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October 09, 2007

Token Fat Guy Goes High Tech!

A few weeks ago I wrote about a TV show that I started to follow, 'The Biggest Loser'.  For those of you that missed that posting....

TFG Reviews "The Biggest Loser"

...it is a reality show where they take a bunch of fat people and pit them against each other in a weight loss competition.  The winner gets a big cash prize.  Despite the fact that I despise reality TV, I enjoy this show because it really captures the struggle that most people feel during their dieting attempts.  And if it can motivate a few people to switch off the TV for awhile and walk their fat asses around the block....then I'm all for it.

Anyway, I'd been reading some of the show's blog about the trainers and one of the trainers was asked about the arm bands that the contestants started wearing in session three.  The trainer said they were called BodyBuggs and that they tracked how many calories were burned by each person. 

bodybugg

That sounded pretty cool...especially in light of my resent gross miscalculation about how many calories I should be eating.  Imagine a device that would take all the guess work out of keeping up with your caloric deficit.

deficit NOTE:  A caloric deficit refers to the difference between how many calories you consume (eat/drink) and how many calories you burn.  If you consume more than you burn, it is a caloric surplus and you will gain weight.  If you burn more than you consume, then it is a caloric deficit and you will lose weight.

The problem with the caloric deficit is that you want it to be enough to maximize your weight loss....but NOT so high that your body responds by slowing down your metabolism.  If your body starts slowing down then it is actually harder to create a deficit because you aren't burning calories at as high a rate as you normally do.  And if your caloric deficit is too high you will also burn muscle mass instead of fat.

The widely accepted rule of thumb is to use a daily caloric deficit between 500 and 1000 calories.  But again, it becomes a struggle because if you incorrectly estimate how many calories you are burning, then it really IS like trying to hit a moving target.

NOTE:  Don't get me wrong, it can be done.  I did it for a year and lost in the neighborhood of 50 pounds (and that's with about 3 months of being off my diet).  You don't HAVE to have a bunch of high tech gizmos to lose weight.  I just like gadgets.

To make the job easier, its BodyBugg to the rescue.  By tracking how many calories you REALLY burn, it makes hitting the target infinitely easier.  Not only that, but you get to see how each activity you do during the day affects your caloric burn.  And as a bonus for the geek in us...its kind of like playing a video game.

The more I read about it the more excited I got.  Then <sigh> I saw the price.  EEEKK!  It is NOT cheap.  But I REALLY wanted one.  So my lovely wife, Heather, got me one as an anniversary gift (happiest 12 years of my life...thanks Sweetling).  If you are wondering, I got her a digital camera.

I waited and waited for my BodyBugg to arrive for what seemed like weeks (it was in fact just a few days).  I was worried about doing the setup for it.  People on the forums talked about having to get people at their gym to set it up for them.  But I need not worry at all.  The install was easy....and soon I had my BodyBugg arm band on my arm...acting like a caloric 'big brother'.

After wearing it for a couple hours, I sync'ed it up with the web site that keeps track of all my stats.  First it shows you some bars indicating your caloric burn, caloric intake, and caloric deficit....

bars 

Which is pretty cool in itself.  Then it gives you a break down of how many calories you burn per minute....

mins

Which is really helpful because it shows how much I burn while I do different activities.  Like that large spike at around 5pm was when I was running on the treadmill.  The smaller spikes where me walking around the office at work.  And of course the long, flat area between 12am and 8am was me sleeping.

HOW COOL IS THAT!?

The site has some additional tools so you can see your averages over time and stuff like that.  And as part of the price, you get two sessions with a BodyBugg trainer to help you setup your exercise plan and interpret what the BodyBugg is telling you.  I'm not as excited about that bit...since I already have a plan suited to my lifestyle.  But having some one to answer my questions is nice.   

So I've been sporting my BodyBugg for about a week now.  I've learned all sorts of things about the different ways I can affect the rate at which I burn calories.  I don't want to post too much about it now as I don't feel that a week's worth of data is statistically significant.  So I'll hold off telling that part for now.  Maybe in about a month I'll talk about it again and give you all some results to chew on.

Progress Report 

Thanks to BodyBugg, my weight loss has picked up again.  I'm closer and closer to recovering the ground I lost.  Barring incident I should be back on track in about a month....maybe sooner.

Currently I'm 4 pounds up from my low point. 

It has been 6 weeks since I cycled my exercises for weight training.  So I had to put together a new plan.  The first week on a new plan always sucks for me.  I don't know what my new maximums are for anything.  So I spend most of my workout time figuring out how much I can lift.  I end up only getting in 1 or 2 good sets per muscle group.

NOTE:  A 'set' refers to a group of 'reps'.  A 'rep' or repetition is the common name given to the act of lifting and lowering a weight one time.  So if I do a 'bench press' at 100 pounds and I do it 10 times....I say I did a 'set' of 10 'reps' at 100 pounds....or I did a 'set' at 100.  Gym Rat Speak

press

...anyway, since my first week with a new plan is usually me figuring out how much I can actually lift, I don't get much out of it.  Second week will be better.

Some bad news...I had to go to the dentist again.  When it rains is pours...seriously....who told the Universe that I needed to spend more time in the dentist chair?  I had to get a new filling...unrelated to my previous tooth issue.  In fact I'm still waiting for my new crown to come in (next week) so I can get that put in. 

Well, I need to wrap this up and get it published.  I have an appointment with my BodyBugg trainer tonight and I want to make sure I don't miss it.  YES!  I HAVE OTHER THINGS TO DO TODAY!  I CAN'T KEEP WRITING THIS FOREVER!  GO AWAY!  AND NO FUNNY PICTURES OF DOGS TODAY!

nose HEY!  How'd you get in here?

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