Posts Tagged ‘Shopping’

Fitness trackers are no good at counting calories, and other lessons from wearing four at once

For 10 days last month, I strapped on four fitness trackers for every waking hour—all in the name of science. I wore them to brunch. I wore them on my birthday. I wore them when I got sick and spent a full day in bed. For a week and a half, I was quantified—in quadruplicate.

The premise I was testing is fundamental to the idea of fitness trackers, the liveliest sector of the wearable computer market. Fitness trackers are touted as a wellness tool: something that you’ll want to wear all the time, and that will make your life better and healthier. I wanted to see if they were producing data that could actually help me, and just what I could do with that data.

I expected to hate all of them, but I was wrong. I also expected them to all be sorts of useless—and on that count I was right.

via Fitness trackers are no good at counting calories, and other lessons from wearing four at once – Quartz.

Nice, brief side-by-side comparison of all four of these current-generation trackers.  Not always the intuitively best one to review from each company — for example, it’s a known thing the FitBit Flex is skin-irritating to the point of actually being recalled for a cash refund, and if the reviewer was looking for a display instead of bleep-bleep communicating devices, there are other FitBit models that are more like that.  Looks like they went for whatever model was a wrist strap version.

But still, an important comparison.  Step counting results were accurate, apparently; nearly the same on all the devices, and it should be; you can get accurate enough step counts from a $20 pedo or even one of the little doctors’ office giveaway versions.  Or from a smartphone app.

But their estimates of calories burned, while following the same day to day trend, were up and down by 1,000 calories or so — too unreliable to accurately predict weight loss.

Let’s digress from this.  The benefit of a fitness tracker is that it may help you have a desire to spin its little hamster wheel by doing more exercise.  And it comes with software to do intake calorie tracking; if you’re wanting to lose weight, tracking and limiting your intake is job #1.  Having a workable daily plan is #2, and perhaps these devices might help you with that.  Maximizing your output is somewhere down the list.  Beneficial to your can-do attitude, helpful in creating more caloric deficit, though not going to produce any results until you’re actually limiting your intake in a systematic, measured way.

So you might give such a device a try — or wait for the next versions — or use a pedometer — or just mentally count your exercise minutes toward a weekly target.   It depends on your budget and whether you think the presence of the device is motivationally informative.  Not essential.  Not even at all helpful for some.  Somewhat helpful for others.

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How many calories are in a drink from STARBUCKS? – I Love Coffee

How many calories are in a drink from STARBUCKS? – I Love Coffee.

Brilliant!  Lots of people would drop 5 bucks on a coffee drink …. but would they for the same number of calories drink 5 cans of cola?

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Skip the Bin: Trench Composting

Everyone has organic waste.  Ever hate to throw it out but really dread keeping a compost pile going?

Here’s what we’ve converted two for the past 3 years which works really well:

via Skip the Bin: Trench Composting | Apartment Therapy.

Basically we dig an extra deep furrow in the garden between two rows of plants (or you could just dig a hole in an unused part of your flower bed) and then fill it with organic waste and cover it with soil.  Each time we take out more waste, we cover that little bit right then, and keep going.  Over the course of the summer, there will have been a trench between each row.  The next year, we try to plant over that spot as our new row, and start again. For us, the next spring when we cultivate, it’s no longer visible, it’s composted down and the soil has been amended.

No smell, no daily turning, no watering, no temperature measuring or feeding the compost pile — it’s really easy.

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Eat some vegetables

English: veggies

One of our most popular questions is “do I have to eat vegetables to be healthy?”

Pretty much, yes.  You could try a really comprehensive supplementation routine but it’s going to be very expensive.  Not to mention there’s more and more evidence that supplementation with nutrients does not actually produce a health effect, with the limited and obvious exception of if you’ve got scurvy or rickets or some other directly attributable single nutrient shortage effect.

You can do it with vegetable juice if you must, but it’s going to be a caloric issue for weight loss, since you’re removing the fiber which gets you full and leaving just the juice which does not.  The calories get concentrated but the fullness gets vastly diminished.

It’s better, if you really don’t like vegetables, to  learn to tolerate vegetable soup, and make sure to make it yourself so you can control the sodium and make sure you’re getting a variety of green, yellow, and red vegetables so you’ll know you’re getting a good variety of nutrients.

Or perhaps you can tolerate a tossed salad with low calorie dressing.

Or perhaps you can just man up and eat your vegetables and not go on expecting all your food to taste like Twinkies.



Eat some fruit

Fruit Breakfast

The level of your fruit consumption is directly associated with the level of your health.  Not surprisingly, because fruit is one of the markers we look first for when evalutating your diet — if you’re eating fruits, chances are you’re not just commercializing your way through the day on a steady diet of junk.

There are perhaps as many as 20,000 different varieties of fruit, of only a very small fraction may be in your grocer’s produce aisle at any one time.  But they’ll rotate throughout the year as crops come available.

To get your fruit consumption up, aim for at least one serving per day, ideally  two to four.

And to get the variety up and add some interest, find and try some new fruit or fruit variety every week.

First things first.  You don’t want to cut your nutritional needs short.  It’s miserable.  But to answer the question as stated — there is no magical number of calories per day below which point you quit losing weight.

It would be great if that happened, because nobody would starve from lack of food.

But we’re not like that.

In fact, there is no starvation mode unless you are actually starving.  And if you’re carrying around 6 months or a year’s supply of food as body fat, you’re not starving.

BUT.  Do meet your nutritional needs each day.

Why does my weight go up and down?

weight loss tracker week 5

Thanks for the question … if you mean, from hour to hour, don’t weigh that often, it’s just noise.  Your weight fluctuates with your hydration and digestive contents too much to make much use of that data.

If you mean from day to day, your weight loss will be spiky up and down, not a smooth curve, it just is.

If you mean from week to week for several weeks, check your compliance to your program.   And if you have no program, there’s your problem, pick some plan and go for it for 2-3 months minimum.

Losing weight is going to take some time.  Stay right with your program, eat the right amount of the right kinds of foods, and move your body as best you’re able to, and you’ll have good results.