Podcasting Gear Setup – Resources

Podcasting Gear Setup – Resources

I have a very simple and inexpensive Podcasting Gear setup all based around the use of an iOS device (iPhone, iPad Mini or iPad) with the Thunderbolt charging technology.

It looks like this;
 


Dual Microphone Setup

 


Single Microphone Setup
 

Let’s start at the top of the pyramid;

iPad Mini with the BOSSJOCK.app

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

iPad Mini with the BOSSJOCK.app
 
 

Next

 
Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone
 

 

Next

Lightning to USB Camera Adapter
 

 

If you are going to be doing Interviews over the web or with a second Microphone you will need;

ART USB Dual Pre
 

 

Also

 
3.5mm to 1/4 inch gold plated adaptor

 

And

AmazonBasics 3.5mm Male to Male Stereo Audio Cable – 2 Feet (0.6 Meters)

 

And if you want to get fancy

 

 
 

A great article here about the Bossjock setup.

I recommend SoundCloud as a RSS Podcast Broadcast Service. It’s cheaper than Libsyn.com and easier to use.

The Most Offbeat Video Review of the Taylor Bluetooth Body Fat Smart Weight Scale You’ll See!

The Most Offbeat Video Review of the Taylor Bluetooth Body Fat Smart Weight Scale You’ll See!

 
 
THANKS for watching our review of the Taylor Bluetooth Body Fat Smart Weight Scale. We are trying to make product reviews entertaining, so please let us know how we are doing in the comments section.

The Taylor Bluetooth Body Fat Smart Scale is a very easy to use and setup. It is sturdy, well built and easy to position flat, on the floor. The Bluetooth functionality, as tested was superb and as I mentioned in the video, the signal travels well over distance and is broadcast for a good amount of time. The scale was consistent and since I had just recently had a health evaluation, I was shocked at how accurate the Taylor scale’s body fat reading was when compared to a medical grade, single purpose device.

The SmarTrack mobile app (tested on a iPhone 5s) was simple and worked. I use it as a bridge to my other health apps as it syncs with RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness. I don’t think the SmarTrack software would satisfy my needs when it comes to a full on health and fitness app, but with so many superb, free options

out there, I think Taylor is taking the right approach. I hope they will keep adding bridges to other health and fitness apps including Apple’s iOS 8 Health Kit, but time will tell. A body weight scale is not an exciting device but the Taylor Bluetooth Body Fat Smart Scale does what it is advertised to do, and consistently. From my experience you can’t go wrong with this scale.

Thanks and feel free to ask questions in the comments section.

Have a great day!

Paul, LifehackrDiet Guru.
 

Thanks for Watching

Nudge App Walkthrough

Nudge App Walkthrough

Nudge App – The Awesome and Simple App for iPhone and Android – Walkthrough

 

 
 

Nudge App can make getting healthy, simpler.

Today’s health apps create lots and lots of data and it doesn’t take much to find yourself drowning in it. I show you the benefits of having all that data collected, processed and displayed into one single graphic. You will be surprised at how powerful this concept is, so be sure watch this video!

A Nudge App Walkthrough.

Thanks and feel free to ask questions in the comments section.

Have a great day!

Paul, LifehackrDiet Guru.

MORE INFO:

NUDGE APP HOME PAGE

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Kickstart Your Diet! Setup.

Kickstart Your Diet! Setup.

This is the first in a series of blog posts entitled “Kickstart Your Diet!” that are designed to get you up and running on the LifehackrDiet. Please check out the series of posts Here. For more clarification on what the LifehackrDiet is and how you can be successful with it, please check out previous blog posts; What is the LifehackrDiet and Why Should I Care? and 3 Strategies: Quit the Gym and Be Healthier! and Secrets of Eating to Lose Weight.

Let’s Kickstart Your Diet!

Start at the beginning.
“Once upon a time…You wanted to lose weight and improve Your health and well being – permanently! You discovered the LifehackrDiet which took a different approach to losing weight and reaching your goals. The LifehackrDiet suggested that You make small changes in your life that You are comfortable with and once You had made enough of those changes (and stuck to them) You will reach Your goal; a slimmer, healthier and more active You.”

A fantasy? I say not. It will be your reality soon enough and this blog post along with others in the series will show you step by step how you can make that fantasy into your reality. Let’s Kickstart Your Diet!

Setup. Record. Observe.

This week we are going to simply setup, record and observe. What does that mean? Like any new project we need to take time to ensure our success by planning and setting up the tools we will be using. I know you are anxious to get started on your weight loss journey, but this is an important step that will help you, ultimately, be successful – bear with me on this.

 

LifehackrDiet Flow Chart

Lifehackr diet chart to lose weight
 

Overview

We are going to take a look at your smartphone (and other devices) and asses their capabilities of acquiring your data, assisted or unassisted. Depending on the results, we will move forward with downloading a free app and possibly ordering a digital pedometer. Next we will check to see if you have a standard body weight scale or not, and analyze how you can best collect data on your weight loss. Moving along we will set up the App you have downloaded and I will show you how to record your daily data (input will go very fast once you get the hang of it). Finally we will take a week to get used to the technology, recording our data and simply observe what we normally eat and how much we normally move. It is very helpful to set up a baseline and kind of fun when you can look back and laugh at your old self (silly ‘ol me!)

diet chart

Setup

Smartphone or Devices

A smartphone is a pretty much a necessity for being successful on the LifehackrDiet. Can you do it without? Sure, but the last thing we need to do is make dieting more difficult than it already is – am I correct here? Regardless, below I have included processes to make the LifehackrDiet work with or without a smartphone.
The LifehackrDiet will work with both Apple iPhones and Google Android operating system based smartphones. If you have an iPhone 4s or higher (iPhone Model Checking info), you have Bluetooth 4.0 LE which is great news! Check out Option “B” below for your solution.

If you have an Android smartphone please check to see if it is supported by the Fitbit Compatible Device Page.

Once you figure out if you have Bluetooth LE on your iPhone or Android smartphone and it is supported by the Fitbit Compatible Device Page then you can check out Option “B” below!

The next thing to figure out is if your smartphone has the Apple M7 coprocessor chip or not. This only applies to Apple iPhones and specifically the iPhone 5s or greater models. If you own this phone , congratulations you have more choices for your exercise data collection. Be sure to check out Option “A” and Option “B” as both are available to you.

If you have an iPhone 4 or below or an Android phone that is not supported by Fitbit, then there is a slightly less automated solution for you. Be sure to check out Option “C” below.

There is also an option for those of you who have a tablet such as an iPad or others that support Bluetooth LE or a laptop or desktop computer with a spare USB port. Check out Option “D” to see your solutions.

By now you should know the following;

  • I have an iPhone or Android smartphone.
  • My smartphone model does or does not support Bluetooth LE/is or is not Fitbit compatible.
  • My iPhone model does or does not have a M7 coprocessor chip.Lets see what OPTIONS you have for recording, storing and processing your personal data.

Options

Here are the options available to you based on the capabilities of your smartphone described above:

Options Device(s) Explanation
Option A (iPhone 5s and greater) You can record your walks and runs with nothing more than the your smartphone! That’s right the M7 coprocessor chip records your activity automatically and stores it until a fitness app requests that data.

Downside: You need your smartphone on you at all times so that it can give you credit for every step you take.

Option B (iPhone 4s or greater – Android with Bluetooth LE support) Using a Fitbit digital pedometer with Bluetooth LE your data collection is easy. Just clip or slip on anyone of the Fitbit Pedometers and your every footstep is recorded and ready to be sent to your smartphone when you open the accompanying Fitbit app.

