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From Stats to Fat: Is Your Fitness Tracker Causing Weight Gain?

fitness-tracker-weight-gainI’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

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  1. I lost 25 lbs awhile ago-but never tracked anything. Just too much pressure.
    What worked for my was really listening to my body and focusing on what made me feel better. I didn’t even own a scale at that time so I just tried to live healthy and voila! It worked!

  2. Carla V says:

    My tracker (FITBIT) does frustrate me, but I love it anyway. I have experienced weight gain, and I have held it at fault in the past. I am learning how to be an FBG, so I left my FITBIT on my night stand for most of the summer. However my clothing has gotten significantly tighter, so I’ve started using it again. I’m only using the pedometer and activity tracker on it though as a tool to keep track of my activity level.

  3. Nettie says:

    I always suggest to friends to switch to a BodyMedia armband device- it’s the one they wear on Biggest Loser. It’s the only one on the market that’s been proven to be over 90% accurate according to lots of research. I love mine. Wear it 24/7 except in the shower and it’s definitely a mega reason I’m down 74 pounds.

  4. Amy says:

    I think they’re useful in the beginning to help you examine your eating habits and recalibrate, since many people tend to way underestimate their food intake. So it’s z real wake up call to track your food and realize that while it doesn’t seem like you eat a lot, you’re really consuming 2500 calories a day. But once you’ve adjusted and can eyeball the proper amounts of food, you can leave the tracker behind and play it by ear. Especially those of us who are card-carrying members of the Clean Plate Club and don’t yet have that innate fullness gauge.

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