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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