This is a repost of an article Gregg published on our miniListings blog that I want to share with all of you.


Did you decide that 2011 was the year you were going to focus on getting fit? Now that we are four months into the year, how are you doing?

For a lot of people, this is around the time when those New Year’s resolutions start to fade. How do I know? I see it at my local gym. It starts filling up during January, reaches a peak in February, and then fades through March and April. In fact, when I was at the gym this morning, it was about half as full as it was in mid-February.

If you’ve fallen behind in your fitness goals, or just want to keep better track of them, your smartphone can help – a lot! Devesh and I have been using a few fitness apps this year, and for this month’s app review, I wanted to highlight the apps we’ve found particularly useful.

My Tracks

I got a Golden Retriever last summer and somehow got appointed as the official dog walker for the family (long story, don’t ask). As I went on my various walks, I became curious how far I was going and thought it would be neat to track it. Enter an app called My Tracks.

My Tracks uses the GPS in your phone to track how far you walk and where. It also keeps stats for your walk such as time of walk, speed, elevation, average speed and max speed. I particularly like that I can upload each walk to a Google spreadsheet. Then, at the end of the month, I can tally up my results and see how far I walked.

In addition to walks, you can use My Tracks to track any outdoor activity – running, hiking and biking. So if you’re trying to set goals for yourself, this app is a must. For example, my walking goal started at 50 miles per month at the beginning of the year, and I’ve since moved it to 70 miles. Once you can track your progress, it’s fun trying to beat it.

My Tracks is a free Android-only app, but the iPhone has an equivalent call RunKeeper that Devesh uses.

MyFitnessPal

I use MyFitnessPal on my iPhone and obsess about it daily. It’s a really easy way to track your workouts and food intake on a daily basis, so you can make sure your meeting caloric goals. The keys to MyFitnessPal are its easy-to-use interface and large database of crowd-sourced foods which make tracking my daily caloric ins & outs simple… basically eliminating all excuses not to use it.

MyFitnessPal let’s you create a public or private profile with your fitness targets, basic things like height, gender, current weight, target weight, activity level, etc. It then sets your Net Calorie Goal based on the amount of weight you want to lose (if that’s your goal… it’s mine) and the amount you plan to workout every week. It takes only 5 mins to download and setup. Then you simply start entering whatever you do or eat. Simple (I’ve used that word a few times because it really is).

Using MyFitnessPal, I also monitor my daily nutrient breakdown so I know what type of foods to eat so I can stay on target. It’s obviously an honor system thing, but to see what you are eating in writing definitely guilts you to stay true. The app also lets you see your weekly performance and has a social media component built in that pushes messages to your “friends” on your positive AND negative progress. The best message is “Devesh has not logged in for 3 days”… oops.

MyFitnessPal is a free app available for the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. You can get more details on the MyFitnessPal website.
 

Daily Burn

Daily Burn is very similar to MyFitnessPal. It helps users track workouts, calorie intake, and review progress. I used this app first for about 6 months before switching to MyFitnessPal. The best feature of Daily Burn is it’s workout tracker – I could setup workout routines and the interface walked me through each exercise easily. When I was using it, the interface for food entry was too slow and complex so I wasn’t motivated to keep using it… basically gave me excuses to cheat.

Daily Burn has a free version and then paid versions that unlock more sophisticated tracking features. I have a feeling the paid version fixes some of the issues I mentioned, but I didn’t want to pay since I found a free app that works – MyFitnessPal.

It’s possible that you could have different findings than me, so if you want to give Daily Burn a try, visit their website.
 

The Habit Factor®

At a recent networking event, someone told me about The Habit Factor®. I just got around to loading it on my phone and am anxious to start using it.

In a nutshell, The Habit Factor® encourages you to set goals that you want to reach, and then track the habits to reach those goals. It is based on the book The Habit Factor® written by Martin Grunburg.

For example, you might have a goal to lose 10 pounds or to run a 5K. You set your goal and then create the habits to reach it. To lose 10 pounds, your habits could be walk two miles per day, eat 2 pieces of fruit, consume less than 2,500 calories, use MyFitneesPal, etc. The app tracks your progress and provides reminders.

One of the best parts is that you can use it for more than fitness. If you have other personal or business goals, you can track them and their associated habits. You can also just track habits that you want to establish, even if you don’t have a goal associated with them.

I like the concept of the app and hope to incorporate it into my daily routine (hey – my first goal!). The opening screen has great quotes about setting habits. Here’s a couple samples:

  • “We first make out habits, and then our habits make us.” – Charles C. Noble
  • “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn
  • “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” – Vince Lombardi

There is a “lite” (free) version for Android and iPhone, and a premium version that you can upgrade to once you get more serious.
 

Your smartphone can be a powerful ally in your quest to keep your resolutions this year, and these are just a small sample of the apps available. Devesh and I would love for you to share other fitness apps that you’ve found useful – please leave them in the comments.

Good luck getting back or staying on track with those fitness goals for 2011!

(I’d like to thank Devesh for the MyFitnessPal and Daily Burn reviews)