I had high hopes for the tab that shows your goal progress and health plan in the Biggest Loser SlimCoach system. Here is why it had great potential - and has several flaws.
Here is the basic layout of this tab. You get a graph of what you should be doing to reach your goal. In my case the goal was to go from 135 to 125 at a rate of 2 pounds a week. So the green represents that task with a ramped up activity level. They want me to burn 160 calories a day at the beginning, and get up to 660 calories a day at the end.
The blue line above it is my actual progress. On the first day I did 830 calories, so far above their green target. The second day is still in progress so it's not a straight line yet. When I'm done with the day it will be.
You can move a slider along the bottom timeline to see what you've done in the past and what your goals are for the future. So for example here is what it knows for the first day.
Here is what it has planned out for me as my goal for the last day.
So this should be very straightforward and useful. It's a way to scan your progress along your path and see how it's doing.
Here are the issues.
First, the numbers it reports for your upcoming days are your TOTAL calories - including your base metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is what your body burns just existing. So my BMR at 135 pounds is 1350 calories. Therefore in order to know what I have to burn through exercise on a given day, I have to subtract 1350 from their number. It's silly for their chart to make me do math like that.
More importantly, though, their numbers are all using your starting BMR throughout the whole chart. That is, let's say I was 300 pounds and my goal was to lose 100 pounds over 3 months. The chart would look similar to this - a slowly rising green line. However, when I'm at month 2 out of 3 and at 233 pounds, my BMR is quite less than it was at 300 pounds. A person's BMR is based on their weight. However, the chart assumes the starting BMR throughout the graph cycle. So as a person loses weight, the chart becomes incorrect, and the more weight the person loses, the more incorrect the chart becomes. We have done tests on this with our previous units and verified the problem.
Finally, there's still the basic problem that the entire system has - that the calorie numbers can't be right. I want to lose 2 pounds a week. I have to burn 3500 calories to burn a pound - that's normal biology. So if I ate the 1200 calories a day they wanted me to, that means with my BMR of 1350 that I have a 150 calorie deficit a day. Add onto that the 160 calories of exercise they want me to do, and that's only 310 calories total. It would take me 12 days to lose ONE pound at that rate. There's no way I could lose 2 pounds a week. At my end goal burn rate of 660 calories, add that to my 150 calorie deficit and that's now 810 calories. So times 7 days that is 5670 calories. So even on the very last day of activity I'm still not burning calories at a rate of 2 pounds a week. There's no way this plan can work.
OK it's even worse than I thought. On the morning of the fourth day, here is what my chart looked like -
The blue line would indicate I progressively got much worse on the subsequent days. In real life my activity was even, but we'll ignore the activities that the unit didn't record on Fri and Sat and pretend this data is accurate. Here's what the unit recorded:
Going with that data, we have a problem with the graph. The system says it knows these numbers:
Thursday: 2180 - 1350 BMR = 830 calories burned
Friday: 1750 - 1350 BMR = 400 calories burned
Saturday: 2010 - 1350 BMR = 660 calories burned
So the graph should be up, down, then up again. Instead it's just a diving line. What happened to Saturday's up-tick on the graph?
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