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So, you’ve made the decision to lose weight. Congratulations, you’re on your way to a healthier, fitter, and more emotionally balanced life.

But making the decision isn’t the hard part, the real work lies ahead. After all, the weight isn’t going to lose itself — you need long-term dedication and perseverance.

A personal trainer can help keep you focused and on track, but it’s expensive to hire one. Increasingly, people are turning to fitness bands instead. They can monitor your workouts, track your calories, and measure your body’s cardio performance.

In this article, I’m going to share six tips that’ll help you lose weight with a fitness band. The pounds will be falling off in no time!

1. Find Your Level

When you’re just starting your plan, you need to get a firm grasp of your current levels. Without a base number to work from, it’ll be difficult to plan your schedule or monitor your improvements. Wear your band 24/7 for a week and get a clear understanding of how much exercise you’re doing in an average day.

Fitbit Charge 2 Fitness Tracker - Large - Black Fitbit Charge 2 Fitness Tracker - Large - Black Smartphone Notifications Buy Now At Amazon CDN$ 189.00

A band like the Fitbit Charge or the Jawbone UP Move Fitbit Flex vs. Jawbone UP: A Comparative Review Fitbit Flex vs. Jawbone UP: A Comparative Review In today's world, nothing escapes the fact that we are moving in a direction where quantifying and recording stuff obsessively is sort of the norm. We use Foursquare to check into places, we annoyingly take... Read More will track your steps, but tracking your steps alone is not sufficient. You need more data from this early period — specifically, you’ll also need to track your calorie intake.

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Some bands have an accompanying app that allow you to log your food, but the best app available is arguably MyFitnessPal. It’ll integrate with most of the leading fitness bands and adjust your calorie intake goals accordingly.

According to a 2013 article in the journal Obesity Reviews, stringent self-monitoring is scientifically proven to help weight loss:

Consistent self-monitoring of exercise is associated with greater total weight loss, a greater amount of exercise, and fewer difficulties with exercise.

In moving past traditional methods of self-monitoring such as paper-and-pen diaries, research has found that technology can simplify the monitoring process. This can include recording one’s progress of food intake and physical activity.

2. Track Intensity

Once you’ve discovered your current fitness levels, you need to increase the amount of data you actively monitor How to Get Your Best Workout Using Fitness Sensors How to Get Your Best Workout Using Fitness Sensors There are lots of devices and apps that will help you exercise and stay healthy. Here are some of the latest innovations in the area of fitness sensors. Read More . This new data will help you set effective and realistic goals.

Start by tracking the number calories you burn during a workout. Look at how the number increases over time and how long it takes to burn a fixed number.

Again, most of the leading fitness band manufacturers will provide an app for charting how your intensity changes over time. These figures are a great motivational tool — you’ll begin seeing some progress in a matter of days, even if the scales aren’t yet showing a change.

3. Add a Heart Rate Monitor

Heart disease is responsible for 610,000 deaths in the United States and 31 percent of worldwide deaths every year. It’s comfortably the biggest global killer.

Your heart rate is perfectly correlated with the number of calories you burn. The faster it beats, the faster you lose weight. Sounds perfect. But if it beats faster, you also tire faster. Even worse, if you’re not fit, it can be dangerous to have a highly-elevated heartbeat for a prolonged period.

The solution is to keep your heart rate lower. You’ll be able to safely train for a greater amount of time, and thus burn the greatest number of calories.

Unfortunately, a lot of bands only estimate your heart rate based on your activity, height, weight, age, and gender. If you’ve already got one of these bands, you’ll need a separate heart rate monitor. If you’re in the market for a new band 7 Best Fitness Trackers 2016 7 Best Fitness Trackers 2016 If you’re an active person, activity trackers provide incredibly valuable data for logging, improving, and understanding your fitness. But among the devices out there, finding the right activity tracker can be difficult. Read More , try the Mio Fuse or Basis Peak. They both have an optical heart rate monitor built in.

Mio FUSE Heart Rate, Sleep + Activity Tracker, Medium/Large Mio FUSE Heart Rate, Sleep + Activity Tracker, Medium/Large Get accurate wrist-based heart rate during exercise. Buy Now At Amazon CDN$ 119.99

4. Track Your Sleep

Why is it important to track your sleep 10 Android Apps for Tracking and Improving Your Sleep 10 Android Apps for Tracking and Improving Your Sleep These apps will surely help you get a better night's sleep. Read More ? You’re trying to lose weight, not lay around in bed!

Consistently getting a good night’s sleep is hugely important to your ability to lose weight effectively:

  • A lack of sleep is shown to lead to overeating. Your body craves sugary food to make up for the lost hours of restful recovery.
  • An extended period (one week or more) of poor sleep will reduce your body’s insulin sensitivity. Your body will become less effective at burning calories and your weight could start to climb, even if your diet stays the same.
  • Tiredness leads to laziness and reduced power. You might not make the effort to go to the gym or cook a healthy meal. It can quickly lay waste to your meticulous weight loss plans.

Most fitness bands come with sleep trackers. They’ll show you how much restful sleep you’re getting every night, and give you a chance to make amends to your routine.

5. Choose a Good Scale

It might seem like fitness bands can do everything, but one thing they can’t do is track your weight (seriously, don’t stand on it, it’ll break!).

If your goal is weight loss, the final piece in the jigsaw is to invest in a good scale. Don’t buy the cheapest one you can find in Walmart — they can be wildly inaccurate. If you’re serious about your program, it’s better to buy a Wi-Fi connected set that’ll sync with your band’s app.

A word of warning: weight can be deceptive. Some professional rugby players and American football players are well above 280 pounds and would be “morbidly obese” on the BMI scale, but they are among the fittest and healthiest athletes on the planet. Make sure whichever scales you buy can record your body composition as well as your raw weight.

Fitbit Aria Wi-fi Smart Scale (Black) Fitbit Aria Wi-fi Smart Scale (Black) Accurately track your weight body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI) online Buy Now At Amazon CDN$ 224.81

6. Join a Community

It’s easier to stay motivated when you’re working with other people Shed The Pounds: Subscribe To These 4 Weight Loss Subreddits Shed The Pounds: Subscribe To These 4 Weight Loss Subreddits Have you made a resolution to lose a bit of weight? Reddit is a great resource for this, with plenty of subreddits for those eager to reach a healthier weight. Read More . A 2014 report from MyFitnessPal claimed people who participated in the social aspects of the app lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t.

The leading activity trackers have similar features. Many of them have apps or dashboards that can be directly accessed from your wrist. They include features such as leaderboard rankings, chat boards, and gamification ideas 4 Video Games That Will Help You Lose Weight 4 Video Games That Will Help You Lose Weight All too often, people who are not gamers have this idea that individuals who choose to spend their time playing video games are lazy. Sure, we like to sit around with a controller in our... Read More , all of which are designed to try and keep you motivated and engaged.

How Do You Use Your Band?

I’ve shown you six tips that’ll help get you on the right track, but there are countless other ways you can maximize your fitness band’s potential and make it work for you.

Can you help your fellow readers? What keeps you motivated? What data do you record? Which bands are best for certain goals and activities?

Leave your suggestions in the comments below. I’m looking forward to reading your input.

Image Credits: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

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