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Life Tools (Fitness): BodyMedia Fit Review

The primary focus of my blog revolves around saving money, without sacrificing the pleasures of life.  Therefore, this type of fitness review might not be applicable to you or your situation.  I am of the opinion that the BodyMedia Fit is very much aligned with many of the tactics I follow in life.  As I have stated in prior blogs  there is no such thing as too much data.  From a financial standpoint you need to know where every dollar is earned and spent in order to make meaningful changes to your financial situation.  In the savings world it’s a simple equation of income – expenses = savings or debt.  So as long as I am making more than I am spending I am in good shape.  Ultimately you would like to have enough money left after expenses to set up a nice savings for emergencies and future, but it all starts with knowing your numbers.

BodyMedia Fit Simplisticsaving.comKnowing your numbers is what the BodyMedia Fit is all about.  It’s a small little device you wear on your left tricep and it tracks your daily fitness activity.  The equation is very similar for weight loss and finances.  Calories In – Calories Out = Fat or Not.  In this case the savings portion would be fat depositing itself to your midsection.  If you burn more calories through activity than you ingest through food then you will lose weight.  Actually every 3,500 calorie deficit should equal 1 pound of fat lost.  Knowing your numbers is essential to improving your health.  While there are many different excellent programs to track weight and log daily food intake, the options to show calories burned are not as abundant.  The best part about this gizmo is that you need not be a fitness guru to tap into its immense value.

My activity log goes back to February 2011, when I first bought my BodyMedia Fit.  Over this time I have gone some stretches without wearing it, but for the most part I have data for the past 2 years.  With this data I can see how my weight has fluctuated based on my activity level.  I have a very solid baseline so that I can actually see if any particular day is more productive than my average activity day.

Pros

The BodyMedia Fit, for me, is less intrusive than wearing a pedometer around and provides very accurate data on the number of steps taken.  The BodyMedia Fit acts as a pedometer on steroids though.  It not only tracks the number of steps taken, but the intensity of the activity.  The device sits against your skin to detect subtle changes in temperature, moisture and movement and analyzes all of these data points in some sort of proprietary magic.  The BodyMedia Fit website states that the device analyzes 5,000 data points per minute, while I cannot independently confirm this I do know that it just works.  When you are running around and being active this device will measure the number of calories burned.  Whether this number is totally accurate is difficult to say, but if the activity manager says I was active at a certain time, it coincides with my actual activity levels.

In addition to measuring your activity it is also a useful tool to measuring how many hours of sleep you get per night.  Again, I am not certain how this works, but it is very interesting to see.  Ever have a night where you go to bed early, but wake up the next day feeling groggy?  This device does an excellent job of calculating the number of hours you spend in sleep and also measures sleep efficiency using the number of hours laying down versus the number of hours asleep.

Cons

Reading the review so far, it should be obvious that I think the BodyMedia Fit is a great product, but that does not mean it is without its faults.  My primary gripe revolves around its subscription based website model.  Sure, many products are moving to cloud services, but that does not mean I need to like it.  I would rather buy the device and then load the data to my computer every day without the need for a monthly bill.  At $7.00 a month that’s pretty expensive and prohibits all but the most dedicated fitness gurus from sticking with the program.  Earlier this year they offered 1 year packages for $59 and 2 year for 89.  I signed up for the $89 2 year membership and find this to be much more reasonable.  However, it seems that they have gone back to their previous monthly fee which is disappointing.  I also have the Bluetooth version of the BodyMedia Fit and have found it difficult to connect to my Galaxy S2, but no problems with my Galaxy Note 2.  Overall though the Bluetooth is a bit buggy and not a great addition.

Conclusion

I definitely enjoy the BodyMedia Fit and actually own 2 of the units.  I bought the Core in 2011 and bought the bluetooth enabled device in 2013.  I do not feel like the Bluetooth model is worth the extra money because I find it annoying to have to pair the device on multiple occasions.  Overall I recommend this device for everyone as it tracks your activity and sleep throughout the day.  I wear mine around the clock and never run into any issues.  My sister bought the same unit and she finds it to be too noticeable on her arm and instead of embracing her healthy lifestyle she is embarrassed by the unit and wears it less frequently than I.  If you are interested in buying one of these units I would recommend doing so, but look into signing up for a yearly package to make it a better deal.

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The Most Important Financial Tip (and Weight Loss) You Will Ever Read

 

 

The most important financial tip (and weight loss) you will ever read! This same advice can be generalized to other aspects of your life and help you there too!  This one tip can even help you manage money, lose weight, reduce stress and become a more informed person! This sounds like a late night infomercial claim made by a greasy guy (probably sporting a pony tail) in a cheap suit, but it’s actually the truth.  For my money this is a tip that I would be absolutely lost fiscally if I did not do this.  The answer of course, as you have probably guessed, is winning the lottery.  Then when you win the lottery hire a dietician and personal trainer and you will look great!  Unfortunately there is no easy fix such as this that is 100% foolproof even having great sums of money (I’m looking at you M.C. Hammer and Mike Tyson) is absolutely useless if you do not follow my real financial tip.

