Getting fit with tech

30th May 2015

I’m not the world’s healthiest man. I’m lazy and eat too much bread and pasta. By no means do I eat a lot of junk food or processed meals but yeah, I’m not healthy.

The problem for me with getting fit and losing weight is the being strict element. I can be really disciplined and then it just tails off and there I am scoffing my face late at night watching Netflix. Obviously sitting at a desk all day puts me at a disadvantage too…or does it?

We’re in the world of apps and devices now. There are numerous ways of tracking, logging and sharing. Fitness has become almost a social thing. People I know have really taken on the fitness challenge like Andy Clarke who to be fair has really changed his diet and exercise habits and I don’t tell him much but he has been a bit of an inspiration. There are however plenty of people watching what they eat and how they go about keeping fit in a modern life.

I’ve on and off tried to reduce my waistline both for looks and health. I have to admit, at the start of the year, I was told by the doctor I had very high blood pressure and if it wasn’t sorted, I’d die young. For two weeks I was really motivated to lose extra weight and become that Greek Adonis I wanted to be…as well as seeing my kids grow up.

I later found out the doctor was wrong. So I stopped caring about what I ate and did. Fast forward 4 months and I’m a stone to two stone heavier again. So I need to sort this out. Like I said, I can be really motivated and find being told what to do helps.

So what is this tech

fitbit-img I have an Android phone, a HTC M8 and on that I have various running apps and a couple of walking ones. Nike Running is my favourite running app. I don’t do a lot of running (bad knees and shins but getting better) but it tracks distance and the route which is enough for my walking and stumbling but I’ve since found MapMyWalk which is, well essentially a walking app.

I have also just bought a FitBit Charge HR. Great bit of kit which tracks steps, heart rate, distance and calories. I like the FitBit but wonder how accurate it is. Even as I type, I’ve added a few phantom steps to my day as it sits on the wrist. Still it seems accurate enough to know I’m not doing an awful lot and just having it on there gives me the motivation to get up and walk about. At £110, it’s not cheap and doesn’t have GPS. Should I have held off? I’m not really sure yet. The concern for me is that I forget it’s there and why.

On my phone, I’m using Google Fit which I knew nothing about until 2 weeks ago. To be honest, the idea is great and it’s down to my phone more than anything, it’s just not accurate enough and doesn’t seem to interact with my FitBit. This will change I’m sure over time so for now, it tracks steps off my phone which is nowhere near as accurate however it does sync with MapMyWalk so maybe I can use that data instead. Along with that, I am using FitHub which is a collection of all your data from various apps and stuff which so far makes for interesting reading.

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Do I actually read all these apps and their data? To be honest, no. I had hoped Google Fit would be the one stop app but it lacks a few touches. The Fitbit app is pretty good at telling me what I need but if I decide to do more running, it won’t tell me much.

So what about diet, how are you tracking that?

I use MyFitnessPal which essentially tracks your calorie intake and exercise.

At first I thought, am I hell logging everything and just guessed but after much trying, I decided to do it proper last year where I logged everything. I was eating daily about 1500 calories (standard is 2000-2500 apparently). The weight fell off and I was about 2 stone lighter after a few months. But then I started to be slack with it and eventually I stopped. but I’m using it again.

I tend to buy foods that can be scanned in so tracking stuff is not that hard. Home cooked meals can be trickier but once done, you can store them for future.

All the apps

So as you can see, I’m using a fair few apps to tell me stuff when I think really, one should do it all.

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What I am after is my FitBit data to be recorded along with any walks I do to Google Fit which then feeds into my Google Now notifications. Same with MyFitnessPal. If that data was fed into Google Fit, I think it would be a great. But for now, it seems I have a bit of juggling with apps and devices until a really good Android wearable comes out that does it all.

With all this data, I can now bore people on Twitter and Facebook and hopefully shame people into doing it themselves. I can have competitions with friends and strangers to do the most which makes fitness a little less boring, lonely and a chore. I could see it getting very competitive and reckon the likes of Weight Watchers doing something with apps and tech unless they already do?

I think it’s pretty cool that tech is getting me off my backside and doing something. Without it, I probably would’t unless I had someone shouting at me and they cost a bomb per hour.

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