05 Jan IPod, I Run: The technology of weight loss
If you pledged to lose weight in 2005, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that more than 100 million Americans (and more than 2 million Wisconsinites) made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight in 2005.
The majority of Americans make a health and fitness resolution of some sort – and 38 percent of Americans who set a resolution (according to GNC in 2001) set out to lose weight as a primary goal for the New Year. Just over 12 months ago, and nearly 50 pounds ago, I made this resolution.
I was able to accomplish my goal to lose weight, improve my diet and increase my level of fitness in 2004 with a combination of perseverance and technology. While you’ll need to supply the former yourself, it’s a great time to share my experience with the later – the technology that helped me lose and maintain weight in 2004.
I began my trek to fitness by purchasing a treadmill, with the hope that outlaying around $800 would be the incentive I needed to get off the couch and begin a regular routine of jogging. As it turned out, “jogging” was a generous description. Pushing 215 pounds with almost no regular physical activity. I had to start out walking and build up level of skill – and interest – in jogging over time.
IFit.com: A good start
As someone who’s admittedly interested (and perhaps addicted) to technology, I found a ProForm treadmill that included support for IFit, a Web site that assesses your level of fitness and streams customized workouts to your treadmill over the internet. The workouts, prepared by certified fitness instructors, control the speed and incline of your treadmill workout with synchronized video, music, and encouragement from your selected IFit instructor.
Ifit provides treadmill, bike, elliptical trainer, and stepper workouts that synchronize with compatible fitness equipment. The site also provides strength training and yoga instruction. IFit costs $10 to $15 a month and includes workouts that can be streamed or downloaded from the site.
Atkins.com: A good diet
In 2004, after more than five years as a vegetarian, I embraced the Atkins low-carb lifestyle as part of my strategy for weight loss. I selected the Atkins diet over the South Beach diet and other alternatives because the Atkins Web site provides all of the information you need to follow their diet. I didn’t have to subscribe or purchase any books to get started.
Ipod + Audible.com = Nirvana
Without my iPod I don’t think I’d be able to maintain the level of fitness through running that I’ve been able to achieve in 2004. Although I’ve loaded a hundred or so of my favorite albums onto my iPod, and the iPod mini that I replaced my original iPod with, I find myself using it almost exclusively for “reading.” For $15 per month, I subscribe to two books per month from Audible.com. By selecting books that average 8 or more hours each, I’m able to listen to novels while I run. Averaging a speed of 5 miles per hour, its possible to run 20 miles per week on two eight-hour books.
The complete workout
To meet my 2004 goal, I used IFit regularly for six months to increase my confidence and ability for running. After that, I was more interested in running outdoors and became bored with treadmill-based workouts. I purchased one of IFit’s CD training sets for 5k and 10k runs and hit the outdoors. Now, although I run more than 20 miles per week, I rarely use the treadmill.
The Atkins diet combined with regular workouts gave my 2004 goal a jump start. I averaged about 5 pounds of maintainable weight loss each month. With only a few pizza or bread inspired relapses, I was able to eventually reach my target weight of 165 and changed from a “carb-restricted” lifestyle to one that merely “carb aware.”
Other technology-oriented fitness tools I use include a Timex bodylink system that monitors my speed, distance and heart rate while I work out. This allows me to vary my running routes and keep an accurate record of my distances.
Heart-rate monitors, such as the one incorporated in my bodylink system, are reasonably inexpensive and any exerciser can use them. Monitors provide guidelines for safe exercising intensities based on your age and fitness level. They also help you understand your body’s level of endurance and avoid overtraining. For example, a resting heart rate that is 10 percent higher than normal for several consecutive days can be an indication that a person hasn’t recovered appropriately from the previous training.
I’ve also become an active user of Active.com, a Web site that makes it easy to find local fun runs, races, and athletic events in your area and allows you to register for many of the events online. I’ve found that registering and preparing for 3 or 4 events throughout the year increases my day-to-day commitment to working out.
Why is the day-to-day commitment so important after I’ve met my 2004 goal? My 2005 New Year’s resolution is to run my first marathon.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.