Continuously track your steps, sleep habits, and know the number of calories you’ve burned – real time, full time. There are a bunch of these interfaces and applications out there and of course each has different features and are focused on different types of people from dieters to athletes. They connect to apps on your iPhone, iPad, Android, and home computer. They give you feedback on your activity levels and tell you to do more when you are not doing enough in key areas for optimal health, weight loss or physical fitness.

If you can measure it, you can manage it

Knowing what you are burning – the kind of food you eat and your activity – gives you control over your metabolism. Simply understanding diet and exercise at a quantitative and qualitative level is how you keep your body burning calories at or above your intake level. In other words, less food and better food choices and activity that raises your heart rate to the level you burn excess calories instead of metabolizing them into fat. People fool themselves. They slip into long periods of inactivity then the calories they have consumed have nothing to do but store as fat. At this point if they were to get up and take a short walk or exercise period, the calories that would add inches of fat are burned and weight loss can occur. Wouldn’t it be great to have a coach that tells you when you are at the point where a little activity could stop the storage of fat? That’s what activity trackers are all about. They are tools you can use to measure and enforce what weight loss doctor Terry Simpson has told you all along. If you can measure it, you can manage it. Activity trackers give you moment to moment feedback every second of the day and night for absolute measurement and control over your metabolism and rest.

How do activity bands work?

You wear a device – a  wrist band or something that clips to your clothing. Depending on the device it records your motion and type of motion and your sleep quantity and quality. The device connects wirelessly to your mobile device (iPhone, iPad, (Android maybe)) and the app may direct your diet, giving you information about food choices as your needs change and you eat throughout the day. The app is your coach. These are a new level of applications that function at a much higher level for this type of interface. They work from accurate biological information collected only from YOU in real time. It is a serous and extremely sophisticated life coach that customizes itself to work specifically with you and it is with you all the time – 24 hours a day. Depending on the device, you know exactly when, what and how much to eat and when and how much you need to get active, sleep and much, much more.

LarkLife Activity Band

Just being introduced, Larklife says it is an energy manager as well as a 24 hour exercise, diet and sleep tracker. Ah energy – what a great thing to be able to find more of in today’s hectic world huh? That feature in itself is enough to make you want to give it a try. They say you can log what you eat with the push of a button, track Larklife activity monitor bandwhat you’re eating and get tips so you know what you should eat to get more energy (and lose weight). With the Larklife you get 2 wristbands – one  specialized for daytime activities and one specialized for sleeping. They do that so one will charge while the other is used. So while others talk about 24 hour coverage – Larklife walks the walk. Larklife syncs only to iPhone, iPod Touch,  and iPad.

Step/distance tracking – lets you know how far you walk in a day. It logs your sedentary time and it compares each day with the previous and to known standards so you can progress.

Exercise logging – tracks the type of exercise and the amount of time you do it. Exercise “distance” and calories burned are logged. LarkLife has the ability to discern if you are walking or running.

Calories burned – sums the total of all activity that burns calories in a day.

Fitness alerts – nudges you to move and exercise if you are inactive too long.

Expert fitness coaching – developed by top experts who coach professional athletes.

Accelerometer – tracks “micro-movements” by your body. It can know if you are running or walking. It also tells you when to take a short break to exercise or a productivity break to just take it easy.

Hydration tracking –  With a tap, you can log a drink of water. Tracks the water you drink and tells you when to drink to avoid dehydration.

Meal alerts and reminders – Tells you when to snack for increased energy. They say that counteracts dips in your “circadian rhythm” (the 24-hour body clock that rules all of us).

Expert nutrition coaching – Top nutrition experts tell you what to eat and how to apply the “super foods” to lose weight and energize yourself throughout your day.

Sleep tracking and coaching – the “accelerometer” applies “actigraphy” (rest/activity cycle monitoring) when it records your sleep duration and quality. The device knows if you are awake, tossing and turning or falling asleep. Larklife tells you when to sleep for a consistent  (healthier) bedtime. It has a silent alarm clock to wake you in the morning.

