You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure

Testimonial by Fitdigits User Richard M.

I was a mess. My cholesterol and triglycerides were off the charts. My doctor told me that if I did not make a change to my lifestyle I was about become a diabetic. He upped my meds and told me come back in three months for a follow-up.

Richard working out with Kettlebells

Knowing I had to make a change I began to look for ways to change my diet and to begin some sort of physical fitness activity. I had at one time walked off a weight gain and considered it this time too, but it was December and I live in blizzard country. Ironically while thinking my options through when coming back from taking my dogs on a hike I drove past a new gym in my town that uses kettlebells. I stopped in, the trainer there told me that working with resistance was a great way to get fit. That working out with kettlebells, you get two workouts for the price of one, both resistance training and cardio. He also said the first one was free to I decided to try it out. I also cut all wheat out of my diet in order to get my carb intake and high triglyceride count under control. My goal was to have things on their way to “normal” for the three month follow-up.

I’m a business process guy in my professional life, and I decided that I would take a business process approach to my health and fitness. I believe that in business that “You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure.” So I started a food diary, bought a heart rate monitor, and downloaded Fitdigits and began tracking my heart rate and calorie burns during workouts. I quickly realized that a heart rate monitor without Fitdigits is just a strap across your chest. With the assistance of Fitdigits’s Advanced Cardio Assessment, I am confident that my heart rate and calorie burn are as accurate as possible. The ability to “see” my workouts and progress is amazing.

Here’s an example: This was a workout I did recently doing a kettlebell ladder, increasing a bell size each set after working for 8 minutes each with a 30 second rest between sets. Fitdigits captured this workout perfectly. As you can see at the load increased, so did my HRR. The last 10 minutes or so are of me rowing and then doing some cool down stretching.

As I said, you can’t manage what you don’t measure, and at the end of my initial three months of working out I had taken my triglyceride numbers from the upper stratosphere down to normal and off medication. My cholesterol numbers had dropped significantly too and my medication was halved and in another three months I would come off all meds. So within six months I went from a candidate for diabetes to having normal blood-work. Oh ya, and I lost 40 pounds and dropped my body fat percentage by 25%.

So take my advice and measure what you want to manage fitness-wise. They say that weight loss happens 70% in the kitchen and 30% in the gym. I can tell you that I am making the most out of my gym time thanks to Fitdigits.

5 Ways to Get Your Metabolism Moving

Twas 5 nights before Christmas, when all through the land
Not a person was exercising, no workouts were planned.
The ham was carved, candy eaten without care,
10 pounds later we complain life isn’t fair.

This holiday season, before you snuggle into your bed,
Make sure to have a Holiday plan in your head.
Fitdigits is sharing the year’s best fitness tips,
To help you avoid adding winter weight to your hips.

5th Day- 5 Ways to Get Your Metabolism Moving

Most people know the basic principles of how to lose weight. If you eat right and exercise, you will eventually lose weight. While it is true there are no shortcuts to losing weight, there are ways to accelerate the process. One of these ways is to keep your metabolism firing on all cylinders. Here are 5 tips to keep your metabolism moving:

1. Make Sure to Eat!
One mistake people make when trying to lose weight fast is that they look at nutrition as black and white. If calories consumed are less than calories burned, than the weight will just melt off, some believe you are better off just skipping a few meals. This is a very unhealthy approach and often short lived. What you eat and when you eat are very important. The key to losing weight is to keep your metabolism moving as fast as possible and eating 5 (or more) small meals daily to put your metabolism into hyper-drive. Breakfast is the most important, as it will wake your body from its 8-10 hour fast (break the fast=breakfast) and get your blood and metabolism pumping. For a five meals a day plan, Livestrong outlines both healthy and delicious choices.

