This week's final makeover story doesn't boast instant results, but a slower, steadier road to change. There's no shortage of fitness advice come January--new gyms to join, classes to try, gimmicks to buy into--but if you're interested in really, truly changing your habits, a tracking device should be your next must-have accessory. Though no one's quite figured out how to make one as pretty as an Aurelie Bidermann bracelet, when you find one that's right for you its benefits will outweigh its heft--promise.
Three Who What Wear staffers tested three different devices throughout December. Their pros, cons, and tips, below!
Danielle Nussbaum, Entertainment Director
"In 2012 I focused on cutting unhealthy things out of my diet--the main culprits being dairy, refined sugar, and gluten--and adding more exercise to my daily routine, but other than constantly checking the scale, I was never really monitoring my calorie intake or the exercise I get on a daily basis," Nussbaum says.
Goal: After moving from NYC to LA and walking significantly less often, Nussbaum wanted to get back on track.
Device: Nussbaum used the fitbit One ($100), a tiny black clip that attaches to your clothing and measures your exercise and sleep patterns. It wirelessly syncs with an app on almost all wireless devices, the same app in which you track your calories, build a food plan, and check your daily progress.
Pros: "It's super easy: it clips onto your waistband underneath your clothes so it's not that obvious or cumbersome like a lot of the monitoring bracelets out there," Nussbaum says. "I love a wireless sync to an iPhone app, mostly because I'm lazy."
Cons: "It took a bit to get used to wearing the armband to monitor my sleep cycles and I wasn't entirely comfortable with it," she says.
The verdict: "Having something regulate my life and bring me balance again was helpful. I'm better about monitoring calories (and portions) because I just go to the app, see how much I'm slacking, and fix it," Nussbaum says. "I saw the most benefits from tracking my steps and distance during a week in New York; it made me more aware of how much harder I have to work on this stuff in a non-walkable city."
Hillary Kerr, Co-Founder and Editorial Director
"I started out very strong at the beginning of 2012, going to Tracy Anderson four to six days a week," Kerr says. "Then I tapered off dramatically... into a couch potato."
Goal: "You have to measure something to change it!"
Device: Kerr wrapped the Jawbone UP ($130) around her wrist the first week of December and--if we're being honest--was the only one to wear her device throughout the whole month. The UP tracks activity and sleep (light sleep vs. deep sleep, total sleep, quality of sleep) and like the Fitbit, comes with an app to track your food. It can also track your mood if you're committed enough to enter it every day.
Pros: "Measuring activity and sleep is beyond simple," Kerr says. "And all information is clearly displayed and easy to understand. Daily 'Did You Know' tips are motivating, like I'm in the top 10% of UP users for daily steps, but I'm getting less sleep then recommended."
Cons: It only works with Apple devices. Plus it doesn't sync wirelessly and Kerr adds, "Truthfully, I'm not wild about the design, though it is much better than most of the other options on the market."
The verdict: "It motivated me like crazy," Kerr says. "I'm much more aware of getting stuck sitting all day in meetings or at my desk. I've set it to buzz every 30 minutes to remind me to move around, which has truly changed the pattern of my day. It also has a 'smart alarm' that senses when you're not in deep sleep and gently buzzes you awake. No more blaring alarm clocks? How lovely. And I'm deeply aware of how adequate sleep makes me a much nicer person to be around; if I've had less than six hours, you might want to stay away."
Britt Aboutaleb, Beauty Director
Goal: "Moving from New York to LA sent my body into shock--everything from my weight to my skin," says Aboutaleb. "I needed to find a way to make up for not walking everywhere."
Device: Aboutaleb wore the Nike Fuel Band ($149) for two weeks. The band tracks your daily activity and calories burned, lighting up in celebration of hitting the goal of your choice.
Pros: "With the display right there on your wrist you know exactly where you stand for the day," Aboutaleb says, and it wirelessly syncs to your phone's Nike Fuel app.
Cons: The band only monitors physical activity, not sleep or diet, both critical components of a healthy lifestyle. Also, the battery dies in a few days (the UP's lasts ten days) and "there's no way around the fact that it's ugly."
The verdict: "This probably would have been better for someone who's super athletic," Aboutaleb says. "I think the fun of the Fuel Band lies in competition and none of my friends were interested in wearing one because it's so obtrusive. Plus, I realized pretty early on that to see a major change in my body I'd need something that tracked my calorie intake, too (the band only tracks how many calories you burn). It did make me realize the importance of working in some form of exercise every day. Without a run or a class I didn't hit my very reasonable daily goal--something I never had to think about in the walking cities I've lived in for the past ten years."