Whenever you set a health or fitness goal for yourself, tracking your progress is an essential step to help you stay focused and motivated and keep you moving in the right direction. Technology has made it easier than ever to help you keep track of your progress, and it can help to give you that extra push you may need to reach your goal.
There are many options available to help track your health and fitness goals, and more are being created each day. Here are some tools I use to help me track my goals and keep me on target:
1. Calendars (Paper and Online)
Calendars and to-do-lists help me set my priorities and make sure I am focusing my time and energy on what is important to me. When I set a challenge for myself, I break it down into smaller tasks, schedule them on my calendar, and set aside time for them on my daily to-do list.
Paper calendars work great for me most of the time, but I have run into several situations lately where I have scheduled an appointment only to check my calendar when I got home and find out I had another appointment at the same time. To avoid having this happen again, I have decided it might be time to start using the technology that is available. That is where on-line calendars can be a great help.
There are many different options to choose from when it comes to on-line calendars. Google Calendars, Yahoo Calendars, and Cozi.Com are only a few. There are several advantages to using online calendars instead of paper. Using an on-line calendar is convenient. You are able to access it from anywhere through your phone. If I had used an on-line calendar at my last dentist appointment, I wouldn’t have double-booked myself and had to reschedule when I got home. On-line calendars also allow you to set reminders, which can be very helpful for remembering those important appointments. The ability to color-code events is another great feature of on-line calendars. Finally, they allow you to share your calendar or event with others. This can be especially helpful to keep the whole family on the same page. Since most of the devices our family owns are Google-based, Google Calendar is a tool I plan to implement in the very near future. No more double-booked appointments for me! 🙂
2. Paper Journals (or Online Blogs)
Depending on the challenge, I usually find it helpful to journal my experience either through a paper journal or an on-line blog. Regardless of which method I choose, I always find it helpful to journal my challenges. This provides a place to reference if I decide to take on the challenge again in the future. Reviewing my journals allows me to learn through my past experiences.
When I completed the October Unprocessed Challenge in 2013 and 2014, I started a blog to track all of the foods I was eating. This helped me to stay on track and it helped to keep me accountable since the blog was public and others had access to it and were able to follow me on my journey.
If you are considering starting up a blog, there are a few well-established content publishing platforms to choose from. WordPress is what I use, and I would recommend it for its ease of use. Blogging may not be for everyone, but I have found it to be a great tool to help me track my wellness journey. As I share my journey through my blogs, I love that there is the potential to help others along the way.
3. Checklists and Logs
Whenever I begin a wellness challenge, I like to have a log or checklist available to track my progress. Since I find satisfaction in crossing things off my to-do list, oftentimes I will print out a daily checklist related to the challenge, place it somewhere visible, and cross off the tasks as I complete them. For example, this month I am participating in the February Acts of Kindness Challenge with my family. We placed our Logs on the refrigerator to remind us of the challenge, to give us a place to log the acts of kindness we perform each day, and to help keep each other on track.
4. Mobile Apps
Mobile apps are a great way to measure your progress, especially when it comes to tracking fitness and nutrition goals. I recently started using an app called My Fitness Pal to track my nutrition. It keeps track of nutrition information, calories, exercise, water consumption, recipes, and so much more. I love that everything is in one place and all the calculations are done for me. And best of all, the app is free! It is fun and exciting to see the results at the end of the day.
I was hesitant to start using it at first because it sounded like it would be a lot of work to enter in every little thing I ate each day. Surprisingly, I found it to be very simple to do and it takes very little time. It allows the user to import recipes from the web or even to scan in bar code labels, and it saves the items you’ve recently eaten so you can just check it off next time. I also love that I am able to enter everything in through the computer instead of using my phone if I wish.
To keep track of my fitness goals, I recently began using the Runtastic app. When I go for a walk, it tracks my calories, distance, time, and more. I love that it is compatible with My Fitness Pal, so it saves me time by automatically importing the data from my walks into my daily exercise log on My Fitness Pal. Runtastic also allows you to play your music from your device while in the app. The camera is also easily accessible within the app in case you come upon a scene you would like to capture (a feature I use often!)
The variety of mobile apps available to help with your fitness goals may seem overwhelming. If you’re not sure where to start, first try to get a recommendation from someone who uses one regularly whose goal is similar to yours. Secondly, you could do a Google search for the type of app you are looking for and find reviews on them. If all else fails, just give one a try and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t work out, there are many others to choose from.
Technology is constantly changing and improving. Wearables have become popular recently to help track fitness, calories, sleep, and more. There are many different brands and types to choose from depending on the activity you are planning to track. I have not given wearables a try yet so I do not have a recommendation, but if you are considering purchasing a wearable, you could go to Wearables.Com to help you find the right product for you.
Additional Tools to Help you Achieve your Health and Fitness Goals
Tracking your progress is just one step along the way to successfully achieving your health and fitness goals. In my previous blog post, 11 Steps to Help You Achieve Your Wellness Goals, I go through the 11 steps I personally use to help me successfully achieve my wellness goals. Clearly defining your goal, setting a reward, getting support, and getting accountable are just a few of the other essential steps in achieving any goal. It is important to find others who are willing to support you and encourage you every step of the way and to help you stay accountable.
I have discovered a provider of health insurance in New Jersey and New York, Oscar. If you’re in the area, you should check them out! They use technology to help their members stay healthy, and they support and encourage their members with their goals every step of the way. They are a tech-based health insurance company working to give their members a more personalized and intuitive healthcare experience. They provide their members with online tools they can use to track and monitor their own health between doctor’s visits. They recently began providing their members with a free Misfit Flash fitness tracker to help them stay in shape. The fitness tracker syncs with the Oscar app to count steps, and members earn cash rewards when they hit their daily goal. Oscar helps personalize goals for their members to keep them moving.
If you are in the New York or New Jersey area and are looking for health insurance options, I encourage you to look into Oscar and see if they are the right fit for your health insurance needs.
With technology changing and improving every day, it is becoming easier to keep track of our health and fitness goals. Are there any tools you find helpful in tracking your goals that I may have missed? If so, please let me know in the comments below.