2. Overdose on Green tea

Drink Green Tea to Increase Your Metabolism and Burn Fat

Green tea is a gift handed down from the heavens to save us all from the perils of poor health…it is the golden elixir that can cure illness with one sip..it is the liquid embodiment of all that is good…

Hyperbole aside, green tea is one of the best substances you can put into your body. According to WebMD, Green tea is loaded with antioxidants and recent studies show that green tea can help battle cancer, reduce your risk of coronary disease, and battles obesity. Not only will the caffeine help speed up your metabolism, but properties found in green tea will lower blood pressure and cholesterol. WebMD goes on to say,

“Taken altogether, the evidence certainly suggests that incorporating at least a few cups of green tea every day will positively affect your health,” says Diane McKay, PhD, a Tufts University scientist who studies antioxidants. “It’s not going to cure anything and it shouldn’t be consumed as a drug, but it can complement the rest of the diet.”

Dr. McKay, that is good enough for me!

3. Gulp Down Ice Water
Drinking plenty of water is a great way to control your appetite. The next time you are hungry, try drinking 20 ounces of water and then see how hungry you are! According to Livestrong, drinking cold or ice water will actually help you burn calories and speed your metabolism.

As most people know, the human bodies’ temperature is 98.6, and everything we put into our bodies have to be converted to this temperature. Therefore, when you drink very cold water, your body must expend energy to heat it up. Drinking ice water will have your body burning calories and losing weight without expending additional physical effort.

4. Spice Things Up

Add Hot Sauce to Any Meal To Burn More Calories and Suppress Your Appetite

Adding some hot sauce to your meals is a great way to get your metabolism into overdrive. According to Fitday.com,

“Studies have shown that a spicy meal, such as a bowl of chili, can provide a temporary rise in metabolism of about 8% greater than a person’s typical metabolic rate.”

Along with increasing your metabolism, spicy food has also been shown be an appetite suppressant. So sprinkle some Cholula on your eggs, Tapatio on your sandwich, Tabasco on some popcorn or Sriracha on a chicken breast.

5. Pump Some Iron
Lifting weights is effective for weight loss because not only will your metabolism be working hard during activity, but will continue to burn calories long after your workout is over. According to AskMen.com,

“Cardiovascular exercises will raise muscle metabolism during the activity and for a short time after the exercise session. Weight training, on the other hand, will raise your muscle metabolism during the exercise session — and for a long time after the exercise session. Some high intensity trainers have even seen their metabolism rise for several days following their training session.”

With that being said, do not ditch cardio entirely, as it is an important aspect to staying fit. Merely mix in some weight training to optimize your metabolism.

Josh Lost 200+ lbs With the Help of Fitdigits!

Testimonial by Fitdigits User Josh L.

I am an unabashed Who Dat (New Orleans Saints fan, to clarify for those who don’t know what that is) with a very French last name that has South Louisiana written all over it. I love being from the bayous of Louisiana, and I’m proud to be part of such a rich culture. The history, the people, and the football are all things we are extremely proud of down here. But if you polled the rest of the world, the one thing that would stand out as our claim to fame would have to be the food. We learn at a very early age how to make gumbo and jambalaya, boil crawfish, pot-fry rabbit, fry seafood and just generally excite your salivary glands. Whether it’s tailgating at a Saints game, or feeding a camp full of folks, we do food.

All this attention to food served me well in my younger days while I was still a participant in the sport I grew up loving, football. I weighed about 320 lbs at the time and, as a lineman, it was welcomed heft. But as my days on gridiron ended, and I kept my heft-centric diet, I got bigger, and bigger. I topped out at over 400 lbs. about 2 years ago. I got to a point where I felt concerned about my health (duh! I know, but down here I was just another big guy…which has a lot to do with why coronary artery disease is so common here). So I made a commitment to myself: we are going to drop some damn poundage!

As I followed through on this commitment to myself, and weight began to come off, I began to feel better, lighter, even athletic. And, I wanted to use this rediscovered athleticism. But how?

