Weight Loss At Your Fingertips

With technology and smart phone so readily available and apart of our lives, its wonderful that there are so many Apps or websites available to help us track our activity and foods. Here are just a few that we have found and the pros and cons of each!



My Fitness Pal is deemed the fastest and easiest calorie counter app out there. This app and website allows you to track food intake and exercise on a daily basis to reach your weight loss goals. There are more than 2 million foods stored in the app that can be accessed without internet connection and the app also allows you to scan barcodes and automatically will put in the caloric and nutritional information. On the down side, the portion size has to be set by the user which can cause the information to be inaccurate and any strength training does not count as calories burned.





Lose It is an app that creates a daily calorie budget based on YOU and YOUR personal goals. You can easily enter your exercises and foods that you have eaten and the app will tell you how many calories you have left for the day. This app is very similar to My Fitness Pal however it lacks the scanning capabilities.




The My Plate Calorie Tracker not only tracks calories, but also watches your fat, protein, and carbohydrate intake. It has access to restaurant items, a water tracker, and daily reminders to keep you on track. The only downside is that there is no barcode scanner and the app does not give you access to previous days.


Exercise Myths

Last month we asked the FITT exercisers to tell us some myths about exercise. Well, we have the answers.


Do crunches get rid of belly fat?

This topic is focusing on the idea of ‘spot reduction’ which is defined as the idea that working one specific area will result in a change, in our case, fat loss in that same area.  Unfortunately, spot reduction is a MYTH.  While crunches will aid in the reduction of belly fat, other elements must be present, as a balanced, nutritional diet, cardiovascular, and resistance training.

Does Yoga help your muscles become longer?

While yoga, pilates, and other stretching exercises are a great way for ending a workout, or for psychological reliefs the myth that doing these exercise will elongate your muscles is a MYTH.  In the body muscles are attached to bone via tendons, so for the target muscle to become longer, you would have to change the positing, or length of the tendon that attaches the muscles to your bone.  While stretching exercises may not make your muscles longer, they can tone them by causing hypertrophy, increases in cell number, which increases the diameter of the muscle.

Does running on pavement cause more injuries than treadmill running?

Treadmills are softer than pavement and absorb more of the impact than pavement; however it’s hard to say if treadmill running will reduce injury. Running can be very stressful on joints so it is important when training to run, that you take frequent walking breaks to allow the hips, knees and ankles to recover.  Biomechanical differences exist between running overground versus a treadmill but the overall forces on the joints are similar.

Does stretching before activity help prevent injury?

Recent research has shown that stretching prior to exercise does not reduce the incident of injury.  In cases when elite athletes stretch before an event, performance can be reduced because of a decrease in the ‘stretch shortening cycle’.  Though no direct link has been established between stretching and injury reduction, stretching is recommended during or after an exercise session to maintain/increase flexibility.

Is a morning workout better than an evening workout?

Morning Evening
Pros Cons Pros Cons
Allows you to complete the rest of the day without worrying about finding time to exercise Finding motivation to exercise early is difficult for some The body is properly warmed up for exercise later in the day/night After getting off of work or having a long day, many people do not feel motivated to exercise
Early exercise can provide a feeling of being energized throughout the rest of the day The body may not be properly warmed up and ready for exercise in the morning Some may find exercise as a relaxing way to end the day Exercise in the evening may make falling asleep at night harder

Does doing 10 minutes of exerciser 3 times per day have the same benefits as exercising for 30 minutes, once per day?

It depends on what you are trying to accomplish.  If you are trying to achieve weight loss, then 10 minutes/3x a day would work for you, as long as you exercised at the same intensity as the previous 10 minute intervals.  However, this is not the case if you are trying to strive for a longer, more intense workout because going longer durations allows your body to strain against the workload and build stamina during exercises more than 20 minutes long.

