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THE FITBIT BLOG

Not All Calories Are Created Equal

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Grapefruit

When it comes to healthy eating, there’s a lot of talk around calories. You can track your food through Fitbit.com or with some of our partners and it will tell you how many calories you’re consuming, you can set calorie intake goals, and you can even measure what you’re burning compared to what you eat. But what if we told you that not all calories are equal?

Studies have shown that some foods are absorbed by our bodies differently than others. Nuts, for example, are high in fiber, and your body is actually only absorbing about 3/4th of the calories they contain. Foods high in sugar, like soda or sweets, also negatively impact our health more than lower-sugar foods in the same calorie range.

When choosing what to eat, try to read the whole label to figure out whether it’s good for you or not, rather than just the calories per serving. And here are just a few of our tips on which calories to favor, and which to avoid.

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Tips for New Gym Members

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gym habits

With the a new year comes new goals for many of us, and working out more was #3 on our list of most common New Year’s resolutions. One popular solution to working out more is to sign up for a gym, but we’ve likely all heard how gym memberships rise at the start of the year, then quickly drop off throughout January. If you’re interested in joining a gym this month (or you’re trying to make the most out of your new membership), here are some tips to help you keep it up all year long.

  1. Take advantage of new member benefits. Many gyms have special promotions, especially in January, to attract new members, such as free personal training or health assessments. Find out what’s included with your membership and take advantage of it all! A good personal trainer will help you assess your fitness level and show you some workouts that are right for you. If you aren’t interested in using the benefits after your trial, that’s okay too! Just let your trainer know up front what your goals are for the number of sessions you have, be it to learn to use equipment or figure out a new routine. If you end up signing up for services after a trial, even better! It can help motivate you to keep up your fitness routine.
  2. Set a plan and write it down. We recently shared some info on the importance of making plans to reach your goals, and that’s true for the gym too! Figure out how many times you can realistically get to the gym each week, and plan ahead for which days you’ll go. Then stick with it! It may take a month or more for the gym to become a regular part of your routine, but once it is, we think you’ll find it hard to stop going. It may also help to think of it in terms of how much you’re paying per gym sessions if you go a certain number of times each month, e.g. your $50 membership means it costs $4/session if you go three times a week, or $6/session if you go twice a week, etc.
  3. Find a class you love. Many gyms offer free classes with your membership, so take some time to explore what classes they offer and find one you love! Whether it’s kickboxing, zumba, or spinning, there’s sure to be something that makes you feel great, or an instructor that you find especially encouraging.
  4. Reward yourself. We talked about the importance of rewarding yourself in general recently, but you can use this as a tool to help you go to the gym more too! If there’s a day when you’re having to really talk up the gym to yourself, try and find something you’re okay only having post-workout. Whether there’s a particular smoothie shop on the way home or a way to indulge yourself a little at home, tell yourself you can’t have it unless you go to the gym for a little extra motivation. Just make sure it’s something still somewhat healthy.
  5. Don’t overdo it. Everyone has their limits, and if you’re just starting a new fitness regimen, you’ll need to find yours. Give yourself rest days when you need them, and take the time to work up to running longer distances or lifting heavier weights. You can always work your way up to doing more, but injuring yourself will only set you back.
  6. Work on eating healthy too. Working out and eating healthy go hand in hand for making you healthier overall, so pair the two together. The trick is to create a sustainable plan. So rather than cutting out something you love altogether, work on limiting certain foods or plan healthy meals to help you make the most of your new fitness plan.

Try as many of our tips as you can, and let us know how you do!

Holiday Recovery: How to Get Back On Track After Overindulging

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Woman working out

Between holiday meals, parties, and bad weather, it’s easy to fall off the healthy-living wagon. While a little indulging every now and again won’t make or break you diet, you can usually tell when you’ve gone a little overboard.