  1. Note: Because activity bands have similar features we will be doing a loose comparison/contrast to the Larklife in our writings about the other brands below (i.e. all activity monitors have an accelerometer). Because of that the ensuing writings will be shorter than Larklife’s even though some models may have more features. We will talk about the exclusive features of each activity monitor given each monitor has similar features to Larklife (above)

Fitbit One activity clip on – with wristband

Fitbit has been making activity monitors for a long time. Their online (web) resources (Dashboard) are the most comprehensive. In addition to your phone app, your data can also easily be viewed on your homeFitbit One activity monitor clip-oncomputer. The Fitbit One device can be put into your pocket making it much more discreet than a band. It costs less than the other offerings. Fitbit One tracks steps, distance and stairs climbed. You manually log other forms of exercise (such as swimming laps). Fitbit has social features. You can use it to connect and compete with others. As with all activity monitors, Fitbit incorporates an “accelerometer” to measure physical motion. It also has an altimeter that competitors make no mention of having. The altimeter tells the device when you are climbing stairs. Fitbit logs your food and water consumption and your weight. You can buy the Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale that taps into your home wireless network to upload your information to your private account automatically each time you step on the scale This is no ordinary scale, it also measures body fat and lean mass. Fitbit One includes a massive food planner for healthy eating and dieting. Fitbit monitors your sleep (or lack of) via the included wrist band which holds the Fitbit device in a pouch. It logs how long you sleep, the number of times you wake up and gives you a sleep quality score. It also has a silent (vibrating) alarm feature. Fitbit displays your data in what they call a dashboard that allows you to track your progress in easy to view and understand graphs. What appears to be a unique feature is the ability to export your Fitbit data into other popular fitness aps such as SparkPeople, Lose It!, MyFitnessPal, and MapMyFITNESS – and you can import data from these applications into Fitbit. In addition to syncing wirelessly to iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, Fitbit will sync with your home computer (Macs and PC) and android devices. It has more connectivity capability than all the other devices.

 Jawbone Up activity band

Jawbone’s activity band comes in a whole lot of different colors for the style oriented consumer. The company’s first introduction of this device was a failure. It just wouldn’t hold up to things such as water exposure. Jawbone Up activity monitor bandNow the device is supposed to be solid. Ten days of battery life may interest those of you who just can’t remember to charge your cell phones. You can track your food consumption. It has a local database of nutritional information about foods. You can also share your data with friends for friendly competitions. The Jawbone Up like most of these devices functions primarily as a pedometer and it allows you to manually enter periods of other forms of exercise. The Jawbone Up lets you log yoga exercises. It also tracks your mood. Stress is proving to be very detrimental to overall health so your mood may be more important than you think. The new Jawbone Up has a coaching feature (the old didn’t). Bad sleep and diet will result in the app telling you how to straighten up. It tracks your quality of sleep and has the token silent alarm. The device can tell if you are lightly sleeping or in deep sleep. The alarm has a unique feature in that it can choose the best time for you to wake up (within a range let’s hope). It also has a “power nap” feature that sets you up with a perfect 26.5 minute sleep time – handy for a quick snooze on the job. At the time of this writing, Jawbone’s data is viewed, processed and stored locally on your iPhone or iPad. Online viewing and processing of your data on your PC is not available. The Jawbone Up can only interface with iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. It’s not PC or android compatible. At the time of this writing, the Jawbone Up does not connect wirelessly. You plug it into your iPhone’s headphone jack. But, Jawbones biggest strength is its visual wow factor. Its app is supposed to be visually stunning and complementary to the band’s aesthetic modern look.

