Y'all Come Track Now, Y'hear

I thought it was time to tell you about the little gadget that has been my constant companion for months now.  Here it is: 

For those who don’t know or remember, I won this technological fitness toy, MyTrak, by participating in a Fitblogger challenge in the spring.  I had been wondering about similar gizmos for a while, thinking maybe they could help me figure out the whole calorie burning math that didn’t seem to be adding up for me.  But I was too cheap to buy one.  Especially since I had no idea if they really worked or if I’d even use one with any consistency.  So I was thrilled to win one.  Particularly because I am challenge challenged and only entered to get my hands on the prize!

Anyhoo, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it!  And want to share some of what I’ve learned with this thing stuck to my waist.  This post is not intended to be a review of the MyTrak.  Rather, I’d like to tell you just enough about how it works so that you can understand the stuff I really want to talk about.  If you are interested in getting one for yourself and would like to know more about my thoughts, send me an email and I’ll fill you in on all the gory details, or read Rita’s review, chock full of great information.

If you want to skip the nuts and bolts, jump ahead past the next paragraph.  Otherwise, here is a very brief overview…

The MyTrak is marketed as a “personal health coach.”  Users set goals that can be weight loss, weight maintenance, lifestyle (increasing fitness over time), or maintaining lifestyle.  You wear the unit on your waistband and it measures your activity.  If you want, you can also track calories with their online program.  There are actually many features and functions that I didn’t explore or take advantage of, since my goal was pretty much to measure my calories in vs. calories out.  You can, for example, at the push of a button, see how close you are to meeting your fitness goals each day.  And you can participate in an online community of users.  You can also input what kind of exercise you like or plan to do and be told how many minutes you’d need to reach a goal.  I have no idea how the thing actually works.  It somehow magically “uses a set of sophisticated sensors to measure the intensity of your active life in multiple planes and dimensions and calculates the energy burn using your personal biometrics.”  All I know is it is tied to your hip motion, which I’ll talk more about later.

As for what I learned… lots, actually.

Since I have so much to share, I’m going to split this into two posts, talking about exercise today and my food tracking next time.

What I can unequivocally tell you is that wearing the MyTrak absolutely was a motivator to keep up with my cardio.  I loved seeing the charts and hated if my daily numbers dropped below my trend line.  I don’t understand the difference between what it measures as heart activity vs. calorie expenditure, since the two were not equal.  But, bottom-line, I liked having the stats and I liked having a measure of how many calories I was actually expending.

As for how accurately it measures – I have no idea.  One thing I did not like is that the calculations are tied to hip movement so with activities like biking or strength training, it may not give an accurate calorie burn or show the energy expenditure expected and it does not add them to the daily “steps” measurement.  But all in all, I am totally loving seeing a visual representation of my workouts!  I also realized that outside of my cardio sessions, I get very little exercise.  I guess maybe I need more shopping outings to add to my daily steps:)  And, it only confirmed what I already knew and have shared here before, I need to work harder, not just longer.

The stats below are for the period between June 8, when I first started wearing the unit, through August 14, the day before I left for our college road trip.

  • Overall calories burned:  41,390
  • Average calories burned per day:  608
  • Personal best day for calories burned:  840
  • Overall heart activity minutes:  7727
  • Average heart activity minutes per day:  113.5
  • Personal best day for heart activity minutes:  171

  • Overall steps taken:  1,290,895
  • Average steps taken per day:  18,983
  • Personal best day for steps taken:  26,288
  • Overall miles traveled:  690.8
  • Average miles traveled per day:  10.15
  • Personal best day for miles traveled:  14.4

The day I got back from my trip I clipped the MyTrak right back on my waist.  How long will I keep using it?  I haven’t decided yet.  But for now, I’m having fun and finding motivation, so the gadget stays.

As for what I learned about my eating and if I’m still tracking food… stay tuned.

Have you used a fitness gadget?  If so, what do you like about it?