Downside: You have to remember to wear the pedometer and under specific conditions they can be prone to getting lost or misplaced.
Form Factor: They come as clip-ons or as a wristband.

Option C (No Smartphone Device or No Bluetooth LE support – Using a Digital Pedometer with or without Bluetooth LE capabilities.) This method works but it does require more work on your part as you have to manually add your steps to the Fitness app. It’s no biggie and it keeps you in the game. If you are thinking about updating your phone in the next 3-6 months, there is a very good chance your new phone will support Bluetooth LE and you will be able to utilize the automatic data transfer features that Bluetooth LE provides.

Downside: Same as Option B, plus you need to remember to input your steps on a daily basis.

Option D (Compatible Tablet or Laptop/Desktop computer) Even if you don’t use a smartphone but you have an iPad or similar tablet that supports Bluetooth LE you can still transfer your data wirelessly to the Fitbit app on your device. If you don’t have a compatible smartphone, tablet but own a laptop or desktop you can use the Wifi dongle that Fitbit includes free with all their products. The digital pedometer will now sync with your personal Fitbit account on the internet.

Downside: Same as Option “B”, plus you will need to remember to sync your Fitbit with your device(s).

diet chart

 

Pedometer Hardware

The next step (no pun intended) is to make sure everyone of the precious, calorie burning steps you take in your day is recorded and scored against every (not so precious) calorie you consume! Time to get a digital pedometer!
Although there are several great manufacturers of digital pedometers with Bluetooth LE capabilities, I have chosen one in particular; Fitbit. Here is why I am suggesting, while you get started on the LifehackrDiet, we simplify things with one manufacturer. (Feel free to choose or use any other manufacturer’s device for the LifehackrDiet.)

  1. Fitbit makes a line of products and currently has three models to offer in two different form factors and at several different price points.
  2. They are a well established company with a healthy segment of the digital pedometer market.
  3. They have amazing customer service. I have had three incidences where they have taken responsibility for their products and made sure I was a happy customer.
  4. Their products work seamlessly with the iPhone and from what I have heard, have excellent support for Android smartphones.
  5. They come with a free wifi dongle so that you have lots of connectivity choices.
  6. Their software app, Fitbit.app speaks with many other software platforms and apps so that your data can move between apps (with your express permission, of course).
  7. They offer free shipping on orders of $50 or more.
  8. There is a tsunami coming in the health wearables marketplace and things are going to shift drastically. I am confident that Fitbit has the assets to survive and thrive this market shakeout. (I will cover more of this change in the wearables market in a future blog post.) Don’t believe me? Fitbit products consistently score higher than competitive products, like in this shoot out.
    I have an affiliate relationship with Fitbit which means when you read this review and order one of their products from the link I provide, I make a little money from the sale and it COSTS YOU NOTHING extra (thank you in advance for buying through my link as it helps support LifehackrDiet.com). I have owned three Fitbit products, my wife owns one and we are constantly delighted with their products. I will have reviews and links to other manufacturers digital pedometers in the Resources section.

Here is a brief rundown of the current Fitbit products;
 

Fitbit Zip

Fitbit Zip

Retails for $59.95 (free shipping)
A simple sturdy digital pedometer with a battery that can last up to 6 months and is inexpensive to replace. A great starter model.
Read Fitbit Zip “Real Life Review”
Watch Fitbit Zip Setup Video;
[iframe src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/2bx-qE-jPXs?rel=0″ width=”560″ height=”315″]
 

Fitbit One


Fitbit One

Retails for $99.95 (free shipping)
This is my favorite Fitbit, it’s elegant, collects lots of data and only needs to be charge every week to 10 days. If you are serious about your activity then the Fitbit One is a great choice.
Read Fitbit One “Real Life Review
Watch Fitbit One Setup Video;
[iframe src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/eb9oHiTausA?rel=0″ width=”560″ height=”315″]
 

Fitbit Flex

Make Fitness a Lifestyle with Flex

Retails for $99.95 (free shipping)
The Fitbit Flex has lots going for it including a fashion sense. This is a wrist band pedometer that tracks your activities during the day and your sleep at night. This is definitely a very popular Fitbit, and for good reason.
Read Fitbit Flex “Real Life Review”

Kickstart your Diet Chart -

 

Software

We have dealt with the smartphone and pedometer hardware, now we will discuss the software you need to get started. I am conflicted about which of the two apps I use, you should download first. I use both the Fitbit and MyFitnessPal apps and they are both excellent, but in slightly different ways. The good news is they are both free and the Fitbit app talks to the MyFitnessPal app and visa versa. That means you can start with the Fitbit app and later add the MyFitnessPal app to your app arsenal.
Let’s start with the free Fitbit app which you can download here; iPhone/iPad or Android.

The Fitbit app is easy to use and incredibly useful. Even while you wait for your newly ordered Fitbit digital pedometer to arrive, you can track your food and water consumption, your walking or runs by duration and other activities you do like gardening, kayaking, a work out at the gym and lots more. This is all great preparation for what you are going to do on the LifehackrDiet. All of this data recording might seem overwhelming at first but I can assure you that it will become second nature very quickly, and take less than 5 minutes of your day to complete.

  1. Download the Fitbit App for iPhone/iPad or Android.
  2. Watch the Fitbit Account Setup Video;
  3. [iframe src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/-93kFIS-LXE?rel=0″ width=”560″ height=”315″]

 

Setting up a iPhone 5s or later model with the M7 coprocessor chip
If you own an iPhone 5s or later model and you wish to track your activities using just your iPhone and you are able and willing to have your iPhone on your body at all times, please check out the video for setup directions.
iPhone 5s or later model, Fibit app setup video;

 
kickstart you Diet chart

Body Weight Scale

As illustrated in the “LifehackrDiet Flow Chart” image (as seen at the beginning of this blog post) part of the the LifehackrDiet flow requires you to evaluate your body weight on a daily or several times a week basis. This helps you evaluate your “metabolic” picture and assess progress along with the other values you will be recording. If you already own a body weight scale that you are happy with, then there is no reason to replace it. You might want to consider replacing your body weight scale if it does not have a digital display with 10ths of a pound/kilo or does not have a body fat reading. These are both helpful when you are making decisions on the LifehackrDiet. There are many choices for body weight scales but again I want to make this initial process easy for you so here are my recommendations and reasons;

A Quick explanation of a Manual scale v.s. a Wifi or Bluetooth scale.
The problem with many of the Wifi or Bluetooth enabled scales is that (for the moment) they are locked into certain apps on your smartphone. That means, if you buy the scale by company “A” and you decide you don’t want to use their app anymore then your data will not transfer – it is siloed in the company “A” app and can’t be uploaded to your new app choice (there are exceptions to this). What I call a “manual” scale has all the measuring capabilities of the higher end scales but it lacks the auto data upload. That means you need to remember your weight and body fat index number long enough to put it into your app of choice on your smartphone. For me that is a whole 15 seconds, which first thing in the morning is a challenge, but a good one! The whole connected health device market is about to change with Apple’s introduction of the Healthkit ecosystem in iOS 8 (fall of 2014). Regardless I highly doubt that a manual scale will be left out of this sea-change.

