Warm weather has arrived across most of the country, which means it’s time for the annual swimsuit season freakout! After months of loading carbs to stay warm during winter, it’s time to shed those heavy clothes — and pounds, too.
Many weight-loss methods, like gym memberships, can be pricey. We thought we'd look at a few cheaper (i.e., free) iPhone app options to get you healthy.
Calorie Counter by FatSecret
Let's start with workout basics — you have to change the way you eat. For years I used apps with a catalog of foods and restaurants but if the food wasn’t already stored you had to input the nutrition information. Then I had an app that scanned barcodes and provided nutritional info, but there was no way to store it in my food log. Thankfully, Calorie Counter by FatSecret does it all. You enter your personal information, your goal weight and activity level and the application calculates your calorie allowance. If the application doesn’t have the nutrition information for your food item, you can scan the barcode and it will pull all the information up and save it to your log. It’s sheer brilliance.
My Fitness Pal
This is a pretty popular application, and for good reason. The application accounts for your personal information and activity level, sets caloric goals, tracks nutrition information, and allows you to input your activity to account for calories burned. It’s the most-all encompassing application available.
Unfortunately, if the app doesn’t currently have nutritional information for foods, you’ll have to input it. It's not the end of the world but can be frustrating when you’re in a hurry. Also, while the app accounts for calories burned by certain physical activities, they are less than accurate. You’re better off pairing this application with another fitness-focused app.
Nike Training Camp
Intrigued by the boot camp and CrossFit-crazed masses but not ready to take the financial plunge? Dip your toe in the pool with Nike Training Camp. This application is perfect for people of all fitness levels. You chose the type of exercise you’re looking for – Get Lean, Get Toned, Get Strong, Get Focused – and then your fitness level. Then run through the exercise list provided.
Let's say you are looking to Get Lean, you know, knock off that pudge rolling over your bathing-suit bottom. The application shows the exercises you’ll execute, along with an explanation and a video example. Once you’re ready to get started, a timer starts and a voice walks you through your workout! It’s like having a free trainer on your phone.
Sadly, the application never asks for your body weight information or digs deep into your fitness level. That makes it difficult to really customize your workout. This also means the application doesn’t provide estimations of calories burned. However, this application, along with a diet application like Calorie Counter by FatSecret or My Fitness Pal could have you on the path to a South Beach bod in no time.
RunKeeper is very similar to the running ap Nike+. Since we already have one Nike application here, we’ll highlight RunKeeper. The application tracks your runs with a GPS, so it knows elevation, distance and time. You can set audio cues for speed, pace, distance and if you’re really fancy, splits and heart rate if you have a monitor. Also, it provides a map of the area and your route in case you get a little too focused on your goals and end up lost.
RunKeeper doesn’t account for your weight so it can’t account for calories burned, but since it is specifically for running, it’s not terribly hard to find estimations of this and factor that into your diet application.
Pedometer FREE GPS+
It’s not the catchiest name in the bunch but you can't ignore the motivating factor of a Pedometer. Most of us spend more time sitting at a desk than we'd like to admit. Pedometer FREE GPS+ tracks your steps as you go and motivates you to get up and move even more. The app tracks steps, distance, speed, pace, and calories burned.
Simply turn on the app and pop it in your pocket. The application will track your steps. Simple enough. Even better, the application has a GPS so it can track your walking routes and save them in your history. You can see how you improve in time and steps taken. Some of us are starting at a pretty basic level after a long winter of hibernation; what better way to get moving than with the first step!
There's no easier way to prepare for summer than with your smartphone. Feel free to share any apps you're using to get in shape.
Photo credit: Kenski1970 on Flickr.