Los­ing Weight with Ap­ple Watch

A ver­sion of this piece orig­i­nally ap­peared on 9to5­mac.com.

iPhone Life Magazine - - Front Page - By Zac Hall

On New Year's Day last year, I de­cided to start eat­ing healthy, ex­er­cis­ing daily, and fill­ing the Ac­tiv­ity Rings on my Ap­ple Watch as a way to get in shape. I broke my New Year's res­o­lu­tion by Jan­uary 4, but I started again on April 1 and ul­ti­mately lost over 50 pounds in 2016. The Ap­ple Watch didn't lose the weight for me—it took a lot of ded­i­ca­tion and life­style changes—but Ap­ple's wear­able has ab­so­lutely been an ef­fec­tive mo­ti­va­tional coach that has pushed me to­ward my goal of be­ing more ac­tive. Be­low, I'll share what I've learned along my jour­ney.

Step 1: Ex­er­cise with Ac­tiv­ity & Work­out App

Achiev­ing my weight loss goal didn't hap­pen overnight. Los­ing the first 10 pounds was the eas­i­est; then it got tougher, but cre­at­ing a work­out rou­tine with the Ap­ple Watch helped dra­mat­i­cally.

The Ap­ple Watch shows your progress to­ward your daily Move, Ex­er­cise, and Stand goals in a vis­ual dis­play called Ac­tiv­ity Rings. Move mea­sures how many ac­tive calo­ries you've burned based on heart rate and ac­celerom­e­ter data, Ex­er­cise re­ports how many min­utes your heart rate has been el­e­vated from an ac­tiv­ity as sim­ple as a brisk walk, and Stand tracks whether or not you've stood up and moved around for at least one minute of ev­ery hour you're awake.

Move, Ex­er­cise, and Stand are rep­re­sented by three rings that close when you com­plete a goal. Move is a cus­tom­iz­a­ble goal that you can change at any time, Ex­er­cise is a fixed 30-minute goal (but you don't have to work out all at once), and Stand is also a fixed goal of 12 hours per day.

Us­ing Ac­tiv­ity Rings as a vis­ual in­di­ca­tor of progress through­out each day has been su­per ef­fec­tive for me. I've tried other fit­ness track­ers be­fore, but noth­ing has proved as friendly and mo­ti­va­tional as the Ap­ple Watch. Part of what made the Ap­ple Watch work for me was that it had ap­peal out­side of ac­tiv­ity track­ing: it's a nice watch, it has Siri and Ap­ple Pay, and it's closely in­te­grated with the iPhone. I wore mine for about a year be­fore ac­tu­ally tak­ing its fit­ness track­ing fea­tures se­ri­ously.

Step 2: Track Calo­ries with MyFit­nessPal

Reach­ing my weight loss goal took a com­bi­na­tion of both diet and ex­er­cise. Food track­ing with Ap­ple's HealthKit re­ally helped. Di­et­ing has been much tougher than ex­er­cise for me, but I don't think I would be mo­ti­vated to do one with­out do­ing the other. Be­cause I was log­ging work­outs with the Ap­ple Watch and com­plet­ing my Ac­tiv­ity Rings, I felt mo­ti­vated to im­prove my diet as well.

“Los­ing the first 10 pounds was the eas­i­est; then it got tougher, but cre­at­ing a work­out rou­tine with the Ap­ple Watch helped dra­mat­i­cally.”

“Di­et­ing has been much tougher than ex­er­cise for me, but I don’t think I would be mo­ti­vated to do one with­out do­ing the other.”

I used MyFit­nessPal to log my meals. The app helps you set a daily calo­rie goal and au­to­mat­i­cally sub­tracts calo­ries burned from ex­er­cise us­ing data mea­sured by your Ap­ple Watch. If your goal is to con­sume 2,000 calo­ries per day and you eat 2,300 calo­ries in a day and burn 350 calo­ries from ex­er­cise, then you've still hit your goal.

Thanks to HealthKit com­pat­i­bil­ity, you can share data that you en­ter into MyFit­nessPal with Ap­ple's Health app, which can be­come a wealth of in­for­ma­tion as you col­lect more data.

I've been a junk food ad­dict for 25 years (grow­ing up on South­ern cui­sine hasn't helped), but in April, I gave up soda and sweet tea for wa­ter and unsweet­ened tea and started drink­ing my morn­ing cof­fee black. I also traded snack­ing and over­sized fast food meals for con­sis­tent and more con­sid­ered break­fasts, lunches, and din­ners.

The trick to di­et­ing for me has been to go easy on my­self. I used to eat junk food all the time and oc­ca­sion­ally have a healthy meal, but that didn't make me healthy. Now I try to eat bet­ter ev­ery day and en­joy­ing junk food in mod­er­a­tion doesn't de­fine my diet.

