Stan Lee used a standing desk back in the 1950s (picture)


Did you know that comic book legend Stan Lee always wrote on a standing desk? This is a picture of him in the 1950s banging out a comic book on his typewriter and homemade standing solution. The caption reads: “Always wrote standing up—good for the figure—and always faced the sun—good for the suntan!”

Stan knew long ago what people like university professor John D. Buckley are now finding out: that standing desks can give you more energy and help you lose weight. Stan also regularly walked up the stairs to his offices at Marvel instead of taking the elevator, something the 90 year old credits with keeping him in good health.

I use a standing desk and a treadmill desk and it’s helped me lose more than 65lbs. Excelsior!

(From Sean Howe, via Scott Edelman)

Posted February 14, 2013 @ 3:16 pm | Tags:

Good news! Smaller snacks found to be as satisfying as large ones


All right Weighthackers, I know you were probably wondering today “would a small snack satiate me just as much as a larger one?” Well you’re in luck, because not only do I have an answer for you, it’s an answer you’re going to like.

The smart folks at Cornell University did some research and found out that, yes, small snacks are indeed as filling as large ones. Here’s a summary of what they learned (I added the underlines for emphasis):

The study found that, as expected, portion size has a direct impact on calorie intake – but it also discovered that portion size did not have a direct impact on the level of satisfaction of the person eating the snack. Researchers came to these conclusions after testing 104 adults, who were given large and small portions of the same snack. Those who ate large portions consumed 77 percent more calories than those who ate small portions. Yet, despite consuming substantially more calories, hunger pangs of people eating large portions decreased by the same amount as those eating small portions. In both conditions, craving tendencies were significantly decreased 15 minutes after eating.

This is another Weight Hack I use every day myself. Back when I was 65lbs heavier than I am today, I’d happily have eaten a standard size Hershey’s chocolate bar as a snack, which weighs in at 210 calories and has 24 grams of sugar (that’s the same as 4 packets of sugar…ugh). Now I buy individual squares of high-end dark chocolate (from Le Maison du Chocolat if you must know) and have one of those instead. I’m just as satisfied and I’m only eating about 30 calories, which makes it win-win in my book. And oh, I’m also 65lbs lighter!

So next time you go for your usual snack, try only eating half of it and then put the other half out of sight. If you wait 15 minutes, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t want the rest.

Bonus Weight Hack: You can also try drinking a big glass of water with your half-snack, which will make you feel even more full.

Posted February 1, 2013 @ 9:30 am | Tags: ,,

Late eaters lose less weight than early eaters, researchers find


So Weighthackers, we all know that what we eat and how much we eat impacts our weight. Now there’s evidence that when we eat might also play a major role in how much weight we can lose, according to this study from Spain that followed 420 people over the course of 20 weeks.

Researchers divided the study participants into two groups: early-eaters who ate their lunch before 3 p.m. and late-eaters who (you guessed it) ate after 3 p.m. They used lunch because in Spain that’s the largest meal of the day, accounting for about 40% of a person’s average daily caloric intake.

Even though both groups consumed the same amount of calories each day, the late-eaters “lost significantly less weight than early-eaters, and displayed a much slower rate of weight-loss.” The late-eaters also ate less for breakfast, or in some cases nothing at all, and we already know that breakfast is an important meal of the day for those who want to lose weight.

“This study emphasizes that the timing of food intake itself may play a significant role in weight regulation” explains Marta Garaulet, PhD, professor of Physiology at the University of Murcia Spain, and lead author of the study. “Novel therapeutic strategies should incorporate not only the caloric intake and macronutrient distribution, as it is classically done, but also the timing of food.”

Interestingly, it didn’t seem to matter when people ate smaller meals or snacks, just what the timing of their main meal was.

Although this is anecdotal, I long ago made a conscious effort to shift the bulk of my eating earlier in the day, and for me it really paid off. I now eat a bigger breakfast than I used to (that also has a significant amount of protein in it) and I eat it as soon as I get up. I switched to a having slightly bigger lunch and then turned dinner into a lighter meal, with no snacking after that. On that schedule I found I naturally felt more full throughout the day and as a consequence ate less overall. Give it a try!