EatSmart Scale

EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale
Retails for $49.95 (free shipping)
After trying several higher end body weight scales I found this inexpensive one (without Wifi/Bluetooth connectivity) fit my needs perfectly. Like Fitbit, this company is very involved with their customers (just look at the reviews on Amazon. The VP of the company is always making sure everyone is happy!) Because you need to put your daily data into your app of choice, manually, there are no connectivity and compatibility issues (your fingers do the data input).
Read EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale “Real Life Review”
Watch EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale Setup Video;
 
[iframe src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/GloOASlQEfg?rel=0″ width=”420″ height=”315″]
 
 

Fitbit Aria
 
 

Fitbit ARIA Wi-Fi Smart Scale
Retails for $129.95 (free shipping)
The Fitbit Aria tracks your weight, body fat percentage, and BMI, painting a picture of your long-term progress. It wirelessly syncs your stats with online graph and mobile tools that help you stay motivated and on track. When you’re in control, stepping on the scale feels good. Connects with the Fitbit app and as mentioned above, the Fitbit app can share that data with other apps like MyFitnessPal.
Fitbit ARIA Wi-Fi Smart Scale “Real Life” Review

Fitbit Aria Scale Setup Video;
[iframe src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/xsbG0qrTrZw?rel=0″ width=”560″ height=”315″ ]
 

What We Covered

In Kickstart Your Diet! Setup. We covered;

  1. The “Setup” of your LifehackrDiet.
  2. You saw the LifehackrDiet Flow Chart which illustrated how the LifehackrDiet works.
  3. Together we figured out what kind of smartphone you have and if it is compatible with Fitbit products.
  4. I outlined how you would use your selected device to synchronize your data to the Fitbit app.
  5. If you aren’t using a smartphone, we discussed how you can use a tablet or a PC for the LifehackrDiet.
  6. I recommended several digital pedometers and explained their pros and cons.
  7. Software was also discussed with links to download free apps that you will use.
  8. The importance of using a body weight scale was touched on.

 

That concludes the SETUP section of the Kickstart Your Diet blog post. Please check out the other Kickstart Your Diet! blog posts to continue with your LifehackrDiet.
 

Thanks for Reading!

Kickstart Your Diet! Record.

Kickstart Your Diet! Record.

This is the second in a series of blog posts entitled “Kickstart Your Diet!” that are designed to get you up and running on the LifehackrDiet. Please check out the series of posts Here. For more clarification on what the LifehackrDiet is and how you can be successful with it, please check out previous blog posts; What is the LifehackrDiet and Why Should I Care? and 3 Strategies: Quit the Gym and Be Healthier! and Secrets of Eating to Lose Weight.

Let’s Kickstart Your Diet!

Start at the beginning.
“Once upon a time…You wanted to lose weight and improve Your health and well being – permanently! You discovered the LifehackrDiet which took a different approach to losing weight and reaching your goals. The LifehackrDiet suggested that You make small changes in your life that You are comfortable with and once You had made enough of those changes (and stuck to them) You will reach Your goal; a slimmer, healthier and more active You.”

A fantasy? I say not. It will be your reality soon enough and this blog post along with others in the series will show you step by step how you can make that fantasy into your reality. Let’s Kickstart Your Diet!

Setup. Record. Observe.

This week we are going to simply setup, record and observe. What does that mean? Like any new project we need to take time to ensure our success by planning and setting up the tools we will be using. I know you are anxious to get started on your weight loss journey, but this is an important step that will help you, ultimately, be successful – bear with me on this.

 

LifehackrDiet Flow Chart

Lifehackr diet chart to lose weight
 

Overview

This blog post “Kickstart Your Diet! Record” is the second installment in a series of three posts that are designed to get you up and running on the hardware and methodology of the LifehackrDiet. In the blog post “Kickstart Your Diet! Setup.” we did exactly that. We went over the types of smartphones, tablets and or computers you might be using as your central information processing hub. Next up was discussing the importance of having a digital pedometer so that all of our steps are recorded, the free apps you will use daily to store and synthesize your data and finally why a body weight scale is an important tool for the LifehackrDiet flow.

This blog post will go over how to record your food consumption, exercise, sleep and weight all within the Fitbit app. We will detail the recording process and take into consideration that some of you will be waiting on your new Fitbit pedometers to arrive, and some will already have them. Once everyone has their digital pedometer I will outline the importance of recording a baseline of data for one week before we start making small changes to your lives, one of the core principles of the LifehackrDiet.

Recording

Let’s start the process of recoding your data within the Fitbit smartphone app (see more info on how and why to download here) I am going to play the sequence out in a chronological order, which should be similar to most people’s day. Clearly your sequence might be slightly different – feel free to move things around to fit your individual needs.

 

Sleep

Getting an adequate amount of sleep every night is very important to your overall health and well being. Not getting enough sleep has been tied to weight gain among other health issues. From now on using your Fitbit app you will be able to see this dynamic in action. You are about to embark on an adventure of seeing your body and how it functions in a totally different way. Data tells us many stories, we just need to read and understand them.

 
Kickstart Your Lifehackr Diet Sleep screens 01

Sleep – Manual Recording

Two out of the three Fitbit pedometers currently available (Fitbit One and Flex) have auto sleep recording functionality. The Fitbit Zip does not. Although the automatic sleep recording is very nice, you can still record basic sleep data manually if you forget to wear your One or turn on the sleep mode of the Flex.

Open your Fitbit app (with a connected Fitbit One or Flex), from the main screen (Dashboard) scroll down until your see the quarter moon icon. Click on the icon and you will be presented with the Sleep Detail screen (see fig. 1 & 2 above). To manually start recording your sleep you can press on the “+” symbol in the top right of the Sleep detail screen. You will be offered a choice of either “Add Sleep Log” or “Begin Sleep Now. (see fig. 2 & 3 above)” The first choice “Add Sleep Log” is what you would use to manually input your bed time and your wakeup time. This is something you can do in the morning when you wake up or anytime that day when you remember. The input screen is self explanatory; you input your bed time and your wake up time and then press the “Log” button in the top right of the screen (see fig. 4 above). Your sleep duration will be calculated and recorded in your Fitbit Dashboard.

The “Begin Sleep Now” option will automatically start your sleep timer and offer your “I’m Awake” button (see fig. 5 & 6 below). Now you can turn off you smartphone screen and go to sleep. When you wake up, simply turn on your smartphone screen and press the “I’m Awake” button. The Fitbit app will calculate your sleep duration and show you the data on the Dashboard. You can use either of these options or mix and match based on your preference or circumstances.

 
Kickstart Your Lifehackr Diet Sleep screens 02

Sleep – Auto Recording

Fitbit One
Using the included wrist strap, place the the Fitbit One in the pouch by sliding it through the opening on one side. Secure the wrist strap to your wrist (it needs to be pretty snug) and then I rotate the strap to that the pouch opening is on the side of my wrist so that the opening is choked off. When you are ready for sleep press and hold the thin raised button on the Fitbit One until you feel a quick vibrate and a stopwatch appears on the screen. Let go of the button and the display will go dark in a few moments. It is now recording your sleep/awake and restlessness. When you wake up simply repeat the process of pressing the button and waiting for the vibrate alert. Now when you open the Fitbit app on your smartphone (and it synchronizes) you will see you sleep duration and all the other statistics about the quality of you sleep (see fig. 7 & 8 above). There have been nights when I feel like I’ve had a really bad night’s sleep and the data reflects that, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was, I was just being a baby!

Fitbit Flex
The Fitbit Flex will already be on your wrist as that is how it is worn so all you have to do is tap the Flex unit rapidly for one to two seconds (sometimes three). Your Flex will vibrate and display two slowly dimming lights to indicate that you have entered sleep mode. When you wake up repeat the rapid tapping sequence. When it exits sleep mode, your Flex will vibrate and flash all five LED indicator lights three times and then display a spinning light pattern. Now when you open the Fitbit app on your smartphone (and it synchronizes) you will see you sleep duration and all the other statistics about the quality of your sleep (see fig. 7 & 8 above).

