Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Get Yourself a Fitbit and Don't Leave Home Without It

When I think back to the periods of my life when I was slimmer, I remember that those were the periods when I didn't have a car.  Without the luxury of being simply able to hop in my car and drive where ever I wanted to go, I of course walked a lot more, which means that my daily activity level, the number of calories I burn while going about my daily business, was much higher.

Once you make the decision to live in suburbs and raise a family, however, you are pretty much forced into buying a car since public transportation is just too time consuming in order to do all the things you have to do in a day: get to work, pick up the kids, grocery shopping, etc.

Even though you may have a membership to a gym, the loss of the walking habit may mean that despite your best intentions, watching what you eat and burning calories during a workout, the calories burnt at the gym might not be enough to put you into a calorie deficit.  Worse yet, the workouts might actually stimulate your appetite so that you eat more, over and above the what you worked off.  So, much to your dismay, you continue to pack on the pounds despite your best efforts.  I know this was certainly my situation.

To really reap the benefits of working out, you need to make sure that your workouts are indeed going to cause a calorie deficit, but in order to make this happen, you need to know how many calories you are burning throughout the day and then, for most people, increase your daily activity to ensure that your workouts are not simply burning off the excess brought about by eating within the norms, which turns out to be a calorie surplus due to your lack of movement on the job and at home.

The easiest way to do this is to simply count the steps you take over the course of each day, and the best way to do this and track your results is to get yourself a Fitbit.  This simple device straps to your wrist and syncs to a smart phone or tablet by way of an application so that you can visualize the number of steps, distance covered, and calories burned during a day, week, month, and year.  Moreover, the people at Fitbit will send you a weekly summary of your results.

If you so desire, it will also monitor your sleep patterns.  Even better, it is water resistant.  You won't need to take it off before taking a shower.

As it turns out, last week was my best week with regard to the total steps (100,901), distance covered (47.59 miles), and calories burned (24,455 cal.).  This breaks down to a daily average of 14,414 steps, 6.8 miles, and 3,494 cal.

What I found extremely interesting is that when I decided to take a day off, my results dropped off considerably, only 3985 steps, 1.88 miles, and 2,645 calories.

From the perspective of fat loss, deciding not to go for a walk meant that I burned approximately 850 calories less than my daily average.  That's a lot.  For most people that would be more than they would burn off at the gym during a workout.  Extend that sedentary lifestyle for a week and it adds up to about the equivalent of 1.5 lbs of fat.

As well, it appears that I could maintain a weight loss program simply by continuing my walking regime: 15 min in the morning and afternoon, 40 min at lunch, and the easy extras I get by parking my car the furthest I can at work and by taking the stairs to get my workspace on the third floor.

Doing so, however, without resistance training would probably mean that I would lose muscle mass along with the fat loss.  As a result, I still go to the gym to lift weights two or three times a week,  In the next post, I 'll share with you the program that I have adopted.


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