Now that January is winding down, so are many people’s motivation to keep up with their resolutions or goals. Particularly the ones to lose weight. I know this because I’ve seen the crowds at the gym already start to dwindle (though, the beast of a winter we’re having might be at fault as well) and I see some of my friends in my weight loss/getting healthy support group beginning to have a hard time, too.
It’s not difficult to figure out why. It’s fucking freezing out. Who wants to leave their house to go get sweaty? A huge bowl of mac and cheese definitely tastes better than a big salad when the thermometer is barely registering 0. We’re spending so much time trying to stay warm that it’s almost impossible to think about anything else.
But what if I told you there was something you could use every day to keep yourself motivated and on track, despite the cold weather? You’d tell me I was lying but then maybe you’d want to know what it is. Since I hate suspense and I don’t want to make anyone angry, I’ll just tell you.
It’s your smartphone. And you don’t have to spend any extra money to use it to keep track of your fitness goals, either.
Seriously. I wouldn’t recommend something you’d need to spend money on (because, if you’re like me, you need all your extra money to pay for your enormous heating bill). In fact, for most of these, you won’t need to download apps (although I will give you a few, just in case); you can just use the features that come standard on your phone:
- Notes–I am someone who needs to write down what I eat in order to be successful in changing my habits. I prefer a notebook, but, in a pinch, I will use the Notes feature on my phone. Not only is it good for that, but you can chart your weight and measurements, keep a grocery list of healthy foods to buy, write down recipes, and, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can make daily notes of your thoughts and feelings. If you don’t want to use your phone’s standard notes feature to track your food, my app recommendation is My Fitness Pal. It’s extremely comprehensive and, if you’re into using your social network for support, you can add friends and work together.
- Music–I have an iPhone and I love the fact that my phone syncs with my iTunes. I can use the songs I already have and create playlists for different types of workouts (when I’m not taking a class). There’s also iTunes radio for the days I want to mix it up. I also have downloaded Spotify and Pandora, and use those as well. The only problem with the radio and the apps is that I refuse to pay for the premium versions and the commercials interrupt my flow. But honestly, some of the Pandora fitness stations are fantastic. You can just use the commercials as your rest. These are especially great for at-home workouts and drowning out the horrible tunes that is usually pumped through the gym speakers. Music makes working out so much more pleasant.
- Reminders–I don’t know where I’d be without the reminders feature on my phone. I haven’t downloaded any sort of fancy one; I just use the one that came standard on my phone. I love that I can create different lists in pretty colors. If you’re using your reminders for your weight loss or getting healthy journey, you can set reminders for weigh-ins, taking measurements, time to go to the gym, create countdowns to milestones or events (like a 5K or Zumbathon), or even set a reminder for a daily inspirational quote to pop up on your phone. Those extra motivational words are sometimes what you need to get through a particularly rough day.
- Pictures–I got this idea from a new friend of mine (who’s lost almost 200 pounds! On her own! With no surgery or medication, just diet and exercise. She is an inspiration). From the beginning of her process, she’s taken monthly selfies to see how she’s progressed. Then, when she’s feeling particularly bad or meets someone who doesn’t believe how she used to look, she can pull out her phone and look at the photographic evidence. If you’re like me, you hate taking pictures but there really is no other way to truly see how far you’ve come. And remember, you don’t have to Instagram (the fact that I just used that as a verb makes me a little sad) or put them on Facebook. You can keep them for yourself.
If you need some additional ways you can use your smartphone for getting healthy, you might need to download some apps. For that, I recommend Pinterest (for workouts, recipes, quotes, and other inspirational ideas), Facebook (and start a support group with some friends. You can check in with them through your phone throughout the day, which is really helpful if you’re at work where there is temptation everywhere), and if you’re a member of a YMCA, ask if they have MobileFit. You need to sign up at the branch but there’s an app you can download that gives you daily workouts you can do at pretty much any gym. It’s helpful if you travel or switch between gyms or if you’re just not sure what a good workout looks like.
Getting healthy is pretty difficult and the industry will have you believe it has to be expensive. Using your smartphone and good old fashioned willpower, you can prove them wrong.
What’s your favorite app or smartphone tool to help you with your health goals?