 

Body Weight and Fat Percentage Data

I know that weighing yourself every day can be stressful for some people, but I invite you to look at these numbers as data points in a “project” and not “your” daily weight/body fat reading. One day doesn’t matter, progress towards your goal does! There will be more good days than bad days and you will see the trend line flow downwards towards your goal. If you weigh yourself daily then you will have an accurate data picture to look so that you are able to make smart decision about food and exercise that get you to your goal.

 
Kickstart Your Lifehackr Diet weight screen 01 using the Fitbit app

Body Weight and Fat Percentage Data – Manual Recording

Using the EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale or your existing scale will require that you add you body weight and body fat numbers to the Fitbit app manually.
This is a simple process, the most difficult part is keeping the two numbers in your head (within minutes of waking up) long enough to put them into your smartphone!

Tips: It’s best to weigh yourself right after getting out of bed in the morning, but be sure to expel any excess liquids or solids first (go to the toilet first!). Also I would recommend standing on the scale with as little clothing as possible (your birthday suit is ideal). It is important that any scale you use is flat on the floor before you stand on it to ensure an accurate reading.

Once the Eat Smart scale locks on your weight, it then calculates your other statistics like body fat percentage and body water, body muscle and bone mass. Remember you weight and body fat numbers and open the Fitbit app on your smartphone. On the dashboard scroll until you see the weight scale icon and select it (see fig. 1 above). You are now on the Weight screen and you can manually input your data by selecting the “+” symbol at the top right of the screen (see fig. 2 above). Input your two data points and then select the “Log” button in the top right of your screen (see fig. 3 above). You can now see your data points recorded with the word “Manual” to the right of the numbers (see fig. 4 above). Select “Dashboard” on the top left of your screen and you will be taken back to the Dashboard.

Body Weight and Fat Data – Automatic Recording

Using the Fitbit Aria Scale
Getting your weight and body fat numbers from the Fitbit Aria (once you’ve set it up) into the Fitbit app, are quick and easy – your eyes don’t even need to be open! Simply step on the Aria scale (please read the “tips" in the section above) and let it calculate and lock on to your weight, BMI and body fat readings. When you open the Fitbit app and it syncs, your data will appear in the Weight section of the Dashboard. That’s it!

 

Exercise and Activity

One of the main principles of the LifehackrDiet is to keep moving and even utilize everyday chores as a way to keep active and burn calories (see 3 Strategies: Quit the Gym and Be Healthier!). This is more easily recorded using a Fitbit digital pedometer but can also be pieced together by manually recoding your activity in the Fitbit app.

Exercise and Activity – Manual Recording

While you are waiting for your Fitbit digital pedometer to arrive, you can get used to recording your activities, burning calories and building a baseline for moving forward with the LifehackrDiet.
Go do something! Walk, run. go workout, paddle a kayak, do some gardening – anything! Take note of your start and end times and calculate the duration of the activity. When you are done, open the Fitbit app on your smartphone and from the dashboard select the Stopwatch icon with the text “No exercise today” (see fig. 1 below) – we are about to change that! You will be taken to the Exercise summary with a graphic representing your Exercise Frequency. Select the Stopwatch icon in the top right of the screen (see fig. 2 below) and a new screen for Tracking and Logging your exercise will appear (see fig. 3 below). If a dialogue box appears on your screen, just select “OK” for now as we will be dealing with that later.

 

Kickstart Your Lifehackr Diet activity screen 01 using the Fitbit app

Log

Now select the word “log” at the top of the screen and the white slide should now move over behind the word “log” (see fig. 3 above). Just below is a text entry field, tap it and start typing the keyword of your exercise (see fig. 4 above). For most typical activities at least one if not several choices should appear in a list below the text entry field. Select one that is the closest fit to your activity and you will be taken to detail screen with more information (see fig. 5 below). If you want to select another activity from the list, simply select the “Back” button and you will be returned to the list. Once you are on the detail screen of your choice you an enter the information requested. The start time doesn’t have to be exact so input whatever information you have. When you are done select “Next” and input the duration of the selected activity and then select “Done” to finish up. In the red box at the top right of your screen you will see an amount of calories that Fitbit believes you burned during that activity/duration (see fig. 6 below). If you disagree you can simply change the calorie amount by selecting the text “Manually enter calories burned” mid screen. Now you can alter the calories burned count for that activity. When you are done, select the “Log It” red button and you will be taken back to the Fitbit Exercise summary screen (see fig. 7 below).

Please note that by adding more calories to the activity in the Fitbit app, you will not make your body burn more calories than it did during the activity. Only adjust the calories if you are sure that what you did, burned more or less than what the Fitbit app suggested. You can’t fool your body!

 
Kickstart Your Lifehackr Diet activity screen 02 using the Fitbit app

Track

The Fitbit app for most non-smartphone devices (computers, laptops and some tablets) does not support this functionality as it uses the GPS chips inside your device to record and measure your walks, hikes or runs using the “Track” functionality. This is a really cool feature, but be warned depending on your device, it could use more battery power than an average app on your device.

As you are about to start your walk, hike or run select the Stopwatch icon from the Fitbit Dashboard to be taken to the Exercise summary screen (as described in the “Log” section above). Next, select the Stopwatch icon at the top right of this screen. By default you should be in the “Track” screen/function (see fig. 1 below). If a dialogue box appears on screen that indicates your device only has wifi (and not a navigation chip) and the results may be erratic, then its best that you log your activity manually as described above.

If you are ready to start your walk, run or hike press the big red start button on the screen and the active Tracking screen will appear (see fig. 2 below). When you are done your activity, select the big red button (now with a pause icon in the center) and then hold down the “Finish” button until the green flood animation fills your screen. Now you should see a summary screen with a map and your route plus stats visible (see fig. 3 below), congratulations! Your walk, run or hike has now been recorded in the Fitbit app and you have been awarded the calories burned (see fig. 4 below).

 
Kickstart Your Lifehackr Diet activity screen 03 using the Fitbit app

Exercise and Activity – Automatic Recording

Once your Fitbit pedometer is connected to your smartphone (or devices listed here) all you need to do to is let the app sync with your Fitbit pedometer for all your data to upload to your app and subsequently the website. If you want to track walks, runs or hikes using the “Track” or “Log” functionality described in the “Manual Recording” section above you can do that as well and Fitbit is smart enough not to double your recorded data (sorry, nice try!). The Fitbit pedometer only records your steps so if you are gardening, at a yoga session, stand up paddle boarding or any other activity that is more than just steps you should manually record those activities as described above.

Exercise and Activity – Automatic Recording – M7 Chip

If you own an iPhone 5s or later model, the chances are your smartphone contains the M7 coprocessor chip which will record most of your activities with out the need of an external pedometer. Remember that you must have your iPhone on your body at all times for it to record your every movement during the day. All you need to do is to open the Fitbit app (once you have selected the M7 coprocessor as your device in the setup process) and let it sync – your data will then be up to date. If you want to track walks, runs or hikes using the “Track” or “Log” functionality described in the “Manual Recording” section above you can do that as well and Fitbit is smart enough not to double your recorded data. The M7 coprocessor only records your steps so if you are gardening, at a yoga session, stand up paddle boarding or any other activity that is more than just steps you should manually record those activities as described above.

 

Food and Water

What you eat and drink, how much of it, all has a direct effect on your body weight, fat index, your overall health and wellbeing. We all make dozens of decisions a day that have an impact on our health. Some are conscious but for most we are “checked out” when we make them. The LifehackrDiet will show you how to take control of those decisions and learn to make them with your health and wellbeing in mind.
By recording what you eat you are deciding to take responsibility for your actions. Your good habits will shine and the bad ones can no longer lurk in the dark, it will be sunshine all around!