Make that cheddar

 

Let’s imagine that we have some weight to lose.  You go to your doctor and say, “I’ve been trying to lose weight for a month and have not lost a pound”.  Assuming that this doctor does not go immediately to some weight loss drug or recommend lap band surgery what will she need to know?

She will ask, “What have you been doing to lose weight?”

You will obviously reply, “I have been eating really good and working out”.

At this point is where there is a problem because your data are flawed.  Many people who are unsuccessful at losing weight or reshaping their body do not know what “eating really good” is in the first place.  I remember for about 3 hours 10 years ago I had a six pack.  This was achieved through disciplined exercise and eating.  I remember at a work potluck I remained in my office.  One of my co-workers came into my office devouring a giant slice of cake, “Hey you need to get some food back there”.

I said, “No thanks, I brought a lunch.” As I ate my grilled chicken breast and broccoli secretly wanting to eat some cake and other baked goods.

She responded, “Come on, you don’t need to eat that, you’re not even fat”

This exchange was immediately reminiscent of the old Head and Shoulders commercial where the woman says, “You use Head & Shoulders?  But you don’t have any dandruff?!?!?!?” and the guy says, “Exactly”.  Knowing that his lack of dandruff was due to his diligence in choosing a shampoo that kept his scalp flakes at bay.  Equally important when I lost weight and had a six pack was making my goal and sticking to it.  I knew that eating healthy food and exercising were very important to implement my plan.  However, when I was starting I did not realize how unhealthy I was in the first place.

It is impossible for a doctor or accountant to develop a plan for you based on “I have been eating really good and working out”.  We need to have a detailed account of what we have been doing as it relates to the aspect of our life that we would like to change.  If you come to your doctor with a baseline of all the foods you have consumed and exercise you have done she can help you from there.  It is too easy to say that you have been eating really good, but leave out the Coke you drank or maybe you are eating “Fat Free” cookies thinking that these are healthy snacks.

Using Financial Software

Since May 2004, I have tracked every dollar I have earned and spent.  This is the most important financial tip I can share!  With more information available one can make better, informed, decisions.  If I am not tracking my spending and spend a few bucks on lottery tickets every few days that is no big deal.  Where did all the money in my wallet go?  If I am recording every dollar I will see that I am spending $500 a month on lottery tickets, then I know where I need to cut expenses.   This is a drastic example and I would hope that if you are spending six thousand dollars a year on lottery tickets that you are at least cognizant of this wasteful spending.  This record keeping is useful in multiple ways.  Obviously it allows me to track the money I have made and how that money has been spent.  In many ways it also acts as a personal diary.  I can look at a few consecutive transactions and recall specific events of a day from nearly 10 years ago.  Sure, I already have a fantastic memory, but if I allow myself a few pieces of information it allows me to be transported back to that day (YMMV).

Why I Started this Record Keeping

In May of 2004 I bought a new computer and had a free copy of Microsoft Money.  I found myself constantly opening my wallet and thinking, “Where did my money go?”, I usually did not have an easy answer.  Sometimes I could retrace my spending, but usually I just let it rest.  Once I had the program and more financial responsibilities I decided to give it a try.  Although I spent less money in 2004 it was actually more labor intensive to track.  Most of my expenses were paid with cash which is not exactly optimal for recording expenses.

Recording Cash (Tip)

One trick that I developed at that time was to create a category called “Cash” and whatever amount was in my wallet was reflected in this account.  The first few transactions I would laboriously track all of my spending down to the penny.   I quickly learned that this was not time efficient, nor was it a viable option for long term spending.  I decided to devise a rounding system that worked for me.  If I went out to the grocery and purchased a soda that was $1.06 and I handed them two dollar bills,  I would record it as $2 and then put the change in a jar.  If I paid with one dollar bill and six cents of change I would record it as $1.  I only treat dollar bills as money for the sake of recordkeeping in my wallet.  I found that this minimalizes the work involved in recording money spent.  It also acts as a form of savings by never spending change, even quarters, I was saving a fairly substantial amount.

Recommendations

I personally use Quicken, but mostly because it was very easy to import my data from Microsoft Money which I used because it was included with my computer.  Mint is a very good free internet based platform that even includes an app for your phone.  If I were just starting out with keeping my data I would start here.  The most important thing is that you keep it in whatever manner is most conducive to you actually doing it.  You can have the most advanced financial software developed by NASA, but if you never use it then it is useless.  If you would use a notebook or ledger on the other hand you should definitely use that instead.  Maybe I am too trusting, but I link all of my banking accounts into Quicken and Mint and download these transactions every few days.  I then go through and categorize spending appropriately.

Using Data

Once you have data on your spending you will be able to use this to implement changes nearly immediately.  Another funny phenomenon happens by virtue of your own awareness you may actually spend less.  You start to make the decisions up front about purchases you may regret.

This same thing happens even more when you are trying to keep track of what you are eating. You look at the number of calories per serving and rethink even eating it.   If you are losing weight write down what you eat and round up on the servings you are consuming.  These kinds of data are not only important for getting help from others, but greatly improve self reflection.  It’s easy to say I don’t spend much money on food, but when I break down spending it becomes a little more clear.

 

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