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Weight Loss Diaries: How Tech Can Get You Fit


By Prev Info - January 17, 2023

weight loss secrets

Big changes were on the horizon for me early in 2022. I had just put in notice to quit my full-time job to pursue a freelancing career. I had also decided to open my own business -- a co-working space -- and to try to reinvigorate the tech atmosphere in my hometown. Neither of these tasks were going to be easy. But I've never been one to shy away from a challenge.

What I didn't know was that my life was going to change in one additional way throughout the course of the year; I was going to lose a substantial amount of weight.

The Journey Begins

If you had asked me last year if I felt like I was overweight, or fat, I would have laughed and said "no." I grew up as the "skinny kid" on the block who could eat as much as I wanted, without fear of gaining an ounce. This was still how I viewed my adult-self in the mirror at the age of 29. But something happened when I returned from the Consumer Electronics Show and started reviewing pictures of me at various events, and it started to sink in -- I was overweight and I needed to shed a few pounds.

But how? A diet is intimidating to someone like me who isn't fond of any fruits and vegetables outside of the occasional orange. And exercise takes time and commitment -- both of which I felt like I was tapped out of.

Then, without vocalizing my concerns, my wife approached me about wanting to join Weight Watchers (WW). I listened to her carefully crafted pitch as to why it would work for her, and how it would impact the rest of the family (we have three kids, who were all under the age of 4 at the time) not doing the diet. I encouraged her to sign up, and so she did that very night.

After watching my wife use the program for a few weeks, I realized how friendly the Weight Watchers program would be for someone like me. You literally can still eat everything you like, including a greasy hamburgers and fries, as long as it's in smaller portions.

Portion control was a new approach to eating for me.

So I signed up. My wife and I were going to do this together.

Joining the Modern Weight Watchers

Traditionally, Weight Watchers involved going to meetings, weighing in and talking with other members about your success and struggles. As the world has become more mobile, so has the program. Now you can manage your entire program directly from your smartphone, or join the community forums on the web site should you need the support. I started with the smartphone approach.

I downloaded the Weight Watchers mobile app. The app is a tool to help you count points, track your meals, and log your weight loss. The account was easy to set up, simply requiring basic information about me. I quickly learned what foods are worth more points, and what foods are "point friendly," all by using the app on the phone. In the first week alone I lost 5 pounds.

As someone who spends a great deal of time on a computer, and thus the Internet, I'm sure you can understand when I say I lose interest easily. It was bound to happen with this diet. So, to stay motivated, I turned to the exact thing that often distracts me: Technology.

When out shopping, I would make sure to use the Weight Watchers Barcode Scanner app to scan the barcodes of items I wanted to buy. Once you scan an item, you're immediately given the point total per serving. This made grocery shopping while on a diet extremely simple.

The Tech That Helped Me Get Fit

The Fitbit and iPhone were just some of the tools that Jason used to lose 40 pounds.

By the end of the first 3-months, I had lost 18 pounds. The reaction I was getting from friends and family members was surprising. I was feeling better, looking better, and I didn't want to stop. So I decided to step up my game by buy a bike and riding to and from work.

Riding a bike was a way of saving money on gas, but it also introduce some exercise into my life. But let's be honest, riding a bike can get boring -- unless you have stats to back up your progress. Enter Endomondo.

weight loss secrets

Endomondo is a free iOS or Android app that tracks a long list of different types of exercise. If you're running or biking, it creates and saves your routes using GPS from your smartphone. It will create a map of your journey, give you time updates, and encourage you to best your time from yesterday. I used this app daily on my trek to and from work, always comparing my trip time and wanting to better it the next go.

An app like Endomondo was an interactive way to motivate myself using something I already had: My smartphone. I feel for my distant ancestors who had to carry a stop watch, a paper map, a pen, and a pocket full of quarters.

Once the summer heat made it unbearable to peddle around town on a bike, I started looking for another way to motivate myself to keep moving. About this time, the Fitbit One launched, which was like the older fitness tracking gadget, but it also included Bluetooth sync. For me, perfect timing.

For just under $100 I picked up the Fitbit One which counts steps, estimates calories burned, tracks sleep quality, and a few other random stats daily. I also wanted something to better track my weight; keeping a mental note of what I weighed yesterday just wasn't working anymore. Before you ask why I didn't just write my weight down in a log or journal, it's because I don't own a log or journal. My brain thinks in digital terms for everything.

Fitbit also makes a Wi-Fi connected scale, called the Aria, that integrates with your activity monitor and brings the data together into both the mobile app and Web site. The Aria retails for $129.

With the Fitbit One you can set daily step goals, add friends who also have a Fitbit, and compete with them. If you want to, you can also use the Fitbit app to track your calories, set daily calorie goals, and make sure your burned calories exceed consumed calories. After all, that's how you lose weight, right?

The ability to see a chart of when I was active, down to the hour, was a huge motivator for me to become more active. And realizing what foods I had eaten the night before a bad weigh-in (combining data from Weight Watchers and Fitbit) was an eye opener on more than one occasion.

The Results

There were two factors that directly contributed to my ultimate success with the program:

1. My wife. Without having someone to suffer through the dietary changes with, I'm not sure I would have stuck with it.

2. The aide of technology. Tech took something I had always been afraid of trying, and made it both easy and interactive for me. Without the digital interaction--indeed, the gamification--of my diet and exercise, I wouldn't have lasted more than a few weeks.

While technology did play a big role, so did doing the small things you hear and read about but often disregard as nonsense. For example: Using smaller plates to cut down your portion size really works. I also got in the habit of parking further away so I'd have further to walk, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. These seemingly minute adjustments all add up to big results.

When all was said and done, I had lost a total of 40 pounds over 12 months. Not too bad for someone who wasn't overweight, right?






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