Food

Eating the right foods in reasonable quantities is important for your health, weight-loss and wellbeing. The approach of the LifehackrDiet is not to change things up all at once, but rather start with your favorite foods and make small changes that over time lead to huge results. For more information and some ideas of how to do this, be sure to check out the blogpost Secrets of Eating to Lose Weight on lifehackrdiet.com. By recording what you are eating with the Fitbit food diary you are taking responsibility for every morsel of food that passes your lips.

 
Kickstart Your Lifehackr Diet food screen 01

Open the Fitbit app on your smartphone, you should see the Dashboard screen. Scroll to the knife and fork icon “Calories Eaten”, and select it (see fig. 1 above). You are now in the “Food” summary screen where you can see your stats for the past week, an update on how you are doing for calories out and in for that day, and finally a list of food items you have logged for the day (see fig. 2 above).

To add a food item to the diary, select the “+” icon in the top right of the screen and you will see the “Log Food” input screen (see fig. 3 above). Assuming that this is the first time you have input food items to the Fitbit app there will be no items listed under the “frequent” or “Recent” categories. If you have logged before then you can input your items much faster using these pre-populated lists.

To log a single food item, manually, just touch anywhere in the “Search” text field and your devices’ virtual keyboard will become active. Start typing the name of the item (as an example “apple”) and you will see a list of all the apple items in the Fitbit app’s database listed below (see fig. 3 above). Start scrolling until you find the item that most closely matches what you are looking for and select it.

Meals

If you go out to eat or you prepare a homemade meals, it would be very time consuming to input each and every ingredient into the food diary, and frankly, a little obsessive. Good news, I not here to make you crazy! You can search for dishes in the Fitbit food diary too.

For example if you went out to a Vietnamese restaurant and had a portion of “Shrimp Spring Rolls” you would not have to put in every ingredient just search for it; “Shrimp Spring Rolls” (see fig. 5 below). The result won’t be the exact calorie count of the ones you are actually eating but they will be in the range (see fig. 6 below). If your home garden is exploding with ripe tomatoes and cucumbers and you decide to make a batch of Gazpacho soup, search the term and you will find plenty of options to choose from. Sometimes you will have to get a little creative with recording meals, but remember it’s better to over record your calories since you can’t cheat your body/metabolism. The next day or two you will be pleasantly surprised, when your weight inches down.

 
Kickstart Your Lifehackr Diet food screen 02

Scanning

The Fitbit app takes advantage of your smartphone’s camera and can use it as a UPC barcode scanner (see fig. 7 above). This functionality allows you to simplify the food/meal item(s) entry into your food diary. There is one caveat; your food items needs to have a barcode. This works well for packaged items, frozen goods, frozen prepared meals and snacks.

Open the Fitbit app on your smartphone (or tablet), you should be on the Dashboard screen. Scroll to the knife and fork icon “calories eaten” select it (See fig. 1 & 2 above). You are now in the “Food” summary screen. To add a food item to the diary, select the “+” icon in the top right of the screen and you will see the “Log Food” input screen. To the right of the “search” field you will see a barcode icon, select this and the app will engage your camera and it’s barcode scanning module (see fig. 7 above). Now move the barcode of the object you want to scan so that it fits just inside the guides on screen. When the Fitbit app registers seeing the barcode, the guides will turn green and a moment later you should see the results of the scan in the “Add Food” screen. Adjust the serving size, which meal and if you need to adjust the date/meal. When you are done adjusting the data, select the “Save” button at the top right of the screen to record your item and return to the “Food Summary” screen.

Quick Tips for Data Entry

Here are 4 shortcuts that can help you input your food data quickly and efficiently. From the Fitbit Dashboard select the “calories eaten” panel to be taken to the Food summary screen. Tap the “+” icon in the top right of the screen and you will be on the “Log Food” screen.

Frequent – As you manually add or scan items into your customized food diary, the list of items below the “Frequent” tab will grow. Now you can either quickly scroll to find a favorite item or start typing the name of the item in the search field. Items that you eat frequently will gather on this Frequent list for faster entry.

Recent – Items that you have recently selected or added to your food diary will appear in this list. If I am eating my way through some leftovers, I can usually find them listed here.

Custom – If you have searched the Fitbit food database by either text entry or scanning and you aren’t able to find the food item, you can select the “Custom” tab and manually enter the product’s nutritional information. By tapping the “Add Custom Food” icon you will be taken to the “Create Food” screen where you can get access a simplified version of the nutritional information fields. If you would like to put more nutritional information into the database, tap “Switch to detailed View.” To return to the simplified view scroll to the bottom and tap the “Switch to Simplified View” and you will be brought back to the basic info fields. To save your newly entered food into the Fitbit food database, tap “Save” in the top right of the screen.

Add Calories – If you are in a hurry or simply want to quickly add calories to your food diary you can do so by tapping the “123” icon, at the top left of the “Log Food” screen. You can quickly add the number of calories consumed via a number pad. Tap the “Save” icon at the top right of the screen to record your entry and return to the main food summary screen.
 

Water

Keeping hydrated is a very important factor in keeping you health on a daily basis. Drinking water is also a useful tool when you are dieting. Drinking a glass of water before every meal or snack helps to reduce the amount you need to consume to feel satisfied.

Whichever way you look at it, drinking at least 8, 8 fl. oz. glasses of water (64 fl. oz.) is the least you should be aiming for. The Fitbit Food Diary can help you by making it really easy to record and track your consumption.

Kickstart Your Lifehackr Diet water screen 01 using the Fitbit app

From the Dashboard of the Fitbit app on your smartphone screen, scroll until you see the glass of water icon with “0 fl oz” to the right of it (see fig. 1 above). Select this icon and you will be presented the “Water” input and summary screen. There are three ways to input the amount of water you are drinking;

1. Tap in the large text field beside the standing person icon and your device’s number keyboard will appear allowing you to manually input the number of fluid ounces you have consumed. Tap “Log it” to enter the amount into your diary (see fig. 2 above).

2. Touch and hold the silver button and drag it to the right until the number of fluid ounces you want, appears in the text field above.Tap “Log it” to enter the amount into your diary.

3. Tap on the glass/bottle icons that represent the amount of fluid ounces you want to record and then tap “Log it” to enter the amount into your diary.

Select the “Dashboard” button to return to the Fitbit dashboard where you can see your statistics summary (see fig. 4 above). You will see your current water consumption status included in the list.

 

Food Plan

One of the ways the Fitbit digital diary helps you lose weight (behind the scenes) is that once you set up your goals, it shaves off a corresponding number of calories from your daily allowance. So if you have a 1000Cal allowance for the day, the app takes off 250Cal (Easier plan intensity) so you actually have 750Cal remaining. That 1000Cal is the amount you could eat to keep your weight static, the –250Cal ensures there is a downward trek for your weight. Higher intensity plans increase the calorie deficit and although you might be tempted to crank up the intensity in an effort to lose weight fast, it most likely won’t work!

We are creatures of habit and our metabolisms are programmed to keep us alive – big changes often don’t work the way we expect. From a psychological perspective we don’t adapt well to large, sweeping changes to our lifestyle and we fight to get back into our comfort zone. From a metabolic perspective our body reacts in a defensive manner when experiencing a large, lasting calorie deficit as it tries to hold on to a fat reservoir to keep us alive. Crash diets rarely work for very long and are not healthy.

