Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Healthy Perspective

Transformation of 2013: wishing I had taken better before shots.

There are some posts that just seem to sit in the queue while I ponder them.  Even though, there wasn't really any post in draft form, this is one I have been mulling over a while.

Last year, I underwent a major transformation. I lost a considerable amount of weight (and kept it off), due in part to inspiration from friends, several apps, and good old-fashioned willpower.  Actually, not much of that was willpower, most of it was inspiration and apps.  On my journey, I learned about and used several apps which helped me stay the course.  This year I am again working to lose another big chunk of weight.

So, without further ado, here is my list of must-haves for leading to a healthier lifestyle.

1.  My Fitness Pal: I had this app on my phone for about a year before I started using it.  My good friend, Sara, had encouraged me to journal what I was eating.  Doing it digital was much easier for me.  I can even scan barcodes to find what I am eating.  I love the analytics of seeing how many grams of carbs, protein, and fat I eat.

You can access MFP online, too, which allows more customization, such as changing the percentage of the macros (carbs, protein, fat).  Ultimately, I think lowering my carbs is helping me lose weight.  This app has led me to stop eating so much processed food.  My goal is to log 365 days in a row.

2.  Pact: A decent app that keeps you accountable for working out, logging your food, and eating healthy fruits & veggies.  You have to use the app to check in at your gym or use the movement tracker if you aren't at a specific facility.  Pact syncs with MFP so you automagically get credit for logging your food.  In order to document what you are eating for fruits & veggies, you have to snap a pic and load it to the app.  The "community" upvotes it, if they think you are eating it.  I find this to be the biggest drawback, as it can be difficult to "show" you are eating certain foods, or if you forget to take a photo before you eat it.  Also, members of the community don't always understand what a vegetable is.  This morning I took this pic:    

Apparently, they didn't think green and red peppers were vegetables.  Hm....

The only caveat is that you do get charged every time you don't exercise, eat veggies, or log your food for that week.  You decide the amount of money you get charged.  It can be an extreme motivator.

3.  EveryMove: Another app that syncs with MFP.  You can log what activity you complete, and it credits you with points on EveryMove.  The rewards aren't that awesome, but it's something.  I don't have to open it to get the points.

It also syncs with my Fitbit.  I don't have to log anything.  It just populates my activities and gives me points.

4.  SleepCycle: This app does cost 99 cents which I think is well worth the data it gives you.  I like that you can add sleep notes so you can see how things like drinking caffeine, eating late, working out and stress are affecting your sleep.  There's also a fade out sleep aid that will play sounds such as ocean waves, autumn leaves, rain, wind, and countryside ambience to help you fall asleep. SleepCycle syncs with RunKeeper and Facebook, too.  They continue to add new features.

5. FitBit: I just ordered a Fitbit Flex. It should be here soon. Fitbit will integrate my sleep tracking and my movement tracking. I know it does more than that.  I will update this post as soon as I start using it. I can't wait to see how this will help me reach my fitness goals.

***Update: So, I have been using my Fitbit for almost 3 days now.  I already feel like it is motivating me.  I have been motivated to work out every day and even after that, I took the kids on a 2-mile walk both days.  I am tired every evening, but I see the 10, 000 step goal, and I want to meet it.  I still haven't been able to get there, but that may be due to the fact that we are on spring break.  I can't wait to see how it translates into weight lost.

A few of the features I like are the ability to sync with My Fitness Pal so I can see how the calorie intake stacks up against the steps taken.  It also measures my BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)--something not viewable on MFP.

Next week, when we are back at work, I'm hoping to see more steps taken.  I'm also thinking about getting up and taking walks in the morning.  We'll have to see how that goes....

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