Is your fitness tracker working for you?

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – There’s a pretty good chance you got a Fitbit or something like it for Christmas. Sales are through the roof of fitness devices designed to keep you accountable while getting in shape.

The latest stats show one in five of us has some type of wearable technology. Even the president has a fitness tracker. But how many of us really make full use of these? And how can you make a tracker work to its full potential for you?

Kathy Clare of Knoxville got her Fitbit right before Christmas. She wears it all day, every day to keep up with her activity level.

“It tracks my steps, exercise. It can track water, food,” she explains.

Clare’s health coach, Michelle Williams of Totality Living Well, says it’s all about motivation.

“I am all for any tool or resource that helps people help themselves with fitness,” said Williams.

Cindy Alpert is another busy woman. The radio station owner and jazz singer says her fitness tracker has been keeping her accountable for three years now.

“Even thought it’s a little bit outdated, there are more current versions, but it still works. It does the job. It tracks the steps. Basically, I go for 11,000 steps a day,” said Alpert.

Clare quickly learned an unexpected benefit from her Fitbit as it tracked her sleep patterns.

“I thought I was getting plenty of good sleep, and it turns out I get about four or five hours a night and it’s broken up into short segments. It might be thirty minutes, it might be two hours,” she said.

Clare pays closer attention to her health than many. A horrific car crash five years ago left her with devastating injuries. Doctors thought she’d never walk or possibly talk again. She powered through with a strength she didn’t know she had.

Now the tiny tracker she wears keeps her motivated to work hard to stay healthy.

“I love it,” Clare said with a smile. “My husband got one first. It took about a week before I wanted one.”

Fitbits come in all shapes, sizes and colors, so there’s lots of eye candy out there. If you find one that doesn’t have exactly what you need to meet your goals, it’s probably not going to work for you.

Williams says the Fitbit isn’t for everyone.

“I actually had to work with a client to get her off her Fitbit because she was so obsessed with keeping track of every little thing. That was derailing her from her progress, ” she says.

Alpert says her tracker fits with her philosophy.

“Eighty percent of the time, I do the right things. I eat right, I exercise, I work out,” she said. “The other 20 percent of the time, we’re all human, right? But I think when we have these little gadgets and we stick to it, it’s a reminder, ‘Hey, you’re capable of making good choices.’ It’s all about the choices.”

How do you make your fitness tracker work best for you? Looking at numbers alone can be boring for some of us after awhile. To make your info easier to understand, there’s an app called Matchup. It turns your fitness data into a game. It lets users from various fitness platforms like Fitbit and Jawbone compete against each other or themselves through all kinds of challenges.

You can also look at your steps in a fun way by following the route of famous marathons on a map.

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