Posted January 30, 2013 @ 9:38 am | Tags: ,,

Study: Light activity throughout the day provides same benefits as gym


Good news Weighthackers! You already know that fidgeting more can help you lose weight, but now new research out of Oregon State University says that simple things like doing chores and taking the stairs instead of the escalator can be just as beneficial to you as going to the gym. The study looked at 6,000 people nationwide and found that even activities that take only a minute or two count toward your health as long as you end up being active for at least 30 minutes in total by the end of the day.

“Our results suggest that engaging in an active lifestyle approach, compared to a structured exercise approach, may be just as beneficial in improving various health outcomes,” said Paul Loprinzi, lead author of the study. “We encourage people to seek out opportunities to be active when the choice is available. For example, rather than sitting while talking on the phone, use this opportunity to get in some activity by pacing around while talking.”

People who did so-called “short bout” movements improved their blood pressure, cholesterol and waist circumference, and were less at risk for developing metabolic syndrome (which is basically a slew of health-related problems that overweight people experience). The study also suggests that incorporating short bout movement might be more beneficial than going to the gym in the long run since it’s easier to fit into your existing lifestyle and doesn’t cost anything, so you’re more likely to keep at it.

If this sounds like something you want to do, I suggest getting a movement tracker like one of the ones in this list to help you out. Knowing how much you move each day can help you see if you need to add something new to your routine (like parking further away from the entrance to your job so you walk more) to get more activity in, and it can also inspire you to reach specific goals. For instance, thanks to my Fitbit I know today is my 151st day in a row of walking 10,000 steps or more, which makes me more likely to take 10,000 steps again tomorrow.

Posted January 29, 2013 @ 2:50 pm | Tags: ,

These 2 simple changes helped hundreds of people lose weight


Putting down your utensils between bites and allowing yourself an afternoon snack only if you’ve first eaten a piece of fruit are two small but significant changes that helped hundreds of people lose weight. That’s what a new report has to say about the National Mindless Eating Challenge, a Web-based healthy eating and weight loss program that was made available to the public from 2006-2009.

The program was set up to see if “small behavioral and environmental changes based on simple heuristics may have the best chance to lead to sustainable habit changes over time.” The people who reported adhering to the program at least 25 days a month lost an average of 2lbs a month. Although that might not seem like, much, over the course of the year that would add up to 24lbs without much effort.

Another suggestion that helped people lose weight was “Any time you think you might eat when you’re not hungry, go ahead and do so, but only if you first say (out loud): “I’m not hungry, but I’m going to eat this anyway”.” I imagine most people didn’t do that one in public restaurants though.

Check out the link above to the full report for more tips.

Posted @ 11:41 am | Tags:

Lose more weight by setting several small goals instead of one big one


The University of Alabama ran an article of good weight loss tips that, among other things, recommended setting several smaller goals to help you lose weight instead of focusing on one big goal. That’s because smaller goals are both more manageable and provide better feedback:

“If we set lofty weight loss goals, like 10, 20 or 30-plus pounds, and we don’t make progress quickly enough, it’s too easy to get distracted and have our emotions convince us that the goal is not achievable,” said Lauren Whitt, Ph.D., director of UAB Employee Wellness.

Whitt explained that breaking down goals into smaller, more manageable short-term targets, like losing one to two pounds per week, can lead to better chances of success.

“Once those first one or two pounds are lost, you can celebrate,” Whitt added. “Then the next mini-goal can become the focus.”

This makes a lot sense for all you Weigthhackers, especially because losing 1-2 lbs a week is a lot easier for most people than losing 5+ lbs a week. And yes, I know you’re probably thinking, I just want to lose it all RIGHT NOW! But the reality is you probably didn’t put on your extra weight in just a few weeks so it would be hard to take it off that quickly.

