I started running a couple of years ago, and was able to get my husband to join me. Being the tech nerd that I am, I jumped online to see what was out there to help me be successful.
I’ve worked my way through a lot of online tools and apps; and these are my favorite FREE apps:
Fitbit – I decided that I wanted to track my daily activity and calorie burn, so I bought a Fitbit for $100. It’s cheaper than a BodyBug or Bodymedia, and there are no monthly or yearly fees. I wear it all day long, and it tracks my exercise and activity. I can also input my weight and body fat percentage in the app on my phone or online. It keeps a running tally of how many calories I’ve eaten, how many I’ve burned, and what my net is for the day. A cool feature is the sleep tracking capability – it will actually tell you how effectively you slept and how much you woke through the night.
My Fitness Pal – I count my calories on this site. If it goes in my mouth, it goes on My Fitness Pal. It will also import my Fitbit stats, so it tracks my exercise for me. It also keeps a running tally on calories like Fitbit. I have several friends on this site, and we encourage each other. Did I mention you can actually scan the bar codes of your food packages to enter calories for your day? This is my favorite feature.
Spark People – This is very similar to My Fitness Pal, but has a better social element and supportive environment. If you need extra encouragement, this might be the place for you!
Spark Recipes – Need help with healthy recipes? This is the site for you!
RunKeeper – I can’t be a runner without RunKeeper. It’s a free app that tracks your run (and other exercise) via GPS and not only gives you the amount of calories you burned; it also creates a map of where you ran. Running on the treadmill? No problem – just enter the information manually. You can also connect with other runners and share your favorite running routes. I have a 1 mile, 3 mile and 5 mile route in my neighborhood mapped out.
MapMyRun – Very similar to Runkeeper. Try both to see which you prefer. Only the paid version allows you to create verbal cues each half mile, which RunKeeper does for free, so I use RunKeeper. I need the audible motivation!
Ziplist – “Clip” recipes you find on the internet, and it creates a grocery list for you as well as saving the recipes. Download the free app, and you have a list to take to the store. You can add the whole recipe or any ingredients you need, add anything else to your list, and it automatically sorts by grocery epartment (produce, dairy, bread, etc.). A super handy way to always have your grocery list with you!
EarndIt – Earn points for exercising! EarndIt works with Fitbit and RunKeeper (and other apps) to track your exercise and give you points. You can then use those points for discounts on their partner websites, or donate them to charity. I like this site, because it helps motivate me and keep me accountable to other people who are in the same “challenges” I am. And the “challenges” – you can actually win real prizes!
The best app? Your brain! Selftalk is your biggest encourager or barrier. I recently heard the quote “running a marathon is 80% mental…and the rest is in your head”. No, I’m not ready to run a marathon and I may never WANT to run a marathon. But with a couple of mini marathons under my belt, my brain can no longer tell me I can’t do it, because I know I CAN. And YOU can, too!