Like many people I have an addiction to technology.  I love my gadgets.  My iPhone is my constant companion.  I have 146 apps, 93 of which are actually installed on my iPhone (I remove ones I don't think I'll be using much).  I'm sure there are others out there who have many more than me, but some may think I'm a bit extreme.  Anyhow, when I decided that 2012 was going to the year that I got really serious about my weight loss and fitness, I just knew there had to be an app for that!  To my delight, there are actually several great apps out there, but after trying several different ones, I settled on three that worked best for me.  Yes, three.  Let me explain how easy it is, though.

One App to Rule Them All

The first app is LoseIt!  This amazing, simple and free app (also available for Android) has an accompanying website, loseit.com.  I actually starting using this app in January 2010 – my first attempt to get serious, which fizzled out in a few months and the weight never really came off.  However, this app is amazing in its ease of use and simplicity so when I decided that this is my year to get serious about my health, I started with this app.  I record the foods I eat in the app and it tracks the calories for me. Based on my height, weight, age, and gender the app calculates how many calories I can eat for the day depending on how much weight I want to lose.  It factors in what your daily caloric burn should be based on a standard formula that includes routine activities such as sleeping, personal care, cooking, sitting, driving to work, and general light leisure activities.  Once you have your calorie budget you can then increase it by doing additional exercise.  I love it when I see that I can eat a little more because I did a workout.

The LoseIt website syncs easily with your iPhone so you can record your food and exercise on your phone or on the website.  There is a vast library of food as well making it easy to enter in your calories.  Oh, and my favorite feature is the bar scanner.  When I'm making my meal, I grab my iphone and scan the barcode on an item and the nutritional information will get entered right there.  All I have to do then is select how much of the item I'm going to eat.  So easy!  Plus any foods that I enter get saved into my personal food library so that I can look them up and use them again in the future.  You can also add custom foods and meals that get saved as well.

Share with Your Friends

And did I mention that you can also connect to Facebook and Twitter to brag about your accomplishments?  Yes, of course there is a social networking feature. You can also add Friends on LoseIt and help each other with your goals.  To me that's a huge feature as I have been able to work my personal program with the encouragement of a coworker and an old high school friend who also use the app.   Other motivators include fun little “badges” that you get when you meet a goal and the ability to post comments to your friends (similar to Facebook “wall” postings).  There's also a forum where you can interact with others but I don't think I've ever used that.  I have enjoyed it just fine as it is with my few friends and family members in my little LoseIt Friends network.  And finally, if you are a stat junkie like me, LoseIt provides charts, tables, and graphs so you can track your progress.  It also allows you to download your stats into a spreadsheet format so you can manipulate them to your heart's content!

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The Gadget Obsession

Sometime last year as I was logging a meal on the LoseIt website I noticed an add for a cute little gadget called the FitBit.  I checked it out and fell in love with it!  I just had to have this tiny little accelerometer to track my steps and activity.  It basically works like the Wii game controllers.  And it's small, too, just 2 inches high!  I wear it all day, every day and no one really knows because I have it hooked onto my bra.  It counts the steps I take, the calories I burn, the distance I've walked and my activity level.   And what's more, all the data syncs up with my LoseIt app!  So I really don't have to log any exercises in LoseIt – as soon as my FitBit calories go past what LoseIt calculates that I burn based on daily activities, FitBit gives me an adjustment.  It is so easy!  The FitBit website does have very similar features to the LoseIt website as well as their own iPhone app, but the interface is just not as user-friendly as LoseIt so I am sticking with LoseIt as I my main app for tracking all my fitness goals and achievements.

So there I was with these two great apps plus the cool little FitBit Tracker device.  I knew I could lose the extra 15 pounds that I wanted to drop in order to be healthy and feel good about myself.  A few weeks into January 2012, I decided that if this was going to work, I was going to have to make some serious changes.  I was having trouble fitting in my workouts after a long day at work.  You know how it goes, you work all day then come home and have a bunch of little things come up so you just don't get on that treadmill or get out the door for run like you should.  That was me and that was when I decided it was time to shake things up a bit.

Changing Things Up

I have never been a morning person.  I can stay up until the wee hours of the night easy but getting up early has always been a real chore for me (probably because I like those late nights!)  However, since I really wanted to make this fitness goal work, I made a huge decision.  I decided to join the “5 O'clock Club.”  This means I had to get up one hour early every weekday and do my workout before work.  I decided that I would give it one month just to see how it worked out.  Woman-Exercise-In-GymI thought to myself “hey, I can do anything for 4 weeks. Might as well try.”  So I did.  That was January 17th.  As I write this it is now nearly 4 months later and I'm still getting up every morning at 5 a.m. for my workout!  And what's more is that I am really enjoying it and even look forward to it!

I know you're probably thinking “what does getting up early have to do with an iPhone app?” Well it doesn't really.  Except for the fact that the more I worked out the more I wanted to be sure I was actually counting my calories accurately.  LoseIt will estimate the number of calories you burn based on a bunch of exercises it already has in its library.  You pick the exercise and it will calculate the calories you burned.  That seemed to be pretty good except that my treadmill was reporting a dramatically higher calorie burn than LoseIt was so, of course, I was recording the higher calorie burn.  And the weight was not falling off like I had hoped.  I was eating within my calorie budget and exercising.  Sure, I had lost some weight, but it would be two weeks before I'd see a change on the scale.  My guess was that my calorie burn was not being measured accurately enough.  I did some research and determined that what I needed was a new gadget to measure just how many calories I was burning during my workouts.

One More App for the Road

I found a few new app in the Apple App Store and one in particular, DigiFit, led me to the Garmin Heart Rate Monitor and the Garmin Foot Pod.  Soon I was using my new gadgets to help me track my true calorie burn.  I get true readings of my heart rate and distance I've run during the workout.  With the DigiFit app I can see what heartrate zone I am in so that I know when I'm in the ideal “fat burning” zone.  What's more is that the DigiFit app syncs up to the FitBit app to record my workouts.  The FitBit then links back to my LoseIt account and voila!  I've got 3 apps that work seamlessly together and I get to see real results and monitor my true calorie burn.  I was even able to determine that the stats my treadmill is showing me are way off, which I had already suspected anyhow.  The gadgets may be crazy to some people and seem like  too much technology but for me they work.  I love seeing my stats and the true results from my workouts. It's the best motivation ever!  Well, I am also motivated by seeing the numbers drop on my tape measure and bathroom scale, of course.

Losing weight the right way, getting in shape and eating right, is empowering.  I have tried all the fad diets that claim you can lose weight quickly but it really comes down to the simple acts of eating healthy and exercising.  After years of failed dieting, it took 3 iPhone apps and some gadgets to get me motivated.  That's what worked for me and I feel great – both physically and mentally.  So what will it take to get you motivated to start achieving your own fitness goals?

Jami Garrison is a photographer, graphic designer and occasional web developer who enjoys helping others get the most out of their creative visions, presentations and reports.

On a more personal note, she is the mother of two grown young men, a vegetarian, and has become a dedicated runner and weekend bicyclist. She is also the founder/creator of Mom's Halo (momshalo.org), a website dedicated to helping those who have suffered the loss of their mom.


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