Disclaimer: The observations and opinions in this post are all my own. I have not received any compensation from any of the apps in the post. The apps highlighted also have not contributed in any way to this article, and my thoughts are not the opinions or thoughts of any of the below-mentioned companies that own the apps.
The first few times I embarked on a weight loss journey, I did it all on paper. Calorie counts, Weight Watchers Smart Points, exercise, and foods eaten all went on paper. It would go great for about two or three days. Once, I think I made it a week. Then, inevitably, I would lose the notebook or forget it somewhere. Once the notebook was out of site, I lost all motivation to continue. It was like the notebook was my map. Without the map, the adventure was kaput.
My adventure resumed with my discovery of apps. I was in the group of late bloomers as far as owning a smartphone goes, but once I got started, I quickly bonded with the ease of all things smartphone. It was amazing how many options I now had at my fingertips. I have tried so many apps since then that I couldn’t count them all, but here are the five that have made an enormous difference in how I track weight, food, calories, activity, and sleep. They have helped facilitate my ability to keep my adventure fueled by helping me not to lose the map.
My Fitness Pal
The My Fitness Pal app (and www.myfitnesspal.com) is my go-to app for calorie counting, weight recording, recipes, and meal ideas and thought-provoking blog posts. It links to my Fitbit, which also allows it to count my steps and exercise. It also keeps track of nutrients (i.e., sugar, fat, protein, fiber) for the meals I eat. Nutrient goals and calories per meal can be set at custom levels to meet any dietary need. Of all the apps I use, it is probably my favorite. It bases my calorie count on height, weight, weight loss goal, and steps per day. I use the free version, but there is a subscription service as well that goes more in-depth with nutrients and exercise goals.
One of my favorite features is the ability to complete your diary for the day. Once that is done, it will tell you how much weight you can reasonably expect to lose over the next five weeks if you eat the same as you did that day. This feature helps keep me on the path by helping me visualize the future rewards for doing so.
The Weight Watchers app is part of the Weight Watchers program. I’m guessing most people have heard of Weight Watchers, but for those who haven’t, this is a paid program that counts smart points instead of calories. Smart points aren’t just calculated based on calories, but also take into account fat, saturated fat, carbs, sugars, fiber, and protein. There are daily points, weekly points, and fit points. Weight Watchers Freestyle is the newest version. 200 items are now free items that don’t count against your point count. These are mostly veggies, lean fish, skin free boneless chicken breasts, eggs, and nonfat plain Greek yogurt.
This is my longest run ever with Weight Watchers. The app makes it almost effortless. There are no more searching through books for point values, and nothing is taboo. It also has a barcode scanner incorporated to allow automatic addition of points as well as a calculator to calculate points and a recipe builder to calculate the points in any recipe. My FitBit also links to the app to upload and track my steps and activity to calculate fit points. The simplicity attracted me back and has helped me map my journey more effectively.
StepBet is an app I never thought I would use effectively. It is an accountability app that uses financial investment to encourage steps. It does require a buy-in and a linkable step counter, such as a Fitbit, Garmin, or other Bluetooth pedometer device. Groups are formed, money is thrown in a pot, and two levels of steps are set for every participant. All groups are different, but the group I keep joining has the requirement of meeting four active goals and two stretch goals every week for five weeks. The people who don’t meet the requirements lose their money and those that do split the pot.
I didn’t think I would use this app effectively because I didn’t realize the money would be enough motivation until I saw the amount of the buy-in. This group has a 40 dollar buy-in. Let’s just say I have been known to walk the last few hundred steps for the day around my living room to not lose $40 bucks. My first round I made about $10. I count that as a good return on my investment, and a significant investment in my health.
Flo isn’t a fitness or a weight loss app. It is the oddball app in the list, but it does play a significant role. Flo is a free menstrual cycle tracker app. I use it to track my cycle and all of its accompanying symptoms. Mood, physical symptoms, and actual period dates are tracked by the app. So is weight, calorie counts, sleep, and water consumption if you link Flo to another app like the Fitbit app. I have included it in this list because knowing where I am at in my cycle helps me predict when the scale is most likely to fluctuate and is also good at letting me know when the cravings I usually experience a week before my period starts will likely occur. Knowing these things help me adjust my meals and my mindset to accommodate any changes that occur.
I have talked about FitBit in all my previous app recommendations. I thought about listing the accompanying app first, but I chose to list it last because it plays a vital but mostly background roll in the adventure. It’s the burrow in this app list. It does all the heavy lifting. I’ve worn a Fitbit since 2013, and since then, it has transmitted steps, activity, and sleep patterns to my Fitbit app. More recently, this information is then sent to my other apps to help me track progress. The app itself is free, but it does require a Fitbit device of any kind.
Losing weight is never an easy task. There are so many factors and moving parts that just getting that number on the scale to budge can be a juggling act. I have had a lot more success this time around, and a lot of that is thanks to the apps I use to help me track and understand my progress. It is an adventure I have abandoned many times, but this time the apps above have kept me going. I am sharing it to ease your journey as well. Feel free to comment on your favorite apps in the comments to help this list grow.