In the two years I’ve written the SISTERS fitness column I’ve avoided talking about losing weight. Why? Because exercise is, first and foremost, a tool to make your body healthier, stronger, and to prevent disease. Working out, no matter how efficient, consistent, or effective it is, WILL NOT directly result in weight loss if a proper, moderate, and nutritious diet isn’t adhered to. Granted, you might lose a small bit of weight if you are new to exercising and you suddenly start to move your body, but the truth is that only relying on exercise to take off the pounds will not work in the long term.
Having said that, let me explain the title of this article. I recently purchased a wrist-worn fitness tracker. You’ve heard of FitBits and similar products, right? I bought one of those. It tracks my heart beat, calories burned (an estimate), and the number of steps I take each day. Here’s why I believe I began to lose weight (seven pounds and counting) since I strapped on my new gadget. Each day when I see the step counter roll over to 10,000 steps – that most hallowed of all fitness figures – I quietly rejoice and log a victory. Therein lies the key, at least for me. See, when I’ve dropped extra pounds in the past, I’ve often only had these visible victories, i.e. a numbers-based victory, when the scale went down or when I dropped a dress size. Needless to say this was not a victory I celebrated daily, which meant keeping my motivation level high was a challenge. However, when every day you see that step count increase simply by putting one foot in front of the other, it makes it that much easier to sustain the motivation to continue with healthy eating habits. For me, that’s been a crucial part of my success, especially at the end of the day when I’m hankering for chocolate.
Checking how many steps I’ve taken that day and realizing how close I am to my daily goal of 10,000 gives me pause and stops me from reaching for the cookies. It reminds me that I’ve met one goal for the day and it pushes me to meet another: eating sensibly. Accomplishing that is so much easier for me when I can see my progress right there on my wrist, each day, instead of on the scale once a week. It’s sad to admit, but waiting a week to see a numbers-based change in our bodies is often the death knell for even the most motivated among us, and I’m no exception.
I know that losing extra weight is hard. I’ve been there so many times. Granted, I’ve exercised consistently for more than 20 years and I enjoy a healthy body because of it, but sometimes I carry too much weight and that stops me short of being as healthy as I could be. But for now, my new little gadget is working, day by day.
Carissa D. Lamkahouan is a career writer, journalist and mum of three. She enjoys fitness, reading and travelling to Morocco, the homeland of her husband. She has been a Muslim since 2005 and lives in Houston, Texas.