitness tracking tips will help you get the most out of it and stay on track as you work toward reaching your health goals.
It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to the fitness tracking world or if you’ve been tracking for a long time. Either way, you can benefit from keep these tips in mind. Start implementing them today!
The Next Step:
Now that you know how to properly utilize your fitness tracker to achieve optimal results, check out some of the best tech shoes that will take your cardio workouts to the next level!
The Dangers Of Hidden Calories And How To Protect Yourself
Hey guys and gals! Are you on a journey to losing weight and frustrated by slow results? While there is a plethora of reasons why you could be experiencing a set back we are going to talk about one of the most devious parts that may not even be on your radar, and that is hidden calories.
Hidden calories exist in every kind of food, and unfortunately because the laws concerning labels are lax to say the least, you truly never know what is going into the packaged food you eat, they are only ESTIMATES. If you can, the best bet is to cook all food yourself OR use a food prep service company that holds itself accountable for what they put in their food (after all they have an image to upkeep). Since this request isn't practical for most people, below is some of the most common food items that can completely throw your diet out of wack without you even knowing it.
Awe butter, it is delicious and usually a necessary ingredient for almost every recipe however, overusing it can lead to big trouble. On average a teaspoon of butter contains about 34 calories and ALL of that is from fat and there is no way just a teaspoon is enough (trust me I know). Now add in the fact that butter is present in almost every meal that you eat that can easily add up to another 100 calories in your diet that you don't need.
One GREAT exception to butter is roasted garlic, it has the same texture, its DELICIOUS, and only contains approximately 4 calories per clove. If your not a big fan of Garlic, then vegetable oil is another viable option that can be used which is much healthier. If you are looking for more creative substitutes, we also suggest apple sauce or ghee both of which can be used as a suitable substitute for butter. For ideas on how to use these substitutes, check out this article.
Hidden sugars are a danger that can be found in every type of food, they are simply empty calories and although delicious they do not have any place in your diet. Syrups, Dressings, Salad Toppings, Smoothies (even the “healthy ones”), Yogurt, Pasta Sauces; these are all sources of sugars that can potentially push you over the edge in terms of caloric intake. One option to avoid these items is to look for sugar free options but this is not always possible for some food.
You can also look for sugar alternatives, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. We personally love using cinnamon on items such as oatmeal and yogurt. Vanilla is also a great addition to certain foods in lieu of sugar. There are other sugar substitutes such as Stevia and Xylitol, that can be used however, a word of caution, not all of these substitutes are made equal nor are they all necessarily healthy. The different substitutes available are beyond the scope of this article but if you are interested, we suggest you take a look at this article.
Another danger is sugary drinks ESPECIALLY THE SELF PROCLAIMED HEALTHY ONES, Jamba Juice for example, advertises that their drinks are healthy, we beg to differ given the fact that they have in inordinate amount of sugar. Check out this article concerning a class action lawsuit concerning this.
Nuts & “Healthy Snacks”
Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, but can be extremely calorie dense. Now we are not going to down on them to bad, they are a GREAT snack but the key is to ensure portion control is used. Nuts are a main ingredient in a lot of health bars and salads and while it seems sparse all of them can quickly add up putting your caloric intake off balance. If you are looking for the best nuts that you can eat and still lose weight, your best bet is going to be walnuts, cashews and almonds but you still must remember portion control, gorging on any nut will quickly lead to trouble for your diet.
Healthy snacks are also a potential danger as they can be chock full of hidden fat and sugars and as mentioned prior, their main ingredient is usually nuts which, while healthy, can quickly become a problem in regards to the amount of calories in each serving. When choosing a healthy snack it is imperative to check the label, although they are estimates it is easy to see if they are truly healthy or simply advertising the "good parts" of their product while hoping you won't read the rest of the nutrition facts (it happens more often than you think).
Salads are a great source of healthy calories, the lettuce itself is not the issue, it is the additions that are put into the salad that can cause trouble, the salad dressings and toppings can quickly turn a healthy food into a caloric (and fat) dense meal. If you are making your own salads, fruits are going to be your best friend. Most fruit (with the exception of grapes) are pack full of flavor and have little impact in terms of calories. Remember, nuts are OK as long as they are used sparingly, and NOT CANDIED.
Dressings is wear you have to be very careful, a low fat vinaigrette or just straight lemon is going to be your best option however if neither of those appeal to you than make sure you are diligent in measuring exactly how much dressing you are putting on the salad, failure to do so can quickly turn your salad into a fattening nightmare.
Hummus is delicious and comes in a variety of flavors, it is usually made with chickpeas, garlic, tahini and lemon juice. You will likely find it at many parties as it has become a very popular dip for chips and pita bread. Hummus, while tasty is also extremely caloric dense, one tbsp of hummus equals out to about 25 calories. With enough dips, that could easily equal out an extra 100-200 calories to your diet without you even knowing.
Protect your self from this potential hazard by being mindful of how much calories are in each serving and try to limit your intake to about 2-3 tbsp's.
Chia seeds are the latest super food craze and they are usually found in yogurt and healthy smoothies. They have a lot of omega-3 and fiber which helps with digestion and brain health. Unfortunately, they also have a lot of calories with one oz equaling a whopping 138 calories.
With all the health benefits that come with these seeds it is of little use to you if they throw your diet off track by increasing your caloric intake by over 100 calories! You can easily have your seeds and eat them too by limiting the intake, next time you enjoy a healthy shake ask them to add half the amount of Chia seeds then usual and you should be fine.
This by no means an exhaustive list of the foods that have hidden calories in them, there was a great paper written on this subject, we highly suggest you read it (click here), we have included an excerpt from this paper that lists some of the top foods with hidden calories and their substitutes.