The reason the LifehackrDiet is so effective is because it respects both your psychological and metabolic processes. Remember;
– Small changes that fit YOUR lifestyle
– Start with your favorite foods and make SMALL changes
– LIGHT calorie deficits so as to not freak out your metabolism.
– Making all these small changes over time so they BECOME your new lifestyle.
-When you reach your goals, you don’t need to diet anymore because you’ve reinvented your lifestyle.

Now with all of that in mind lets setup a Food Plan that will get you to your goal and keep you there.

Create Food Plan

If you have already setup a food plan and want to make changes, please see “Goals and Updating Your Plan” below. If you have not already set up your food plan go to the Fitbit Dashboard, scroll until you see “Start a food plan” with a plate and cutlery icon. Select it and you be taken to the “Create Food Plan” screen where you need to enter your starting weight (what you weigh now) and your goal weight (see fig. 2 below). You can change your goal weight at any time so you might want to consider a staggered approach and select your first goal weight. Once you hit that weight, you can celebrate and then lower it again. Repeat until you reach your final weight goal.
When you have entered these numbers press “Next” at the top right of the screen.

Plan Intensity

As discussed above, there really is no point in rushing your weight loss as we are working on making permanent change in your life. You are going to be making lots of small changes to your life, so I would suggest until you get the hang of this change-y thing, start with the “Easier” plan intensity setting (see fig. 3 below). You should see an estimated date for when you will hit your goal weight (see fig. 3 below). Don’t freak out if this date is further out than you expected – remember permanent change!

You will also see, once you are knee deep in your LifehackrDiet journey, that this date is a moving target and it doesn’t really matter because you are seeing positive change every day.

Read through the information on the “How it works” page and you will see “Calories you can still eat today:”. This number will be constantly calculated based on your digital pedometer steps reading, your manually added Activities and the Food you are logging in your food journal. Select the “Next” in the top right of the screen.
You will now see a summary of the choices you made (see fig. 4 below).

 

Kickstart Your Lifehackr Diet meal plan screen 01 using the Fitbit app

Goals and Updating Your Plan

The Dashboard of the Fitbit screen summarizes your daily data and uses a progress bar and it’s color to represent how close you are to each of your daily goals. This functionality is purely eye candy and a way of helping you sustain your motivation throughout the day. You don’t have to set these targets, or you can change them after the “observation” period, when you have an idea of what you can achieve. Feel free to play with this daily goal feature as much as you like.

From the Dashboard screen of your Fitbit app, select the “Account” icon in the bottom right of your screen (see fig. 1 above). Once you are on the “Goals” screen you can tap on any of the existing numbers to bring up your number keyboard and adjust the goal (see fig. 2 above).

You can also edit your “Diet Plan” from this screen by tapping on the currently displayed “Food” and calorie deficit number (see fig. 1 above), which will lead you through the “Food Plan” sequence (see fig. 2, 3 & 4 above) as discussed above.

This screen also allows you to set your goal for daily water consumption (see fig. 1 above) which will be reflected on the Dashboard summary page and the detailed water logging page. Remember a great goal to start off with, is 64 fl. oz.

 

What We Covered

In Kickstart Your Diet! Record. We covered;

  1. An overview of what recording your data means.
  2. How to record your sleep data manually and automatically using the Fitbit app and pedometers.
  3. Recording your Body Weight and Fat Percentage data both manually and then reviewed automatic recording process.
  4. We took a look at how to record your Exercise and Activity data manually using logging, tracking and then how to do it automatically.
  5. Food and water recording was reviewed along with shortcut techniques; meals, scanning and the use of frequent and recent personalized lists.
  6. Finally, we went into detail about the Food Plan, how to create one, which ones to choose and why, and how to update your plan as you progress.
  7.  

    That concludes the RECORD section of the “Kickstart Your Diet! blog posts. Please check out the other Kickstart Your Diet! blog posts to continue with your LifehackrDiet.

    Thanks for Reading!

    [cta]

Kickstart Your Diet! Observe.

Kickstart Your Diet! Observe.

This is the third in a series of blog posts entitled “Kickstart Your Diet!” that are designed to get you up and running on the LifehackrDiet. Please check out the series of posts Here. For more clarification on what the LifehackrDiet is and how you can be successful with it, please check out previous blog posts; What is the LifehackrDiet and Why Should I Care? and 3 Strategies: Quit the Gym and Be Healthier! and Secrets of Eating to Lose Weight.

Let’s Kickstart Your Diet!

Start at the beginning.
“Once upon a time…You wanted to lose weight and improve Your health and well being – permanently! You discovered the LifehackrDiet which took a different approach to losing weight and reaching your goals. The LifehackrDiet suggested that You make small changes in your life that You are comfortable with and once You had made enough of those changes (and stuck to them) You will reach Your goal; a slimmer, healthier and more active You.”

A fantasy? I say not. It will be your reality soon enough and this blog post along with others in the series will show you step by step how you can make that fantasy into your reality. Let’s Kickstart Your Diet!

Setup. Record. Observe.

This week we are going to simply setup, record and observe. What does that mean? Like any new project we need to take time to ensure our success by planning and setting up the tools we will be using. I know you are anxious to get started on your weight loss journey, but this is an important step that will help you, ultimately, be successful – bear with me on this.

 

LifehackrDiet Flow Chart

Lifehackr diet chart to lose weight
 

Overview

This blog post “Kickstart Your Diet! Observe” is the third installment in a series of three posts that are designed to get you up and running on the hardware and methodology of the LifehackrDiet.
In the blog post “Kickstart Your Diet! Setup.” we did exactly that. We went over the types of smartphones, tablets and or computers you might be using as your central information processing hub. Next up, we discussed the importance of having a digital pedometer so that all of your steps are recorded, the free apps you will use daily to store and synthesize your data and finally why a body weight scale is an important tool for the LifehackrDiet flow.
The “Kickstart Your Diet! Record.” post was focused on the minutiae of actually recording all your important information on a daily basis, from sleep to how much water you drink. All this information might seem overwhelming but very soon it will take you less than 5 minutes a day to keep your data up to date.

A Week of Practice

I’ve thrown a huge amount of new information at you in these three “Kickstart Your Diet! Setup. Record. Observe.” blog posts, but I can assure you, very shortly it will all become second nature. To help you with that process, I strongly recommend that you take a minimum of a week just to go through these actions of recording your life now, without any LifehackrDiet changes. Over the coming weeks, when you start challenging yourself with small changes to your lifestyle, the setup, recording and observing of your personal data will quickly change from seeming like a burden to being an important asset.

Observe

This blog post will describe how you can look at the data you are creating and make sense of it. The act of recording your data, looking at it, learning from it and deriving experiments from it, is a very powerful act. You are transformed from being a passenger in your body, to the driver! Instead of feeling guilty or panicking when you infringe on your dieting plans you simply look at the data and tools in your control and apply the right one to get you back on track. It is that simple.

Two Ways to Observe Your Data

Using the Fitbit ecosystem there are many ways you can observe your data. At the beginning we are just going to use two of them; Your Fitbit smartphone app and the Fitbit website Dashboard. By creating a Fitbit account (either on your smartphone or on the website) you automatically have access to all the data that is synchronizing with the smartphone app, duplicated on a private, password protected Fitbit website account. Each platform has it’s advantages, let’s take a look at them.

Fitbit Smartphone App

The advantage to having your data on the Fitbit smartphone app is that it’s easily accessed and always up to date. You can get more detail by selecting each tile on the app’s Dashboard. A detail screen will display two types of charts; one with a “expand” icon and one without.

Expandable Data Chart

The expand icon when tapped will fill the full your smartphone screen with your data chart (see fig. 1 & 2 below). If you turn your smartphone sideways the chart will have more room to display your data (make sure your rotation lock is in the off position) (see fig. 3 below). In most cases you will have a parameters dropbox at the top left of the screen and time zoom settings center bottom right or top left of your screen. You can scroll the chart of data to see your history.

