My Favorite Fitness Technology

I was recently contacted by Andrea Powers of Oscar Insurance who inspired me to post about my favorite fitness technology.

The health and fitness industry has greatly benefited from the new technology that’s emerging daily. It has become easier than ever to monitor and record food and workouts, assess health and fitness, and challenge ourselves with games targeting those looking to get in shape. There are a plethora of applications, health trackers, and gadgets to choose from, which can be exciting and even overwhelming to choose from.

When choosing a new fitness gadget or application, I base my decision on the following factors: ease of wear, capability to integrate with other technology I own, accuracy, and affordability. I’m a simple woman when it comes to fitness, and only use a few things to assist in reaching my goals. See below for my top fitness apps and gadgets!

 Heart Rate Monitor

When I decided to get focused on fat loss, one of the first things I incorporated into my regimen was a heart rate monitor (HRM). My HRM helps me by showing me my heart rate and calories burned, as well as estimating what percentage burned was fat. I am able to train with different intensities when needed, using heart rate as the guide. Since my key goal when losing fat is to burn more calories through the day than I consume, I will often use the HRM to challenge myself with a certain calorie goal. Without a heart rate monitor it’s difficult to know how much I’m burning, as I don’t use cardio machines often and online calorie burn estimators have been shown to be off by as much as hundreds of calories.

“Waterlogged” App

Waterlogged is an app that is used to track water consumption throughout the day. Drinking enough water is one major key to being healthy. Water has been found to contribute to metabolism, vitamin absorption, energy levels, digestion, and can even be used to prevent overeating if drunken before or with meals. As important as water is, I am guilty of not always committing to drinking enough. The Waterlogged app is great for helping out with water consumption because it not only allows me to track how much water I’ve had, but also allows me to set reminders within the app to tell me when to drink more water. By only taking pictures of my water container it can estimate how much water I’ve had. What’s more, I can also enter water amounts in any unit of measurement. This is nice because sometimes I’m drinking out of a gallon, sometimes out of a 20 oz bottle, and sometimes out of regular glass cups, and I definitely don’t feel like doing a bunch of unit conversions!

“Gym Hero” App

I absolutely love the Gym Hero app because it allows me to track my workout routines without ever using another pen and pad (who doesn’t want to save trees?).  I really like that once I’ve created and named a workout routine, I can pull that same routine up the next time I do it and it auto-fills all the exercises, sets, repetitions, and weights that I last performed in that routine. After that it’s easy to just update the weight if necessary. This app makes it very easy to track my improvement over time. No more misplacing workout logs – it’s all in one place!

“Seconds” App

I use the Seconds app to time my intervals for high intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT is a form of training where one exercises at a high intensity for a short amount of time (often anywhere from 15 seconds to 1 minute), then alternates with a lower intensity exercise or rest for enough time to lower the heart rate slightly (often anywhere from 10 seconds to 2 minutes). The interval then repeats for a certain number of times. HIIT can also be done with the same high intensity exercise for each interval, or different high intensity exercises mixed in throughout. I love HIIT because it allows me to burn fat while maintaining muscle, and burn a good amount of calories in a short amount of time. It’s important for me to be able to know when to move from one exercise to the next without distracting myself from the workout by checking my phone or a clock. Seconds is great for this because before I complete the workout I can write which exercises I’ll be performing and how much time I’ll spend on higher intensity exercises and lower intensity exercises and/or rest. I can also program how many sets I’ll perform of each interval. Once it’s programmed, I simply start it and it can indicate when another exercise is coming up and speak out the exercises for me. It even allows me to play music while in the app, which can really help push me through the workout.

“Calorie Count” website and app

Caloriecount.com is a website that allows me to track calories, macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, protein, fiber, and water), vitamins and minerals, as well as log my exercises and calories burned. It also doubles as a social network, allowing me to connect with other fitness minded people. We share information such as tips and recipes, encouragement, and entertainment. There is also an app for the site that can be downloaded to my smartphone. This tool is great because it has shown me not only how to balance calories to lose weight, but also has helped me become more aware of how healthy my food habits are, grading foods from A to F in terms of nutrition. With the ability to write on message boards, write in a public journal, and gain “supporters”, I’ve also made some great connections with others who have supported me through the years!

Those are my favorite tools, and each has helped me in different ways to become more successful in reaching my goals. What technology has helped you along your fitness journey?

12 Days of Fitness!

Hey lovely people! Starting December 14, 2013, we are entering the 12 Days of Fitness!

This is a health and fitness related challenge that will help us all stay focused as we prepare for a new year and new goals. It’s easy to make a New Year Resolution, and promise to start January 1st, but we can easily start ASAP making changes!

Here are the guidelines we’ll go by each day:

12 Days of Christmas Fitness
Starts Dec 14, Ends Dec 25
Tag related pictures and tweets to #Oma12Days on Instagram and Twitter!

