Fitness devices help users track diet, exercise


ABC7 producer Jennifer Rumple knows what it's like to struggle with weight. For her, it began at the age of 8.

"I'm an emotional eater, stress eater, and you know from 220, trying WeightWatchers and losing 10 pounds, then gaining 30, then trying Atkins then gaining 40," Rumple said. "I've tried everything from the cabbage soup diet to grapefruit pills, and it just, nothing every really stuck."

That is, until she made it on to the show "The Biggest Loser," ultimately winning the $100,000 at-home prize for losing nearly 44 percent of her total body weight.

"Let me tell you, it's a daily struggle," she said

But technology helps her keep track of every choice, counting the steps she takes and calories she's burned.

"When you have tools like this to help you and kind of guide you and let you know what you are doing, it helps you and it keeps you going," Rumple said.

Rumple uses bodybugg, but there are dozens of fitness devices and companion apps on the market now.

One of the original ones is Fitbug, launched eight years ago in the United Kingdom. It uses an accelerometer to track forward movement.

"We want this stuff to be fun, this isn't about having to turn you into a fitness fanatic," Fitbug CEO Paul Landau said.

The latest version of Fitbug uses Bluetooth technology to capture your movement in real time and track it on your smartphone or tablet. The app helps keep you in the zone of at least 100 steps per minute, maximizing the health benefits.

The Fitbug app also offers virtual challenges and competitions to help motivate users, like a trek across Route 66 -- your daily steps register on the map showing your progress.

From her heaviest of 365 pounds, Rumple has lost almost half of that. She acknowledges technology is just part of the program for her, but she takes off her bodybugg only in the shower or pool and admits it feeds into her obsession of meeting her daily goals.

"I've been known to stand in front of the TV before midnight and do jumping jacks and, like, lunges, and I will even punch the air, which is kind of silly because it doesn't burn a lot of calories, but, just to get my heart rate up, so that I will get my calorie burn for the day," Rumple said.

Landau says the numbers collected by his company over the past eight years show sustained increases in activity for users. That mirrors a recent Stanford University study on low-tech pedometers -- researchers found subjects who wore one increased their physical activity by nearly 30 percent.

"What we're seeing with the data is that for someone who is following a regular Fitbug plan, following their weekly targets, we're very quickly seeing increases in activity of 60-80 percent," Landau said.

And getting your body moving is what it's all about.

"If you do what you know you need to do to lose the weight, which is move your body more and eat less, it will come off," Rumple said.

Most of these products cost between $50 and $100 and many include a 12 month subscription to their app. In the case of Fitbug, the app costs $3.99 a month after that.

While Rumple says she can't imagine giving hers up, a personal trainer is also key to her success.

Written and produced by Tim Didion

Copyright © 2024 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.