Can a fitness watch help me lose weight?

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My Garmin Fenix 3 HR

Fitness watches are pretty popular these days. I’ve owned more than a few starting with a Jawbone UP followed by the Fitbit Surge and currently the Garmin Fenix 3 HR. I bought the Jawbone UP because I wanted to analyze my sleep more than anything, but I figured that having a device count my steps would help motivate me to move which in turn would help me lose weight.

Did it help motivate me to move? It did, for a while. However, as I began to notice that my walking had no real impact on my weight loss, I ignored the little “Get up and move” notifications from my UP and used it mostly for sleep analysis and counts of how much or how little I walked. Not much else.

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My Fitbit Surge

The Surge was half smartwatch half fitness watch, but what really changed things for me was the heartrate display and the GPS built into the device that allowed me to track walks and runs with pinpoint accuracy. This could be used to truly analyze my progress, and I have to admit that this big change helped usher me into walking, jogging, and finally, into running. The Surge made it possible for me to go back and look at my run utilizing data that helped me find ways to improve my runs, areas to work on, and to find trends (I run faster in the mornings with my pace dropping only after two miles, for instance).

Moving to the Garmin Fenix 3 HR was an evolutionary step in many ways. The smartwatch features are greatly enhanced in the Fenix 3 as is the GPS and health tracking. The amount of data the Fenix 3 gathers and analyzes is staggering and impressive. However, what really got me were the larger display, ability to change watch bands, and the battery’s longevity. My Surge, a wonderful watch, was beginning to exhibit signs of battery life degradation. I was needing to charge it every 2-3 days depending on GPS use (more often if I used the GPS function for a run). My Garmin, on the other hand, can go around two weeks even with three GPS uses a week. That’s quite a difference!

Both the Fitbit and the Garmin worked with Bluetooth while the old Jawbone required a connection to my phone via a headphone jack (which takes it out of play with the iPhone 7 I now use). I understand that the original UP was a first-generation wearable fitness tracker, so I won’t hold that limitation against it.

So, back to the original question: will using a fitness tracker help me lose weight? I honestly don’t think so but that’s mostly because weight loss is a function of diet while fitness is the result of exercise. So, will a fitness tracker enable you to become more fit? Absolutely. It can definitely help as it has helped me. Will it help you lose weight? Maybe, but it really hasn’t for me. If you want to do something to lose weight, read about Whole30 or Paleo. If you want to have some cool tech help you get more fit and healthy, then sure, a fitness tracker is a great tool, but it doesn’t guarantee weight loss or even fitness. Ultimately, that’s all up to you.

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