Getting Started with Fitness Tracking - NeuroGum

Getting Started with Fitness Tracking

April 05, 2016

When you're trying to lose weight or get in shape, the hardest part is waiting for results. As humans, particularly in our age of instant reward, we are used to getting results fast. We want to watch those pounds melt away. We want to know we've improved our health.

I am a sucker for data. I like to see pounds dropped on the scale, and I want to see an improved heart rate. Some may be more visual, and want to see their body changing over time. Or maybe you want a visual representation of your nutrition. Whatever your need in terms of feedback from your fitness, if you have a smartphone, odds are there is an app out there that can help suit your needs.

These are some of my favorites as far as getting started.

Calorie, Activity and Weight Tracking

There are two tools I would recommend for this, and both have their strengths. Both have an app as well as desktop version, so you can log your information on the go or from the office. You can also log your exercise into either one, to keep an idea of how many calories you burn as well as intake.

Calorie Count

Calorie Count is admittedly a little clunky as far as its look and feel compared to My Fitness Pal, however it makes up for it with impressive visual nutrition tracking that can really help point out where your diet is lacking and where you are overdoing it.

As an example, I was eating a pretty "healthy" diet at one point at least upon first glance. Super lean protein, low carb, well balanced... aside from one thing that I never would have caught without calorie count.

Not only was I not getting enough potassium, I was not getting enough potassium by a lot. As one of the nutrients associated with cognitive performance, this was alarming.

These are the kinds of insights you can get about your calories and diet through Calorie Count, so I would say if your focus is not just calories and weight, but nutrition, this app is right for you.

My Fitness Pal

My Fitness Pal is similar, but lacks the deep nutrition tracking. It does have strengths though in that it can also track your hydration if you have trouble keeping up with your water intake, and it is also a lot cleaner as far as the user interface, incorporating some social aspects that might encourage those who thrive on the support of their community.

Heart Rate

This one is easy, I like Instant Heart Rate by Argus/Azumio. You can link it to your Apple Health app if you have an iPhone, it takes your beats per minute via your phone's lens and flash, and allows you to tag your rates so you know your resting heart rate, working out heart rate, and more.

Sleep Tracking

I'm sure I don't need to tell you that to lose weight effectively or otherwise become fit, you need to sleep well. The same folks who made the last app make Sleep Time, an alarm clock and sleep tracker that will attempt to wake you at the time you are most ready to be awoken (between REM cycles, not during).

Set it before bed, go to sleep with the phone somewhere on the bed, and like magic in the morning you will get a chart of your sleep cycles. Use your newfound information to improve. As a bonus, if you got the Heart Rate app, Sleep Time will request you take your morning heart rate to get an idea of your health long-term

Visual Progress

If you're in the "I'm getting healthy so I look good naked" crowd, or just plain want to see the fat melt off and pounds pack on while you get in shape, there is a simple little app called EveryDay that reminds you to take a picture every day at the same time, and help you line up your previous day, so that in the end you get a stop motion video of your progress over time.

Very cool for those who don't really want the info but do want to see the positive changes they are making.

Next Steps

These are a great handful of apps to get you started with tracking your physical improvement, but if you are hoping to dive deeper there are plenty of great ways to make a jump up in terms of tracking. FitBit, Nike, and even the Apple Watch can track your activity with even less input from the user, so you can get more hands-off with your tracking.

Once you have the data you want, you can now pinpoint where to improve. Keep up the tracking, and you'll maintain a strong idea of how much you are improving, as well as being aware of holes in your practice!

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in The NeuroGum Think Tank

Pursuing Productivity One Baby Step at a Time
Pursuing Productivity One Baby Step at a Time

November 16, 2017

The Zeigarnik Effect shows that "when we don’t finish a task, we experience discomfort and elusive thoughts because of it.” As humans, we cope with this discomfort by either escaping into a mode of complacency or taking action. If you're caught in between, take it one step at a time. Your brain and body will thank you.

Taking a few nootropic compounds doesn’t suddenly lead to a better lifestyle. Healthy sleep schedules, diet, and exercise all contribute to a healthy brain, but there’s a few things you can do now to increase your productivity:

Read More

How can I make my life “simpler”?
How can I make my life “simpler”?

November 10, 2017

Recently, downshifting is becoming an increasingly popular phenomenon as more and more people attempt to escape the rat race of the modern life, thereby decreasing the amount of resources they consume and enjoying the added benefit of living a simpler and less stressful lifestyle. While extreme downshifting may involve living “off the grid” and is certainly not for everyone, there are certain steps we can take to make life simpler that can be beneficial in increasing our well-being and helping us attain more peace in our daily lives.

Read More

Six Life-Changing Strategies to Build Resilience and Increase Happiness
Six Life-Changing Strategies to Build Resilience and Increase Happiness

November 05, 2017

Recently, the World Health Organization has identified stress as “the global health epidemic of the 21st century". We live and work in fast-paced environments, and the feelings of being overwhelmed and burned out are now quite common among us. We all desire to be happy, and yet happiness remains one of the most elusive of all human emotions. Since the fast-paced and highly demanding culture of our workplaces and daily lives is not likely to slow down anytime soon, this is a perfect time to find new ways to cultivate our resilience to stress and to maximize our happiness.

Read More