By the way, when I set out to lose weight a few years ago I had a target of getting down to 175 lbs by my birthday in December. I didn’t actually reach that goal until January, but even though I was “a month late” I’m completely satisfied with the outcome. In fact, I decided to keep going and eventually reached a nice, trim 157 lbs. You know how long did losing that other 18 lbs took me? I honestly don’t remember, because that wasn’t important. What was important is that I finally lost the weight I wanted to, not how quickly I did it.

Posted January 22, 2013 @ 8:30 am | Tags: ,,

Researchers say exercise reduces your appetite, makes you feel full


Okay Weighthackers, here’s some more good news about exercise: Not only does it help you lose weight and tone up (i.e. look better), it can make you less hungry too. This new finding comes from a study done last year at the University of Wyoming, which showed that exercise actually changes the way your body reacts to food.

Here’s how it works. Normally a hormone called ghrelin is one of the things in your body that stimulates hunger. When you workout, your body actually makes more ghrelin, which should in turn make you hungrier.

But the researchers up in Wyoming found that exercise also stimulates the production of hormones that make you feel satiated. According to The New York Times:

These hormones, only recently discovered and still not well understood, tell the body that it has taken in enough fuel; it can stop eating. The augmented levels of the satiety hormones, the authors write, “muted” the message from ghrelin.

But wait, the news gets better. The Times said another study done in December confirms that moderate exercise helps regulate hunger. “It found that after 12 weeks, formerly sedentary, overweight men and women began recognizing, without consciously knowing it, that they should not overeat.”

This jibes (yes, I used the word jibes) with my own experience, where I found that after I started being more active each day, my hunger went down, as did the amount of food I ate when I was hungry. The only trick though is that it takes 3 months of steady effort for the effect to kick in. So, get started!

Posted January 18, 2013 @ 8:30 am | Tags: ,,

New study finds using Twitter can help you lose weight

Twitter Logo

Using Twitter as part of a weight loss program makes it more likely that you’ll successfully lose weight, according to a new study by the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health. The study involved 96 people who were tracked for six months and who were using either an Internet-connected iPhone, iPod Touch, a Blackberry or an Android phone.

All of the participants were sent weekly podcasts that coached them about nutrition, exercise and goal setting. In addition, half of the group received an app that helped them monitor their diet and physical activity, as well as a Twitter app.

“The results show that those who regularly utilized Twitter as part of a mobile weight loss program lost more weight,” said [Brie] Turner-McGrievy of the Arnold School’s Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior.

The study also found that “those who engaged with Twitter were more successful with losing weight, such that every 10 posts to Twitter corresponded with approximately −0.5 percent weight loss.” The Twitter-enabled group used the social networking service to keep in touch with and support each other, and they also received daily tweets from a weight loss counselor.

This is more evidence that using a social network can help you lose weight since we already know that social networks can make weight loss contagious among friends.


Posted January 14, 2013 @ 2:53 pm | Tags: ,,

University professor reveals his ‘easy’ weight loss solution: standing

Dr John Buckley Standing Desk

Dr. John Buckley at the University of Chester has come up with a plan that he says will effortlessly let him lose weight this year, and he thinks anyone working in an office can do the same thing. “This is the perfect way for any office-bound worker to achieve the typical New Year’s resolution of wanting to lose half a stone [8 lbs] without changing anything else – how easy is that?” he said.

Buckley’s idea is one I’ve also been using and am a huge advocate of: spend part of your working day at a standing desk. I’m actually standing as I type this sentence, so I can vouch for how easy it is to work on your feet, and how much better it can make you feel.

I have a GeekDesk, but in Buckely’s case he’s using one of the university’s old oak lecterns as a standing work station:

Applying his knowledge of human physiology, Dr Buckley calculates that by working at this desk for three hours of his day will burn an extra 144 calories per day, compared to sitting at his desk and with no change to his job or leisure time activities.

In a year this will equate to more than 30,000 calories or eight pounds of human fat.

Buckley also walks up the stairs to his seventh floor office as often as possible. “It’s little changes in behaviour such as this, or standing at your desk, that can add up to make quite a big difference to your health.”