Nike+ Fuelband activity monitor

NIKE – nuff said right? It’s got to be good? Well…it’s not that good – sorta. Sorry folks but the Nike+ is the least capable of all the monitors we reported on. It looks good. But, it only measures motion – no exercise input, Nike+ Fuelband activity monitor bandno sleep monitor, no Hydration tracking, no nutrition coaching, no weight monitoring. It costs more too! It is pretty. Fuel (Activity Points Based on Movement) is Nike’s proprietary measurement of activity. So now you have to think in terms of fuel instead of calories? Hmmmmm – You have to ask yourself, “Do I want to learn a new proprietary standard of measurement?” Supposedly the Fuelband can translate different types of exercise motion into a universal unit of measurement for activity (fuel). Do I think this device is that smart? How would it know you are carrying extra weight say in the event you are using something like ankle weights? The fuel concept is the main feature of the Fuelband and it would have to work really good to forego all the features you are losing in comparison to the other activity monitors. But there is something to love about the Fuelband and that is blissful simplicity for the user. At the beginning of the day, a light or two in a row of lights glow red indicating you have a motion/exercise deficit (because you just woke up). As you move, more lights in the row come on. As you bank more motion and exercise, more lights progressively turn on in the row until all are lit and then the color changes – in sequences: red, orange, yellow, green. In the final sequence after all the green lights are lit “GOAL” displays above. So your band starts out red at the beginning of your day. You can see by color if you are on track at any point in time. If the band is displaying orange at a time it would typically be displaying yellow, you know you are behind and have to turn up your exercise activity. It’s a beautifully elegant and  simple concept for those looking strictly for a motion/exercise monitor. It is a very cool idea if you think about it. Some people will really go for the pure effortlessness and the really cool visuals. You can track your activity in Nike’s app and online. But at a baseline, just like in pro sports, the only thing you really need to know in a day is that you made it to green….GOAL! Ya gotta love it. This unit syncs using iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and PC.

Activity monitors become a part of your life – the choice is a personal one

Fitbit One and Larklife are more for the average person. Larklife is the newest system and it must be said that true 24 hour coverage realized by getting two specialized activity bands for the price of one is an enticing feature. Fitbit pioneered activity monitors so they have the largest database with more data analysis and higher display capabilities online resulting in better nutrition coaching and diet control with superior feedback. Jawbone’s Up might better serve a style oriented person or a new age type that includes yoga and meditation in their lifestyle. The Nike+ Fuelband is best for younger people or athletes who are only concerned about total workout intensity, not calorie counting and sleep monitoring.

Activity monitors – a great tool for weight loss surgery patients…

…and anyone trying to lose weight. Activity monitors are your 24 hour diet, exercise and sleep coach. Many years ago, Dr. Simpson introduced the slogan “If you can measure it, you can manage it” to his weight loss surgery patients. As explained above, activity monitors measure or log everything: exercise and activity, diet, sleep quantity and quality and much, much more – well beyond the scope of this writing. For only $100 to $170 they may be the most cost effective measurement and guidance tool you can use for physical well being and weight loss. You could use an activity monitor to help make certain you have made every attempt to lose weight prior to having bariatric surgery (in conjunction with your doctor’s guidance). If you master the use of the Fitbit One, Larklife or Jawbone Up and follow it religiously, you should lose weight. It’s easy to see that if you master a good activity band with commitment and it doesn’t work – you most probably are a candidate for weight loss surgery. Activity monitors may be the ultimate tool for bariatric surgery patients too because the game (diet, exercise and sleep) doesn’t end with weight loss surgery. It just gets much easier. Activity bands are a tool that will help you use your Lap-band or Gastric Sleeve surgery tool to its full potential (a tool for a tool?). Think of it, you can have a diet, exercise, and sleep counselor with you always – 24 hours a day. An activity monitor makes it easy to measure, record and apply everything that contributes to and culminates in health, fitness and weight loss. Feedback is generated by statistics from your personal data that will give you custom guidance in real time the moment you need it, every moment of your life. You can easily view your progress in charts and graphs then set and realize your goals.