If you monopolized the cookies or hit the eggnog a little hard, it’s not too late to get back on track. Here are 6 things to focus on this week to help you start 2015 on the right foot:

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Keeping Fit During the Busy Season

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Walking up stairs

Between holiday preparations like shopping and cookie-baking, family time, and bad weather, there are so many excuses not to work out this season. In fact, December is the least active month of the year for Fitbit users! Unfortunately, this is also a time of year when we tend to overindulge in the sweets and eggnog. After all, we’re all going to get healthy next month, right? Wrong: if you’ve ever successfully completed a New Year’s resolution before, studies have shown that you’re in the minority.

We know you’re busy, but here at Fitbit we’re all about creating a lifestyle that works for you even when taking 2% of your day to get fit sounds like too much. So today we’re focusing on fitting in fitness wherever you can.

  1. Short & sweet is better than none: So maybe you don’t have time to go on a 5-mile walk. Or a 1-mile walk. Or… you get the picture. But even if all you can do is get up and take a lap around the block — or even the house — make the commitment to at least do that every day. You can always increase your workout length if time allows, and as long as you don’t let your exercise time diminish to zero you can go to bed each night knowing that you did something.
  2. Take the stairs: If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you know that by taking the stairs you’re upping your efficiency by burning about 5x more calories. And while it can be tempting to hop into an elevator or step onto the escalator, you need to get up to the next floor one way or another. So why not count it toward that day’s workout?
  3. Exercise during phone calls: One benefit to cordless phones? You can pace while getting work done! Turn phone time into fit time by walking around or stretching while talking.
  4. Think quality, not quantity: One way to maximize your workouts all year long is to be as efficient as possible with the time you have. If you can manage a run instead of a walk, go for it. Or if you can handle a 15-minute high-intensity workout, try that instead of the same old workout routine you’re used to. Search online for “15-minute workout” or even “4-minute workout” and you’ll come up with plenty of options that can work for you.
  5. Be prepared to eat healthy: Fast food is popular for a variety of reasons, but you can find the same quick and easy meals in your own home if you plan ahead. Be sure to keep your fridge stocked with healthy foods that are easy to turn into a meal, and don’t underestimate the power of a slow cooker.
  6. Turn everyday tasks into mini-workouts: Even when you’re busy there are certain things that you get done each day that involve standing around, like brushing your teeth or doing the dishes. Take these moments to fit in some exercise by doing squats, balancing on one foot, or pressing onto your toes for a calf workout. If you really want to step it up, try doing some of these lunge variations while walking around the house!

How are you keeping fit this season? Let us know in the comments!

 

Cold Weather Training: 6 Tips for Running in the Fall & Winter

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winter running

We recently wrote about Fall fitness tips to help you keep pumped and active all season long. But today, let’s take it a step further with specific tips for all you runners/joggers out there!

If you’re planning to stay on schedule with your running as the weather’s getting cold, there are some extra things to keep in mind. Race season may be months away, but keeping up with your running goals now will help you pick up your training right where you left off once the weather warms up.

Here’s how to stay focused:

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Fall Fitness Tips to Keep You Active

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fall fitness

Changing weather can also mean a change in routine, which is the perfect time to update your fitness habits. While it may be tempting to let things become more relaxed when schedules fill up and sweaters come out of the closet, keeping up with your fitness goals (or creating new ones!) is the perfect way to stay healthy all year long. To make the most out of your Fall fitness plans, here are some tips to keep things going:

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Stay Active While Keeping Up With Your Favorite Fall Shows

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Indoor workout

Fall sometimes means a change to routine; with kids back in school, the weather quickly changing, and the holiday season just around the corner there’s plenty of new things to disrupt our workout schedules. But even with a busier schedule and cooler weather, there are still plenty of ways to keep up with your daily goals.

One way to work fitness into an otherwise-sedentary routine? Work out during your favorite Fall shows! There’s no reason you can’t keep up with your favorite series and get off the couch at the same time. So to help you move more, here are just a few ways work in a little extra exercise in your day.

