The Unexpected Lessons My Daily Exercise Habits Taught Me

Technology and fitness are more intertwined than ever before. But are all these gizmos and apps really useful? I dropped 40 pounds and used every tech trick along the way. My discoveries and lessons might help you make better choices.

One thing before we start: I was new to a regimented exercise routine and didn’t have one before this. If you already are a fitness nut, my experiences probably won’t help you much. But if you’re a beginner or newly taking up a weight loss cause, then read on.

No App Compares to a Personal Trainer

On the Internet, education is often free. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best. Take YouTube, for example. There are plenty of free workout channels on YouTube that will teach you everything from the basics to advanced exercises. But when you’re starting out, nothing—and I mean nothing—beats hiring a trainer.

Yes, it’s expensive, but if you are serious about getting into shape, then you need to do this. A trainer will demonstrate the basics and repeatedly correct your form—the most important step in exercising with weights. While you can see the right form on a YouTube video, it’s difficult to emulate it, and keep it going through sets and reps. That’s where the trainer comes in, and it’s essential to get these basics right.

Once you’ve used a trainer long enough to be confident of working out without him or her, feel free to resort to YouTube videos or any workout apps. But don’t start hitting the gym with apps or videos alone.

Meal Planners Help You Stick to Diets

Just exercise isn’t going to help you lose weight. You need to pair it with an appropriate diet to see results. Meal planner apps make it easier to figure out your diet for the week or the month, and they make it easier to stick to a diet.

Once you have your “can eat” and “can’t eat” foods sorted, just prepare a weekly meal plan and adhere to it. What I found was that I mostly ate unhealthy foods when I had to decide what to eat. When the decision was already made, I was happy to go with it. And that’s what meal planning does — you don’t have to exercise willpower to resist that fattening burger, as you already know you’re going to eat a light and healthy grilled chicken today.

Some meal planning apps to consider:

Fitness Bands Are Useless for Beginners

Fitness bands are the latest rage among smart gadgets for getting fit. I tried multiple fitness bands over the course of my fitness regimen and came away with one conclusion: they’re useless for beginners.

When you’re starting out, a fitness band gives you data that works as feel-good device. “Hey, you walked 10,000 steps today and burnt 300 calories,” it says. If you are new to the world of calorie-counting and exercise, those numbers seem great! But they really aren’t. A single omelet packs about 150 calories, so burning off 300 in a day doesn’t do much.

Once you’re past the beginner stage, fitness bands are actually useful in serving as motivators. Gamification doesn’t work for everyone, but if you like competing in leaderboards with your health-conscious buddies, you’ll find that fitness bands are a great tool for it.

The Buddy Matters, Not How You Talk

While you are working out for your benefit, it helps to have a friend whom you discuss things with. Sometimes, it’s a humblebrag. Other times, it’s about learning from that friend. But try and find someone who supports and understands your journey.

Personally, I ended up talking to two friends about it and we didn’t use any specialized apps. I chatted with one buddy on WhatsApp and another on Twitter, simply because those are the mediums we usually chat on. The trick, in my opinion, is to keep it simple, rather than introducing a whole new system of communication at a time when you are already changing several things in your routine.

In case you don’t have a buddy to share with, some of the best sub-reddits for fitness and health have plenty of helpful people who will talk with you and offer invaluable advice. The more you use it, the better a match you will find.

“Feeling” Fit Trumps Data

The biggest technological gain for weight loss is data. Phones, Excel sheets, and smart gadgets makes it easier than ever to track everything. You can log your life with an iPhone and revisit it at any time to see your personal achievements and losses.

But data does not motivate consistently. At some point, you will hit your weight target; you will hit your push-up target; you will hit your miles-per-minute target. And then you have to keep going. Similarly, before you hit your targets, you will feel like giving up if it’s too slow or too hard. But you have to keep going.

The best motivator for exercise is “feeling” fit. You have to learn to love that feeling, to notice and enjoy the differences in your body’s capability to handle things. Instead of logging statistics, log your feelings about yourself through digital journaling. That’s the long-lasting motivator.

Don’t Blame the Tech, It’s You

Technology is a fantastic aid in the quest for leading a healthier life. And when it doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to, your first reaction will be to blame the tech. Stop. It’s an “aid”, it’s only meant to help achieve your goals; if your goals are not being met, it’s not the tech’s fault, it’s you.

The good news?

Everyone falters and stumbles while trying to get fit. And technology makes it easier to hit reset and start your quest afresh.

How have you used technology in your path to a healthier, fitter lifestyle? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!

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