Kickstart Your Diet! Observe. Fitbit app two ways to observe your data.

Static Data Chart

The second type of detail screen is a static chart that does not have an expand icon and does not rotate it’s orientation when you rotate your smartphone (see fig. 4 above). Typically these screens have a two tone bar chart that shows you two related data points like; calories-in vs calories-out.

Kickstart Your Diet! Observe. How to edit your tiles on the Fitbit web dashboard.

Once you register your Fitbit account during the initial signup process with the Fitbit app on your smartphone, you can use those sign in credentials to log onto the Fitbit website and have access to your web Dashboard. You will see the same information on the web as you see on your smartphone, with a different layout (see fig. 1 below). You can add or subtract tiles from your dashboard by clicking on the tile control icon at the top left of the screen (see fig. 1 & 2 above). You can then add tiles with a check mark.

Kickstart Your Diet! Observe. See the patterns of your diet in the Fitbit web dashboard.

Fitbit Website Dashboard

I have a favorite spot (on my Fitbit account website) which is a little hidden. It lets me see much of my data displayed together and I get lifetime stats as well. It’s called the “Profile Overview” and you can get to it by selecting your profile avatar at the top, right-middle of the page. It takes you to your Fitbit Profile and by default you are in the “Overall” view. There you can see a 30 day view of your stats and to the right of those charts there are a series of boxes, one of which is titled “My Achievements” (see fig. 2 above). This is the only place I know of, which gives you your all time totals for steps, flights of stairs (Fitbit One) and distance.

Looking at Your Sleep data

Open your Fitbit app and you will see the dashboard. Scroll until you see the quarter moon icon and then press on it. The detail Sleep screen will show you statistics on your last nights’ sleep (see fig. 1 below). You can see more detail by selecting the the Sleep Pattern chart and then dragging your finger across the chart. A pop up label will give you more detail about your sleep (see fig. 2 below). If you turn your smartphone sideways you will get a larger view . You will also be able to analyze your sleep pattern over time by selecting the timeline parameter buttons at the bottom (screen vertical) or top (screen horizontal). Now you can see your sleep duration over a week, month, 3 month or 1 year time span.

Kickstart Your Diet! Observe. See your sleeping patterns in the Fitbit app dashboard.

Sleep – What to Look For…

You want to start looking at your data from a macro to a micro level. On your smartphone expand the sleep pattern chart and tilt your device sideways so that it fills the full screen (see fig.3 & 4 below). Now select the largest data set, (in my case I have a year and a half) yours might be a week or a month. By touching the data bars you will see details like bed times, wake times and dates. Is there a pattern that appears?

For example, I sleep less in the winter months because I have to get up early to make the kids’ lunches and get them off to school on time. During the summer months I get to sleep in an extra hour, but my average bedtimes don’t adjust accordingly. This is clearly something I really need continue to address.

Kickstart Your Diet! Observe. See your sleeping patterns in the Fitbit app dashboard.

As I focus in on my weekly sleep data I see that I get slightly more sleep on weekends, but that is only because I sleep later, not go to bed earlier, as I should. Sunday nights I go to bed much later than other days of the week and then Monday nights I’m tired so I go to bed earlier; What’s up with that?! Clearly I need to make a conscious effort to go to bed earlier on Sundays…

When I look at the sleep data on a night to night basis I recently found that I would become restless around 3-4:00am pretty much every night (see fig. 5 below). It didn’t take long for me to realize that was because my pooch Zoey (a 50lb love-bug) would sneak up on the bed to cuddle up to me.

Kickstart Your Diet! Observe. See your sleeping patterns in the Fitbit app dashboard.

The routine goes something like this: She sneaks on the bed and slips in beside me, I trying to push her off, she digs in deep with a low center of gravity, I repeat this several times, I give up and turn over to get back to sleep. I started putting her in her bedside cage and closing the door (key factor here), and although she whimpered a couple of mornings, she is now content staying off the bed all night long. I no longer have that early morning disturbance.

These are just some examples of my sleep patterns that I need to be vigilant about and continually adjust to improve my health and wellbeing.
Once you see the problems, acknowledge them, you are a step closer to addressing any underlying patterns, one small change at a time.

What patterns do you see in your daily, weekly, monthly and eventually, annual sleep patterns?
How can you address your bad sleeping habits and encourage your good ones?

 

Looking at Your Body Weight and Fat Percentage Data

Go to the Fitbit Dashboard on your smartphone and scroll until you see the weight scale icon and then tap it. The detail weight screen will show you statistics on weigh-ins. You can see more detail by selecting the the weigh-ins chart and then tapping your finger anywhere along the data line. A pop up label will give you more detail about your weight. If you turn your smartphone sideways you will get a larger view. You will also be able to analyze your weigh-in pattern over time by selecting the timeline parameter buttons at the bottom (screen vertical) or top (screen horizontal). Now you can see your weigh-ins over a week, month, 3 month or 1 year time span.

Body Weight and Fat Data – What to Look For…

You want to start looking at your data from a macro to a micro level. On your smartphone expand the weigh-ins chart and tilt your device sideways so that it fills the full screen. Now select the largest data set, (in my case I have a year and a half) yours might be a week or a month. By touching the data line you will get more details like your weight and the date (see fig. 1 & 2 below). Is there a pattern that appears?

Looking at the year and a half of data that I have collected on my weigh-ins, I lost my weight pretty fast at first and then I actually gained a little back before I continued my weight loss at a slightly slower rate (see fig. 1 below). One fact that you will become very familiar with, is weight loss or weight maintenance is NOT a straight line. You will always have (slip) ups and (hard earned) downs (see fig. 1 & 2 below). Your weight is like driving a car; you think to drive straight you keep the steering wheel completely still, but the reality is driving straight is composed of a series of corrections (left and right), the result is you appear to be driving straight.

Kickstart Your Diet! Observe. Weight-loss data stories that play out everyday of our lives. Are you aware of yours?

Your weigh-in chart is a series of what I like to call “Data Stories” that appear like a refrain in a pop song. When I look at my weigh-ins on a weekly basis, I definitely see a pattern; I seem to weigh less on Saturday/Sunday and then bloat up Sunday/Monday (see fig. 2 above).

My assumption is that this is caused by end of my weekly cycle; I walk the most Tuesday-Thursday with Friday being a close second and I have eaten home prepped food (low salt/fat) all week. Often we will go out to dinner on either Friday, Saturday or Sunday night which means I will consume more salt than I do at any other time during the week and as a result retain more water. So between burning the most calories during the middle of the week, keeping my food consistent and then retaining water it “appears” that I weigh less on the weekend because I often weigh more on Sunday/Monday and then shed retained water during the week (see fig. 2 above).
The important thing to understand here, is these (and your unique cycles) are the cycles of your lifestyle and not reasons to freak-out because of perceived weight gain. Make small changes to the bad habits you observe in your data and reward the good habits. As long as your weight is generally moving downwards, you are moving towards your goals.

What patterns do you see in your daily, weekly, monthly and eventually, annual weigh-ins?
How can you address your bad data stories and encourage your good ones?

