January 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm
by Christina Tynan-Wood
I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that you made some resolutions recently. And, according to a recent study, it was a very techie Christmas. More than 17.4 million people activated a smart phone or tablet on Christmas. Maybe you are wondering if your new device can help you keep those resolutions?
There are a lot of apps out there. And even more resolutions. But most of us tend to resolve to make this year one where we weigh less, exercise more, have less clutter, and keep more of our money.
Even if I just listed my favorite apps in all of those categories, though, I’d have to write something along the lines of an encyclopedia. So I’ll start with the big one: lose weight. (Next week I’ll tackle another topic.)
There are tons of great mobile tools to help you stay on track. Here are a half-dozen that I like.
One of the best ways to cut calories – and thus pounds – is to keep track of what you eat so you can see your daily calorie intake and what you can easily cut. This app works with just about every smart phone, tablet, or computer and connects well with wearable monitors such as the FitBit (below) and others. So it’s a great place to start. It will help you calculate how much you should eat based on your activity level and – with a massive database of foods – makes accurate meal tracking easy. Just type in what you ate – be it homemade or restaurant – and it will quickly calculate the damage. Enter your workout and it will recalculate your daily calorie allowance. You can have that desert you earned without falling prey to inaccurate diet-killing rationalizations. It’s usually a bad habit or two that’s keeping you from your goals. This will help you see where those habits are and just how much they are costing you.
If you got an Android device, check out this personal diet coach app. It breaks the entire process down just like a personal trainer would, giving you daily tasks based on a proven diet plan and taking into account your preferences. Obey it, and it will slowly increase how much you move and decrease the calories you consume – with a little education thrown in. Check it in the morning to see what’s on your to-do list — walk, strength training, read an informative article, try a new vegetable – and get it done. It gives lots of kudos when you complete your tasks. And it has a GPS tracker built in so if you bring your phone on your walk, it tracks and logs your activity. And the food tracker is brain-dead simple. You don’t log every food, you log by type (green is for healthy stuff like vegetables) and get an approximate tally. If you have very little time to sort out how to achieve your goals, you will appreciate having a coach in your pocket.
Noom, free to download, $9.99 per month for the full coach experience.
Change isn’t something that happens by force of will. Real change starts with small things: taking the stairs, going to bed earlier, choosing water instead of soda. Fig will help you jump start those small changes by offering little reminders. You can even rope your friend into cheering you on right from this app. It helps you set up your goals, reminds you to keep at it, and cheers you on when you succeed. If your goals are more about creating personal wellness for body, mind, and soul than about simply losing weight, this app will help keep you focused and engage your friends in the process.
Get Serious with a Body Monitor
If you want more accountability than your own assessment of your calorie burn, consider wearing a body monitor. These track your activity – including the time you spend running around the house tidying up and taking the stairs instead of riding the elevator – and can do wonders for encouraging you to work more activity into a busy day. They work with an app on your phone or tablet to keep you on track.
This tiny device clips to your clothing and tracks your activity, encouraging you to not only walk but to climb more stairs since it tracks that as well. It tracks you calories burned so you know if you can afford that desert. It also tracks your sleep to offer a window into why you might feel so tired. You can see your stats right on the device but it also syncs to the Web and your mobile device. Battery life is impressive. The Fitbit has become a way of life for many of its users, myself included.
This wrist band works with an iPhone, iPod, or iPad to track your activity and feed those stats directly to your iOS device. You even wear it at night to track your sleep, which is often a factor in diet failures. And it will buzz you awake quietly. The wrist band is cute(ish) so it’s easy to wear.
This armband is more than a step tracker. It measures 5000 body measurements to give you an accurate picture of your calorie burn and sleep using your body temperature and other measurements. It is actually a medical grade monitor. So if you want to track all your activities – not just those involving steps – wear this. It may not be the prettiest monitor (at least not yet) but it’s comfortable. Syncs with a computer and many mobile devices.