5 on Friday (Leveling Up Edition): Tools to Make Your Health Goals Successful

As with any quest, it’s dangerous to go alone. It’s best to have some trusty tools with you as you head out. Your health journey is no different. Here are five tools to help every geek track their progress.

Once again, XKCD nails it.

1. LoseIt! (iOS, Android, Web) – I tried three of the bigger name apps in this space. I used to use MyFitnessPal because it was the go-to and has the bigger food database. I was concerned though with the low level of calories it recommended for me. Also, it didn’t provide a good break down of how many calories as a percentage of total calories were coming from what macronutrient.  I like to know what I’m eating, not just how much.

I tried CalorieCount.com next. I love the graphs (all that data!) and the notification center widget. The problem though, is that it would crash my Android phone. I used it for about a week before jumping ship for this reason.

Which lands me on LoseIt! It doesn’t have the graphs of CalorieCount, but it does at least show me percentages of macros which is nice. This has allowed me to see that it’s time I eat more protein and less carbs. It is the only app that has recommended a healthy amount of calories for me (1486) and it keeps decreasing as I lose weight, which is what it should do.

2. Fitocracy (iOS, Android, Web) – Log workouts and compete with friends! I can get badges for completing quests and literally level up. Also, they have graphs of your activities and how long you did them, or how much weight you’ve lifted. I love graphs. I’ve not found a workout journaling program that even comes close.

3. Habit Goal Monitor Pro (Android) – I’m sure there are options all over the web for this, and in iOS as well. This is the one I’ve landed on that I really like. It’s simple to update, I can have multiple goals, and configure how often/little I want to do said goal. Also, as is the running theme here, there’s a graph color coded to show how well you’re doing.

4. Your Shape (XBox360 Kinect, Wii) – Oh YourShape, how I love you. You are everything the Wii Fit promised to be and fell short on. I can compete against my friends on burning calories, I can unlock achievements, and increase my gamer score. All at the same time. I play this on the XBox, so I can’t say how it is on the Wii. But the little things really make this game shine. When I do push ups, it shows a graph of how straight my back was at any given time.  I have a camera to see my form. I don’t particularly like it for weight training (too few reps) but for cardio and agility I love it.

5. Body Fat Monitor – Forget the scale, this is what is important. As you build muscle, your weight may stay the same or even go up. This lets you know if the weight you’re gaining is good weight or not. I know these can be a bit inaccurate, but my (unscientific, unverified) opinion is if you use the same device it will at least be consistently inaccurate and let you know if you’re heading in the right direction.

Are you embarking on your own leveling up journey? I’d love to know what tools are in your Bag of Holding.

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