My wife and I spend our weekends in New Orleans. We love being in the city, and there is a race there called the Crescent City Classic (a.k.a. The CCC) that appealed to me. But it’s a 10k! That’s 6.1 miles! After some initial trepidation, I sold myself on the idea that I could get it done. This is when I began searching for an app to help me get started. I went through several, but couldn’t find one that really satisfied me once I was past the initial phase of starting. I didn’t know what I wanted, I just knew what I had wasn’t it. Then, one day I downloaded Fitdigits.

Everything about this app I liked! The dashboard was brightly colored, and easy to read mid-run. I loved the voice that would talk to me to let me know how far I had been, how many calories I had burned, how long I had been running, and my current and average pace. And the fact that I could customize how and when she (my Fitdigits voice is female, also a choice) spoke was just another thing I didn’t realize I wanted, but once I had it I loved it. This was awesome! Having these tangible results helped me to really hone in on the specifics of how my new body was performing. In tracking and reviewing my results, I was able gauge my gains in running. I barley finished that first 10k, but I did, with a time of 1:50:00.

As the pounds came off, I wanted more. And having these results enticed me to research, and compare myself to runners who do it for a living, just to see. In doing that, I had a food epiphany: if I want my Fitdigits results to get better, I should adopt the plant based lifestyle that every single runner I read about has. And being part of a heavy-drinking, heft-inducing culture, this was difficult to say the least. But Fitdigits was quantifying my efforts, my results. And as I saw the results get better and better, I wanted to be a runner even more! It dawned on me that I could, at the age of 34 be an athlete again. Football is not the only sport on the planet. Blaspheme!, right? I know, but I was changing my whole everything. I could still enjoy my football as a spectator in the New Orleans Superdome on Sundays, and be a actual participant in my new sport, running, the rest of the time.

My new nutrition and lifestyle, along with the tangible results I have recorded with my Fitdigits app., have made me into a runner. I no longer resemble that 320lbs 10k finisher hopeful, or that 320lbs lineman of my youth. I am now a lean, mean 204lbs athlete (I feel more like an athlete now than I did in college playing football) whose new participation sport is running. I completed my first half-marathon on October 12th this year with a time of 2:13:10. In my training for that half-marathon (the Jazz Half, btw. The results are on their website- and my Fitdigits app, of course.), I have inspired others by sharing my Fitdigits results on social media to begin running as well. The first thing I usually say is “get the Fitdigits app, and just start running” when someone asks how to get started.

Being able to quantify my efforts, share, and exhibit marked improvement along the way has been priceless for me in this journey. I am training for my first marathon now, and I post my results of my runs almost daily. One can just flick through my Facebook page or Instagram profile and see from where I’ve come. Fitdigits has empowered me in ways I never thought an app could.

Thank you!

Confessions of a Daily Weight Taker

Author Christopher Means

Part II of “Should I weigh myself everyday

OK, so maybe you shouldn’t weigh yourself every day. That’s the premise many trainers use, and the subject of another blog post here. But I lean the other way… so I wanted to give yet another perspective. It may not work for you, but it does for me.

You see, I’ve been a distance runner / jogger for many years. That used to be enough to keep my weight in check. However, slowly but surely, over the years the pounds kept adding on. This year I finally said enough! I was ready to stop the progression.

I set a goal to lose 10 pounds.

Set a Goal via MVP ProgramWhen I set a goal, which you can now do with the Fitdigits apps, I want to see progress. I want to understand how things change.

I started weighing myself regularly. It started as just a couple times a week, but sometimes got to the every day habit. More than a few times, I weighed myself multiple times a day – sometimes to see how my weight fluctuated due to workouts, food, salt, etc. Let me tell you – it can fluctuate a LOT! I had a full 8-pound fluctuation in one day after starting the day with a nice workout, but ending with a massive sushi splurge (salt and carb/protein bomb anyone?). Overall, however, I take my weight first thing in the morning after a little coffee and the bathroom. Sound familiar?

