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It happens every year. Every single year when New Year’s Day rolls around and everybody starts evaluating their lives now that the shiny new year is upon is, I promise myself that I will get fit, lose weight and try to be a bit happier in my own skin. I don’t do too badly: I join a gym, I obsessively count my calories and I lose a few pounds. But as soon as I reach that point where I’m working hard and the scales aren’t reflecting it, I give up and go back to enjoying a carefree life… until the next time where my jeans don’t quite fit right.
So this year, I’ve decided to spend money on something that will watch my every move, that will tell me off when I’m sat at my desk staring at my laptop for far too long or watching TV – I invested in a fitness band.
Fitness bands are becoming increasingly popular amongst the general population, particularly as companies start to glamourise them as more – but they’re not a new phenomenon. There are a wide variety of products out there, such as watches that can map your runs by using GPS, or calculate your calorie burn during a workout by monitoring your heart rate. Even a simple pedometer can track your steps so you know just how active you are. So why spend a chunk of money on a fitness band like the Nike Fuelband, the Fitbit or (my personal choice) the Jawbone UP?
If you’re competitive like me, a fitness band might be what you need to encourage you to be more active. Most fitness bands allow you to create support ‘team’ and see what your friends are doing via an app, so that you can motivate each other into taking more steps each day and chastise if one of you has eaten a few too many chocolate biscuits . It also sets you challenges tailored to your daily activity, for example, for me it challenged me to walk 13,500 steps after assessing a few days of my movement, calculating how many steps I walked daily and adding a bit extra to create a goal. Thus, despite having sore legs and blistered feet from too much walking, I felt the need to beat my fitness band and managed to complete the challenge, and then some. Pathetic? Maybe. Motivating? Definitely.
Better yet, fitness trackers don’t always deal exclusively with weight loss, instead, many of these fitness trackers monitor every aspect of your daily life. It encourages you to make notes of what you’re eating – and take photos to share if that’s your thing – it wants you to log how much fluid you’re drinking, it’ll count your steps and measure your activity in a standard day and finally, it tracks how much sleep you’re getting and suggests ways you could improve the quality of your sleep. The point of Jawbone, and most fitness bands, is to encourage a holistic healthier lifestyle, which is why it looks at everything your body does and then offers suggestions on how to lead a better life. For me, it knows I can spend most of my day at my desk studying, so it lets me choose a ‘period of inactivity’ time and vibrates to remind me to take a walk if I’ve been sendentary too long. For my boyfriend, he doesn’t get enough sleep due to late working hours and early mornings, so it challenges him to get to bed at a decent hour – which might seem stupid and a little controlling, but sometimes you need that nudge to encourage you to treat your body better.
So, whilst I’ve only had my tracker for a week now and I’ve already lost a couple of pounds, I feel like this year I might actually take the plunge and start living healthier. Only time will tell. But I think the most important thing about gadgets like this is that they emphasise that every small step is important in attaining your fitness and weight loss goals – even if it does push you into taking 13,500 of those small steps all at once. If you have the money to spend, it might be worth investing in something that will force you to evaluate your body and motivate you to alter your life and your health; rather than spending the first two weeks of January on a juice diet and buying a gym membership that will be forgotten and collecting dust by March.