Posted @ 9:48 am | Tags:

10 easy ways to lose weight quickly (and permanently) in the New Year


Welcome to the New Year, which is traditionally a time when most of us look ahead to how we can improve our lives over the next 12 months. And if you’re overweight, probably the #1 thing on your 2013 To Do list is losing weight. Well, Weighthacker has you covered. Below are 10 of the best tips and hacks you can use to start losing weight quickly and, more importantly, permanently in the New Year.

Read on if you want to start losing weight today:


1) Don’t “Lose Weight”

“Losing Weight” is a great intention for the New Year but as an actual goal it’s terrible because it’s too vague. A better goal would be “lose 25 lbs by the end of March.” People who research goals say being specific does 4 valuable things for you: it focuses your efforts, it keeps you motivated, it makes you persistent and it inspires you to learn and grow.

2) Don’t Got On A Diet

In multiple studies the failure rate of dieting has been pegged somewhere between 80-95%, largely because of one issue: people can lose weight on almost any diet but they gain all the weight back once they go off the diet. So instead of going on a diet, focus on making permanent, sustainable changes to your diet. See tips 1, 3, 4, 5 and 10 for ways to do that.

3) Know How Much Food You’re Really Eating

According to registered dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner, “Nobody knows how many calories they should be eating, nobody knows how many they are eating, and nobody knows how many calories are in foods.” And it’s going to be hard for you to lose weight if you don’t know any of that. So sign up for a free online service like Loseit or MyFitnessPal that will help you easily understand and track what you eat. In fact, just writing down what you eat each day using something as low tech as a pen and paper will make you more accountable to yourself, which will automatically make you eat better.

4) Know How Much Food You Should Be Eating

There are dozens of free online calculators like this one that will help you figure out how much food you should be eating each day. Using them takes less than 5 minutes and will give you a whole new perspective on your food intake. Once you know how much food you should be eating, it will be easier for you to figure out how to eat the right amount to meet your weight loss goals.

5) Eat Whole, Not Processed, Foods

Whole foods like apples are more filling, have fewer calories and contain more nutrients than heavily processed foods like muffins and bagels. So an easy way to lose weight is to substitute whole foods for processed ones whenever you can. A good place to start is looking at the food label on the back of what you’re buying. In general heavily processed foods will have many more ingredients than whole foods, and they’ll also have ingredients with chemically-sounding names that you don’t recognize. Avoid those!

6) Walk

This one is easy and we were all born to do it: Walk. Many smart people believe walking is the single best exercise you can undertake, and a half hour a day of putting one foot in front of the other is all you need to do to start getting the benefits from it. It’s also free and you don’t need to go to the gym to do it! (I also suggest getting a walking desk if you can swing it. It changed my life.)

7) Track Your Steps

Splurge on a simple Web-enabled device like this Fitbit to track how many steps you walk each day. It will wirelessly upload your data online so you can chart your progress, set goals and (of course) share your info via social networks. Just like tracking your food helps you eat less, tracking your steps motivates you to walk more.

8) Plan To Fail

Losing weight is like playing a video game. You’re never going to do things perfectly the first time you try it, but the more you play the better you’ll get. So go into the New Year knowing that there will be setbacks and pitfalls on your weight loss journey. Instead of letting them derail you, use them as opportunities to figure out what went wrong so you can do better the next time.

9) Mod Your Environment

Using smaller plates, putting junk food in opaque vs. clear containers, and leaving your fruit bowl out in the open are some of the many ways you can mod the environment around you to help you lose weight. Check out this interactive guide from Diane Magazine for 11 tips on how to rearrange your kitchen for maximum weight loss help.

10) Planned Obsolescence

One of the biggest reasons people regain the weight they lose is because once they reach their goal weight, they slowly abandon the habits they used to lose the weight in the first place. 5 days at the gym becomes 3, then 1, then none. A splurge day turns into two days, then into a splurge week, etc. And because you previously lost weight, you fall into the mindset of “well, I can lose it again any time I want.” Before you know it, you’ll be back to where you started or, worse, heavier than you used to be. You can avoid all that by planning to segue smoothly from “weight loss” mode to “maintenance” mode, something most people never consider. When the behaviors you used to lose weight become obsolete, replace them with a new set of behaviors to maintain your progress, otherwise you’ll default back to the old ways that made you overweight to begin with.

