FITNESS // Tracking toys

For me, it’s all about the tracking, baby.

I’m happily back on the fitness wagon & doing that have-I-changed-yet daily look in the mirror (which is NOT a good idea, because of course I won’t see any changes for a month or two, so I have to keep the faith that they’re happening). Since I see no changes yet, the only way I know I’m “on track” is because I track everything.

I first learned about the benefits of tracking back when I first joined Cathy Savage Fitness (many years ago). Back then I didn’t think it really mattered that much…but boy oh boy, it does. It’s amazing how calories can creep up with the smallest of “oh, just a few more bites won’t hurt anything” and “just a couple more of these won’t matter.” Once you start tracking you realize that yes, a “few more bites” & a “couple more” can mean the difference between reaching a goal or not.

So a tracking I will go! Er, do go.

Right now I’m not obsessive about exact numbers (I’ll save that for when/if I go back with Cathy), but I do measure foods, note & measure serving sizes, and cook & store meats in 4 oz portion sizes. Keeping track of calories & macros, even broadly, makes a huge difference. I am so much more aware of how different foods make me feel (“Yesterday I ate about the same calories, why am I famished tonight after dinner? What was different?”), and I’m more apt to choose foods that make me feel good. But if I want a treat or a splurge, I can try to work it into the day’s goals, and if I go over a bit, then I can dial back again the next day. The key is knowing what I’m actually eating & then working with that (or consciously not with it).

So to make it even easier & fun, enter the world of tracking toys! I’m having so much fun trying the new sites & apps & products.

My current loves:

MyPlate

I started tracking with MyPlate years ago. When I started tracking again recently, I went back to MyPlate (and I can still access my records from many years ago, lol). It’s very easy to search for foods—it’s got a huge database—and easy to enter the amount eaten & for which meal.

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It shows you the day’s macro totals, and it also has a cute little water glass icon that you click to register a glass of water drank, and the glass slowly fills up (love this, lol):

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MyPlate has an app, but I prefer the desktop version since it’s easier for me to use.

Then I started reading about another calorie tracker, and while I hate its name, I decided to try it out. Enter…

MyFitnessPal

Seriously, I hate the name. It sounds childish & trite. So I’m ignoring that for now.

I just started trying out the MFP site’s calorie tracker. So far so good, and it lets you customize your macro goals—a must since its auto-generated macro goals are in no way aligned with mine, hahaha. I lean toward a more Paleo/Primal way of eating, using Mark Sisson’s carbohydrate curve as a benchmark, so there’s no way that MFP’s recommendation of 60% carbs was going to work for me. Ha! But I customized my macros and all is well.

MyPlate also lets you set custom macro goals, but I just hadn’t ever done it; I was ok just seeing my daily totals. The reason I wanted to customize in MFP is that MFP keeps vivid track of how you’re doing meeting your goals on a given day, and gives you little encouraging notes like this:

ggl_fitnesstoys_mfpgoals

Of course you could just ignore those stats & notes, but I find them a nice little bonus (and quite in-your-face, in a good way), so I wanted to be sure it was tracking the right numbers.

MapMyWalk

One of my newest toys is the app MapMyWalk. The only cardio I do is walking and occasional HIIT, and by walking I mean I head out & just walk for an hour, listening to podcasts or music. I actually do it more to clear my head & relax than for a “workout,” because I sit at my desk all day for work. Getting out & walking is a way to zone out, chill out, and put my mind on other things (and get some sun). I’ve always just gone out for an hour or so each time, and I have never tracked how far I go or what pace I use, etc. So when I read about MapMyWalk, I thought ohhh, cool idea!

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(This week has been very rainy, and I’ve had to hustle my butt back home to avoid being drenched…hence shorter walks. But hey, some walking is better than none! Oh and fast-moving storms mean a few extra “HIIT” bouts that I was not planning…ahem.)

So far I’m loving this app! As I walk, it interrupts whatever I’m listening to at each mile & says how far I’ve gone & what my pace is & time elapsed. Right now I tend to end each walk with a slight huffing & puffing going since I’m so out of shape—I used to walk for an hour & just feel energized, never winded—but I like that I’m establishing a baseline for later comparison, as well as creating a great little digital record of the walks.

The app also lets you see what people near you are doing for walking routes, which might come in really handy later on when I want new route ideas. It’s got a ton of other features too, for sharing, advanced tracking, etc, but I’m keeping it simple to start.

I highly recommend this great little app!

FitBit

Ok, I think I’m one of the only people who hadn’t heard of Fitbit yet. I just recently discovered it, and I’m itching to get my hands on one (the Flex). It tracks steps & activities and even sleep patterns. To find out more about it, check out its site. It integrates with MapMyWalk, too, which is great (I think it also syncs with MyFitnessPal). Hmmm…what color to get?

ggl_trackingtoys_fitbitflex

(Actually, I want one of the Tory Burch accessories they say are on the way.)

Prep Pad

I just found out about the Prep Pad today via this article on Cult of Mac. I want one! I think I’ll wait & get this for myself as a reward for my first 20 lbs gone (it’s not a cheap toy—$150 at Williams-Sonoma).

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(pic from Williams-Sonoma)

It’s a “smart” food scale that syncs with an iPad app; it tracks food very precisely, and I think it’s exactly the toy tool I’ll need when it’s time to take my tracking from the “close enough” realm to the “exact or else” realm.

And hey, it’s just a really dang cool toy tool.

So these are my current fav tracking toys…I know there are more out there, but I’m deliberately NOT looking for others because I’d then spend all my time trying them out. And I really just want to get on with getting on, you know? ;)

Here’s to techy, geeky, & fun tracking,
Sara

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