Chief Physician, Dr. Bo’s Diet
For many of us, using our smartphone, iPad, Xbox, and computer has become second nature. We rely heavily on our electronics to carry us through the workweek, entertain our children, and help us relax. However, technology has an emerging new benefit: weight loss. Many new apps, devices, and games are being specifically designed to make eating healthy and working out easy, fun, and effective. There are many options available to help you kick-start a healthier lifestyle. From free to frivolous, here are my top technology picks:
MyFitnessPal. This free and user-friendly website allows subscribers to easily track their caloric intake. A growing food database of almost three million items allows you to easily calculate the calories in almost any food and store them in your personalized profile. In addition, you can even enter and store your own recipes and diet staples for easy future access. There are also apps for your mobile devices and smartphones that make it as simple as possible to journal your consumption in real time, which many of us fail to do. Food journaling can be one of the most successful tools to aid in weight loss or weight management, but only when done in real time. Trying to recall every nibble after a long exhausting day is generally a difficult feat. Seeing and storing your daily nutrition choices will help to give you a better handle on what, when, why, and how much you eat.
Fitbit One. This multitasking gadget, about the size of a beeper (remember those?), not only counts steps taken, distance traveled, stairs climbed, and calories burned, but it also tracks your sleep patterns to aid in better rest for increased benefits and results. As a small bonus, it has a built in alarm clock that will gently and silently wake you with a gentle vibration. What I like most about the Fitbit One is that it not only tracks the duration of your sleep, but the quality as well. Each night’s rest is given a sleep score based on the length of time, as well as the number of times you wake during that period. Sleep is the most commonly discounted contributor to weight loss, and this device helps users remember that it’s not only the activity you expend daily that is important, but also the rest you redeem nightly. The information tracked by this tiny device is wirelessly synced to your computer in real time, appearing in clear graphs and charts to help you stay educated and motivated.
HAPIfork. The market has more than its fair share of gizmos and apps to help you track calories burned, and even log those consumed. But what about tracking the way you consume those calories? Enter the HAPIfork. Introduced in January 2013, this eating utensil is poised to be the next big thing in weight management. With built in sensors to track the pace of your bites, this electronic fork sends you a gentle vibration to let you know when you are eating too fast. The fork’s designers built it based on the proven science that shoveling your food too quickly results in higher caloric intake. The fork is designed to train you to take smaller bites and slow down in order to trim down. Since the fork isn’t available just yet, another piece of advice I give patients is to eat with an appetizer fork, not an entrée fork. This small trick will help eat less food per bite and ultimately slow your meal down.
Xbox + Kinect. With its emphasis on fun and fitness, this pricey console may be just the thing to get you and your family moving. The Kinect system uses your body as the controller, making you an active participant in the games you’re playing. Once you see the workout you get, you may actually find yourself encouraging your kids to play videogames. With games including sports like football and skiing to Zumba and dance classes, you will be able to work up a sweat in your own home and have fun in the process. More recently, Kinect partnered with Nike for an interactive personal training program. The results are an effective program that tracks your progress, including strength and endurance, from day one. Trainers provide you with motivation and direct feedback regarding your movements and form, giving you tips for improvement. While the device and games are definitely on the expensive side, if used regularly, they can substitute the need for a personal trainer or a trip to the gym . . . but that’s a big if. Just like you get too busy to go to the gym, you will let this item collect dust in your living room unless you schedule time to exercise. Put your workouts into your calendar and treat them as if you are paying for them each time. You wouldn’t likely ditch your trainer if you had to shell out cash each time you did, so remember that when you work out at home.
While new advances in technology make weight-loss tracking devices more accessible and easier to use, the one thing they can’t do is make you use them. With everything in the marketplace, there are still no tools to do the work for you. The same archaic need for human intervention exists, so even if you buy the products or sign up for the programs, the key is still using them. v
Dr. Bo Rosenblat is a board-certified medical doctor and Chief Physician of Dr. Bo’s Diet Center with office locations in Hewlett and Manhasset. For more information about Dr. Bo’s Diet program, please call 516-284-8248 or visit www.DrBosDiet.com.