Using your smartphone to embrace a healthier lifestyle in 2012.
Image via CrunchBase
Are you one of the millions of people worldwide who has made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or get fit or just generally be healthier in 2012? The knowledge that you are far from alone may be of some comfort, but it is still difficult to motivate yourself to actually cut out the junk food or get off the sofa. I know I would much rather be watching TV and playing with my iPhone than battling the elements in an effort to shed some pounds.
Surprisingly, however, my iPhone is actually is the key to my success in losing 5kg in the last 2 months, thanks to some wonderful health and fitness apps that I’ve been using.
Research suggests that simply by writing down what you eat in any given day you will be compelled to eat less. [Kaiser Permanente study finds keeping a food diary doubles diet weight loss ; The Key to Weight Loss Success is keeping a food diary]. Seemingly, just knowing that you will have to log everything you eat is enough to make people think twice about grabbing another chocolate digestive! I’ve previously used online calorie counters such as Tweet What You Eat but that was before I had a smartphone, so I only filled it in while I was at my desk in work. As a result, I didn’t stick with it for very long, and didn’t notice a big difference in my diet or the calories I was consuming. This November however, when browing the iTunes App Store I found My Fitness Pal, a free mobile app which you can use to track your daily calorie intake. There is also a website which has the same purpose, as well as forums and a social networking aspect to it which allows users to befriend and support one another. I’ve looked at a few other calorie counting apps and websites, but this is the only one I’ve stuck with. I just find it really easy to use, and it has several great features. The entire community of users contributes to the database of foods, which you can search for by typing the name or brand or any key word in the description or by scanning the barcode of a packaged product. It is really easy to add new foods to the database, and if you don’t have all the nutritional information you can simply input the calories. You can also build your own database of recipes, inputing each ingredient that goes into the dish, and My Fitness Pal will work out the amount of calories per serving. As well as tracking your calories per day, My Fitness Pal tracks your progress via a host of different charts; you can see your food intake (green if you stay under your calorie goal, red if you over-indulge); your weight loss and your activity levels. That’s probably one of my favourite aspects of the app; you can input the exercise you have done on a given day and it will offset the calories burned by your chosen activity against the food you have eaten. Genius!