First Week with the Biggest Loser SlimCoach

Often the make or break period with a new device is the first week. How easy is it to learn? How well does it function? Here is our first week with the Biggest Loser SlimCoach.

Biggest Loser SlimCoach Bob did a variety of exercise routines for the first week. One day was a round of golf, other days were mixes of gym workouts. We tested the SlimCoach on one hip and a pedometer on the other, to compare steps. We used a chest monitor to compare it with a heart rate watch and the heart monitors on the equipment. It even went into the sauna.

The SlimCoach unit itself held up quite fine to all the various activities. It is so light that even during golfing - which is sensitive to changes in body position and wear - it was undetectable.

The web interface worked smoothly. Setting up the meals was simple, and adjusting them was easy as well. You define your overall meal plan - for example, >40% protein, <30% carb, <30% fat. The system then figures out the gram values for each of those areas and then alerts you with red and green to show where your daily values fall in each area.

One down side of this red-green technique is that early in the day it's hard to know how you are doing. Let's say you're eating breakfast. Your protein will show red because you haven't reached your protein total yet. Your other items will be green even if you just ate 99% of your total fat for the day. What would work better is if it showed a bar chart, perhaps, so you could glance at that and see where you fell in your values for the day. That way you could eat more of one item or ease up based on what it said.

On the exercise side, you indicate with drop-downs what types of activities you enjoy doing. It isn't fully comprehensive - for example they have white-water kayaking but not quiet kayaking. On the other hand they do have brisk walking, slow walking, and even walking the dog. When you choose the activities you enjoy, the system will then make recommendations for your daily calorie burn based on those activities.

A graph shows you day by day how many steps you've taken, how many calories you've burned, and how you're progressing towards your goals.

The system lets you know that during this first week you are being "evaluated" - it's a testing period to see what level of activity you normally participate in. After this first week you will then be given a more precise set of goals based on how active you tend to be. They are very gentle in their ramp up. During the first week they barely expect you to move at all. I appreciate this, that they assume the person could be extremely out of shape and doesn't want to be scared off. It's worth mentioning that they do prod you to do 30 minutes of heart-rising activity a day, so for someone who has been completely sedentary, this might be a bit much. Some might want to do every other day to ramp up.

For us, with the first week goals being low compared with our normal activity, we were curious what the system would do once that first week was done. What new goals would it provide once it saw how active we are? First, it gave us a "snail" as our animal - the lowest animal in their kingdom. It gave us a snail even though every day we did at least 2 1/2 times the goals they set. That seemed very odd. Also, none of the goals changed. They didn't "amp up" any of the goals at all. The initial progression was one week at 280 calories, the next week at 290 calories, and so on. After our initial week, that didn't change. The second week is still only 290 calories a day. I'm not sure if that first week was ever going to do anything but give us a snail.

We were curious about the "PI" - Performance Index number. The only guidance that they provide is that "more is better" - but you get no idea of what range the numbers are in. Also, if you check the number at 10pm on one day, and then 1am a few hours later, the number suddenly drops. It doesn't make sense to penalize you for a day that hasn't begun yet. It should only be based on completed days, not days that haven't begun yet. We did find a third party site that indicates the number runs from 1 to 1,000, with the top representing a professional athlete.

You also earn "points" each time you fill up your green circle - but there's no indication of what those points are used for.

So, to summarize.

The unit itself has held up quite fine. It is incredibly light and easy to use. It is accurate compared with the other devices we've compared it to.

The site's nutrition / food tracking area is easy to use. We haven't had any trouble at all maintaining it and it does encourage us to eat healthy options.

The site's exercise / energy area is as useful as it needs to be. It offers recommendation and tracks accurately.

So far we are enjoying the unit and finding it helpful towards reaching weight loss and fitness goals.

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