Higher number of repetitions vs Fewer repetitions and more weight

It all depends on what you are lifting for, and what age group you fall into.  If you are try to add muscle mass then higher weight and less repetitions are the way to go.  However, for older individuals, and for people trying to prolong muscle mass, and muscle stamina it seems that more repetitions with less weight is the way to go.  Not only is this safer in terms of lugging heavy weight up and down, but performing more repetitions at a lower weight can allow for more stamina for walking and stability which prevents falls.

Electrical Stimulation Of Muscles (ex. Fat burning belts)

Everyone has seen that abdominal belts that people just strap on for 30 minutes a day, watch television, and by the end of week have AMAZING abs!  Well don’t place your orders just yet.  Simply stimulating muscle with an electrical impulse does not cause increases in definition.  Why?  Because when we exercise we cause the muscle to consume oxygen and produce lactic acid in conjunction to the contraction of the muscle.  While the belt causes a contraction of the muscle, it does not stimulate oxygen consumption and its byproducts.  So you just paid lots of money to shock yourself with no added benefit.

Inspirational Quotes

We here at the FITT facility have compiled several inspirational quotes!


“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

– Mahatma Gandhi


“It’s never too late to become what you might have been. ”

– George Elliot


” What a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

– Socrates


“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

– Fred Devito


“Instead of giving myself reasons why I can’t, I give myself reasons why I can. ”

– Unknown


” The difference between try and triumph is a little umph. ”

– Marvin Phillips

Exercise Ponderings from the FITT Building of ECU

In 2009, an article in TIME magazine hit the streets titled “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin”, by John Cloud. It was an interesting and well-written article, but the take home message was one we here at the ECU Human Performance Lab cringed at with an exuberant, “Oh,no!” at the thought of any public discouragement toward exercise. Our nation’s obesity levels continue to soar while sedentary behavior rises. In our education of students and in our cardiovascular risk testing program, we spend our lives helping others to tap into the benefits of exercise. We teach students, both graduate and undergraduate, and we also work with hundreds of community members each year to update and drive home the message that active lifestyles improve health—whether weight is lost or not.

We are the Human Performance Lab and we are parents, mentors, teachers, fishermen, coaches, members of cooking clubs, and even great musicians. But we are all joined under the heading “Human Performance Lab” and we have all, in our own unique ways, made a commitment to share the positive impact exercise has had on our lives. Our professors and their students perform exercise research and have taken on hundreds of projects over the years to add to exercise knowledge. Our goal is to help people see that indeed, as our leader in exercise research and science, the ACSM, states—exercise IS medicine.

Exercise is beneficial not only for our bodies, but for our minds. Ask one of our twelve stressed out graduate students to go for a run—she comes back flushed and sweaty, but a hundred percent more able to deal with a hectic schedule of courses, lab work, and studying. We, the faculty, are avid exercisers as well. We glisten, we sweat, we even grunt while exercising together in our exercise facility or running around campus. Then, we go back about our exploration of how best to influence our students and the community around us. We may spend years’ worth of energy, investing long hours and endless thought, into studies that do not always yield earth shattering results. However, our experience with thousands of research and community participants holds true:  our clients and subjects sure do feel better when they are exercising than they did before they started.

We may not find a perfect correlation, or generate a significant p-value to validate our hypothesis every time we do a study. However, we have proof that exercise does have its effect even when we do not see the scale budge towards its intended goal—the exercise remains a benefit. What study can accurately measure the benefit of changing someone’s life?  Of taking control of one’s outcomes, or even of feeling better in a pair of once too tight jeans? Of developing the types of power and strength that are impossible without physical training? Yes, we may lose weight through controlling our eating habits. But what about the importance of maintaining the agility and strength to get in the floor with our kids or grandkids and then making it back up again?

So in rebuttal of the article that questioned exercise because so much of weight loss has to do with caloric intake….ok, so maybe exercise alone does not make the biggest impact weight-wise. But it does make a big difference in our body’s function and form. It adds mental clarity and increases strength. Exercise benefits the body–regardless of weight loss.  Overall, once someone experiences the ‘feel good’ effects of exercise, other poor habits may just begin to seem a little easier to overcome.


Written by FITT Building Faculty Member and ECU Instructor, Julie Cox