To get more weight loss strategies and tips throughout 2013 and beyond, follow me on Twitter at @weigthhacker, over on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also sign up for the Weighthacker newsletter using the form on the right-hand column or pre-order my upcoming book.

Remember, you can lose the weight you want to!

Posted January 3, 2013 @ 9:00 am | Tags: ,

Take a picture of your meals to help you eat better and lose weight


When researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison asked dieters to both keep a written food journal and to photograph their meals, they found something interesting. The photos were better tools than the diaries when it came to encouraging participants to select healthier meals, and they were more effective at helping people remember if they had overindulged in snacks.

According to the Telegraph:

Prof Lydia Zepeda and David Deal, the researchers who carried out the study reported in New Scientist magazine, found that written food diaries were often filled in hours after the meal and were not as powerful in creating an impression of how much food had been consumed.

“Nutritionists see diaries as recording tools. Now they should explore the role of photo diaries as intervention tools,” Prof Zepeda said.

Since all you weight hackers probably have easy-to-use cameras built into your phones, try snapping pics of all your meals to help you eat better and lose weight. And I do mean all your meals, not just the fancy ones you’re already putting on Instagram. If you don’t take a picture of everything, you’re more likely to “forget” you ate it.

Also, if you’re an iPhone user, check out The Eatery app by Massive Health. It’s a free, elegant way to take pictures of your meals, rate them, then share them with your friends. In an interesting twist, The Eatery also lets other users rate your meals anonymously, so you’ll get a crowdsourced view of how healthy your meals are. If that seems a little intimidating, just remember, you get to rate their meals too.

Posted December 12, 2012 @ 9:30 am | Tags: ,,,

3 ways “weight denial” is making you fatter

Gallup released an interesting poll about our perceptions of ideal weight and how they correspond to our actual weight. The poll highlights 3 things that all Weight Hackers need to be aware of:

1) As we become heavier, we think it’s okay to be heavier.

2) No matter how overweight we are, our tendency is to think our weight is “about right.”

3) We also consistently underestimate how overweight we actually are.


Posted November 29, 2012 @ 12:53 pm | Tags: ,,

The Weighthacker Holiday Gift Guide: 15 Healthy Gadgets for Geeks

I love giving healthy gadgets as gifts because they’re like two presents in one: You’re giving someone a cool gadget to play with and it will help them lose weight and get fit. With that in mind, here’s Weighthacker’s first ever holiday gift guide, a round-up of gadgets that you can get for your geeky friends and family members that range from $8 to $1,176.93. Note: Because there are so many smart pedometers and personal tracking gadgets hitting the market, I’ve tried to highlight their main points of differentiation to help you figure out which could be the best fit for your giftee.

Meal Measure ($8)

Eating the right portion of food is one of the keys to losing weight, but it’s also one of the things our brain has a hard time doing. Humans consistently underestimate the size of the portions we eat, and as a result it’s easy to eat too much at a sitting. The Meal Measure takes the guess work out of meal sizes by automatically portioning your food to the right amount. It also shows you what a healthy balance of proteins, grains, fruits and veggies looks like. Not bad for $8.


Fitbit Zip ($59.95)

The Zip is FitBit’s entry level gadget in the “smart pedometer” category. It tracks how many steps you’ve taken during the day and then wirelessly uploads the data to your computer. The result is that you’ll create nifty charts and graphs that show you your progress over time, which in turn encourages you to move more. The Zip will also estimate how many calories you’ve burned and how much distance you’ve walked. It fits into the existing FitBit online ecology, which includes a Web site and smart phone app that will let you log your daily meals and weight, giving you a one-stop place for all your weight loss needs.  Or you can export your FitBit data to popular services like LoseIt and MyFitnessPal.