Filed under exercise, trends and/or technology

49 responses to “Y'all Come Track Now, Y'hear

  1. Wow! You’re averaging almost 19,000 steps per day. And they say 10,000 steps per day is necessary for good cardiovascular health. I’d say you’re plenty active!

    This sounds like a fascinating gadget, and I can see how it would be motivating. It’s kind of like a game to see how many points (steps, calories, etc.) you can get. In a way, it’s no different than other methods of tracking numbers. The idea is the same, while the methods differ.

    I’ve often wanted a Body Bug, but they’re expensive. No more expensive than some other gadgets I’m willing to buy… but one I may need to investigate again.

    • Karen

      I think that the body bug is maybe worn on the arm? My husband almost got me a similar gadget from Costco for Christmas last year but I didn’t think I’d wear it. Remember – I have no job… so no excuse not to get a lot of steps:)

      • Yeah, the Body Bugg is the one worn on the arm When you purchase the device for about $179, you get six months of the online program with it. After that, it’s $10 per month. That really isn’t much to pay per month when you consider one little trip to Starbucks for a venti latte (and maybe, sometimes, on rare occasions a scone) can cost over $8.00.

        It’s not something I’m going to do now. Right now, I’m obsessed with the rumors that the iPhone 5 is coming to Sprint next month — and I do mean obsessed.

  2. I have used a step counter in the past. It really was motivating. I liked seeing my steps increase. I wanted to move more just so the numbers would go up. I would walk in place while the TV was on. I would park farther away when out shopping. I would take the stairs instead of the elevator. ALL these things I should do anyway- but that little doohickey sitting on my waistband motivated me to do it! I knew I had a problem (obsession) when I would put it on my pj bottoms in the night when I went to the bathroom. I didn’t want to miss out on those 10 steps at 3 am when I needed to go potty! 🙂

    • Karen

      Oh that last bit is funny! I never thought to walk in place watching tv but I have thought I should do something while I’m watching… anything to burn calories and not snack:)

  3. That is a cool gadget Karen & I do think things like that motivate people to try harder & do better. Like a pedometer, people say it makes them aware to walk more. Hey, if it is helping you, a good thing!

    I don’t use any gadgets beyond my shuffle for music when I work out. When I was running 5k’s I did have a watch that measured time & all that other good stuff but I am way past those days! 😉

    • Karen

      My husband has a garmin that he uses for the rare times now when he runs outside but also for biking. He likes to see the stats and the route. So… would you believe that I have no personal music device? Unless you count the decades old cassette tape player in a closet somewhere.

  4. That sounds like a great tool for fitness. May have to look into one. And you, my dear, are kicking a$$ with your workouts. Look forward to reading about the food tracking.

  5. I’m so glad you posted this. I was just charging up my bodybugg and realized I’d run out of time. You have to sign up and pay for the online part and can’t use it without. Serious drawback but worth it if you use it….
    Anyway, I’ve been wondering about other options if I’m going to pay money.
    I’m so glad this is motivating you. It’s fun, isn’t it? and we need to change this up and make it fun sometimes. Long haul, right?
    Great post.

  6. Sounds like a pretty neat little gadget! I like that it helped motivate you to keep up with your exercise and not fall below your trend line.

    I’m not usually a numbers person (my hubby loves to follow stats) but I can see where this would be helpful in seeing where improvement is needed.

    Thanks for sharing about it.

  7. I got a cardio monitor. It was the type that a band went around your chest just under the bust for women, and had another piece that was worn like a watch.

    I got it as a promo item for my blog, and I am so glad I didn’t pay for it. It was so hard to program that my husband and I together couldn’t figure it out. I had to call the company.

    It really wasn’t very user friendly, so that even after getting it programmed, I never felt like I was getting the complete or accurate data.

    I finally sold it on craigslist.

    Pedometers however, I love. I’ve worn out several.

    • Karen

      I do have an old heart rate monitor that I used to use when I did some fitness classes, like step and cycling. Now and then to see how hard I was working. Mine was very basic, no bells and whistles to figure out. Actually, the MyTrak can read certain heart rate monitors, just not the old one that I have.

