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New Years Resolutions - Tracking your Results
Wrapping up last week's theme on [New Year's Resolutions] to Eat Less and Exercise More. Yesterday, I talked about [tracking your diet], in this post, I will discuss tools to track your exercise and results.
(Note: I am neither a medical doctor nor registered dietician. I can share with you ideas that have worked for me, that might help you achieve your goals. I strongly suggest you read books and consult with medical experts as necessary.)
Much to the chagrin of my personal trainer, the article convinced me to quit the gym, discontinue her services, and focus on my diet instead. She warned I would gain 10 to 20 pounds within the year. Guess what? I didn't! I actually lost two pounds.
Here are my suggestions:
Be Patient about Weight Loss
When I grew up, we all learned that 3,500 calories equals a pound of body fat, so to lose just one pound per week, you need to eat 500 calories less than you burn every day. Many dieters get impatient, even frustrated, that they are not losing weight fast enough.
Doing more exercise might help you build muscle, reduce stress and ligthen your mood, but it won't raise your metabolism as was once thought, nor even keep it at the levels you were at your prior weight.
But Dr. Thomas has taken the new findings and created a new [Weight Loss Estimator] that takes into account the drop in metabolism.
The example shows a 45-year old male, 200 pounds, eating 500 calories less than his normal 2,791-calorie diet. Over the course of 12 months, the tool estimates losing only 15.8 pounds, much less than one pound per week!
Moderate Exercise can be Healthful
Does this mean you should just give up on exercise altogether? No.
Using my Android smartphone, I like the apps from [VirtuaGym]:
[Fitness Home & Gym]. This app has a variety of workout circuits such as calisthentics and weight-lifting that you can easily follow. An avatar demonstrates how to perform each exercise, and does them with you to keep the pace. Here is an example [2-minute YouTube video] to show the app in action.
[Cardio GPS]. This app is for cardio activities, such as walking, cycling, hiking, jogging and running. The GPS keeps track of your location, determines your speed, and the distance you travelled.
Both apps allow you to upload your activites to their website. This allows you to track which activities you did when, and share your progress with your friends on Facebook.
My favorite low-impact cardio exercise is simply walking. I start up my Cardio GPS app, put on my noise-cancelling headphones, and listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks on my iPod music player. I like the [Freakonomics Podcast] series.
To help me keep my iPod charged and loaded with the latest podcasts, my friends over at [Startech.com] sent me two iPod cables last month for my birthday. Sweet!
The white one on the left for home use is two feet long, and has a 90-degree neck on the connector side so that my iPod can be propped up against a stack of books while I sync up my music and podcasts.
The black one on the right for travel has both iPod and micro-USB connections, so that I can use it with both my iPod and my Samsung Galaxy smartphone!
Determine the Right Metrics to Measure
"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."
-- Peter Drucker
Tracking the right metric is important. Here are some metrics, and why they are useful or not.
Body weight. The problem with measuring pounds is that this combines muscle weight that you want more of, and body fat that you want less of. Dieters who exercise often lose very little weight, some gain. This can be a misleading measure of progress.
Body Mass Index. BMI is [calculated from your weight and height]. What do fellow actors George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Tony Pearson have in common? We all have BMI indexes over 25, and therefore deemed unhealthy. Ha!
Richard Alleyne from the Telegraph has a great article on this. Here is an excerpt:
"A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight and one of 30 or above is considered obese.
People with BMIs between 19 and 22 live longest. Death rates are noticeably higher for people with indexes 25 and above.
BMI does not identify how fat is distributed on the body. Storing more fat on the waist is a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, than storing it mostly elsewhere. "
For me, my doctor is happy with any index less than 27.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM. I do not have any financial interest in, nor have been paid to mention any other companies, products or services on this blog post. Per FTC guidelines, this post can be considered a celebrity endorsement of cables from Startech.com, who provided me the cables at no charge.)
If you have resolved to lose weight, get fit, manage stress, or sleep better, and this series of posts has given you ideas or helped you in any way, I would love to hear about it. Please post a comment below!