Fitness Trackers: Are they for you?

exercise bikeBecause I write about exercise and fitness, I was invited to review the fitness website, SlimKicker (SK). SK is an online tool to track exercise and weight goals and get feedback from the online community.

Signing up was easy – I just had to create a user name, password, and enter my goals. I entered my perennial goal of 10 pound weight loss, and SK gave me a suggested daily calorie amount, broken down into grams of carbs, fats and protein, based on the data I entered for gender, height, age and activity level.  Later, I found how to calculate this number again, entered the same data, and got a slightly different number. Hmm.

Next, I started entering the food I had eaten that day –  a small bowl of Raisin Bran for starters. As soon as I recorded this, a pop-up message appeared: “Cereal does not have any protein. Maybe you should have eaten a three egg omelet with vegetables and feta cheese instead.” A three-egg omelet? Seemed like big breakfast for someone of my size, especially since SK told me I only get 1,266 calories for the day (or 1,279, depending on which day I calculated it.)  Protein is good, but I think I would start gaining weight if I ate this breakfast of champions every day. Discouraged, I didn’t bother to enter any other food that day, afraid that SK would start recommending a Big Mac or a large steak.

Next, I tried entering exercise. Since I had ridden my bike on the trainer for 30 minutes, I went to the cardio section. I searched on “bike.” None of the choices that came up were right – mountain bike, bike to work, etc. Next I tried “stationary bike,” and found one that fit. From there it was easy to enter the number of minutes from the drop down menu. Once you enter an activity, you can save it as a routine, so you can reuse the same entry on another day.

Then I tried entering “weight lifting” as an activity. I had hoped I could just enter “weight lifting, moderate, 40 minutes.” But SK wanted me to individually enter each weight lifting activity, such as bicep curls, how many reps and how many sets. This proved to be too cumbersome and I gave up on it in no time at all.

Finding my initial experience with SK less than stellar, I set is aside for a couple of months, then recently gave it another try. Best Husband has been participating in a similar program at his workplace wellness program, where participants log their exercise and steps, earn points, and can challenge each other in specific fitness goals. BH has been having a lot of fun with the challenges at work, so I decided to try the challenge section. I searched challenges that I could join, and found things like “give up soda for a week,” “no take out pizza for a week,” and “eat a salad a day.” I’m already doing those things, so I put out my own challenge to the members: Don’t eat cheese for 14 days.” So far, no joiners.

The part of SK that I liked the best is the “log your weight” section. Click the drop-down arrow for the date, then add your weight in digits in the box. SK then plots your weight on a large graph. The graph is big enough that a small change up or down looks huge. Of all the features of SK, this is the one I’m most likely to use, as I think it would be satisfying to see my weight progress down on that big graph. That is, if it ever does.

Who should use SlimKicker or other fitness tracking web sites? Anyone who enjoys participating in an online community with feedback and postings similar to Facebook. To get the best benefit from the online support, I suggest using the site with a buddy or group of friends with similar goals, and use the online challenges to help each other stay on track. Will I keep using SK? Probably not, although, I might keep using that big weight-tracker graph. Seeing that move down, down, down would be golden.

© Huffygirl 2013

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14 thoughts on “Fitness Trackers: Are they for you?

    • Thanks Lisa. I probably should adopt your realistic attitude Lisa, and just be happy with the way I am. But, I have too many pants in the closet that fit a year ago and now they don’t, so I keep plugging away. They are calling out to me…

    • You might want to check it out Belle, as this one is free. I have used it a little more since I wrote this post, and have figured out some of the things that were frustrating at first. I don’t enter what I ate though – it seems pretty tedious, although once you enter something, you can save it as a favorite so the next time you eat it you don’t have to enter all the details again. Let me know if you give it a try.

  1. I like the idea of the online community but it sounds like the tracking component could be improved. Do they have an app? Sure would be easier to keep up if it was on phone or iPad so you could keep up as you go and not wait till at a computer.

    • I’m looking to see if they have an app, and so far have not found one. There is a facebook page, and looks like you can enter for drawings for free stuff, but I don’t see any way to get to the SK tracking component from there. Even though I don’t really like this much, I seem to keep going back to it, to see if I can find anything I like, and to enter my basically stable weight. 😦

  2. A lady at work has a program in which you enter foods and they give you the calorie count. We find that the totals are wildly off, either way too much or too little.

    • I wonder if they are just inaccurate, or if they’re using different serving sizes. I’ve also noticed that programs that calculate your calories burned from an exercise seem to vastly overestimate. Slimkicker will say I burned some crazy amount like 350 calories from 30 minutes of walking, while my own heart rate monitor, which I trust more, will only give me about half that amount. If I was really burning as many calories as they say I am, I think I’d be a lot thinner.

    • I agree Lisa. I wish I had someone with similar ability as mine to exercise with, but I don’t. Also, since I wrote this post I’ve been going back to Slimkicker almost daily. I didn’t like it at first, but having that sense of community is growing on me.

  3. It is completely because of you, HG, that George and I eat very little cheese. Once in awhile, I will sprinkle a little bit of shredded cheese on my black bean tacos to make a complet protein, but since it is shredded, it amounts to very little. I stopped buying the blocks of Vermont cheddar we used to love. As for the Fitness Tracker, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my day if I had to keep track of everything I ate and the exercise I did. I just try to eat well and exercise some every day.

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