There’s an old adage that says “Summer Beach Bodies start in February”. Since it’s the beginning of March, what better time to go start trimming the fat then now?
I’ve started a strict diet and exercise regemin, and being the techie that I am, I’ve done some research recently on apps that would assist me in my weight-loss and body-sculpting endeavors. You may have noticed that it’s been a few days since I last published a post. That’s because I have been conducting research on each of these apps, mostly for my personal benefit, but also so I can share what some of the most helpful apps are out there for weight loss and fitness. So without further adieu…
I have used MyFitnessPal off and on for a couple of years now. It relies on the underlying principal that weight gain and weight loss are governed by the formula of calories consumed minus calories burnt. It’s a great application if you are honest with yourself because it tracks the calories in everything you input, from foods you’ve eaten to exercises you have done. If you use a smart phone that tracks your steps, it even includes those into your daily calorie count. When you start, you indicate your weight, age, sex and desired goals. It will calculate an appropriate daily calorie count, and off you go. I have it set to 1800 calories since I’m trying to lose my excessive love handles, and I can track my daily routines, the recipes I cook, the common restaurant menu items I purchase, and the exercises I do for a great picture of where I stand at the end of the day. The only downsides of MyFitnessPal is that you have to be totally honest with yourself, and input everything that you eat and exercises that you do daily. It’s a tough commitment, and when you first start out the results can be quite eye-popping. Also, it might overstate the number of calories burnt on various cardio exercises.
Similar to MyFitnessPal, SparkPeople tracks what you eat and what workouts you do. With millions of recipes and food items in their nutrition content, it’s got a more developed ‘diet-side’ than MyFitnessPal, while trading off development on the ‘excercise-side’ in comparison to MyFitnessPal. To their benefit, they do have excercise suggestions and helpful photo-guides, as well as a weight watchers-esque point system that really helps when counting nutrients. The only knock I can really come up with in using this app is that it can be a bit of an information overload, which can be a bit hard to dig through.
I bought my fiancée a Fitbit for the holidays a year ago, and she absolutely loves it. It has helped her improve her health choices and adjust her lifestyle. Not only does it keep track of her calories, steps, stairs, and other movement metrics, but it does a good job with tracking her heart rate and, most importantly, her sleep and sleep quality. Many people overlook sleep when they are trying to lose or maintain weight, but studies have shown that if you don’t get a good, quality sleep every night, you could be undoing all the effort you put in. That’s where the Fitbit gains an edge over other apps out there. The downside is that the app is pretty watered down and barebones unless you invest the 100$ in a physical Fitbit to go with it.
FatSecret provides a support network to assist and motivate you to keep to your goals and not lose site. Another app that tracks calorie inputs, it uses Social Networking to provide you with a support network of similarly goaled individuals. With an extensive chat feature and community board allowing you to coordinate excercise groups and healthy cooking classes, etc. in your local area, FatSecret allows you access to a community to lean upon. While not the most user-friendly app, it is the virtual communal effort that will help you get over some of your individual moments of weakness.
If money is a motivator for you, then Pact might be an option you’d want to pursue. Pact basically allows you to gamble on yourself. You set weekly weight loss and/or fitness goals, and wager, or ‘pact’ an amount on you meeting those goals weekly. Most wagers range from 25¢ to 5$, but there is wiggle room depending on how confident you are in yourself. If you meet your diet and excercise goals each week, you get paid the amount you have wagered, but if you do not meet your weekly goals, you pay the amount you wagered and it goes to someone who did meet their goals. By providing a financial motivation, this can be a great app for those motivated by finances, but if you miss your goals too often, it can be a potentially expensive venture.
Fooducate is a grocery shopping aid that allows you to scan the barcodes of items at your grocers, and it will tell you how much healthy, unhealthy and hidden unhealthy ingredients are in that item, which will help you determine weather to buy it, or get a healthier alternative. This prevents you from bringing unhealthy foodstuffs into your home, and helps maintain a healthy kitchen.
Many of us yuppies are to busy or lazy to cook our meals at home. While fast food and eating at restaurants is not very helpful for losing weight, many of us have professional or social lives that makes it hard to avoid a meal out. HealthyOut takes your nutritional preferences, and geographic location, and compiles a quick-scan list of restaurants and dishes served in your local area that keep within your dietary goals while allowing you to still enjoy the occasional meal out. It even has a cool filter system that allows you to limit entries to diet types, such as Paleo or Vegan options.
LoseIt! helps you build a dietary plan that fits your personal tastes. Using a point budget system, it can identify most foods via your smartphone camera, and breaks each photo down into its nutritional components and how much of your daily budget of each nutrition it comprises. By helping you understanding your food and portion size, it helps you lose weight without compromising your tastebuds by helping you understand how much of each food you like you can eat each day.
If you are motivated by philanthropy, CharityMile might be a good tool to motivate you. While it doesn’t track calories or do anything too terribly fancy to help you personally, it does allow you to use your excercise routine to give back to the world. Using a built in pedometer, it tracks how many steps you take. For each mile you walk, the app’s proprietors donate a small amount of cash to a charity of your choice. Lose weight, and save the world doing it!
As I mentioned above, healthy sleep is just as important as excercise and diet when it comes to weight loss. SleepCycle tracks your movement, sleep levels and stages of sleep in order to help you evaluate where you are with your sleeping habits and how to improve them in order to optimize your insulin and hormone levels for the best weight losing combination. It also has a cool alarm modification system to time your alarm for when you are in the lightest stages of sleep, which are the healthiest stages to wake up from.