Since surrendering my body to the task of adding two humans to the population, my figure has blossomed from slender to squidgy. I'm on a quest to return to my pre-baby body and I'm looking for help anywhere I can find it. So apart from joining my local gym and stocking the pantry with protein bars, I decided to see if the tech world could help me drop a dress size or two. I found lots of apps, gadgets and web sites that can help. Some track how much (or how little) physical activity I do, others allow me to share successes with my friends online and keep me motivated by documenting my weight loss stats.
Diet & Nutrition
Most diet apps have a food database that can track the calories you consume every time you eat. Many apps are US-centric, so look for one that supports metric units.
- MyFitnessPal (Free, iOS and Android) has a huge database of over 1,100,000 foods and it found every food we threw at it. The app will remember your favourite foods and even entire meals. You can also enter your own recipes and MyFitnessPal will calculate the nutritional content.
- Ultimate Food Value Diary Plus ($2.99, IOS) is useful for those on the Weight Watchers diet, though anyone can use it. It will calculate and manage your food intake using the ProPoints system. We think it does it better than the official Weight Watchers app.
- 8700 (Free, iOS and Android) is part of the NSW government's plans for getting Australians to lose weight. The app helps you work out how many kilojoules you should have each day (8,700) and calculates how much you're consuming and burning. It contains a database of fast foods and snack foods, a handy calorie-to-kilojoule calculator and more.
- DietPoint (Free, iOS and Android) contains a large collection of diet plans based on your food preferences and the type of diet you want to follow: vegetarian, low carb, detox and so on. You get shopping lists for every diet plan, meal reminders and access to a large weight loss forum, where you can interact with other dieters.
Fitness trackers help you record your physical activities. Most focus on a particular activity, so look for your favourite form of exercise.
- Fitness Buddy: 1700 Exercises (99c, iOS and Android) has a database of more than 1,700 exercises to choose from. Tell the app what you hope to achieve (weight loss, toning or muscle building) and an exercise program will be generated for you.
- RunKeeper (Free, iOS and Android) will monitor your walking, jogging and running. You can also manually add any workouts you do on a treadmill and other cardio equipment.
- Losing weight can be a mental and emotional struggle. When you feel like giving in to temptation or lack the energy to do a workout, My Diet Coach (Free, Android) provides tips and photos, reminds you of your goals and encourages you to keep on track.
- For something less conventional, Easy Weight Loss ($5.49, iOS; $4.63, Android) uses hypnosis to help you lose weight. Through these sessions, you'll be more motivated to exercise and eat smaller portions.
- Nike+ GPS ($1.99, iOS) is a running app that allows you to map your runs and track your progress, but it also encourages you to stretch yourself. Your runs can be sent to nikeplus.com, where you connect to the Nike+ Community — join races, share accomplishments and hear 'cheers' whenever someone 'likes' or comments on your run.
- Weight Loss. This portal is a good place to start if you're looking for diet products, exercise equipment, articles about weight loss, recipes and weight loss tips. If you're looking for specific products and services (such as boot camps, naturopaths and personal trainers) in your local area, the directories are handy. The forums are a good place to chat with others who are also interested in shaping up.
- Body Transformation. Australia's most famous personal trainer, Michelle Bridges, is the brains behind this online exercise and nutrition program. Members receive weekly workout plans, nutrition plans and shopping lists online. Michelle posts at least two videos per week. Most are motivational, encouraging members to overcome obstacles to weight loss. During live video sessions, Michelle also answers member questions in real time. The web site's forums are an integral part of the program, allowing members to connect to others for advice and support. The program costs $199 and caters to all fitness levels.
- Tweet What You Eat. Would you stick to your diet if you knew your friends were watching? Tweet What You Eat is an online food journal that posts the food you've consumed and its calorie count on Twitter. Perhaps most of your friends don't want to know what you ate for breakfast, but knowing that you're going to have to broadcast what you eat may just keep you from throwing in the towel and giving in to that dessert.
The Nike+ FuelBand is a cool-looking wristband that works out the amount of oxygen you're using and turns that into a measurable unit named NikeFuel. The more physical activity you do each day, the more NikeFuel you earn. Progress is shown via coloured LEDs (green is good, red is poor). More detailed reports can be downloaded to your iPhone via Bluetooth.
This watch uses a GPS to track your activity and it's also waterproof. Track your heart rate, calories, speed, distance and elevation. A vibrating alarm can notify you when you've reached a preset goal, or alert you when your heart rate reaches a certain level. It can also wirelessly download your results to your PC via the Garmin web site.
These scales measure more than just your weight — they give readings for fat, lean muscle mass and your BMI. Your results can be sent to your PC and your iPod or iPad. There you can analyse your data and view graphs of your progress. You can also have a weekly results email sent to you, your friends or a health professional.
Slip this device into your compatible Adidas runners or clip it to any sports shoe and it will record your progress. Speed, distance travelled and acceleration data is captured and can be downloaded to your iPhone or your computer for detailed analysis. Your stats can also be uploaded to the miCoach web site. There you can track your progress over time, create fitness plans and interact or compete with other miCoach users.
Autom is a weight loss coach that interacts and chats with you. According to its creators, 'she' will help you lose weight by creating an emotional bond with you and keeping you motivated. Apparently, the more she learns about you, the more relevant her encouragement and feedback becomes. All your interactions with Autom are via conversations with her. Tell her your weight loss goals and listen to her replies. But Autom isn't just a pretty robot. She can help you count calories and she remembers your favourite meals. She'll make suggestions regarding your eating plan, offer exercise advice and most of all, provide the social interaction to help you stick to your goals.