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Thursday
Jul162015

7 Must-Have Tech Tools for Weight Loss

Support for a weight loss journey can mean much more than the people you have in your corner (as important and appreciated as they are!).

Consider the motivational messages, the helpful information and the practical tools that can spur our progress and make the weight loss process easier and more efficient.

Among them are the tech tools that are quickly becoming standard in the health and fitness realm.

We certainly look to technology for so much else these days - why not weight loss? Smart strategy means embracing all the support we can get along the way - "tech support" included.

Check out 7 tech tools I recommend for my clients' weight loss and transformation journeys. 

Headphones

A great pair of headphones is a smart tech buy because you can literally get lost in your own world – be it for relaxation or motivation during your workouts. And, let's face it. The better your workout experience, the more likely you are to maintain your fitness routine.

Gone are the days of the foam-covered mini speakers strapped around your head. Headphones today are sleek, sophisticated Bluetooth essentials that allow us to get comfortably absorbed in our personally chosen playlists and podcasts, which means you can enjoy your workout more.

You can even “read” a book in between sets or during your cool down time. Headphones are so integrated into the health and fitness world that there are entire libraries of audio-recorded workouts that can be played in conjunction with your favorite playlist!  

Heart Rate Monitor

Ever wonder if you’re working hard enough - or maybe too hard? Do you feel like your body responds to your favorite Zumba class differently than your friends' do? Wish you had a personal trainer on your wrist?

If you said yes to any (or all) of these, you’re probably ready to invest in a heart rate monitor (and an active metabolic assessment).

No one likes to waste time working out too hard or not hard enough. Everyone should know exactly which exercise intensities will be effective for improving fat metabolism or increasing VO2. The must-have tech tool that supports the shortest path to increased fitness is a heart rate monitor – and there’s a reason every Life Time Personal Trainer wears one as part of his/her uniform. Without it, you’re probably wasting a fair amount of time and effort.

A Simple Camera

A little selfie never harmed anyone, right? Photos are some of the greatest motivators we have when it comes to weight loss. Before and after photos amaze us every day.

The fact is, we all want to write our own version of that transformation story! It all starts with capturing images of how your journey began (and how it progresses). No matter what the scale says along the way, if you visually record your weight loss journey with photos every four to six weeks, you will see changes!

That camera isn’t just for selfies, however. Use it to “visually journal” your food choices by taking pictures of your meals before you eat them. You see, so many of us respond better to visual feedback (as opposed to written journals) that we’ll start to make better food choices and even take more pride in our food preparation and plating if we snap photos.

Photo-journaling food offers a great way to assess and appreciate everything that goes into creating nourishing and satisfying meals. It also helps us think twice about not-so-great choices because we can remind ourselves what better options there are with the example of our own photos.

Compliance Chart or Journal

You may be thinking, “This isn’t a tech tool….” A compliance chart or journal may not fit our modern definition of technology (although there are plenty of amazing apps for them!), but this low-tech tool carries some major influence when it comes to weight loss and behavior changeEmbrace it as a tool - however low- or high-tech you choose to go with it.

The fact is, we know that humans are far more capable of changing behavior patterns when they focus on one or two new things and document their compliance. The records associated with these tools (whether they're on our phones or in a spiral notebook) will be integral to changing those essential patterns.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of people journaling all their food all the time, especially down to the detail of grams of this and ounces of that. For most people, keeping a detailed diary of every morsel of food can be helpful to gain awareness for a few days, but if you’re keeping track of your normal eating habits it soon turns into a guilt-producing, negatively slanted elimination record just asking for a red pen.

Instead, I’m an advocate for using a simple compliance chart. You know the type you used in 2nd grade to show who was reading their book or practicing their cursive each night - the chart you wanted to see filled up with gold stars!

One simple chart ends up telling a rich history of who’s been compliant with the task or not. Using this low-tech tool for weight loss behavior change is surprisingly simple and effective to cue the important behaviors while avoiding the mindset of cutting out certain pleasures. Compliance charts are great at crowding out the less-helpful behavior patterns or food choices by including the more important efforts. My favorite “assignments” to include on my clients’ charts (and my own) are these.

  • Turn off electronics at 8 p.m. and institute lights out by 9 p.m.
  • Eat 3 or more cups of veggies today.
  • Drink at least 2 liters of water today.
  • Get at least 5000 steps before noon. 

How do you think your health routine and food choices would improve if you simply focused on all or some of these behaviors? Most likely, using a compliance chart may be as high-tech as you need to get (at least for a few weeks).

Activity Monitor

Once you’re committed to improving your health and jump-starting your journey in the kitchen, the most effective next step is, well, to get more steps.

Exercise is great, but its health impact pales in comparison to that of consistent, hourly movement throughout the day. Remember, humans are strange in that we seem to change only the behaviors we keep track of.

Activity monitors are powerful little truth-tellers that keep us honest about just how sedentary (or active) we are each day. The technology itself isn’t flashy or sophisticated, but it’s a must-have for anyone trying to lose weight or keep it off.

An Alarm

I know what you’re thinking…. “This guy’s going to write about waking up early to work out because if you don’t fit it in early, you probably won’t do it.” Wrong.

Alarms work great to snap your focus back on track with your strategy anytime. Set several alarms throughout the day to remind you to drink water, eat veggies, or move around the office. Set an alarm to go to bed instead of using an alarm to wake up (although you’ll likely need that one too). Use reminders to make your harsh, non-weight-loss-friendly environment easier to navigate.

Social Media

Love it or hate it, social media is part of our culture. Why not embrace the innovation?

Social networks, at their best, can offer incredible support for our journeys and can be outstanding platforms for sharing information and inspiration. The speed and ease with which we can share our knowledge, perspectives, and motivation with those close to us and with those whose journeys mirror our own make the virtual world of friends my #7 must-have tech tool for weight loss.

Are you interested in seeing how technology could work for your transformation? Speak with one of our fitness professionals today. Thanks for reading.

In health, Paul Kriegler - Corporate Registered Dietitian

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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