I can’t do very much without music; I’ll admit that I’ve skipped workouts because my iPod died or I’ve left the gym because I forgot headphones–once I actually went out and bought headphones and then went back to the gym.
I’ve found an app that helps provide me with some variety in the music department: 8tracks
What’s great about this app is that you can put in search terms like “workout”, “motivation”, and “upbeat” and get a bunch of user-created playlists. You can love songs, you can save playlists to your profile (so you can find them with ease), and if you’re an American user, you can create your own playlists for other users to enjoy. It’s an easy way to discover new music.
Being a Canadian user, sometimes I lament my inability to create a playlist, but let’s be real: my musical selections probably won’t be missed by anyone. The other downfall of this app is that you can’t playback songs, you must run through the entire playlist to hear that awesome song again; also, you can only skip a few songs before the app tells you that you’re not able to skip anymore in that playlist. These limitations are only about a 3 on an aggravation scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most aggravating–considering you get to check out cool tunes for free, I think the limits are acceptable.
You can also listen to 8tracks online, so if you want to use your phone for say…a phonecall…you can easily access the site if you can’t use your app.
I have been using the My Fitness Pal app for almost a month now. The thing I really love about this app is the barcode feature: using your phone, you snap a pic of the barcode of whatever you are chowing down on and voila! the nutritional information is [usually] populated. So far, I’ve only had one barcode that didn’t have any associated information (it belonged to a salad I’d bought at a grocery store, so I wasn’t that bummed out). The other feature I like is you can populate your own foods and create saved meals, that you can use later. For instance, I broke down a casserole into it’s individual components, saved it as a meal and now I just have to find that meal and select a serving size, rather than having to deconstruct the ingredients every single time.Another great feature is the weekly summary, you can break it down by vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, or you can do an at-a-glance pie chart that tells you how much of your diet is devoted to carbs, proteins, and fats. The app will also give you an estimate, based on that week’s caloric intake, of what you can expect to weigh in a month’s time, should you make similar food choices. Also, if you’re not eating enough calories, it will give you a friendly nudge and tell you that it’s in your best interest to eat more.
The downfall of this app is much like the foibles of the SparkPeople app: it’s basically impossible to get an accurate caloric read if you’re doing a lot of weight training. Not only are basic weight training exercises absent from the database (yes, you can add them, but I’m a busy lady who is already being diligent about recording her food journal), but the app does not account for any calories burned during a weight training session, it only uses cardio. Having input my weight and some other details, there should be a rough estimate, shouldn’t there?
For a free app, I’d have to say I’m pretty impressed with how user-friendly My FItness Pal is and how effective it has been as a food journal. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely worth checking out.