NOTE: The Zip uses a replaceable battery that lasts up to 6 months. So, unlike most other smart pedometers, you don’t need to recharge it periodically.

Misfit Shine ($79)

The Shine is an IndieGoGo project that’s trying to own the “simplicity and elegance” space in the world of activity trackers. Its claim to fame is being simultaneously gorgeous and completely minimal. With a replaceable battery there’s no cord needed to recharge it, and it doesn’t use bluetooth to sync to your phone so you don’t have to fuss around with pairing. You just place the Shine on your phone’s screen and it automatically connects and uploads your data. Although the Shine won’t ship until March of next year, if you order it now the company will send you a nifty gift card made from carved metal that you can put under the tree or in a stocking.

Striv Striiv ($99.95)

The Striiv is a smart pedometer with a twist. It tries to motivate you to walk more by giving you different kinds of rewards. You can use your step count to donate money on your behalf to various charities, or you can put your efforts to playing virtual games that are powered by your real-world progress. The Striiv also has a built-in radio that lets it talk to other Striiv units, so you can challenge your friends to walking competitions.

NOTE: The Striiv is the only gadget in our round-up with a color touch screen, so it can display charts and graphs of your progress right on the device.

Fitbit One ($99.95)

The One is another smart pedometer in the FitBIt lineup and it’s the next step up (ha ha…get it?) from the entry-level Zip. In addition to tracking your steps, distance traveled and estimated calories burned, the One can also tell how many stairs you’ve climbed and track your sleep. Unlike the Zip, the One is rechargeable and has a slightly sleeker form factor. LIke the Zip, the One also connects to FitBit’s vast online system so you’ll get virtual badges as rewards for progress, access to friends using FitBit gizmos and all the other great stuff the company does.

BodyMedia FIT ($99.99)

The FIT takes a different approach to monitoring your activity than the usual tracking gadgets. For starters, it comes with sensors that rest against your skin and measure your heat and galvanic skin response in addition to your movement. BodyMedia claims this will produce a more accurate measurement of how many calories you burn (I have no way to verify that one way or the other). It also requires a $6.95 a month subscription to connect to its online ecosystem, so keep that in mind when you’re comparing prices. And finally, it must be worn on the upper left arm to work because of those cool sensors. So it’s not quite as convenient as some of the other fitness gizmos, but in return it gives you more data.

Jawbone UP ($129.99)

The Jawbone UP was a fantastic fitness gadget when it first came out but suffered from a fatal flaw that caused it to stop working after a while. So Jawbone issued a refund to anyone who wanted it and took the product off the market. Now the UP is back and has been completely redesigned and given a new price of $129.99, up (ha ha) from $99.99. The UP is an iOS only device (Android support is supposedly coming soon) that plugs into your iPhone or iPod via the headphone jack to give you a readout of your day’s activities. However it only syncs to the free app that Jawbone supplies. Unlike other gadgets, there’s no central Web site that also stores and tracks your data. Like a few of the other smart trackers though, it does measure your sleep.

NOTE: The UP includes my favorite feature, a vibrating alarm that will nudge you if you’ve been motionless for too long. I love that because it prompts me to get up from my desk and walk around from time to time. It also works as a sleep-cycle alarm with the UP’s sleep tracking abilities.

Nike Fuel Band Nike FuelBand ($149)

The Nike FuelBand wins the award for sexiest tracking device with its stunning multi-colored LED display that seems to completely disappear when not in use. Along with steps it also tracks “Nike Fuel,” which is a proprietary measurement that combines all kinds of movement into a common denomination. Supposedly that means you earn more points for doing something like playing basketball vs walking, which should give you a more accurate take on your activity level.. The FuelBand is part of the Nike+ ecology, so if your giftee is already a + user, this is the device to get for them.

NOTE: The FuelBand now comes in two “ice” styles, which are translucent black or white bands that let you see the guts of the thing. Sort of interesting.

