I don’t know about you, but after the holidays I feel like I’ve eaten way too much. For me, it’s not even so much a weight concern as it is waking up the next morning and feeling like I overdid it. Did I really need that second slice of cheesecake?
For those of you who have willpower, good for you! For the rest of us, getting healthy and staying fit is a typical New Year’s resolution.
Instead of contributing to a general inactivity problem, our phones can actually be used to track our diet, exercise and other activities. There are so many devices and apps out there that it can be difficult to determine which ones stand out. We asked Rachel Russell, a personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise, for some of her favorites and added a few of our own.
Are you looking for apps that track your workout? What about ideas for specific muscle groups? We’ve got some ideas for that.
For monitoring your activity patterns, Russell recommends the Fitbit. They offer everything from basic pedometer functionality to sleep and heart rate tracking. Some of them provide basic smart band functionality, including music control and GPS tracking. You can choose from a variety of models to fit your needs.
The real secret to getting the most use out of your Fitbit is to utilize the accompanying website and free app to see your full fitness picture. In these platforms, you can input information the band itself is unable to track – things like water and food intake. You can compare these with the amount of calories burned during your activities in order to track your progress toward your nutrition and fitness goals.
You can also use the app on its own to track basic activity, such as running, via your smartphone’s accelerometer.
Are you looking to target specific areas of your body with your workout plan? For this, Russell likes iMuscle 2.
“iMuscle 2 is a great app because it allows you to point to any body part/muscle group and learn different exercises for that muscle,” Russell said. “It also has workout plans for beginners to advanced levels. I like it because it tells you the proper name for the muscles, and it’s a 3-D app, so you can literally go to any body part you’d like.”
A great advantage of this app is that it’s available on iOS, Android, Mac and Windows platforms. The price of the app ranges from $2–$10 depending on your device.
One app I personally find useful is Lose It! It’s extremely cross-platform friendly, with the ability to take in data from any number of devices. This means you’re not tied to any one device platform. Otherwise, you can input food and exercise data in the same way you would on the Fitbit site. The app is available for Android and iOS.
Everything is easier when you’re not doing it alone. This includes sticking with any sort of fitness goal. Working within a group can help motivate you to achieve more success. These next few apps are aimed at helping you find that group support and healthy competition.
The free MINDBODY app connects users with different appointment-based services including gym classes, yoga sessions and spa services. Russell highly recommends this app. You can also use the app to pay for classes.
I don’t know about you, but nothing motivates me like cold hard cash. The KrowdFit app and website brings this idea to fitness.
The member-based site aims to promote good fitness habits through monetary drawings. Don’t worry – you don’t have to gain the physique of a bodybuilder to win money. The people behind KrowdFit realize that the key to developing any fitness and nutritional routines is to make it a habit.
You get entries for every day you complete your steps, sleep certain amounts of time or log the meals you’ve eaten.
If you’re looking for a little more competition among a group of friends, you can join a group. Within your KrowdFit Krew, you can create fitness challenges. Each participant throws in a few dollars, and the winner gets the money.
Good Fitness Habits
It’s not often we get to talk to a personal trainer, so we capitalized on the opportunity to ask her to share some general tips.
Her first big tip: be consistent with your workout routine. “It takes 90 days to really start seeing the results you want, so be consistent, do not give up and keep working hard even when you don’t feel like it,” she said.
Odds are you’re probably not drinking enough water, either. Russell said in order to make sure you’re properly hydrated, each day you should drink one ounce of water for every 2 pounds of your total body weight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water.
This next tip should be fairly easy for anyone like me to take to heart: Stay in bed and let yourself sleep. Russell said we should all be getting at least six hours of sleep per night.
“If you’re not sleeping, then you’re not performing your best,” Russell explains. “You’re more apt to gain weight and hold on to the weight you have.”
Do you have any apps or devices that have helped you achieve your fitness and nutrition goals? Share them with other readers in the comments. I’ll get back to you later. I’m going to go jump under the covers. I got up way too early this morning.
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