You don't need to plunk down $150 for a Wii Fit to track your progress toward a healthier body—even if that downhill skiing game looks mighty fun. If you're trying to curb unnecessary calories and stick to an exercise plan, there are tons of free applications that want to see you succeed. Whether you're facing a fast-food menu or polishing off a light entree, you can log, track, and make healthy decisions from your desktop, or just as easily from a phone. Take a look at a few suggestions for accomplishing your fitness goals, after the jump. Photo by angela7dreams.
Track your Total Health with Cron-O-Meter
To be sure, there's no lack of calorie-logging or health-watching applications out there, but chances are you won't find one as universally convenient as Cron-O-Meter. The cross-platform application has complete, USDA-derived nutrition information on over 7,000 foods built-in, and can add custom foods if you somehow don't see the snack you're holding. Cron-O-Meter makes it easy to enter, browse, and generate reports on your calorie intake, but you also see how you're doing on protein and vitamin balancing. Concerned about weight, blood pressure, or cholesterol? You can chart that too. Wherever you can open a screen, Cron-O-Meter can show you how you're doing.
Use Jott and Gmail to keep an exercise and health diary
Honestly, you could track your fitness progress and goals with a pad of paper and a pen if you wanted to—it's remembering to write down what you did, wherever you are, with whatever tools are available, that makes it tough. Using voice-to-text service Jott and Gmail lets you chronicle your exercise and diet acomplishments, and learn from your slip-ups. Sign up for Jott, and you can email yourself (or add to your Google Calendar or other web apps) by making a call from anywhere. Use Gmail's filtering system in conjunction with its "unlimited addresses", and you can call, text, or email your exercise or eating activities into a specialised inbox. Want to see how many times you've taken a walk in the last month compared to the month before? Just search for it in Gmail using the label:whatever operator and a date range.
Log your on-the-go meals with Tweetwhatyoueat
If you're adept at texting or Twittering, but want to skip all the calorie-adding of straight-up text, Tweetwhatyoueat gives you raw data on what you ate. Simply start following twye (the Twitterwhatyoueat bot) and directly message it with items you ate. Tweetwhatyoueat will give you a day-to-day digest of what you're putting in your system, with calorie counts included or provided by you. You probably won't use it after every bite, but it's a nice augmentation when you're travelling or away from your logging system.
Get calorie counts before eating with Diet.com
Keeping a record of what you eat is great for seeing where you've done right and wrong, but what about preventing those "it's the weekend" or "I'm with friends" splurges? If you've got a phone handy, just send a text to DIET1 (34381) with the name of a chain restaurant and the food you're considering, and you'll get a reply with all the nutrition information. Whether it's worth the digression or not is up to you, ultimately, but at least you'll know how much to write off for that indulgent moment. (Original post)
Make a visual progress calendar with Flickr
Calendars are an age-old tool for tracking, and motivating, a stick-to-it attitude—just ask Jerry Seinfeld. With Flickr, you've not only got a diverse set of tools to upload from a phone or desktop, including a simple-but-effective email submission, but you can see those photos as a calendar. Just add
date-taken-calendar/ to the end of your photo stream (i.e.
http://flickr.com/photos/joesmith/date-taken-calendar/). Create a new, private stream for your photos, or create a new non-shared, protected account, and you've got yourself a great way to see how far you've come.
See also how Consumerist editor Ben Popken lost 7 kilos using Flickr, Traineo and other tools.
What diet or exercise tools have you used to keep your good health habits going? What makes a fitness-tracking app (or gadget) worth the time (or cost) to you? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments.