Fitness Wristbands Be Gone
A Garmin, FitBit, Apple Watch, Nike+; Activity Trackers are receiving all the attention at the moment and the options seem endless. Wireless this and Bluetooth that. Throw in the variety of colours and strap types and the choice becomes a real tough challenge. Which one do you choose?! What is to happen to our regular watches? Think about the watchmakers!
So what are we to do with Christmas around the corner and New Year’s resolutions being drafted? And if you think these gadgets have been big up until now, they’ll be on more people’s wrist come 2017. They are taking the world by storm. So that’s where I come in. I am here to help in you in your decision making process, but not perhaps, how you are to expect…
The rise of the Activity Tracker is for the right intentions; any device that will get people active deserves applause. If it helps the individual do such a thing then credit where credits due. The claim is that they encourage movement by providing the wearer with a daily calorie burn estimation and collect data that can analysed and tracked over a period of time. But before we snap up these devices and become eternally fixated, they need to be put to the test.
It is no secret that we are starting to become a sluggish bunch, we are not totally there yet, but the momentum builds in this direction. It’s not by our choice but by design. Our environment is being built in such a way that it contributing to this trend. Our calorie expenditure is hitting a nosedive. Soon, we won’t even be driving our own cars = arm movement calorie expenditure ↓. So it is no shock to see these devices jump on the media bandwagon, seeking ways to guilt-trip us into movement and advertising with the slogans and beliefs that we are simply too immobile and static for optimal health, fitness and well-being.
But you know what; these new, shiny, activity devices are overrated. They’re a fashion statement. Yeah I said it.
But before you exile me to the land of the lazy, I’d like to raise a few anecdotes that will help defend my case and highlight how they can work against you. I will then propose a three-phased solution. A more practical approach to achieving a sustained calorie burn. It all revolves around our daily habits and how we perceive our environment. That’s the spoiler.
We can make our day more optimised to suit our goals, but before I explain, let’s begin:
Activity Tracked-her doing very little
I was eating dinner the other day with a couple of friends. Activity trackers came up in the discussion. As I wondered why, it’s not the most entertaining of discussions, the host sprawled her arm across the table to pick up a couple of Olives.
The wearer, proud of her new toy, then moved on and lavishly outlined to the group how impressed she was with her new device.
“12,500 steps I’ve achieved today” and “600 calories burnt”. I soon replied, testing the host and putting her on the spot (she can’t move now, no more steps to add)
“So what have you actually done today to achieve that amount – it seems a lot”… She hadn’t left the house. Sure there was movement in her day, she had a dinner to prepare for and a house to clean, so let’s cut this young girl some slack. But 12,500 seemed a massive excess in what she could have possibly managed to achieve without setting foot outside her home.
We continued to eat, and god we did eat. Breads, and a host of antipasti’s for starters. A rich Tagliatelle for the mains. If that wasn’t enough, Chocolate Brownies draped in sauce and accompanied by melting Ice Cream was for desert. As you can see, we went to Town (not literally, obviously we were sitting there at the table the whole time). Moreover, we must have polished off around 5 bottles of wine, and that was only the bottles that I had counted! My I was bloated; there would be no increase in steps on my behalf thereafter.
So to summarise this feast, we consumed a horrific amount of calories; far more than one needs to consume in any day let alone one sitting. We were idle, and we hadnt ‘burnt’ a thing.
By the end of the meal, the host, now slurring, pretty sure she had more glasses than us (what happened to sharing is caring?) projected once more to the group. “I’m now at 13,500 steps”. We all sat there in silence. At utter disbelief.
We soon realised, by the most difficult of calculations, that she had gained a further 1000 steps simply eating her food and drinking her wine (at an estimated 300 calorie burn). She then went on to joke how she could have another Brownie. Whilst she joked, she popped another one in.
It will be no surprise to hear that by the end of the night my trust in such devices had diminished, and she had failed at her of winning me over to Team Activity Tracker. I mean, I had heard of the inaccuracy stories beforehand, but this took it to another level. What more evidence do you possibly need to prove that these little devices were Chief Exaggerators. I was NOT impressed.
But I couldn’t be too stubborn, and being the creature that I am, I didn’t leave it there. I needed more evidence to prove that these devices were evil. Being the Analytical Asbo that I am, I started to enquire to all in sundry (such a strange saying) that had a fitness wristband, having conversations about how it was used and how many steps they routinely managed. I even began to research online across the host of brands, from reviews all the way to forums. I have far too much time on my hands.
Time after time again I saw a commonality – these devices dramatically exaggerated either the steps walked or the calorie burn numbers.
One story in particular made me laugh – a petite woman, height of 5ft, supposedly could not understand how she was gaining weight, fat-mass I might add, having upped her calorie intake to compensate for the 600 calories she burnt in her new walking activates. As anyone in the health and nutrition fitness space knows, the role of height and weight in calorie burn is dramatic. So why did these devices not factor this in?
And it was not just exclusive to this poor little lady. Many others also posted on the net how they began to overeat to compensate for their recorded activity. The most enlightened even commented stating they instantaneously thought that they now had a free pass to eat in a more unhealthy way. This was all now possible , thanks to ‘their exertions’. So instead of using the device to gauge activity levels, and see how their intake affected their weight, it ended up providing a licence to eat more. Exactly the opposite as to the original intention.
What’s more, the technology also gathers momentum from the other extreme.
The personality behind the device wearer is often affected. Wearers have been known to become possessed, in a state just like Gollum.
Refusing to take it off, becoming overly protective and possessive of their device:
The face of Gollum in the above sums it up quite perfectly. This can be seen in any park or city and is most often found in those with a Type A personality. Those who exercise too much – who actually need to move less and not more. Those who just cannot take 5 minutes to sit down, and are constantly on the move – often over-exercised and under-slept. Those that buy the pedometers will not stop until 30,000+ steps are recorded. This is an even unhealthier obsession, and it quite frankly needs to stop. Tracking will only fuel such anxieties, but I digress.
We can go on and it is now time for another personal anecdote that happened only recently.
The setting, an expensive traditional 300 year old restaurant. Sat patiently at the table, I marvelled in appreciation and admiration of the room. At this point, an elder lady entered the venue.
She was dressed finely and she wandered eloquently to her table. As she sat, she took off her expensive-looking overthrow. Can you guess what was hidden underneath? A Purple Plastic Fitbit. It looked absolutely hideous and stuck out like a sore thumb.
And to think, for women, who spend thousands of time and money on perfecting their appearance. Its all very bizarre. She had sacrificed her entire image to ensure her steps were recorded. The worst part, she hadn’t even realised the felony that she had committed.
What’s this to do with the Office Worker, you may ask.
Having spoken up until this point without even a mention of our beloved white-collar workers, if any of you are still here, you are wondering how this all affects you. The tips you are all dreaming of will follow shortly, so sit tight, or stand, this is more preferable.
I see the same thing in the office day in day out. A prestigious suit, a well cut-shirt, an expensive watch…. and then on the opposing wrist -a tacky fitness device. Do they not care about their appearance? Do they not consider how this looks to their boss? Would they wear plastic shoes?
So don’t be that person. Don’t ruin your appearance to become fixated on numbers. We do enough of that in Excel already.
Drop the device, preferably into something that burns it up. In such a way it cannot be retrieved – we know how tough these devices can be. So how about dropping it into Mount Doom? Let that thing burn. And burn for good.
So it is here that Shirt and Tie Fitness propose that you decide not to be the Gollum of the Office. Be like Froddo Instead. Seek the light and another way to health, wellbeing and fitness without the obsession, the terrible appearance and the gimmick.
More Practical Solutions
At this point, I’ve managed to attack the latest techy-toy on the market; the holy Activity Tracker. Perhaps I’ve even offended a few; if I have please accept my big fat apology.
But it would not be right if I departed like Leonardo Di Caprio and Matt Damon. I cannot leave you in dismay and distrust. So I propose a solution to this gadget. Its a three-phased super-duper formula:
Tres Is The Magic Number:
Ignore the Spanish, it’s totally irrelevant. What is relevant is that you should spend at least an hour and a half of your day walking. Sounds simple enough right – there are ~10-12 hours to play with in the waking day. But let’s make it even more simple. Let’s turn this from A walk, into THREE walks.
Then we can place it gently into the office workers busy schedule. So it goes a little something like this:
3 daily 30 minute walks – and that Roadrunner, is all you need.
One 30 minutes batch at the start of your day – which can include all walking in the commute to the office.
A second round during the lunch hour – which can include obtaining thy food.
And a final 30 minute stint following work – which can include the commute home.
I’m not that harsh honest.
And 30 minutes should be guestimated, and not timed nor stressed over. If you hit 27 minutes, there shall be no punishment nor guilt. Not even a slight slap on the bare wrist. At least the tracking device will not be in the way.
In 30 minutes, unless you walk in the slow lane, you should be able to achieve around the 12-500-15000 step mark in a day relatively effortlessly.
No activity tracker need tell you that. It’s all about short stints.
& 15,000 are enough, no more than that Mo Farah.
Get up 30 minutes earlier and arrive home slightly later if you have to, but get the deed done.
You’ll appreciate it, particularly when you begin to realise that your legs are less stiff and your brain is more sharp.
You want some more simple tips to ensure this is done do ya?
How about getting off the bus/train a stop early,
Or park further away from your destination – make the walk part of your commute.
Walk through the park if possible; pat a dog, chat to the old dears. This will set up your day nicely.
The key here is in consistency and frequency. By undertaking 3 walks every day it will become habit, second nature. It will not require will power, tracking or external motivation. You won’t need absurd meme’s to get you going like this:
But it includes weekends too, we need to ingrain this habit. So those cheeky sloths who like to laze around and justify their lack of movement by stating “it’s the weekend I deserve my lay in” take note.
