Embracing the Fitness Age

featshoe

Advancement in technology can make your basic running on a treadmill more worthwhile. Photo by Kailin Biggerstaff

People say starting is the hardest part, but they are wrong. I found the most difficult part to be sticking to it and pushing through.

Throughout high school, I would make a point to hide my body from the camera, leaning a certain way or standing behind a friend; I never felt comfortable with myself. In the back of my mind, I was always thinking about how everyone around me would look at me differently for being heavier. This is what truly motivated me to start getting in shape last January.

While I went to the gym with my roommate until the end of the semester, I did not have a set regiment in place until May. I would lose a couple pounds but gain it all back out of laziness or my poor diet and habit of burning through M & G by ordering copious amounts of Dominos. When the spring semester ended, I became determined to get healthier. As I dove into this challenge, I realized that my favorite pieces of technology have the capability to help me even further.

Throughout the past five months, I found technologies that supported my turn towards a healthier life. Devices, workout machines and exercise videos all played a role in helping me shed about a fourth of my weight. I learned that every health need is manageable even with life’s demands with today’s technology — the laptop, tablet and smartphone.

In May, I started alone; my workout buddy was my smartphone. A couple weeks in my friends found out my plan to get in shape, and they joined in. While they had their reasons to exercise, it felt great to see that I was not alone in wanting to better myself. I was back home from school, which meant I was around a well-stocked kitchen and had all of my lazy distractions (Super Nintendo) back at my side. I admit that there were days when laziness consumed me, but pulling up my progress on my phone combated those urges many times.

On the left is me back in late December, before I began working out. On the right is me today; same outfit, minus 60 pounds.Photo by Kailin Biggerstaff

On the left is me back in late December, before I began working out. On the right is me today; same outfit, minus 60 pounds.
Photo courtesy of Courland Jeffrey

Advancements in hardware have made it so that just about everything can be portable. A clear example of this innovation is probably sitting right next to you. Smartphones — whether an iPhone, Android or Windows Phone— have standard features that can be used for fitness. For instance, the gyroscope, Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) and headphone jack are just a few of the features that can be utilized to get your butt off the couch.

My Droid RAZR’s gyroscope is frequently employed by certain apps to make my phone a pedometer; logging my steps throughout the day would motivate me to set a higher goal for the next day.

The GPS feature tracks my physical location during jogs and bike rides, which once compiled, reveals my improvement in performance. Music is a huge motivator for me to exercise.  The headphone jack on my smartphone eliminates the need for an mp3 player so my Ke$ha and Macklemore playlist is always ready. While my smartphone can track where I go and how many steps I take, it needs software counterpart to calculate my goals, organize my routine and record my workouts.

Software is at the center of these health technology innovations with smart devices. Hardware must run in unison with some specific software that can be downloaded; these are usually apps that display workout information, notify eating and workout schedules and incorporate point systems to motivate.

I have been dedicated to exercising since May, and I have not spent a penny; free apps are my best friends. There are many similar apps on each of the smartphone markets that offer health information tracking for consumers to use to their advantage.

Your smartphone can not only be your best friend, but your health coach, too.Photo  by Kailin Biggerstaff

Your smartphone is not only be your best friend, but your health coach too.
Photo by Kailin Biggerstaff

My go-to app, and probably the best app, for information logging on Android is the Noom Weight Loss Coach. Once you get past the silly name, Noom becomes your comprehensive app that records your meals (showing how many calories you ate), tracks your exercises and logs your weight in information, all while motivating you by encouraging you to collect their daily Noom points. (Again, it’s silly, but seeing that you advance to level five really does give you a little enthusiasm boost.)

Having a variety of software options can be overwhelming; it was for me. But this competition makes many apps strive for high quality. My recommendation is to try out a few of the highly rated health apps and figure out which one fits your needs accordingly.

While these new advancements in technology have reshaped the exercise world, they cannot replace older forms of health technology. (But they can maybe improve on them.) Treadmills and workout videos are still the pinnacle of my exercise regimen. Treadmills allow for me to stay in my building when I am in a hurry.

Also, with recent technological integration, treadmills can tell you detailed information about your run while it plays television shows on its screen; I get distracted easily, so watching another episode of “Friends” while I run always helps.

My favorite restructuring tool: exercise videos. On-screen exercises have held popularity since the 80s when our favorite unitard-wearing motivator Richard Simmons hit the scene. I use simple workout videos that my good friend let me borrow, but now all you need is a gaming system.

Microsoft has taken this video workout concept a step further by developing a way for users to interact with it. Microsoft’s Kinect is a camera for the Xbox 360 that makes your body the controller; games have been developed that follow your body as you move through the routine. The Kinect can be a more affordable alternative to a personal trainer and it is there to use whenever. I have played the game Dance Central on it, and it is one intense yet entertaining way to get moving.

I used to think that getting a good workout meant just pushing myself.

With this advent in technology I can visualize my goals, figure out my heart rate’s prime zone, stay under my calorie quota and much more, all while juggling my busy life.

In the end, I am proud to say that I have lost 60 pounds over the past five months. Before my weight loss, I could not stand looking in the mirror; but when I take a look today, I finally see me staring back.

When I was feeling lazy, I would see the notification or look at my progress and decide to continue on. Using devices or apps encourage better continuation towards your goal. If you have already devoted time and money to something, you do not want to let that effort go to waste. Seeing that you met your goal or that you jogged a little farther than you ever have before is an awesome personal achievement, and today’s technology lets you know that you are on your way.

Although technology can act as our personal trainer, we still need support from those around us. Working out with friends is my other piece of advice. If you cannot get yourself motivated in any way, think of the next workout as a hang out with your buddy.

Technology has helped change my life for the better. I hope it can help change yours too.

 

Reach the writer at cejeffre@asu.edu or via Twitter @Court_Jeffrey