  8. SO impressed with your daily step average!!!

    I’m using a Fitbit, and really enjoying it. At a basic level, it is a great pedometer, because it is super small. But, it syncs to your computer and gives amazing data on not just steps per day, but activity level and, if you wear it at night (on a special wristband), data on sleep, too. You can log food online, if you want. Right now, I use Lose It for food logging, and it syncs with the Fitbit so that calories I burn walking around & exercising are spent against what I’ve eaten. LOVE it. It cost $99. You can get a premium online subscription if you really love data crunching, but the free stuff seems to be all I need now. My health is worth $99 for sure.

    • Karen

      I’ve seen other bloggers talk about that little gadget. Did not realize it had sleep data. That would be interesting since I don’t think I sleep very well. Great price.

  9. KLA

    My favorite gadget is my heart rate monitor. The kind that Lori above described with a wrist watch and strap that goes around my chest.

    However, I also took a corresponding fitness test through my trainer. In turn, he developed a fitness plan using my heart rate zones specific to my fitness level.

    I’m actually thinking about getting another fitness test done so I can use it again. Without a fitness test, I don’t think you can get the maximum benefit from a heart rate monitor.

    • Karen

      Interesting. I have a heart rate monitor but have not worn it in ages. I used to drag it out now and then to see how hard I was really working. I didn’t realize you could get a fitness test that would tell you your zones; I always just followed online calculations based on age.

      • KLA

        It’s a V02 max test, maybe try googling it to see if there is anyone in your area that does this test. The only other time I had this done was during my competitive swimming days and it was done at a university through my team/coach.

        The great thing about getting the fitness test done is that it is specific to you. After all the zones based on your age doesn’t take anything else about you into account, it’s an average based on your age group. The zones may be too high or too low for you.

  10. Oh my god you walk a lot. I wear a pedometer occasionally and 10K steps is a lot. It annoys me to see low step amounts so I run around the house and chase the dog – so maybe it helps. Mostly I like not knowing. I would use the info to mentally flog myself more than pat my own back so NO FREAKING WAY.

    I do likes me numbers tho – so I keep a notebook of my elliptical adventures. I do not pay attention to the calories burned so much because I think that is utter BS.

    I do like that someone I know won something. Woot to that.

    • Karen

      Some of my steps are from the elliptical. Not sure how it calculates that into distance but assume each up and down motion is a step. That is a big part of my numbers since I usually do 90 minutes on there each morning while my husband is on the treadmill. That is about the time it takes to watch 2 recorded TV shows without commercials:) I never believed the calories from machines. Actually, the treadmill tells you that they are not accurate but rather to be used as a comparison over time or workouts. Hmmm. When I would track my exercise time online, I thought the calories burned seemed wayyy higher than they actually were. I have no idea how sites come up with those numbers. I assume that the gadget also takes into account my weight for calculations.

  11. Jan

    I bought a Fitbit last week (glorified pedometer), and the gadget is very motivating. I feel an obligation to it… 😉

    • Karen

      I just read about that in a comment above and am intrigued that you can use it while you sleep. Be careful – I read on a blog once that someone accidentally put hers through the wash!

  12. I have worn a pedometer since 2006. It is as much a part of my body as my left arm. It clips to my underwear and is the last thing I take off at night and the first thing that goes on in the morning. It does make you very aware.

    Mine is a good one, but I’d love to upgrade to one that I can track statistics online.

    • Karen

      I almost talked about you… and underwear. Until you told me that, it had not occurred to me to wear mine there and it was seriously restricted my clothing choices. I have lots of summer dresses that have no waistband! I think you deserve the upgrade:)

  13. I’ve been using Omron pedometers for years. At my level of fitness/exercise, this is enough for me. Like Sharon, I put mine on first thing in the AM and take it off just before going to bed — I’ve even forgotten and worn it to bed a couple of times — I doubt that I added many steps during the night.

