By Helaine Krasner, RD, CDN

Fitness trackers have become a very common accessory.  The trick is to use them effectively to help you achieve your goals.

It has never been easier to monitor and track your physical activity, and other lifestyle habits such as diet.  From the many wearable devices or smartwatches on the market to the health tracker app embedded in your smartphone, there are many options available today. You can even sync multiple devices together to organize your data in one location. Some habits you may want to track include food and fluids, number of steps, minutes of exercise, and hours of sleep.  

Why use a track? Accountability is one of the success habits promoted in our bariatric and medical weight management programs. Part of being accountable to yourself is monitoring your habits and tracking your progress. Studies show that individuals who monitor themselves consistently are more successful long term. At a minimum, tracking helps to raise your awareness which helps increase adherence.

Unfortunately, research also shows that one-third of Americans who buy wearable fitness trackers stop using them within six months. Consider these tips for successful tracking.

Tips for Tracking:

  1. Start by assessing your baseline.
  2. Decide what you want to focus on (Increasing daily steps, increasing frequency of exercise, adding a new fitness activity, dietary habits)
  3. Set a long-term goal and then break it down into realistic incremental steps.
  4. Use your device consistently.
  5. Make it social. Engage a partner. Participate in a challenge or start your own.
  6. Don’t rely on estimates of calories burned from exercise or use them as an excuse to overindulge in unhealthy, high calorie treats.
  7. Celebrate your success!

Caution: Don’t rely on estimates of calories burned during exercise as these may not be accurate. In addition, apps or devices that calculate your estimated calorie needs use formulas that may not represent your unique needs. Finally, do your best to record accurately when logging food intake. Studies show that individuals tend to underestimate portion sizes and forget to record total intake.

Helaine Krasner is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes great pride in helping our Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients achieve their health and weight loss goals.