Weight-Loss Resolutions Go High Tech

As the New Year approaches, many people begin to consider changes of habit and lifestyle that often come in the form of well-intentioned resolutions. With weight loss at the top of many lists, we checked in with experts to find what trends are on the horizon for those who want to get fit, and stay fit, in 2010.

“The days of six-minute abs and 12-minute cures are over,” said John Rowley, director of fitness & wellness at The American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness. “The average American is saying 'no' to fad diets and 'yes' to more realistic options for weight loss.”

In the coming year, more people are going to be focusing on overall physical health and healthy eating habits than ever before, Rowley said. Technology like weight-monitoring Web sites and iPhone apps are going to be a driving force behind their crusade, he said.

“Online solutions are going to help people with their goal setting and hold them accountable,” Rowley said.

Elizabeth Josefsberg, editor of WeightWatchers.com, says that the online component to weight loss programs has proved invaluable to many individuals in her program, and that participants in the online and in-person meetings lose an average of 50% more weight than those who attend meetings only.

Additionally, Weight Watchers has put out an App for the iPhone that allows members dining out to look up the calorie count of any item on the menu.

“People have realized it’s not about fad diets; it’s about making small changes they can live with,” said Josefsberg.

Weight Watchers is free to join and free to attend meetings, but members pay a fee of $29.95 to sign up for the online program, along with a monthly fee of $17.95. Members can access their Weight Watchers profile from any location.

Being able to manage data from multiple locations is key to a dieter’s success, Rowley said, because in today’s electronic age people access all their personal information remotely. Those on a diet demand the same, he said, and a company called BodyMedia claims to have the answer.

The BodyMedia “GoWear Fit” is an armband that dieters can wear 24 hours a day in order to monitor the amount of calories they’ve burned, steps taken, overall physical activity level, and even sleep patterns.

Although it’s not cheap -- the gadget costs $249.99, along with a monthly online subscription fee ranging from $6.95 to$12.95 -- it monitors something called “heatflux,” which measures the rate at which heat dissipates from the body.

“Our product picks up everything you exert -- the intensity of playing with your kids, or walking up the stairs to work,” said Chris Robins, CEO of BodyMedia.

Robins said that 85% of BodyMedia customers are women, because if they have children, they rarely have time to attend a gym class or schedule regular workouts. A way to “virtually” track exercise during the day is sometimes their only option. The only downside? Wearing the device all the time, even during sleep.

“It took me two days to get used to the fact that I had something strapped to my arm,” said Robins.

But managing weight loss data constantly may not be perfect for everyone needing to shed a few extra pounds.

Debra Mazda, president of Shapely Girl Fitness, says that although tech might be popular today, there’s no replacement for person-to-person interaction when it comes to reaching your fitness goals. Mazda, who only hires women who are size 10 and up to appear in her workout DVDs, plans to open her own fitness center where women of all sizes can feel comfortable working out together.

“I see people embracing a healthy body weight and healthy lifestyle over the desire to be stick thin,” Rowley said. “In gyms, we’re going to see a mix of people of all sizes like we have before, but more people are going to be gaining courage to go in and make a difference in their lives.”