Although the entire point of this post is to emphasise the need to forego dependency and calculations. I must whip out the calculator one last time to illustrate my point:
300 calories x 7= 2100 calories burnt a week
2100 x4 = 8400 calories burnt a month
8400 x 12, and here it gets tricky off the top of my head (opens PC calculator) = 100,800 calories.
The experts state there are roughly 3500 calories in a pound of fat, supposedly. Following this logic if consumption was kept in check and a deficit was achieved: 28.8 pounds of fat would wither at the wayside across the year.
That’s a lot of burn over the course of a year. That’s potentially one hell of a transformation to shock and rock the office. All obtained with some simple strolls, well, relatively stroll-like. Just think, a tiny manipulation to your work day routine and you could achieve great things.
And to those of you who are already managing an hour and a half, congratulations; continue this fantastic habit you walking warrior. The only manipulation that you could consider making would be to add weight to your bag to increase the effort. Throw in an extra bottle of water, or two, into the rucksack. Keep the walks at 30 minutes, but make the effort required that much harder.
Now, we need to amplify the effectiveness of our 3 daily walks. This is where we get real. This is where the real money is.
So how do we achieve this as an Office worker?
We remain on our feet. At any given opportunity. All day if we can. Never sit where possible.
We get a standing desk if you can get the bosses approval. If not, fidget. Like a child. Tap the feet.
We get up every 15 minutes. We get a drink. We sit back down and we go get another drink. We go urinate that drink. And then we go to get another drink to replace the urination of the last drink. You get the point.
We always take the stairs
We get up and talk to colleagues
We go to the furthest printer.
By now you realise that if you was to be wearing an Activity Tracker, the device would at this point be broken. It wouldn’t be able to keep up with your activity let’s face it.
And back to our little Lord of the Rings analogy. Be like Froddo. He didn’t stop moving, he had to get to Mordor for goodness sake. If this little fella can achieve what he did by walking, what can you achieve? And look how happy he is, bless:
And Google: “Froddo Smiling” if you don’t believe me. There are hundreds of images of this little guy in his element. All whilst his world was crashing down around him.
Now, our final amplifier is diet related. You didn’t think you could read an entire fitness post about practical fat loss strategies without nutrition entering the fray did you? I hope not as it is an essential piece of the puzzle. Always has been always will.
To simplify, the focus should always be on Los Tres Meals = 3 square meals.
No snacks, we’re not squirrels.
A hearty breakfast, solid lunch and a well-bodied evening meal. Evenly balanced. Eat to satisfaction, don’t stuff.
Keep foods solid, shakes minimal.
Chicken and brown rice is nice. Remember that.
Potato and steak is great.
Juices and shakes put on the weight loss breaks.
Disclaimer: There are no fattening properties to juices and shakes, but if fat loss is the goal we want to make it easy. We want to be full. We don’t want to be hungry and these can promote such feelings.
But here’s the real insight. Here’s the secret to the formula. The part the Activity Trackers cannot accustom for and cause the wearer to ignore.
You do not increase your calorie consumption in your current diet.
If your diet needs a makeover, now is the time, start as you mean to go on. And you know who you are ladies and gentleman. Those secret Muffin Munchers, who throw in a couple of bites when it’s the bosses’ birthday.
You can say no, you do have a voice!
So keep it real simple; choose whole foods.
Eat more on the days you work out, less on days you are more sedentary.
I will delve further in a future post because time is ticking and I have been sitting down now writing this for far too long. We don’t do double standards here.
If you take away one thing from this article, is that Activity Tracker or not, more steps or not, you keep your consumption constant throughout the process, as if your movement was minimal. As if you was sedentary.
This way, you will not over consume and overcompensate like this technology urges. Those who look down and think that by ‘burning’ 800 calories, they can sneak in a bite of this or a sip of that, it just won’t happen.
With whole foods, think unrefined: if it doesn’t grow out of the ground or run on the ground then don’t eat it. Simples. Don’t go eating stinging nettles though, that would be silly. You can drink them mind you.
Whole foods will satiate your belly and the 3 daily walks will provide the ‘extra’ calorie burn required for movement on the scales. No pun intended.
As walking is an activity that is low taxing on the body, appetite will not be stimulated and surge out of pro-PORTION. (Again another pun, I’m here all week: firstname.lastname@example.org) and the journey will be easy. It will be effortless. Easier than little Froddo’s none the less.
These things will all make THE difference. Favourable manipulations will occur in your physique over time.
So, be mindful of your nutrition and fat loss will be the only consequence.
So there we are, the end is upon us. You no longer need to go and buy that overpriced piece of plastic. Instead, apply the three stage formula and get behind the Office Worker Revolution. Let us all know how you are getting on in the comment section below.