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The Unexpected Lessons My Daily Exercise Habits Taught Me

Mihir Patkar 06-11-2015

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 7 Best YouTube Workout Channels To Exercise at Home Home gyms and personal trainers help the moneyed get up straight from their beds and hit the gym. We lesser mortals have to call on our powers of self-motivation and discipline to trudge the few... Read More 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 Plan Weekly Meals in Under 1 Hour with 5 Web Tools There is a way to eat healthy food that doesn't cost much and do so in a way that doesn't require too much effort on your part. That secret is weekly meal plans. Read More 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 How to Build Perfect Meals With the IIFYM Calculator and Excel You can easily design meals that meet your nutrition intake targets. Achieve your fitness goals by using the free IIFYM Calculator and an Excel spreadsheet for healthy meals every day. Read More 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 The 8 Best Fitness Gadgets to Help You Get in Shape With the increasing onset of wearable tech, the Internet of things and smart gadgets, it is now easier than ever to get in shape. Read More . 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 Why Gamification Is Not The Magic Bullet Everyone Thinks It Is Gamification is spreading across the web like a plague, as if slapping on a few badges and leaderboards is enough engage users. The truth? Gamification can harmful. Read More , 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 4 Subreddits You Should Read For Tips To Stay Healthy and Fit I will tell you right now that I couldn't possible write an article about living a healthy life. I'm a self-confessed Taco Bell connoisseur. However, I can certainly tell you where you can find some other health tips.... Read More 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 The Quantified Self: How To Track Your Life With Your iPhone If you track your actions, you will be able to do them better. However, tracking can be tiresome if you don't have the right tools. Let's make it as simple as possible. Read More 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 The Beginner's Guide to Digital Journaling  Maintaining a private journal is a great way to build your writing skills, spill out your thoughts, desires, worries, and reflections on paper. The very act of writing itself can often help you think through... Read More . 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!

Related topics: Fitness, Health.

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  1. Anonymous
    November 6, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    "No App Compares to a Personal Trainer"
    A personal trainer WILL help you lose weight, mostly in your wallet.

    "Meal Planners Help You Stick to Diets"
    Maybe. If you want to break the diet, no meal planner will help. You need self-control more than you need a meal planner.

    Don't sneer at the loss of "only" 300 calories. Every little bit helps. You'd be surprised how few calories are burned by various exercises. Running a mile in 8 minutes burns only 100 calories, meaning that if you run a marathon (26.2 miles) you will only burn 2620 calories. That is about 1 days caloric intake for most people. When was the las time you saw a fat marathoner?

    "The Buddy Matters, Not How You Talk"
    Misery loves company. When working out with a buddy, you don't let each other slack off. You distract each other so that you do not notice the time go by. You ares a safety net for each other in case something goes wrong.

    "“Feeling” Fit Trumps Data"
    If you are obsessing about numbers/data, you are not concentrating of getting fit.

    "Don’t Blame the Tech, It’s You"
    Don't blame the trainer, either. If you want to get fit, you don't need gizmos, gadgets, gyms, apps or trainers. They are all only "aids".

    Before technology provided us with gizmos and gadgets, before Planet Fitness, et al. became ubiquitous, before the advent of personal trainers, people still got fit. The general population probably was more fit than it is today. There are two basic commandments in getting fit: 1) Just do it! and 2) make sure you burn more calories than you consume.