Looking at Your Activity and Exercise Data

This data can be found in two places on the Fitbit dashboard; the Steps tile (foot steps icon) and the Exercise tile (stop watch icon). Let’s start with the steps data by tapping on the footsteps icon on your Fitbit dashboard. Tap on the footsteps bar chart and then turn your smartphone sideways to expand the chart. Now you will have access to duration buttons which allow you to see your stored data in various time scales from a day to a year (see fig. 2 below). The data dropbox allows you to see your data as steps, calories, distance, active minutes and depending on which Fitbit you have, floors (see fig. 2 below).
The second way in which you can observe your exercise data is by tapping on the stopwatch icon which will take you to the Exercise summary (see fig. 1 below). This is where you have manually input your (other than walking/steps) exercises like gardening, running, working out etc… Currently this view only displays the last month in the chart and then lists the corresponding activities below in a scrollable list.

Activity and Exercise – What to Look For…

I have a year plus of data to view so I can zoom out and then zoom in to see the patterns in my activities.
I am, like many of you, considered a “Weekend Warrior” because I do most of my (non-walking) exercise on the weekends (see fig. 1 below). I like to go to two yoga classes, paddle, climb, hike and generally be active. This pattern is clearly displayed in my Fitbit’s Exercise summary screen; Saturdays and Sundays are consistently the days when activities are listed. This is not necessarily the best approach for my body and increases the chances of injury. So observing this pattern, I have tried to start going to more yoga classes during the week on Mondays and Wednesdays. I also want to try to make opportunities during the week for other exercises so that my body is more prepared for the weekend madness.
Because I use a treadmill desk while I work, my average steps/distance/calories etc… is consistent during the year ranging from 5.81 to 7.39 average miles per day (see fig. 2 below). When I zoom in to the data there are clear patterns that appear. My weekends are the lowest step count of the week because I focus on doing other activities, Tuesday through Thursdays are my strongest days for walking with Monday and Fridays coming in clear second place for distance/steps.

Kickstart Your Diet! Observe. See exercise and activity patterns in the Fitbit app dashboard.

I have really focused on walking consistently as my tool for burning calories and my walking desk is key to that success, but I know this is not going to be a viable solution for many of you reading this.
Your patterns could look quiet different to mine and you are going to find good and bad patterns that you need to tweak, until you find a balance that works for your lifestyle. Consistency is one of the best tools for your weight loss journey. Please be sure to read 3 Strategies: Quit the Gym and Be Healthier! for ideas of how you can make everything you do in your day/week an opportunity to exercise and lose weight.

What patterns do you see in your daily, weekly, monthly and eventually, annual activities and exercise?
How can you address your bad data stories and encourage your good ones?

 

Looking at Your Calories Eaten/Calories Left Data

Go to the Fitbit Dashboard on your smartphone and scroll until you see the knife and fork or plate icon and then tap on it. The detail Food screen will show you a chart of your week’s Calories-in vs out. You can quickly see if you are burning more calories than consumed or visa versa, by looking at the daily relationships between the gray bars (calories-out – exercise) and the gold bars (calories-in – eating). The ideal relationship is for the gray bars to be taller than the gold bars so that you are consistently consuming fewer calories than your are eating (see fig. 1 below).

You will notice that your grey bars are not all the same height, even though you are under a calorie budget, what gives? (see fig. 1 below). Your calorie budget is based on your statistics (height, weight, age, sex, activity level and food plan) but if your calorie burn for the day is higher than the baseline, you will push up the total calories burned bar (gray bar). Theoretically you could consume more calories and still loose or maintain your weight for the day, but unless you have really exerted yourself and absolutely need to replace those calories, it’s better to look at this occurrence as a gift, and try to maintain your consistent calorie consumption. In the next day or two you will see the payoff at your morning weigh-in.

Looking below the week Calories-In vs. Calories-Out summary, you will see a scrollable list of your daily meal summaries (see fig. 2 below). On the left side of each summary there is a color coded dial that indicates how well you kept your calories-in below your diet plan’s threshold. Yellow indicates that you are “Under”, green tells you that you are “In The Zone” and red indicates you are “Over” based on whether you are under, in or over your daily calorie budget, as set in the Goals feature when you initiated your Fitbit app.
The detail view of calories-in vs calories-out on your smartphone only shows you a week view bar chart (see fig. 1 below), but if you log into your Fitbit web based Dashboard you can see a two week view when you click on the “Quick View” button when you hover over the corresponding tile (see fig. 3 below).

Calories Eaten/Calories Left – What to Look For…

As I scroll down my list of daily calorie summaries, I see that I am pretty consistently below my budget (see fig. 2 below). Every so often on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday I creep through my calorie budget and find myself perched over and looking down, a little surprised. Did my over indulgence make a difference to my overall goals – no! As I have mentioned many times before, consistency in your calorie intake, weekly habits of calorie burning activities and not freaking out, will ensure that any indiscretions are insignificant in reaching your goals.

Kickstart Your Diet! Observe. See your calorie consumption patterns in the Fitbit app dashboard.

That said, are there days during the week when you consistently take in more calories than you burn? What are the reasons? Can you burn more calories on those days to make up for the increased consumption? Can you make adjustments to the type of foods you are consuming on those days?
Whatever the answers are, you can now see your lifestyle in weekly chunks and that is the start to addressing the underlying habits. Be sure to check out 3 Strategies: Quit the Gym and Be Healthier! and Secrets of Eating to Lose Weight to learn more about making small changes to your lifestyle that yield huge results.

By making small changes to your lifestyle (calories-in and calories-out) you are in-charge of your weight-loss and wellness and you have the piece of mind that you have control over reaching your goals.

Looking at Your Water Consumed Data

The Fibit smartphone app only allows you to input today’s water consumption, there is no functionality for observing your consumption over time. The Fitbit website Dashboard does have limited water consumption statistics. Log on to your account in any web browser and go to the main dashboard. Find the water “Left to Drink” tile and move your cursor over the tile until the “Quick View” drop box appears at the bottom of the tile (see fig. 1 below). Click on the “Quick View” button and your past month’s water consumption statistics will appear (see fig. 2 below). You will see your total weekly water consumption and your daily average. Near the bottom of the tile you will see bar charts that represent your daily water intake against the goal you have set for yourself. Drag your cursor over the individual bars and a pop-up will appear with more info.

Water Consumed – What to Look for…

Looking at the single month of water consumption data, do you see any cycles revealing themselves? I do!
The days when I consume the most water, and sometimes almost double my goal/usual amount, are significant and play perfectly into the “Data Stories” I have discussed before in this post and others. Can you guess what I did on the days I consumed the most water? This scenario probably applies to you too!

Kickstart Your Diet! Observe. See water consumption patterns in the Fitbit app dashboard.

Those are the days when I broke my consistent eating habit and went out to eat! I consumed more salt than I usually do and therefore drank more water (see fig. 2 above). Do you want to make a bet that the days after I ate out, my weight went up? Yup, every time by varying degrees. I know this is going to happen, so when I see my weigh-in the next morning I smile at the consistency of my data stories and then get on with my day. Knowledge is power, understanding is calming.
What data stories do you see in your water consumption statistics? What can you make small changes to for positive results?

 

What We Covered

In Kickstart Your Diet! Observe. We covered;

  1. The two main ways to observe your data.
  2. We took a look for patterns in sleep data and discussed how you can address bad habits.
  3. We took a look for patterns in Body Weight and Fat Percentage data and discussed how you can address typical “Data Stories” that reoccur.
  4. We looked at Exercise and Activity patterns and learned that consistently burning calories is one of the most important habits to develop.
  5. Looking at Calories-in data, it was important to keep our intake over time consistently below our calories-out levels so that we kept our weight-loss goals on track.
  6. Our water consumption often echoes the “Data Stories” that we find in our other data streams.
  7.  

    That concludes the OBSERVE section of the Kickstart Your Diet! blog posts. Please check out the other Kickstart Your Diet! blog posts to continue with your LifehackrDiet.

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