  • Walk laps during commercials. If you aren’t able to fast-forward through the ads, why stick around to watch? Unless it’s Super Bowl time, you won’t be missing much. So get up and walk laps for the two minutes or so they’re running, and you’ll probably boost your step count by a few hundred at a time! We bet you can reach 1000 before the end of an episode if you do this for every commercial.
  • Finish a 15-minute workout between episodes. Not into commercials, and binge-watching something on Netflix instead? Promise yourself to get up and do a quick workout between episodes. It could be as simple as completing a circuit workout you like, or try something new each time. If you need some suggestions of where to start, there are plenty of workouts we’ve shared that can be easily modified.
  • Create a workout game. Create a game that lets you work out when certain things happen in the show. So every time Prince Charming and Snow kiss you do 10 crunches, or get up for 20 squats whenever they start a new workout on Biggest Loser. Figure something out that will see you sweating by the end of an episode!
  • Switch up sitting/standing between commercials. Sitting for most of the day is bad for your health. Even though it’s tempting to collapse on the couch after a long day, try to minimize how much you’re sitting by standing up every other commercial, and staying standing until the next commercial.
  • Use TV time as a reward for exercise. Sometimes you just need some downtime, and we get that too. But if you want that half hour of uninterrupted couch time, AND want to motivate yourself to exercise more, try using your time with the TV as a reward for working out. So tell yourself you aren’t allowed to watch the latest episode until you complete a workout, and you’ll have a regular workout routine in no time!

If you’re already finding ways to get extra steps at home, let us know in the comments!

Sweet Surrender: 5 Easy Tips to Cut Back on Sugar

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sugar

“Sugar has a bullseye on its back these days”—that’s what one of the speakers said at a recent nutrition conference I attended.

But rather than rolling our eyes at all the “sugar media,” we should realize there’s truth to this messaging. Sugar stinks and it deserves all the negative press it’s receiving.

However, I don’t believe quitting sugar cold-turkey is always the answer. In reality, you need a plan. We all need guidance and using Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar, we quit sugar in the Foodtrainers’ offices for one month.

As someone who has never felt especially drawn to a dessert tray or cookie plate, it was still extremely difficult. Sugar lurks everywhere. So here are a few tips if you’re planning a sugar breakup or just looking to spend less time together with your sweet old pal. read more

Essential Sleep Tips: How to Wake Up Easier in the Morning

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sleep image 9-30

Fall is the perfect season for sleep. Cool and crisp nights cuddled up in a blanket are the best. That is, until you need to get up the next morning.

In full disclosure: I’m a morning lark so in a lot of ways, the dark mornings help me sleep in to a normal human hour (rather than waking at 5:45am with the sun). But for many people, the dark mornings make it even harder to get up and going, especially on workdays.

Aside from improving your sleep by tracking your progress with a Fitbit Flex or One, here are a few tips for increasing your ability to hop out of bed, even before the sunrise: read more

7 Science-Backed Numbers to Improve Your Life

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Useful Science is a nonprofit run by 48 grad students and professionals. The authors of this article are Jay Olson from McGill, Kyle Saikaley from the University of Toronto, and Jaan Altosaar from Princeton. Email them at hello@usefulscience.org.

useful science

You shouldn’t need a PhD to reap the rewards of science. Here are seven of our favorite studies relevant to everyday life that show how small changes can have big effects.

We hope this recipe format helps you remember the science!

 

• 70 decibels—the optimal noise level for creativity

Creativity flows best at 70 decibels — the average noise level in a coffee shop. To figure this out, researchers at the University of British Columbia played a jumble of cafeteria, construction, and traffic sounds while participants performed a creative task. People were most creative with a moderate amount of background noise.

When it was too quiet (like a library) or too loud (like a New York City subway), performance suffered. But, you don’t need a coffee shop for peak creativity: apps like Coffitivity and soundrown can mimic the coffee shop audible ambiance.

 

30 minutes of sun every morning

sun morning
This half hour of sunlight makes it easier to wake up the next morning. And for best health, sleep 7 to 8 hours per night — no more, no less. Sleeping much shorter or longer is associated with increased mortality and abdominal fat.

People can improve their sleep by controlling their exposure to light. Before bed, limiting light exposure (especially from screens on devices) can improve sleep quality. Controlling light exposure before traveling can also help reduce jet lag.There are awesome apps for waking earlier, limiting light exposure from laptops, and reducing jet lag.

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