Let’s face it, there are hundreds of apps out there and the task of choosing one or two to help with your fitness goals can be daunting. So, through trial and error I have come up with my two favorites to help me achieve my goals and stay on target!
1. My Fitness Pal
This app helped me lose AND keep off weight. It makes you stop and actually think about what and how much you are putting in to your body. MFP is a calorie counter that you can use to scan barcodes, find dishes from your favorite chains, and even use to find the caloric content of your favorite home cooked meals. MFP makes tracking what you eat super easy and helps you get a handle on portion control. What I used to think was a perfectly reasonable serving of trail mix was in fact about three servings! So, now when I indulge in a little sweet and salty snack after a hike I have a better idea of what 1/4c of nuts actually looks like…turns out it is NOT a heaping handful.
You can access MFP from any mobile platform as well as from your home computer (which I find easier to use for inputting personal recipes) so it is easy to stay on point with your food goals. I have recipes for my favorite salad bar combinations at Harmon’s as well as my favorite noodle bowl (sans the noodles) at Whole Foods and my homemade seafood curry. On top of putting in your own recipes many national and regional chain restaurant dishes are in the MFP database, so even on the road or out with friends you can know what you are putting in to your body and stay on point with your goals!
On top of the ability to track what you eat, you can also track what you are burning. Simply input to MFP what you did that day and for how long and it will add those calories to your daily goal to make sure that you aren’t starving yourself. If you get your calories in / calories out balance out of whack, the app will tell you that you may need to eat more to keep yourself healthy, I found this helpful when I was really getting in to a new sport or workout program. MFP also works with a plethora of fitness tracking apps to make it even easier for you to track what you have been doing.
2. Run Keeper
This should be called Movement Keeper! Run Keeper does so much more than just track running, it also will track hiking, biking, walking, skiing, skating, rowing, etc. You can have your mobile device on you and track your activity in real time or you can log your activity manually. Run Keeper allows you to set goals, workout reminders, track your total mileage and calories burned for each exercise as well as for the entire time you have been using the app! For example, I have logged 444 miles for a total of 43,197 total calories burned over the course of 139 activities. The overall calories burned over the course of 139 activities may not be super useful day-to-day, but I promise you that it was super cool to see on my dashboard!
You can pair Run Keeper with a heart rate monitor, set your audio cues for your times, distance, speed, pace, splits, and heart rate (average, current, and zone). There are enough information cues available to you, you can practically have the app talk to you throughout your entire workout! I like to keep it simple: Time, distance, pace. You can track your distance in miles or kilometers, give yourself a countdown, and turn on the auto pause for those bathroom breaks.
You can connect to Run Keeper through a variety of social apps such as Facebook, G+, and Twitter or you can keep your social circle to people on Run Keeper, or you can befriend and share with no one, it is all up to you. You decide who can see your activities, maps, goals, body measurements, nutrition, etc. So, if you want to connect up with your buddies or make new ones through Run Keeper to help motivate you they won’t be able to see your weight and complete strangers won’t be able to see where you like to workout, unless you choose to let them.
RunKeeper is free for the basic version, and the basic version is all I use and suits me well for tracking runs. That said, the upgrade to RunKeeper Elite may be helpful to folks that like to have all kinds of data at their fingertips. Be forewarned, not all of the perks are compatible with all of the platforms, so check out the website to make sure it will work with your device of choice.
All in all this is a solid app that is customizable with lots of functionality all in a simple and easy to use format.