About 2 months ago I decided that I needed to do something to improve my fitness. I was about 40 lbs above what I consider my ideal weight, and about 20 lbs above my acceptable weight range. I needed a solution that would be easy to stick to, and something that would keep me entertained at the same time. I needed something that would appeal to my geek sensibilities.
Below I will go into a little detail about what I found, and how it works, and how these things interact.
Tracking Weight (Withings.com – $159.99 for scale)
One of the best tips I have had to improve weight loss, is to weigh yourself regularly and record the progress. Enter the ultimate geek scale, The Withings Scale.
The scale is not cheap at $159.99 but it certainly is a great product. It is wifi connected, and it automatically records your weight and provides tools to graph it and produce reports. Setup was incredibly easy, simply connect it via USB to a computer with an internet connection and it took care of the rest. It can track up to 8 people, and has been entirely problem free for the 2 months I have had it. There are mobile apps for Android, iPhone/iPad as well as a web version. These apps all some to have some quirks that I wish they would work out, but they seem to be 4/5. Beyond standard weight, the scale also tracks Body Fat% and BMI. For athletes who have a tough time getting accurate body fat readings, there are various different models that can be used for tracking body composition.
Tracking Fitness (Endomondo.com – Free)
I have spent this summer doing a lot of biking. Again it is nice to chart and track this information; to do this I have been using an iPhone (and just about any mobile you have) app called Endomondo. This is a free GPS app, that tracks your routes (and calories), in real time while you work out. The usage is simple, you start the app, enter type of workout you are doing, wait for a strong GPS signal and press start. After that you can throw your phone in your pocket or backpack and you are good to go. For the most part it has been very accurate in terms of tracking my location.
In order for it to track your calories it needs to know your weight. Thankfully Endomondo recently announced integration with Withings so your weight is automatically updated in your profile.
Endomondo also offers a variety of social features that allow you track friends, send live pep talks (you can send a message to someone who is working out and it will be read out to them through text-to-speech), and there are various messages.
A sample workout:
Putting It All Together (DailyBurn.com – Free)
To put it all together, I needed something that would track my calorie input, calories burned, and my dietary goals. For this I have been using DailyBurn. It is a general health and wellness site, that does a decent, but not fabulous job at making it easy to track calories. It has mobile apps, and a good webpage that allow you to enter the foods that you eat to track your calories consumed. It has a very extensive database of woods with nutritional information, which makes it pretty easy to track all the calories you consume. For any foods that are lacking, you do have the ability to add your own foods.
As well as tracking your calories, you also enter in your weight, and desired weight and activity level and it will give you caloric consumption goals and a time frame to reach your goal weight. This allows you to know how you are doing in regards to eating the right amount of calories. Thankfully DailyBurn is linked to Withings so your weight is automatically updated.
Beyond daily activity you can also enter exercises that you have done and calories burned. If you don’t know how many calories you have burned it will estimate. Unfortunately there is currently no integration between DailyBurn and Endomondo, which is my biggest current functionality gap.
Like Endomondo there are various social features including challenges. One of the nice features of the challenges are that a good number are Everyone Wins challenges. Such as the goal is to lose 10lbs, and everyone who loses 10lbs wins, not just the first person.
Putting these 3 apps together has made it very easy to stay motivated in my fitness endeavors, not to mention tracking my progress towards my fitness goals. For anyone eager to chart and track their workouts and fitness I highly recommend this trifecta of tools.