Meal log­ging sounds like a lot of work, but you prob­a­bly eat the same foods rou­tinely, which makes the process pretty sim­ple. MyFit­nessPal and sim­i­lar apps also have nice data­bases of nu­tri­tional in­for­ma­tion for lots of foods. This has helped me be more thought­ful about my eat­ing habits. If I couldn't put a num­ber on my eat­ing habits, I might se­verely over­es­ti­mate how much I'm eat­ing and diet all wrong. In­stead, I can see when I have room for a Poké­mon Go frappe with­out miss­ing my goal. It's key for me to be able to gauge how much ef­fort I should make with­out think­ing I have to do some­thing un­sus­tain­able to be health­ier.

Step 3: Weigh In with a Smart Scale

I've also found that weigh­ing reg­u­larly has been very mo­ti­vat­ing. While weigh­ing weekly is usu­ally rec­om­mended, I like step­ping on a scale daily so I can view the most data and see pat­terns (up and down but over time way down). I wake up ev­ery morn­ing, put on my Ap­ple Watch, weigh in, then use that num­ber to ei­ther feel good about my progress or push my­self a lit­tle more while keep­ing the big-pic­ture progress in mind. I started with a ba­sic scale and en­tered data man­u­ally each day; then I up­graded a few months ago to a smart scale that adds the data au­to­mat­i­cally us­ing HealthKit.

Step 4: Build a Streak

I hon­estly never thought I could lose 50 pounds when I started in April—es­pe­cially by the end of the year—but us­ing the Ap­ple Watch to build a rou­tine and quan­tify my ef­fort helped make it pos­si­ble. Start­ing a streak in the Ac­tiv­ity app es­pe­cially helped me keep the mo­men­tum go­ing.

When my wife and I drove 15 hours to Washington D.C. in Au­gust, I de­cided ahead of time that break­ing my streak for a va­ca­tion would be fine. We ended up driv­ing overnight both ways and shared driv­ing du­ties so I was able to com­plete my Ac­tiv­ity Rings dur­ing the day with­out break­ing my streak.

While I wouldn't rec­om­mend try­ing too hard to keep a streak go­ing, I have to ad­mit that the ef­fort on those two days pushed me to keep go­ing on days when I didn't ac­tu­ally have an ex­cuse to slow down.

Step 5: Try New Work­outs

Ex­plor­ing new work­outs and rou­tines with the Ap­ple Watch has also been a blast. I started out run­ning, but I wasn't good at it and de­cided it wasn't for me. Ap­ple's Work­out app can track el­lip­tical work­outs, so I bought a used ma­chine for my home of­fice and made us­ing it my daily ex­er­cise. I pur­chased a bike to add out­door cy­cling to my rou­tine just be­cause the Ap­ple Watch sup­ported the work­out and I wanted some va­ri­ety in my rou­tine.

I re­vis­ited run­ning a lit­tle at a time be­fore it be­came rou­tine. I started run­ning half a mile at a time (with a rest or two along the way), then grad­u­ated to a mile at a time be­fore adding a 5K run ev­ery Sun­day to my sched­ule, which is one of the high­lights of my week. I tested swim track­ing when the Ap­ple Watch Series 2 first launched in Septem­ber and plan to in­cor­po­rate swim­ming into my ex­er­cise rou­tine this sum­mer.

Step 6: Share Your Progress

I've also found shar­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence with oth­ers along the way to be ben­e­fi­cial. Ap­ple's Ac­tiv­ity Shar­ing is fun to use with friends and fam­ily who use the Ap­ple Watch too. Talk­ing about my goals and progress openly has helped me stay ac­count­able.

Clos­ing Thoughts

I'm still a few pounds away from where I want to be, and I want to ex­plore new work­outs and ba­sic mus­cle-build­ing next. The Ap­ple Watch has helped me gain con­fi­dence that I can ac­com­plish my fit­ness goals in a way that I didn't think was pos­si­ble be­fore. Go­ing from be­ing in­ac­tive to ex­er­cis­ing ev­ery day can be a chal­leng­ing tran­si­tion. After a lot of failed starts in the past, I can now say that ex­er­cis­ing feels like an es­sen­tial part of each day.

Gam­ing health with easy-to-cap­ture met­rics and achiev­able short- and long-term goals has been an ef­fec­tive ap­proach for me. I would have had no idea where to start with­out tech­nol­ogy as a coach. The Ap­ple Watch has tremen­dously helped mo­ti­vate me to change my life for the bet­ter, and I'm hap­pier for it to­day. For any­one em­bark­ing on a sim­i­lar jour­ney with the Ap­ple Watch, best of luck on your goals.

“After a lot of failed starts in the past, I can now say that ex­er­cis­ing feels like an es­sen­tial part of each day.”

Zac’s fam­ily photo in De­cem­ber 2014 (top) and De­cem­ber 2016.

Zac weighed 211 on April 1 and 157 on De­cem­ber 31.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.