  • Day 1: 1 Workout Partner and/or accountability partner
  • Day 2: 2 “clean” meals (the rest don’t have to be)
  • Day 3: 3 servings raw fruits and/or veggies
  • Day 4: 4 positive words
  • Day 5: 5 minutes stretching
  • Day 6: 6 hours sleep
  • Day 7: 7 servings fruits/veggies total
  • Day 8: 8 cups water (or in ounces: body weight divided by 2)
  • Day 9: “9 months from now _____” – name 1 goal
  • Day 10: 10 minutes on the stairs (working out or walking)
  • Day 11: 11 fitness inspiration, motivational pictures – make a vision board
  • Day 12: 12 healthy recipes and/or workout ideas

Optional “Gifts” to yourself:

Workout 3-5 days per week (workout ideas to be posted)
Calculate your BMR and calories needed per day, depending on goals
Calculate your protein needs per day, depending on goals

 

A Few of My Favorite Things

   When first getting started on a new healthier lifestyle, it’s easy to get swept up in the sea of fitness gadgets and equipment. I have tried a lot of things along the way, and these are my top picks for helping me get and stay fit, in no particular order.

1. Blender: 

ninja_blender

In the pursuit of health and fitness, I’m all about convenience. Blenders allow me to make really quick meals on the go. When I need some quick nourishment I can blend fresh fruit, some kale or spinach, Greek yogurt, and a nutritious liquid like almond milk or coconut water, and end up with a filling and healthy snack. Not to mention, this does wonders for me after workouts when I can barely lift my arms because they’re just way too wobbly.

Blenders are also great for mixing treats like banana ice cream, adding fresh fruit to Greek yogurt for naturally flavored yogurt, and smoothly mixing the wet ingredients for pancakes, such as in this banana oat pancake recipe. The possibilities are endless!

2. Heart Rate Monitor (HRM):

hrm

Weight loss, gain, and maintenance all comes down to calories burned vs. calories consumed. If I have a certain goal I’m trying to reach, it’s helpful to know those numbers, and a heart rate monitor comes in handy. A heart rate monitor tells me how many calories I’ve burned during a workout, which percentage of those calories are fat, and gives information about how hard my heart worked during the workout.

Certain cardio machines give a decent estimate of your calorie burn, but these are based on generic calculations (unless there’s a HRM built into the machine – which may require you to hold onto the machine the whole time, and that’s not all that fun). I don’t do that much cardio anyway, and what I do is usually not on a machine. Without machines, I saw some pretty decent estimates for calorie burn during workouts. The estimates are also very generic, don’t account for calorie burn differences due to body composition, and there’s no way of telling if you were going “beast mode” or just posting pictures to Instagram the whole time.

At times I was losing weight much faster than I expected, and once I got an HRM I realized that this was in part because my workouts were much more intense than the websites and machines were estimating. Of course the HRM is not going to be 100% accurate, but it gives a very good idea of how hard I’m working by directly measuring my heart rate.

3. Measurement Cups or Food Scale:

food_scale

I have a love/hate relationship with measuring my food. It was very helpful when I was trying to lose weight, and it is helpful during times that I am trying to reach a certain goal with my physique. I would caution people against being overly consumed with exact numbers, and encourage you to allow yourself the freedom of not being on the nose with every single measurement. With that said, measuring food is a way to ensure that you are not overestimating or underestimating your food intake. If you are into counting calories or macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) then scales and/or measuring cups will ensure you don’t underestimate or overestimate. Over time, I have needed my food scale less and less, and tend to eyeball how much food I’m eating. It does still come in handy for recipes.

4. Smart Phone: 

smartphone

There is an app for almost everything. Within one phone, I have replaced my mp3 player, interval timer, camera, and pen/paper. I can use my phone to record workouts, hop onto social networks that help keep me motivated, and easily look up workout ideas. I love the interval apps and timers for when I’m doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Prior to having an interval app on my phone, I had to manually watch a wristwatch, which could be distracting. Being able to blast music on my phone really helps me stay in the zone when I’m working out, and usually keeps away the distracting people who want to talk while I’m in the middle of a set (rolls eyes).

5. Jump Rope:

jump_rope

Relatively inexpensive, jump ropes can be used almost anywhere, at any time. All I need to jump is a enough room for the periphery of the rope while jumping. To not bother my neighbors downstairs, I usually go outside for a quick 15 minute jump rope session. Jumping rope is a great cardiovascular workout, that also helps to strengthen the whole body. It’s also great for calorie burn – I have seen that I can burn as much as 11 calories per minute just jumping rope.

6. Pull-up Bar:

pullup_bar

I wanted a pull-up bar so badly that I asked for it for Christmas. I’m a big fan of calisthenics, or body weight lifting. Although I love lifting weights in the gym, sometimes I just can’t make it out of my apartment, or just don’t feel like it. I could use almost any household item for squats and deadlifts, I could do push-ups to work on my pressing strength, but developing pulling strength really was made simple by getting a pull-up bar. On the bar I can do not just pull-ups and chin-ups, but also can get some core workouts in with hanging leg lifts.

7. Groupon and Living Social:

 livingsocial groupon2

Ever since I have found online coupon websites such as Groupon.com and LivingSocial.com, a whole new world has opened for me. I’m all about deals, and these websites often offer over 50% off for all kinds of things. I have used these websites to get fitness classes such as a boot camp and a pole dancing class. Sometimes I find coupons for local healthy restaurants (great for when I’m traveling). What’s more, when I want to treat myself for sticking to my fitness plan, I like to find coupons for an awesome massage, facial, or mani/pedi. Signing up to these websites is free, so I don’t have anything to lose!

 

Those are just a few of my favorite things. What are some of yours?