Basis Band ($199)

The Basis Band isn’t actually available yet but you can get your early-adopter geek on the pre-order list in time for the holidays. As you can see from the picture, the Basis looks like a watch so it doesn’t scream “fitness gadget!” when you look at it, which could be a selling point for some. It’s other point of differentiation is that it monitors your heart rate, galvanic skin response and body heat, as well as your steps and your sleep, giving you still more data to track and analyze. It’s basically a better looking Body Media FIT that doesn’t require a monthly subscription.

Fitbit Aria Wi-fi Smart Scale ($129.95)

The Aria is a scale that connects to the Internet via wi-fi to track your weight, body mass index and body fat percentage. It works with the rest of the FitBit online ecosystem so if your giftee already has a FitBit Zip or One (or any of the older models), this scale will complement their existing device. The Aria can automatically recognize 8 different users and, like other FitBit gadgets, it lets you set goals and gives you virtual badges as rewards when you reach them. It’s main feature is that it displays your weight loss or gain over time, so you can see how your body mass is trending.

Withings Scale Withings WiFi Body Scale (139.99)

The Withings scale is the pre-cursor to the FitBit Aria and has the same basic functionality. It tracks your weight, body fat percentage and BMI, and automatically uploads the results to the Web where you can see them change (preferably down!) over time. The big difference between the two scales is that while the Aria is designed to tap into FitBit’s own online system, the Withings scale will work with dozens of existing sites like LoseIt, MyFitnessPal and even the FitiBit system. For my money the Withings scale is also a little more attractive.

NOTE: FitBit’s gadget array will sync with other services too, but they seem more focused on importing data from those sites into the FitBit world vs the other way around.

Autom Autom ($199 Pre-Order)

Autom is a “social robot” health coach that sits on your kitchen counter and talks to you every day about your diet and fitness routines. She’s got a camera and six motors inside that bring her to life, and the idea is that, through real-world interactions, she’ll form a relationship with you and become a sort of encouraging mentor. Of course Autom hooks up wirelessly to the Internet, and she can also work with other fitness gadgets like the FitBit and Withings scale. Autom is only available for pre-order via IndieGoGo at the moment, but when you order one you’ll get 5 Autom post cards that you can wrap up as a gift IOU.

NOTE: Autom requires a monthly $6.99 subscription.

GeekDesk ($749 and up)

If you follow me on Twitter you know that I love GeekDesks so much I have two of them, one at home and one at work. GeekDesks move up and down via a motor so they let you switch between standing and sitting positions throughout the day. Not only does this keep you from sitting for 8 hours in a row, which we now know is harmful to your health, standing also burns more calories. I have a treadmill under my home desk so I can walk as well if I like.

NOTE:  GeekDesk’s customer support is awesome, at least when I had to contact them.

LifeSpan TR1200-DT Treadmill Desk (1,176.93)

If money is no object for your beloved geeky gift recipient, give them a LifeSpan Treadmill desk. It will let them burn off calories and get into shape while they surf Reddit (or even do legitimate work). And yes, you CAN type very easily on a treadmill desk, which is the #1 question I get about mine. Since laptops and tablets have turned into personal entertainment devices, most people can also watch movies, read books and play games on their LifeSpan, all while the miles pass virtually unnoticed under their feet.

An iPad or Android Tablet (Various Prices)

I promise you, this isn’t just a gratuitous way to get a tablet into the Weighthacker healthy gadget gift guide. As I wrote about earlier, there are 7 ways you can use your iPad to help you lose weight, and the same holds true for most other tablets out there. You can use them to track your calories, to download virtual gym trainers, to teach you yoga, to watch health lectures (exciting, I know!), to entertain you at the gym…there are probably dozens of ways all told that you can use a tablet to help you lose weight and stay fit. As healthy gadgets go, tablets are great idea.

If you know of other gadgets that will both make good presents and give a geek the gift of health, let me know in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for more!


Posted November 27, 2012 @ 10:10 am | Tags: ,,,,

3 insidious reasons we gain weight during the holidays (and how to fight them)

First, here’s the good news. Although on average everyone thinks they gain about 5 pounds a year due to holiday eating, most of us actually only gain about 1 pound of holiday weight. Not bad, right? Well…

The bad news is, most of us never lose that pound. In fact, about 51% of our average annual weight gain occurs during the six-week holiday period. Worse still, “this extra weight accumulates through the years and may be a major contributor to obesity later in life,” according to  the National Institutes of Health.

