Did you know the average American gains .4 to 1.8 pounds each year? Yikes! My guess is most of that weight gain is at the holidays. Who can resist all the awesome foods? Who has time to eat healthy when you’re running crazy with parties, gift buying, gift wrapping, decorating, family events, etc.?
We just wrote an article with some practical tips for eating healthy at the holidays, but sometimes you have to bring in “the tech,” baby!
Here’s an example of how smart phones help us to stay “smart” about our health! On Saturday, I ran the Green Lake Gobble 10K in Seattle. During the run, I used the Nike+ Running app (which helped me run one of my best times!). Then, I logged the calories burned in the Lose It! app - so cool except it counts ALL my calories. I used the Spark Recipes app with confidence knowing I would not discount my efforts – instead of IHOP, I chose to go home and make some yummy protein pancakes. I still need self-discipline, but WOW, smart phones have really made it easier to stay healthy (and keep ourselves honest).
Below are five of my favorite apps for staying healthy and happy.
This app is like having a personal trainer in your palm. It’s more than just a calorie counter, it’s a total nutrition and exercise tracker. Lose It! gives you a daily calorie “budget,” tracks your food intake as well as your exercise, and lets you know how many calories you have left for the day. Personally, I just need to know I can get my popcorn at the movies. You can scan the UPC’s on your food containers or look up thousands of generic food items like oranges or popcorn (I know I have issues). Enter your activity or sync up your fitbit activity tracker and the app will adjust your daily calorie budget based on your actual level of activity (Have a Snack Pack pudding craving? Start hoofin’ it!). If you’re like me and you also want to manage a condition - your Lose It! app can help. It will track blood glucose, connect to a blood pressure monitor and email your doctor with a progress report. Two great additional notes about Lose It!: 1) it works offline and 2) it’s FREE. How can you not love FREE this time of year?
Do I smell the end of a cantaloupe? Knock on the watermelon to see if it’s ripe? Then what? Wait for it to answer back? Who knows!? The Harvest app does – this is your guide to selecting and storing produce. Since moving to Seattle, I’ve enjoyed the wide variety of wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables. However, I soon discovered there is a distinct difference between good and great! An alphabetical directory gives me tips for selecting the best fruit and veggies. I also get storage advice for my great finds from the farmers market (did you know you shouldn’t wash strawberries until you’re ready to eat them?). At $1.99, this app may cost a little, but will save a lot in the long run! Added bonus: it makes you look smart in front of the farmers!
This app is like having a personal running coach (sorry Coach Coby!). To start a run, you can choose from three options: a basic run with no set time or distance, a run against a timer, or a run for a set distance. I use the basic run most often, since I never know when I might feel like going longer (yeah, right!). Just set it and start running! Yes, it’s that easy (and the app is FREE). The best thing about this app is it integrates your music, so you can play your favorite workout songs for when you need that extra motivation. In addition, if you want to know your distance or time Nike+ Running will update you with voice alerts as you progress. As an added bonus, it has an option to share your run and progress on Facebook or Twitter with all your fellow workout pals.
Who needs a personal chef when you can access healthy recipes from your smart phone (um, I do!)? If you can’t have the chef, Spark Recipes is a great start! This app lists calories, carbs and other key nutrition metrics for each recipe (ahem, which is a big help if you are trying to slim down for your sister’s wedding). I can search through the database by preparation time or by category and I can see user reviews BEFORE I try something new, like protein pancakes. I actually use the app to get new meal ideas and it works great in the middle of the grocery store as I’m deciding what to cook for the week. This FREE app also has video demos of recipe prep and cooking techniques (so you can make sure your creation looks like it’s supposed to).
Now that you’ve done all that exercise, produce-finding, cooking and calorie tracking, it’s time for a visit to the spa! The Spa Finder app automatically locates spas and salons that are close by. If you’re like me, the only available downtime is while traveling and then I’m not sure where to go. I use Spa Finder to find the right salon, browse customer reviews and read the menu of services. In addition, Spa Finder helps me find deals and last minute special offers. This is a great FREE app that gives me the “hookup” on a great massage at the end of a long business trip.
Now, it’s your turn! What apps do you use to stay healthy?