If you look around for apps or devices that help you with your health goals (I really don’t like calling them just ‘fitness’ or ‘weight loss’ goals) you’ll probably feel overwhelmed by the choices presented to you. They can range from $2 pedometers you find at the dollar store, to the $300 FitBit with extensive phone application, to simple and hugely complex fitness and calorie tracking apps.
So what’s the right one for you? One could argue that the more extensive a device or app is, the better. But I think the opposite holds true. I personally believe that if you start simple and it meets your needs, there’s really no reason to dish out a lot of cash or spend most of your time navigating and updating an app.
The other day, I was browsing through our version of a dollar store looking for a pedometer I had seen there last year. Unfortunately they were out, but it’s not a huge deal as I looked on the Google Play Store for a pedometer app, and found out that Google had its own called Google Fit. I installed the app and used it out of curiosity, and it’s perfect for what I need. It tracks your steps, it lets you log activity and weight, and it has nifty charts to show you what you accomplished. All without being too complex or adding features I never use anyway. There are little encouraging messages to help you meet your goal (“You’re almost there, just a little more to go”) and when you meet it, you get a congratulatory message with a cute animation. Unlike the FitBit it doesn’t seem to encourage you to do more, which in my case is good to combat my unhealthy obsession tendencies. It seems to set certain values automatically and I can’t ascertain their validity, but I suppose that’s why it’s always a good thing to use these tools as guidelines rather than hard facts, yes?
I used to be an active member of MyFitnessPal, and I do still log in sometimes to update my weight or activity just out of curiosity, but I became so obsessed with counting everything I burned out hardcore. My mental conditions make even doing simple chores hard, and unfortunately MFP was not a good combination with that. It works wonderfully for other people, as I’ve found many success stories there. I do warn ahead about the community however; there are many great people present, but also many opinions on health and biological functions that are spread without scientific basis (which can be incredibly frustrating and misleading). If you’re like me and get caught up in listening to what other people say is healthy, I recommend you stay away from their forums and just focus on blogging about your progress instead! Consult a doctor or dietitian if you’re ever unsure, and get a second opinion if you don’t feel 100% confident with what they say.
One thing all of these apps, devices and sites have in common is the setting of and meeting goals. I have set mine relatively low to 30 minutes a day of activity, whether that is walking (the dog) or riding my stationary bike. I’m not after intense fitness, weight lifting or other exercise routines because my physical health doesn’t really allow it. I have to be careful with my herniated discs and I’m really not interested in exercising through a hypo to end up with a hyper from my diabetes. I used to be almost full-time stationary, so as long as I meet 30 minutes of walking or stationary bike riding 5 days a week, I’m absolutely content! Does that mean I always stop at the 30 minute mark? Absolutely not. If there are days where my back and blood sugar are fine and can take it, I’ll happily go for a 1 hour walk through the forest with my dad and the dog (which has the added bonus of some father-daughter time!).
My point is that if I set my daily goal to a low but reasonable time, I don’t stress myself out and I don’t push myself past my limits and cause harm to my body. I can always exceed it if I can and want to, and to be honest with you, knowing you’re not just meeting your goal but surpassing it feels MUCH more awesome and kickass than just barely meeting a 1 hour goal because you forced yourself when you didn’t feel like it. So far my health has been improving drastically by taking it slow. I can’t be doing that much wrong then, can I?
If you’re working on your health as well, what tools are you using to manage your exercise and diet? Which ones have you tried but not liked?