Getting the Most Out of Your Wearable Device

Posted by in Health Matters

running shoesSo, you did it. You bought your first [Fitbit, Jawbone, etc.]. Congratulations on taking the first step toward a healthy lifestyle! While dieting offers a quick way to reduce calories, a combination of diet and exercise is the best way to control weight for the long-term. Your device is there to help.

Setting Goals with a Baseline

No matter what goals you have, you need to begin with a baseline. As the old saying goes, you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. That’s why you should record your daily activity as it is now before you make any changes.

Depending on your device, you can keep track of steps, active minutes, or calories burned. The first two offer practical and easy ways to ramp up your activity. Some devices provide these types of stats. Others may charge for more detailed information. Otherwise, a spreadsheet will work just fine. A few days of data will tell you everything you need to know.

If you are combining diet and exercise, you can keep an honest food journal as well. Yes, you have to record everything. This is not to say that you must measure everything to the letter. It means recording the fact that you ate a cheese stick for a snack or had a glass of wine with dinner.

Creating Your Plan

A realistic goal is to lose one half to two pounds a week, explains With this approach, you have an obtainable goal that can translate into long-term success. Your focus, after all, is a lifestyle, not merely dropping 10 pounds to fit into your skinny jeans.

Think of it this way. You’re going to put some effort into your healthy lifestyle plan. You’re going to create new habits. You’re going to increase your awareness about food and exercise. Make these efforts pay off with a plan that will lead to lifelong good health.

Depending upon your goal, your aim is 500-calorie deficit a day for a half-pound weight loss per week. (Figure on 1,000 calories for a one-pound loss and 1,500 for two pounds.) The 500 calories comes from a combination of exercise and dieting. Bear in mind that 500 calories of exercise is a lot of work.

You’re looking at upwards of an hour of running to burn that many calories. That’s why a combination of diet and exercise makes your goal more reasonable. And that’s also why a moderate goal like a half pound rather than something outrageous makes sense. You can pass on a sweet or skip the soda to put an easy 150 calories toward that 500-calorie deficit.

It’s All Relative

As far as your exercise, there is one important fact you must keep in mind. No matter what wearable device you are using, the calorie burn or step count you see is relative. No wearable device—or exercise machine for that matter—is 100 percent accurate.

The only way to be 100 percent on-target is to measure your oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide output. The devices you wear or use give you a relatively accurate figure. But that’s still a good thing.

Challenging Yourself

Your ultimate goal is to increase your activity level. The challenge is between today’s you and the active you of tomorrow. It’s not a big deal if the step count is off from your true activity.

The fact that you’ve increased your daily steps by 2,000, for example, is significant. You have made a positive change in your lifestyle that now includes more activity. And that is how you can get the most out of your wearable device.

Challenge yourself to walk more and exercise more. The fact remains that activity isn’t a short-term deal. Exercise is a part of everyday life. If you embrace that mindset, you’ll stay motivated.

Remember, the hardest part about starting a workout program is starting. Once it’s underway, the results you see can give you the motivation to stay on track. It’s all about taking that first step. Chris DR
photo credit: Trainers via photopin (license)


Benito, Pedro J., Laura M. Bermejo, Ana A. Peinado, Bricia ópez-Plaza, Rocío Cupeiro, Barbara Szendrei, Francisco J. Calderón, Eliane A. Castro, and Carmen Gómez-Candela. “Change in Weight and Body Composition in Obese Subjects following a Hypocaloric Diet plus Different Training Programs or Physical Activity Recommendations.” Journal of Applied Physiology 118, no. 8 (April 15, 2015). Accessed April 28, 2015. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00928.2014.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Weight Loss.” : Strategies for Success. February 26, 2014. Accessed April 28, 2015.