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Health Watch By Robin Stoloff

that I don’t have to wear the heart rate chest strap. It also monitors my heart rate, steps, miles, and calories throughout the day. In addition, it vibrates every hour during my work day to remind me to get up and move. It also tracks my sleep, which is a hugely underrated and important piece of overall health. Both the Apple Watch and Vivofit sync with an app on my cell phone or computer, so I can see everything by numbers, percentages, and in graph form. Most trackers have that feature. In addition to the activity tracker, I also use the “Lose It” app to track my daily food intake. For anyone who has not kept a food journal, either on paper or digitally, it is an eye-opening experience. Like almost everyone else, I underestimated my amount of calories and portion sizes. When you measure and weigh, you get a much clearer picture of your intake. When you know you are logging every bite, you hesitate to grab that french fry off your kids plate or “taste” your friend’s desert. You also learn better alternatives — canned tuna has less fat and calories than canned salmon and a pear has more carbs than an apple for example. There is also a scanner to scan bar codes on food labels for easy tracking. Plus, it offers an online community with challenges you can join (such as “Lose 5 pounds by Spring”) and motivational ideas from other people. You have heard people say, “I don’t know why I can’t lose weight, I am eating right, I am exercising.” What does “eating right” mean? Does that mean they cut out cheesesteaks and donuts? That is a step in the right direction, but to really make a change, they should know the whole picture. If they are not tracking, how can they be sure if they are eating the correct combination of fat, protein, and carbohydrates? How can they know what four ounces of meat looks like if they never weighed it? How do they know how many calories they burned during their workouts and if they need to pick up the pace? We are masters of fooling ourselves into thinking we are doing what it takes to reach our goals, but the reality is, we can make

better choices with the proper information. All of this information can be tracked and recorded. With so many options, it is easier than ever. However, just like buying a treadmill that turns into a coat rack, buying a fitness tracker only works if you use it correctly and consistently. For me, I have discovered how to make my workouts more effective. I have learned healthier food choices and have made better decisions. I have found I often fall short of the eight hours of sleep I aim for each night, so I have made a conscious effort to get to bed earlier. I also understand how many times and how intensely I need to exercise to get to burn my target number of calories. Finally, by quantifying my efforts, I feel great knowing I am on target to reach my fitness goals and that I am an active participant in my overall health. “Yeah me, I did it this week!” is my quiet cheer to myself. On weeks when I miss the mark, and it does happen (can you say Christmas dinner?), I just move on and try to do better the following week. In addition, I just got my blood work back from the doctor and, thank goodness, I had all great results. I have to admit, I feel very proud, not to mention relieved, that I made the choices that helped me reach these results. Since I had kids late in life, I am an older mom. I have two teenage kids and I want to be here for them. I do it for them as much as for me. If this sounds like a lot of work and effort, I have to be honest, in some ways it is. But doing the jean wiggle to squeeze into a pair of Levi’s, holding your breath, and struggling to get the zipper up is a lot of work too! I prefer to put the effort into exercising, eating a nutritious diet, and getting the sleep I need. Once you get started, it becomes a way of life and it really is not that much effort. If you are not tracking your fitness or diet, start with one or the other. You can use an app or paper and pencil if you prefer. One suggestion, and I have learned this the hard way, track it right away. Take two minutes to record your meal as soon as you eat so you don’t leave anything out. Be brutally honest or

you are cheating yourself. As I am writing this, I just took a quick break to log my breakfast into my “Lose It” app. It saves the meals and foods I eat often, so all I had to do was click on them. It took about 60 seconds. If you are not using a fitness tracker, you can get total steps from an inexpensive pedometer or approximate number of calories burned from your activity through many online sites. However, an activity tracker is the most accurate. The good news is there are many fitness/ activity trackers available today, and they are getting more and more sophisticated every year. The bad news is there are so many choices, it can be a little overwhelming. Some things to consider include: various features, how it looks as feels, battery life, and of course, price. They can range from about $50 to $500, but you can probably get a good one for $100 - $150. Do your homework, check online reviews, and ask other people what they use. There are also a variety of fitness and food journal apps. Many are free and some have a nominal charge for the upgraded version. Again, check the reviews, try the free version, and see what works for you. It really comes down to individual preference. The bottom line — keeping track of your daily activity and diet helps you to see the big picture and provides you with important information that can help you make better health decisions. When you track your progress every week, it motivates you to achieve your goals and gives you a road map for success. So start today, track it and achieve it! n Robin Stoloff, Health Reporter for NBC 40 for more almost 30 years, is now hosting her own radio program, “Living Well with Robin Stoloff” on Lite Rock 96.9 WFPG FM (A Townsquare Media Company) on Sunday mornings from 9-11 AM. You’ll also hear her “Health Update” segments throughout the day, on air and online at literock969.com. Learn more, live better — follow Robin on Facebook at “Health Update with Robin Stoloff” for more health tips and videos. njlifestyleonline.com

LIFESTYLE | Winter 2016

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NJ Lifestyle Magazine Winter 2016  
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