Half a year ago I was worried I was going to have a heart attack and die. I was really heavy, tipping the scales at nearly 300 pounds. I was running a couple of days a week, but was still eating badly, so I felt terrible.
There'd be days when I didn't have the energy to get off the couch, which was a big problem, especially while raising two boys (4 and 1 years old) as a single Dad.
I knew I needed to stop making excuses and take control of my life, and my health. I made the decision to use all these fun gadgets and apps I had, and make them work for me. This post is half a celebratory post, even though I still have a long way to go until I'm at my target weight, and it's also to let people know that they can do this if they're in a similar situation to my own.
The main breakthroughs I had over the past couple of months were that I needed to eat better, I needed to eat less, and I needed to fit in exercise throughout the week.
It wasn't rocket science, but I also needed to start, and try and find the willpower to keep pushing. Sometimes breaking through the resistance to get started, is the hardest part.
The apps I list here can help you lose weight and get in shape. I'll list my experiences with the apps, and I hope this post can act as somewhat of a spark to help you achieve your goals.
Weight Watchers Mobile
This app was the missing piece for me, and helped me gain a new mindset on how to eat better. I've always ate terribly, and Weight Watchers helped in so many different regards.
Their Smart Points system helped me figure out what to eat, what not to eat, what portions I should be eating, and more. I go to meetings every Sunday morning, which helped with accountability and a great support group. There’s also a helpful 24/7 chat, and one of the best online support groups right within the app. It’s been fun to share little wins across my journey, which has helped me see the progress I’ve made so far.
Weight Watchers has a bunch of different plans. You can get just their E-Tools, get them bundled with meetings, or with a trainer. Paying for the program each month helped kick me into gear, because I didn't want to waste money paying for something that I wasn't actively working on. When it comes to your health, this is not a place to be frugal.
While I've cut out some food and beverages, I still let myself have foods I love, just in smaller portions. This helps so I don’t feel like I’m missing out or cheating myself of a great exeperience.
If you can't afford Weight Watchers, there are a bunch of calorie counting apps on the App Store. While they don't follow the same points system as Weight Watchers, they're a good start. I found trying to stay away from sugar, and include more protein in my diet, helped in a big way.
- Free w/ Subscription – Download
Nike Run Club
I've been using Nike Run Club since it was called the Nike+ app. With the new Nike branded Apple Watch, they've changed the Nike+ app to have more of a social component. They’ve included a news feed, a way to find local run clubs, and lots more.
I initially went with the Nike app because it seemed like a fully featured, free app. It's stuck with me as I've tried a multitude of other running apps. It works whether I'm running outdoors, or if I'm running inside on a treadmill, which is important in New Jersey weather!
The Nike runs now integrate into Apple's very own Activity app, so you can see them alongside your other activity throughout the day. I liked that feature, and also loved the ability to see a map of where I was running, and what my best mile times were (still working on those!)
The biggest thing I learned about walking and running was to start slow, and gradually ramp up your pace and distance as the weeks go on. There are a lot of different training programs built right into the app, so that'll help new runners and advanced runners alike.
If you're looking for a great way to get started, search the App Store for Couch to 5K apps. They'll help you get started slow, incorporating walking, running, and resting.
- Free – Download
I'm always trying to fill the rings on my Apple Watch. The Activity app on the Watch, and accompanying app on my iPhone have been a fun indicator as to how I'm doing throughout the day.
With watchOS 3 and iOS 10, I've enjoyed sharing my activity data with a few friends, and joined in on some healthy competition!
I try and get at least 30 minutes or more of activity in per day. I've tried to think differently and get up and move around a little no matter what I'm doing. Whether it be while making dinner, moving around while playing music, and a number of other activities.
I’ve also been trying to achieve my 12 hour a day stand goal, since sitting is the new smoking. The Activity app on the Watch has been a gentle reminder that I need to get up and move every so often, and it's worked so far!
I'm totally that guy right now, and I have an Apple Watch on my left wrist, and a Fitbit on my right. I'm currently employing two apps and tracking devices, for a few reasons.
First, the Fitbit gets incredible battery life, and I've been able to go days without having to charge it. Secondly, I use it to track my sleep. Getting good rest is one of the keys to better health, and making better decisions throughout the day. I've been enjoying getting this data to see where I could have gone to bed earlier.
It also has its own competitive challenges built into the app, and I've enjoyed competing in, and winning a few of these. If you’re looking to get a great activity tracker, with a great looking app, pick up a Fitbit!
- Free – Download
Where would I be without music? Music has been an integral part of getting me excited to keep going while out on a walk or run. A great song or playlist can give you a big boost, and turn a regular workout into an extraordinary one.
I've loved listening to some of the curated workout playlists on Apple Music, and changing it up depending on how I'm feeling. I might be in the mood for a little 80's music or a bit of pop punk depending on what type of day it is.
Music also serves as a internal clock. You can walk or run to the beat, and it’s helped me boost my pace while running. Not to mention, paying approximately 10 bucks a month for nearly every album I can think of, is an incredible deal.
- Free w/ IAP for monthly access – Download
I was on the public beta for watchOS 3, and enjoyed using the Breathe app for quick bits of meditation and breathing exercises. Health isn't only eating well and getting exercise. Taking time to be mindful can help you in your other endeavors.
I've found it extremely easy to get in a minute here and there of breathing exercises, and it's helped with my resting heart rate. Having a clear mind will lead to better decision making, and less stress.
- Free on Apple Watch
I've been using HeartWatch for a while, and recently it's gotten a tremendous update which makes it even more useful. While the app can do many different things regarding your heart rate, I've loved to use it for its notification feature.
HeartWatch will tap me on the wrist if it sees that my heart rate has gone up. Whenever I get this notification, I know I must be stressed out about something, so I go for a walk, get a cup of water, and take a breather.
Keeping an eye on your most important muscle is key, and has helped me whether I'm at my desk or working out. For working out, it'll help show what sector your heart rate is at, whether you're in high intensity mode, fat burn mode, or more.
- $2.99 – Download
What apps do you use for keeping your health in check?
7 months later, I've lost more than 50 pounds, and I owe it all to being able to track my progress and data on my iPhone and Watch. If I can lose weight, then you can too! I'd love to know what apps you're using to lose weight, stay fit, or keep a calm mind. Let me know in the comments!