I didn’t have a date I wanted to lose the weight by, but over time, I did start to see some trends. When I pigged out on ice cream and sweets late at night, that had a detrimental effect on my weight in the morning, sometimes up to 2 pounds or more. Ugh. No more chips and salsa late night? How sad!

I also started to realize that after a short workout (3 miles / 25 minutes or so) I’d lose a pound or two. All water obviously, a good reason why we always talk about the need to hydrate after workouts! It could be as many as 5-6 pounds on a long run (12+ miles).

Fat and lean mass % also fluctuates regularly. A couple percent here and there on a given day or even intra-day isn’t unusual. I’ve never seen really large (5% or more) fluctuations over a limited time period, but certainly a few % here and there in a given day or even week.

In the end, weighing myself every day, even multiple times a day, helped. I recognized that:

  • Fluctuations happen. Over a single day, hours, or even a workout. And they can be significant.
  • Late night snacks were killing the rest of my efforts. I can still remember the first couple nights where I told myself “no – no snacks tonight!” Had I not seen how they were killing my morning weight, I might not have cut them out.
  • More consistent, lower miles/time efforts worked better for me than longer, but less often, workouts.
  • Being active during the day helps a bit too – walks help (Fitbit helps with this, though Fitdigits Walks are another great way to track). In a single day, not so much, but over a week, it helps. Over a month, it helps a lot!

Overall, don’t sweat the small stuff. Big stuff, when you know what big stuff actually is, and what it means – that is reason to sweat. But sweat through effort and self control, not through stress, especially over weight. Oh – and try not to pig out too often on sushi or other favs –and limit the late night snacks. That helps too.  10 pounds, and less of a stomach, are mighty fine rewards.

Weight loss

PS – most weight scales that measure body fat also have a setting for “normal” and “athlete” – if you ever want to see that you have much lower body fat, simply set it to “athlete” – that will knock quite a few % of body fat with the flip of a switch! You got to love that!

5 Ways to Make Your New Years Resolutions Stick

Another year has passed us by, and with the beginning of 2013 comes an opportunity to start anew. Sure, you gained 7 pounds last year and saw a spike in blood pressure, but this year is different. Just like last year was different. And the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that…

So every year is going to be THE year to make a change. What can you do to make sure that this year is actually the year? Here are 5 tips to make your New Years Resolutions stick.

1. Start Slow
Often resolution makers start out the New Years by going to the gym 6 days a week or going on an extreme diet. However, that is not a good way to create long lasting change that will last all 365 days of the year and beyond. Start slow. In January, make it a goal to go to the gym twice a week, and slowly add more days as you go along. Try to make your new behavior a deep engrained habit, not just a fad.

2. Give Yourself Some Days Off
Give yourself a break every once in a while. For example, you are at a party and there are a lot of the four C’s: Cookies, Cake Ice Cream, and Candy. However, you swore to yourself you were going to cut down on sweets in 2013. Well, you said you would cut down on sweets, not eliminate them. So instead of abstaining in the early going, just have a cookie or two and use moderation. It is not realistic to operate at full throttle for the entire year.

3. Look For Easy Ways To Help Reach Your Goal
For a lot of people, losing weight is a constant struggle. So why not look for some shortcuts? There are some great ways to speed up your metabolism that do not require much extra effort, such as drinking green tea or putting hot sauce on your food. For more details, read here

4. Make Your Resolutions Public
Use the power of social media to embarrass yourself into reaching your goal. Post on Facebook or other social media your goals, and make it known to your friends and family what you have planned for 2013. Post constant updates, share your workouts, and reiterate to your friends that if you fall off the wagon to quickly point the finger of judgement in your direction. Nothing like being bullied into getting healthy!

5. Set Checkpoints
Make sure to have 2-12 checkpoints throughout the year as a means to stay on target. For example, if your goal is to lose ten pounds in 2013, check in at the end of February, and if you have lost at least 1.7 pounds you are right on track! This is a great way to make goals seem less daunting by segmenting them into nice, easily digestable chunks.