There have been a spate of apps and websites devoted to helping people keep up their motivation and improve their fitness recently. I love this trend and would like to share some of my favorites with you. As a good food lover, I’ve also been looking for an app that relates to healthy eating that I can get behind but have yet to find one I like! The majority of apps and websites for food are devoted to counting calories, which isn’t the best measure of a healthy diet! 2,000 calories of cake, donuts and ice cream have nothing on 2,000 calories of vegetables, fruits, legumes, fish, almonds, etc. I’ll get back to that in a minute, but first my list of favorites.
MapMyRun: I started using this online awhile ago as a way to find different running and biking routes in my area. I now use it to help create my own routes so that I can plot out the distance I want to travel on any particular day. It’s nice to be able to see elevation, distance, and even a satellite image of the area as you are mapping so you know just what you are getting yourself into! I use the free version of the site, but there are more functions available to those who choose pay to become a “Pro” including the ability to print out your maps and have access to training plans. There is also a smartphone app which, to be quite honest, I can’t get it to work the way I want it to. When I first downloaded it I was able to track my movements and for some reason with the newest version I can’t figure out how to do this (perhaps because I don’t pay?) Instead I use the next app when I’m out running, walking and biking to track my milage.
RunKeeper: I love this app and the website that goes with it! Once again you need to register, and there are both a free version and the “Elite” version you can pay to join. I use the app to track my outdoor workouts, and can use the well organized website to look back at my previous workouts. You can view fitness reports showing your milage for different activities as well as totals by day, week, month or the past year, as well as being able to separate out just one type of activity. Another option which I love is that you can have a “Street Team” of friends. The “Street Team” can view each others activities and cheer each other on by leaving comments as you each reach new goals of distance or time. There is even a feature to take pictures while using the app on your smartphone, those pictures will then be incorporated into the record of your outing.
Earndit: Last but not least is the motivational website, Earndit. Earndit takes the information from other tracking tools (like RunKeeper, MapMyRun, Fitbit, Nikeplus, FourSquare, Garmin, and a few more) and gives you points for each activity. You get 10 points for each mile on foot, 3 for each mile biked and others for going to the gym, rollerblading, and more. So what do you get for your points? Various companies sponsor “challenges” for which you get entered into a drawing for a gift certificate by reaching point goals for the week. You can also redeem your points for discounts from these sponsors OR donate points towards things like a goat from Heifer International. With Earndit you can also “follow” other people that you know, and create your own personal challenges with them alongside the challenges that are sponsored. Racking up your target points each day or week can become a fun way of motivating yourself to park on the far side of the lot at the mall and walk a few more steps each day! I really love the idea of this and love that each point counts!
While I really like these three, I still feel that there is space out there for a healthy eating app. The app I envision would award points for consuming more vegetables and fruits, as well as points for every time you were able to pass up an open bag of chips. The problem of course is that there is no one perfect healthy diet. We are all unique people with differing appetites and needs. There is also a segment of the population whose disordered eating pattern and eating disorders make this kind of tracking a path towards unhealthy obsessing. Apps and websites like MyFitnessPal and SparkPeople tend to focus solely on calories and in my experience, give a very low target number for people who are really active. For example, the Spark People website says that I should only consume 1500 calories per day; I typically eat a LOT more than that and on a day that I have a long run, about twice that amount!
So until something better comes along (or I come up with something and convince my husband to write the app), just stick with the basics; Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, keep sometimes foods at bay, and stay active!