The Fitness App Explosion: For Better or For Worse

Back when I first started losing weight, we didn’t have fancy-schmancy apps.

caveman-with-boneWe wrote down what we ate on cave walls. You couldn’t figure out the carbs or proteins in a Wooly Mammoth by looking it up on the internet. No sirreee Bob! Kids today have it too easy.

Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but one of the more significant changes in health monitoring is the explosion of fitness apps of every stripe. As of last year, there were more than 45,000 fitness-related apps in the app store, giving one the ability to monitor how far he walks and with what intensity, calories consumed and burned, even heartbeat and sleep patterns, all from the convenience of code in your phone.

This trend is in its infancy.

In the not too distant future, we will look at Fitbits and other wearable trackers in the same manner as we would observe a woman wearing a bustle today. Tomorrow’s apps will be woven into our garments, creating smart clothing and “wearable tech.” At any moment, one can be aware of everything from blood pressure to the amount of salt in her sweat.

Having that type of data available 24/7 will provide countless benefits.

Not only will it allow one to adjust his or her patterns for enhanced health, but also we will be able to predict incidents such as heart attacks BEFORE they occur, giving one the ability to go to the doctor in advance of collapsing on the street. Medical information could precede the trip to the hospital, so that upon arrival, potential treatments could be tailored to the specific circumstances in advance, saving precious time and lives.

Privacy issues yet to be worked out, that’s all well and good. However, all is not rosy in “app-alachia” as there are some pretty silly fitness apps available currently, providing insights and assistance into all facets of one’s physical, mental, and emotional health. [Read more…]

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Why are We in Such a Hurry to Lose Weight? (Part 2)

upset-woman-on-scaleLast week in this space, I posited the theory that, with almost seven out of ten people overweight (including over 30 percent obese), the reason most people don’t stick with their diets long enough to reach goal weight is because they give up when the pounds don’t drop “fast enough.” Logically, that makes no sense. After all, a slow weight loss is still preferable to no weight loss, which is the inevitable result when one throws in the towel altogether.

Of course, the motive for quitting isn’t rational; it’s one of two emotional reasons. The first reason we are so desperate to speed diet is that we fear motivation will vanish before we reach our goal, and we’ll end up spent, frustrated, and still fat. That is born of the false belief that motivation leads behaviors. Last week, I explained how motivation follows behavior and therefore we can motivate ourselves whenever we desire by engaging in behaviors. Due to limited space, I couldn’t address the second reason we quit, which I’ll do today.

That second reason we are in such a hurry to lose weight — as opposed to in a thought-out, healthy, and sustainable manner —

is complicated, but in part due to the fact that “fat shaming” is still accepted, even when so many other tactless slurs are now considered loutish and vulgar. The humiliation and guilt of being overweight casts its sufferers as lesser and out of control. The overweight are recipients of ignorant, countless wagging fingers — in person and throughout the media — proclaiming boorishly that if they possessed better willpower and a stronger moral character, they’d be thin. Condescending, hurtful, and hateful messages are hurled without end.

The unfairness of how society treats its citizens of size however is not the issue.

[Read more…]

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Why are We in Such a Hurry to Lose Weight? (Part 1)

Jaw droppedI remain gobsmacked by a statistic I recently learned.

By this time of the year, north of 80 percent of people who — at the beginning of the year — said, “This time I mean it! This is the year I’m going to lose those extra pounds,” have given up. Done. Over. Wiped their hands and walked away.

The Centers for Disease Control says that, as of 2012, 69 percent of our population is overweight or obese, with almost half of those folks classified as “obese.” Those extra pounds underwrite a multitude of health conditions, both physical and emotional; and we all know about them. Therefore, one might think that the urgency to shed an expanded waistline could be enough incentive to stick with a program longer than six weeks.

One might think that. One would also be wrong.

The number one reason people quit their program is that they don’t feel they’re losing quickly enough. Granted, if they could slow down racing to the refrigerator long enough to realize that a slow weight loss is faster than a no weight loss, they might stick with it a tad longer. Yet, in all fairness, it’s difficult to remain cold sober logical about your progress when the scale won’t budge. “Get-thin-quickly” scam artists are partially to blame for the false expectations that drive the frustration, but they are actually symptoms of a deeper problem fostering the unrealistic drive to drop weight faster than a brick can fall from a six-foot wall.

So, why are we in such a hurry?

There are two factors at play.

[Read more…]

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A List: Top 5 Ways to Fail at Everything

I am fascinated by lists.

man-looking-at-list

In college, my “go to” book was “The Book of Lists,” which was, um, well — basically a list of lists.

In today’s digital age, most are on-line. One site I found had the most popular “bucket list” ideas. Some of the trendiest objectives included visiting virtually every locale, jumping into a pool fully clothed, and — I kid you not — covering someone’s car in post-it notes. You scamp, you!

Techcrunch posts the most common Google searches. It contained “Ice Bucket Challenge”, “Ebola,” and “Flappy Bird” (a game). Sadly, the loss of “Robin Williams” generated the most searches.

Finally, Listverse, whose raison d’être is to make lists, presented its most popular of all time. Claiming spots in that prestigious ranking are “Top 15 Amazing Coincidences,” “Top 10 Amazing Facts About Dreams,” and the most popular list ever: “10 Fascinating Last Pictures Taken.”

Different times of year spawn season-appropriate lists. January might bring forth “Ten Tips to Getting Organized in the New Year.” In April, we’re informed of “Most Common Forgotten Tax Deductions.” June could give rise to “Top Wedding Ideas of Successful Brides.” (Of course, I don’t know what an “unsuccessful bride” would be.)

I want my own world-famous list. So, I thought of something no one else has done, which I now unveil: (insert fanfare please)

“Five Things You Can Do to Make Sure You Never Achieve Anything.”

In reverse order (because that makes it more exciting I guess):

[Read more…]

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Dieter beware; it’s the Season

I was prompted to write this because I heard an advertisement proclaiming easy weight loss by simply putting drops on one’s tongue.

Snake-Oil-Diet

This always irks me because I hate it that so many people lie about weight loss; taking advantage of the desperate (and unthinking). The only drops one can put in one’s mouth to cause rapid weight loss would be super glue (and I’m not saying to do that of course). Yet, ‘tis the silly season; that yearly ritual where anyone with a megaphone can make false claims about how one can lose weight overnight, without adjusting any behaviors.

Why do so many buy into this time and time again?

Well, let’s start with some facts: According to surveys, the top New Year’s resolutions are: Number One, “spend more time with family and friends;” and number two is “get fit.” “Losing weight” rounds out the top three.

So, it’s obvious that it’s important to many people.

Paradoxically 80 percent of resolutions find their way into the trash heap by January 20, and 92 percent collapse before year’s end. Bottom line? Only eight percent of resolutions survive the year. Why the low success rate? The reality is that so many people are so desperate to shed that weight — and to do it quickly — that they put their brains into neutral, falling for schemes that they’d never accept if they slowed down long enough to think.

Putting on my consumer advocate hat, I therefore did some research to find out what to avoid, should you wish to be one of the successful eight percent instead of the sad 92. Webmd.com listed several diet types to avoid if you wish to successfully lose weight. [Read more…]

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