    Other than my Jimminy (pedometer — “let your conscience be your guide”), I’m pretty much gadgeted out. I’m responsible for programming everything electronic in our house, and I feel that I’ve reached my limit.

    I’m ready to begin tracking food again — but I wish I didn’t have to go online to do it. I used to have an old software program that was great, but it hasn’t worked with Windows VISTA or 7.

    • Karen

      Oh funny. I am usually quite challenged with gadgetry so was impressed that I could load this software on my computer myself and get it up and running. Okay, I did have to send emails to tech support with some questions.

      Someday if I ever get a phone with “apps” I might track food that way. Seems pretty handy.

  14. you track a lot of steps, sista. That’s great. On a really good day, I might get that in addition to my cardio, but it’s not regular.

    I do where a pedometer and have wondered if the other gadgets were worth it. I’ve thought more about it lately since I’ve been hitting several spin classes at the Y.

    • Karen

      Well, most of that is FROM my cardio! Very little otherwise. If you are thinking about getting something for spin, be sure to check how they measure your effort. This one is not good for biking. Others are probably better.

  15. Well done on the calories you are burning! I have an old Heart Rate Monitor somewhere with a dead battery I keep meaning to dig out so I can track my exercise more accurately.

    As for current gadgets, I decided a little while ago I wanted to learn to run (via Couch to 5km program) so downloaded a C25k app for my iPhone.

    While I hate the actual running part of the whole thing, I love the app itself!


  16. I’m confused- average of 600 calories a day? Is that in addition to your bodies basal calories burned each day? I was burning well over 2,000 according to my gowearfit (bodymedia fit now).

    It’s cool looking though- it’s nice that it keeps you motivated- mine definitely helped me get my 10k steps a day!

    • Karen

      Yes… that is just calories burned by cardio. I would have to go back to see what it has for the other… it’s buried somewhere in my profile and based on my weight, I’m sure, and maybe my resting heart rate. This gadget does not add that in to the charts I look at, but it is on a different page that shows my “caloric balance.” Can’t quite figure out that page though since it is one number but over several days, maybe a week.

  17. Im gadget free.
    Or I was.

    Lately my backache hath made me a wee bit less active.

    I need me something (a gadget?) to spark me to push through the pain.

    • Karen

      I’m surprised at how much I like this! I’m not usually a gadget person. And it is just more technology… and I don’t usually do well with that:(

  18. i would love to have a fitness gadget like this but the bank account says no way but love that it is working for you and wow great stats

  19. Roz@weightingfor50

    Hi Karen, what a handy and useful gadget!!! The only “gadget” I can say in instrumental to my weight loss is the digital kitchen scale I bought. With that on the counter, there is no excuse for not weighing and measuring. Have a great rest of the weekend.

  20. Hi Karen!
    I love that gadget!!! I have never been a big gadget user, but that thing looks like something that I might want to try out!
    I have been having problems with my new blog *sigh*. I have had to start another new blog. Double sigh. Well, I hope you’ll follow along my new-new blog, while I play “musical blogs”! Lol 🙂

  21. Astonishing numbers. I do not use such a device, but seeing your numbers back me wonder if I should. Interesting that in latest Time Dr. Oz reports that must of us overestimate how many calories burned. This device should make it more accurate. At least that is what I would think.

  22. I’ve used a Polar heart rate monitor which just monitored my calories burned and heart rate. It was pretty cool while I was losing weight, and I thought it was pretty accurate (as accurate as one can get without spending lots of money!) Now I have the Garmin Forerunner which tracks my mileage, pace, running route, etc. It’s so very cool… I love it!

    • Karen

      My husband has a garmin of some sort too. He can use it for running and biking, I think. I’ve worn an old heart rate monitor before that just did heart rate. I also had a hand-me-down from my husband that would measure calories burned but it was sooo complicated to work the darn thing.

  23. Sounds like this is something similar to body media fit that I use. I agree with you, it is VERY motivating! I was pleasantly surprised to find that you can burn a lot of calories just doing slow things like cleaning your house. It doesn’t have to be hard cardio every day, and even small things help!

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