With another Christmas done and dusted, online health coach and fitness expert Hannah Mills at Wedges & Weights shares her top five tips to make the most of your brand-new activity trackers and tech…

Fitness trackers topped many a must-have Christmas gift list this year. But how can you ensure the Fitbit, Apple Watch or app-filled smartphone Santa gave you becomes more than just a short-lived fad? We caught up with Hannah Mills from Wedges & Weights about how to make your movement matter into 2017 and beyond.

But firstly, a little bit about Hannah…

The evolution of Wedges & Weights

Originally trained in musical theatre, Hannah discovered her passion for health and fitness in between auditions:

“About four years ago when I was back in London auditioning, I spent a lot more time in the gym as a way to keep fit and stay in shape,” she explains.

“Later I began dabbling on the internet and started a little blog. I basically began sharing little bits of health and fitness information online because it was a passion of mine, and through that I found I really loved helping other women feel better about themselves. One thing led to another and I soon became a fully qualified personal trainer and coach.”

“I went from filming videos on a tiny camera in the gym, to having people email me every day asking for help, to coaching an incredible online community of women that I now call my ‘Wedgettes’ – helping them to find their balance and create a healthy lifestyle as they transform their lives, bodies and mindsets.”

From festive feasts to fitness

Speaking of transformation… If, like us, your December intake of ‘five a day’ has largely come in the form of the fruit inside your mince pies, now is probably a good time to turn things around. Thankfully, despite our overindulgence, Hannah says food should never be a cause to feel guilty:

“What I suggest doing when there are a few more indulgences around is to focus on making all your other meals as nutrient dense as possible. Eat whole foods that are going to give your body both the macro and micronutrients it needs to feel fabulous and less sluggish,” she explains.

“The other thing is to avoid mindless munching, especially if you’re back at work and there are still lots of little treats hanging around. Save your indulgences for your very best treats – the things that you absolutely love. You can then eat those and enjoy every single mouthful without feeling guilty about it,” she says.

Activity tracker tips

If Christmas has left you the lucky recipient of a shiny new activity tracker, now’s the time to start incorporating it into your everyday life. Here are Hannah’s top tips for making the most of your new fitness wearable:

1. Make sure you wear it

While this sounds simple enough, Hannah says the best of intentions won’t get you very far if you don’t get into the habit of wearing your new kit every day:

“There’s a tendency for people to just keep these things looking shiny and lovely and forget to put them on. The first thing you need to do is get into the habit of putting your new activity band on every day. Many wearables now monitor sleeping patterns as well, so there’s really no need to take them off,” she explains.

2. Set yourself daily, realistic goals

Hannah says a good way to gauge what will be realistic for you is to use your tracker for one week to establish a baseline and then adjust your targets:

“Make sure your goals are realistic based on your current level of activity and the kind of job you have. Adjust your step count and make it more challenging as you go on, because, of course, you need to challenge yourself to achieve results and become healthier and fitter.”

In saying this, she says it’s also important not to aim too high.

“Be careful not to overshoot. Setting too hard a goal is counterproductive as it will only leave you feeling disheartened when you don’t achieve.”

3. Turn on movement reminders

Many fitness trackers enable you to set movement reminders. Hannah says these are particularly helpful if you work at a desk, but you need to make sure they’re turned on:

“When you’re working in an office the day can slip away without much physical activity, and it’s great to have that reminder to move every hour. It’s good for your posture as well. And if you get up and get a glass of water you can hit two fitness habits in one go!”

4. Track your progress

Hannah uses the Trainerize personal training app for both her own workouts and her clients’, and says it’s a valuable way to keep track of progress:

“It’s really important to track your progress in terms of how you’re getting on in the gym as well as how many steps you’re taking. Depending on the client, I also recommend My Fitness Pal (iOS, Android). You can link this up with a huge number of fitness trackers, and it’s a good way to see what you’re actually consuming in terms of food and drink. You might be surprised or notice some habits that you haven’t seen before. These are easy to overcome with a few simple swaps that, in the long term, will help you achieve your goals.

Hannah also uses two other apps called Calm (iOS, Android) and Headspace (iOS, Android).

“If you’re looking to explore more mindful meditation in 2017, these two apps are a great place to start.”

5. Get social

Life is so much easier when you have a solid support system in place. Hannah recommends joining a community step challenge through the likes of Stridekick to gain motivation and help you stick with your fitness programme. Many fitness trackers also now have challenges included as part of their apps, proving there’s nothing like a bit of friendly competition:

“If your friends and family have activity trackers, get them involved. It’s a great way to gain support and encouragement, and also bring out your competitive side,” Hannah says.

“My nana has a Fitbit and even she gets a bit competitive with her step count. Competition provides a great incentive to get more active and join a group, and at the end of the day it’s about having fun while incorporating fitness into your everyday life.”

“My nana has a Fitbit and even she gets a bit competitive with her step count.”

Final words of motivation?

The big one for Hannah is to: “Remember your fitness tracker is not a magic wand.”

“It’s an amazing motivational aid, but you’ve got to realise that you need to put in the hard work yourself if you want to see results and become fitter and healthier in 2017. You’ve got to move that body.”

Get more motivation to move… with these tips from Patrick Thorne (AKA ‘The Snowhunter’) on how to best shred the snow this winter ski season.