I’ve never been much for tracking the stats when it comes to my health and fitness. I always have a general idea of my weight and my target heart rate, but never worry about things like calories I eat, the number of steps I take or the number of calories I burn during a workout. I go more by my intuition: I eat when I’m hungry, until I’m no longer hungry; I try to fit in extra steps and activity, but you won’t find me pacing the living room to hit a certain step count; and I will always be the person striving for a certain distance or time goal on the treadmill, not the calories burned.
But I know there are people who LOVE the stats. And stats can be awesome and helpful in setting goals and knowing when you achieved them. (One of my goals is to get better about setting and achieving goals, just so you know where I’m coming from!) Some people swear by the devices that help them track their calories burned and steps taken, like the various fitness trackers we’ve tested out (like the Fitbit, the SPARK activity tracker or the Jawbone Up). But some people are actually saying that these devices are leading them to weight gain, rather than weight-loss. I imagine it’s a bit like a fitness betrayal: A tracker tells you your caloric needs based on your activity, it overestimates things, and then you go and gain weight. Not cool, Robert Frost.
I think it goes to show that there is always an element of mystery when it comes to weight-loss, and there are so many factors that play in. The types of calories we eat, the amount of stress we’re dealing with, the quality of sleep we’re getting — all of these play a role in weight-loss and gain — and it’s not always about calorie-counting. Not to mention, there’s always the sneaky side effect of gaining muscle while losing fat, which can keep your weight pretty stable (or cause weight gain) when really, your health, strength, endurance and well-being are greatly improving. My weight can easily fluctuate 5 pounds from one day to the next, so I’m not one to be shaken up by a few pounds here and there. I think people need to remember that these tools are tools, just like the scale, and they’re not the cure-all to weight loss. While they give a great amount of information and a snapshot into your activity levels, they’re not going to give you the whole picture all the time.
Do you love your fitness tracker? Have you ever accused it of making you put on a couple of pounds? —Erin