High-Tech Weight Loss
Do electronic devices and services designed to help you drop pounds actually work? The experts weigh in
Online Diet Programs continued...
"While I don't think that an online program will ever replace in-person
counseling with a nutritionist or physician, the anonymity of online dieting,
along with the low cost and convenience, do appear to increase compliance and
motivation," says Heller. And that, she notes, increases dieting
Bottom line: If you can't afford in-person counseling -- or
it's not convenient for you -- the online weight loss community could be your
new best friend. If you're spending time at your computer anyway, these web
sites are bound to prove more productive than games, shopping, or even surfing.
And who knows? You might make some great friends, too.
New Age Pedometers
These New Age pedometers measure how many steps you take -- and a lot
How they work: Like ordinary pedometers, they strap onto
your belt to track your steps. But some of the newer versions go the extra mile
to calculate all your activity. The Bell Total Fit Pedometer has both walk and
run mode, plus a step counter, and a calculator for total distance, speed, and
calories burned. The SportBrain 1 step X1 has a similar setup, plus a computer
USB cable that connects you to a web site where you can download software to
chart your progress, along with other motivational tools.
The cost: $30-$40
What the experts say: "A pedometer is only going to
give you a rough estimate of the number of steps you're taking and if you
change your cadence, or stop and go, they all lose sensitivity," says
Schlifstein. So, he says, if you're walking around town, or going up and down
stairs, they may be a waste of time. "I don't recommend any pedometers for
weight loss," he says.
Sandon says pedometers can be good motivators but cautions that accuracy
depends on correct placement of the device. "It has to go on or near the
hip in order to register the movement of a stride," she says.
Bottom line: One of the best things about pedometers,
whether high-tech or the ordinary kind, is that they can shock you into
realizing just how sedentary your life is. Even a rough estimate of how much
you move, compared to the suggested 10,000 steps a day, could motivate you to
get up off the couch.