Another factor of note to Weighthackers is that if you’re already overweight, you’ll gain more during the holidays than someone who isn’t overweight. While a normal weight person may only add half a pound during the holidays, someone who’s overweight or obese will average five extra pounds.

So let’s talk about why we all overeat during the holidays, then I’ll show you how to avoid it:

1) Abundance: During the holidays we’re surrounded by food. Co-workers bring in cookies and cake, families gather for huge meals and refrigerators are stuffed with leftovers. The problem is, when we’re surrounded by food, humans tend to eat it even when we’re not hungry. So that’s the first strike.

2) Palatability: Another problem with holiday food is that it tends to be what’s called “highly palatable,” which means it tastse good to us. And the better a food tastes, the more of it we’ll eat. So not only are you surrounded by food, it tends to be really tasty food. Strike two.

3) Peer-Induced Overeating: We’ll eat more when our friends and family around us overeat, even when we’re not hungry. And most people around us overeat during the holidays, so the pressure to join in is enormous (and can make us enormous too!). Strike three.

You may notice something here. None of the reasons I outlined above seem “bad” per se. You’re around friends and family, the food is good and there’s lots of it. These are all typically considered desirable things. And that’s exactly what makes holiday weight gain so insidious. You’re put into an environment where it’s nearly impossible not to overeat, and nothing seems particularly wrong about it.

Okay, back to some good news. With a few simple changes you can avoid holiday weight gain altogether but still enjoy the holidays themselves. Here are 6 easy weight hacks to get you through the upcoming “eating season”:

1) Start with Breakfast: Eating a nutritious breakfast, especially one that contains a protein like eggs, will help keep you full throughout the day, so you’ll naturally eat less.

2) Have a Plan: Think about what you’re going to eat before you get into an eating situation. Love that fruit log that Aunt Sally makes? Plan ahead of time to have one piece. Love turkey and mashed potatoes? Plan to have one plate and no more. Studies show that if we have an “eating plan” we tend to stick to it.

3) Avoid a Food “Free for All”: In a buffet style atmosphere where we can get more food whenever we want, we have a hard time keeping track of how much we’re eating so we end up eating too much. Your strategy in those situations is to put everything your’e going to eat on one plate first and when you’ve finished that plate, stop eating.

4) Write it Down: Another strategy for keeping track of what you eat is to write things down as you eat them. This doesn’t have to be complex or obvious. For instance, I just keep my iPhone handy and use the Notes feature to jot down what I’ve had.

5) Don’t Clean Your Plate: When you’re done eating, don’t clean off your used plate. Instead, keep it around as a visual reminder to your brain and body that, yes, you’ve already eaten and, no, you don’t need to eat more. These kinds of visual cues are an important component of tracking what we eat, and they also signal us to feel more full.

6) Fill Up On Good Stuff First: Before you get to Aunt Sally’s fruit log, get a helping (or two!) of fruits or veggies. Because they’re low-calorie but take up more volume than heavily processed foods like cake, they’ll make you feel full but not add weight. Then when you get to the fruit log, you’ll have a smaller helping.

A few other things that will help: If you have a regular exercise routine, make an extra effort to stick to your scheduled workout during the holidays. The last thing you want to do is overeat then forego the gym. And, if you’re bringing food over to friends and family, don’t bring a treat that you know you’ll love and want a lot of. That’s setting yourself up for disaster!

Last year I used these weight hacks so successfully that I was able to lose weight during the holidays. Not only didn’t I miss all the overeating I used to indulge in, it also made the holidays sweeter than ever.

Posted November 20, 2012 @ 1:38 pm | Tags: ,,,

The Doctor Who workout for healthy Timelords

Here’s your guide for working out while watching Doctor Who.

(From America Young via Casey McKinnon)

Posted November 14, 2012 @ 10:05 am | Tags: ,,,

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