Can a Fitness Tracker Alone Help You Lose Weight?
Today I want to share my experience as a Fitbit Fanatic striving for a healthy weight for years. This post is about something important to my own daily life, and I am grateful that my Noom Weight Loss App Review caught Noom's attention because they are my partner in bringing you this post. All opinions are mine. I am also sharing my affiliate links in this post.
If you have been a long time reader of mine you will know that I am a longtime fitbit fan. I still wear one every single day. (This one is my all time favorite fitbit.)
I credit my good old fitbit flex with spurring me to start walking my kids to school, which is a daily routine that felt like a chore when I started, and now I absolutely love.
Have you jumped on the step tracking bandwagon? If not, let's a take a quick look at what a step tracker is. Feel free to skip this part if you already have one!
What is a Step Tracker?
A step tracker, fitness tracker or fitness watch (these names are often used interchangeably), is a wearable gadget whose main purpose is to measure your step count each day.
The idea behind counting your steps came from Japan, where people are encouraged to walk 10,000 steps each day.
Depending on the model of fitness watch that you choose, you will also find features including:
- Sleep Tracking
- Swim Tracking (Related: Best Fitness Trackers for Swimming)
- Heart Rate Monitor
- Built In GPS (some are on board and some use your phone for connected GPS)
- Color Screen
- Contactless Payment (Technology like Apple Pay or Fitbit Pay allow you to link your credit card to your account and pay using your fitness watch. Cool!)
- Some are Waterproof while others are merely water resistant (No, All Fitbits are NOT Waterproof!)
- Sports tracking
- Guided Relaxation
- Basic stats like calories burned and distance walked
- Usually each one is connected to your phone with an app (Like the Fitbit App)
- Like-minded community (on the app)
- Challenges to compete with friends
With all these fitness tracking features, these smart watches can give you so much information about how much you are moving each day, and they can help you see that you need to move more each day.
Here's the thing about fitness trackers though. While they can be an awesome motivator to get more movement each day, there are several mistakes we can fall into if we use fitness trackers alone for weight loss.
Let's look at some of the most common fitness tracker mistakes and a perfect solution to help solve them.
Self Rewarding Behavior with Step Goals
Studies have shown that often people have fallen into the trap of rewarding themselves when they hit their step goal.
I know I have been guilty of this mistake.
I hit my step goal, and think, “Oh I can splurge at dinner tonight” or “I deserve a treat!”
That is one major reason I found that I was hitting my step goal each day but still not losing weight.
Have you ever wondered how many steps you were getting before having a tracker? Or how many calories you were burning before? If you didn't know that, there is a good chance you could be over eating while still hitting your step goal (or whatever number you reach).
Binge Eating or Mindless Eating
Another common mistake new fitness tracker users make is to start out really gung-ho, increase their steps and exercise, and then not balance the equation with healthy foods.
For me, this led to what I would call my hulk-out moments. I'd be so ravenously hungry that I'd just fly through the pantry looking for the closest, easiest food I could find. And it usually wasn't a healthy one.
As a mom, it would often happen for me during my kids afternoon snack time. My tank was on empty. Dinner wasn't going to be for another several hours and the last thing on my mind was fruit or veggies.
Do you ever have this happen? Kids or no kids, the afternoon can leave you hungry and primed for bad choices.You are not alone.
Focusing Only on Exercise
Finally, when you start out using a fitness tracker, you are often so focused on raising your activity level that you are not really looking at the other side of the equation.
If you are ignoring all the bad eating habits that you have developed over the years, no amount of steps can make up for it.
Not to mention, as soon as you are unable to keep up with your steps, you are still left with bad eating habits.
I found this out a few different times, when I had various injuries that landed me in physical therapy and practically grounded me on my daily quest for steps.
There has to be a better way than JUST focusing on your steps.
The Perfect Weight Loss Plan to Pair with a Fitness Tracker
For all their potential downfalls, I still love my Fitbit and I do my best to hit my step goal every day.
But I had to solve this problem. I had to balance the other side of the equation. I had to get a grip on stress eating and mindless snacking.
For me, even with all the Fitbit steps I found myself 1 pound away from the heaviest I'd ever been. I knew I needed to change my eating habits for good or else I would just stay on this weight loss roller coaster.
I had tried so many programs out there in the past, only to return to my old bad habits.
Finally I found something different. It was a weight loss program that literally changes your bad habits and helps you develop good habits for the rest or your life.
The program I found was a paid weight loss app called Noom. (They offer a free trial at the end of this short quiz.)
At first, I thought, “Well here goes another diet. We'll see.”
But I decided right away I was going to do the paid version because I was NOT going to gain that next pound. There was no turning back, no backing out.
And as it turns out, you can link your fitness tracker to Noom, so finally, both sides of the equation are coming into play.
What is Noom and Why Is It Different?
Noom Weight Loss is a smartphone app that pairs common weight loss app features like calorie counting and weight loss tracking with some very unique features.
The most impactful feature for me was the short daily lessons (think like the length of a social media post, if you can read a post on Facebook or Instagram, you can do this). Basically each week you focus on one obstacle to being a healthy weight (stress eating, social eating, unsupportive loved ones, etc). You read about it, then you think about it in your own life, then you make a plan for how you are going to deal with it.
You also get one-on-one accountability with a certified goal specialist (many are nutritionist and registered dieticians) as well as support from other Noom users in the program in your Noom Group. You can talk to both your coach and your group from right within the app.
My regular check-ins with my goal coach allowed me to pick one thing to focus on that week. We would check in if I was struggling or talk about strategies to help me accomplish my goal. If the going got tough I could also sound off with my group. In the group chat, we talked about things like what to say to a spouse who always brings home junk food, or that aunt that always insists on a second plate of food. Or what to do when you go out for happy hour after work. You could celebrate your wins, troubleshoot your struggles or otherwise get support.
Noom is nice because you get the benefit of the certified coaches as well as support from people who are in your shoes.
The last cool feature that I loved about Noom was the Red, Yellow, Green food log. Basically each day you log your food (it's as easy as typing it in or scanning the product bar code) and each food is assigned a color. (Check out my cool Noom Food Lists if you decide to join, they are a huge help!)
No foods are off limits with Noom, you are supposed to have all three colors every day. You choose your foods, there aren't really strict meal plans to follow.
For me, during my first week every single food I logged was red! EVERY LAST ONE! Honestly. It was a wake-up call. Obviously what I was doing wasn't working.
We all THINK we know how to eat healthy but looking at what you actually eat every day shows that we don't follow through. I know, I was there too.
So getting back to the whole question of Can a Fitness Tracker Help you Lose weight? It totally can motivate you get more activity each day, and give you a good picture of your daily activity. But unless you pair your tracker with better eating habits, I just don't think a fitness tracker can do it alone.
Here are some helpful resources if you are ready to pair Noom with a Fitness Tracker:
- Take this short quiz to get your customized plan and Start Your Trial of Noom Today
- Fitbit Ionic vs. Fitbit Versa vs. Fitbit Charge 3
- Review of the Fitbit Inspire HR (the newest budget friendly fitness tracker)
- The Best Fitness Trackers that are ACTUALLY Waterproof