If you're on a fitness or weight loss journey, it's very likely that you're doing some kind of tracking, whether it's related to food or exercise. For the longest time, we were led to believe that the number on the scale and our calorie count were the most important numbers to focus on if we wanted to lose weight or get in shape! But we know better now. Your actual weight doesn't tell you much about your health, fitness, or the positive changes in your body. And now we're figuring out that tracking how many calories you eat and burn isn't a very accurate measure of success, either.
In the context of losing weight, we would calculate our energy level based on how many calories we took in versus how many calories we burned. The we burned more calories that we consumed, we would lose weight, right? Simple! But it's not that simple, not by a long shot. Counting calories does not take into account many different aspects that are equally important for weight loss and improving your physical fitness, like your insulin level and metabolic rate.
Additionally, it's incredibly difficult to get an accurate reading on most of the fitness equipment we use that tracks our calories. Caley Crawford, the the director of education at Row House in NYC, says that most counts on machines at the gym are calculated based on average weight and height of users, so it's not going to accurate for the vast majority of people. And don't look for an accurate reading from your personal fitness tracker, either.
In 2017, a study published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine found that none of the seven most prominent wearable fitness trackers researchers tested could accurately track how much energy the wearer burned.
Instead of methodically counting those calories, track performance-based metrics instead, like reps or steps or anything related to actual movement. And as always, fitness isn't just about losing weight. It's about making lasting changes to work toward a goal of feeling better and improving your health. And no number on your watch or the treadmill can give you that satisfaction.