Taking a healthier lifestyle is never an easy load to take on. It’s a constant challenge that needs to be faced every day, every hour, and every meal. It’s not enough that you should be walking 10k, or any other form of physical activity. I’ve seen people run like there’s no tomorrow, sweating rivers out of their bodies, only to end up inside the kitchen and consume what they have worked hard to burn. The response I normally get was, “I run so I could eat.”
While that statement may be true and very much applicable to anyone who wants to be able to eat whatever food they want, being able to monitor your daily consumption may be equally benefial as well. I started my 10k steps challenge more than 12 weeks ago, and I have been consistently losing weight, at least anywhere from a quarter to half a pound per day. I can’t completely point to my newly-added physical activity as the main reason why the excess pounds are being shredded off, but it definitely helps to have one form of exercise every day.
As I progressed, and took each step at a time on my chosen daily route, I weighed each day, eager to see if there would be any changes in my weight or not. More often than not, there would be a slight drop in weight. During those days when my pounds would climb a couple of notches, or would not move, I would try to recall what I ate the previous day. This is when I realized how important it was to monitor what I ate each meal, and how much activity I had for the day. I needed a place where I could note down my activities and meals, somewhat similar to a journal.
For the past three months, I’ve cycled through quite a few fitness apps that are all free and readily downloadable from google play or the apple store. I can’t completely remember all of the apps I’ve tried, but here are a few honorable mentions:
- Nike+ Run Club
- Strava Running & Cycling
- Spotify Running
- Samsung S Health
- Garmin Connect
- Run Keeper
Only reason why these are the only eight I remember — these are the only ones I’ve tried. Out of these eight, I’ve managed to stick to only two more apps, which I use up to today. Strava Running & Cycling, and Samsung S Health. I stuck with these two for a couple of reasons: S Health comes built-in with my smart phone (Galaxy Note 5), and Strava was built to measure two specific activities, running and cycling. The rest, I’m sure, have their own outstanding features and benefits, but these two managed to climb to the top in terms of free and ease of use.
Samsung S Health
The S Health is an app that comes in with any Samsung smartphone. Its features pretty much look like a stripped-down version of the others on the list. It connects and syncs easily with my activity tracker (Gear Fit 2), and it comes with a daily journal where I can log the meals that I eat. This actually helped me a lot in terms of being able to compare the calories I burn with every physical activity, versus the calories I put in from the food I eat.
After each meal, I make a few taps here and there, if I’m connected to the internet, it searches its online database for what I entered on the my food entry and automatically puts in the calories, nutrients, and vitamins to save to my profile. It helps me keep track of my water intake, so that I can go back to it later on to make sure I’m properly hydrated every day. It also saves information on my heart rate, since it’s connected seamlessly to my fitness watch.
Simply put, for beginners like me, the Samsung S Health is already more than enough to monitor my progress, yet did not overwhelm me with too much features. It comes only with whatever I needed, that’s pretty much it.
Strava Running & Cycling
The second most useful app for my daily 10k steps challenge is the Strava App. Again, I tried to stick to my simplistic nature and just stuck to what works in the simplest way possible, yet be able to give me the information I need.
This app keeps an online profile for you, which saves all your activities, to be able to show you how you performed day after day. If you stick to a certain route or path every day, it’s programmed to detect these similarities and give you an in-depth summary of how you’ve been trending with each time you take the exact same route. It will tell you if you’re trending faster, or if you’re getting slower, based on how fast you’ve walked, jogged, or ran the same route previously.
The issue I had with it before, is that it relies on the internet for the map to work. However, I found that hitting on the record button just before I leave home, where I had my wifi, already pre-loaded the map for me, so having it start recording even before I started my run kept all the information on it, even after I’m away from any internet connection source. But eventually, I never really needed the internet connection, since I just focused mainly on getting faster, so I’d just hit record, stow it away safely in my pocket or pouch, and go as fast as I can, trying to beat the previous day’s record.
There are a lot of features on this app that would only be available once you go premium, but using the free version of it is just as useful. I, myself, stuck with the free version. 🙂
Overall, it’s all a matter of taste and preference. I’d recommend these two for beginners, as they can easily do the job when it comes to measuring food intake versus the calories burned with each activity. The rest of the apps out there, I’m sure, are way better, but if it doesn’t really help live a healthier lifestyle and be more active, then what’s the point, right?