As we start another year, you may be putting the finishing touches on your New Year’s resolution list. If you’re like many people, you likely have a fitness goal somewhere on that list. Here are some hacks and tech that will help you stay motivated throughout the new year.
Use an activity tracker: Whether it’s a FitBit, Jawbone Up, Garmin, Misfit, Apple Watch or some other type of activity tracker, you’ll find that quantifying your daily activity to be highly motivational. You may want to select a fitness tracker that your friends are already using so that you can link up with each other and compare stats. Or check the website of your device for groups and communities to participate in. For example, FitBit has plenty of groups to choose from.
- Consider a heart rate monitor as well: For me, seeing that I only earned a couple hundred steps from an hour-long P90X sweat fest was very un-motivating. While activity trackers are good at recording walking and running, they’re not always good at recording weight training exercises. Heart rate monitors such as those built-in to the FitBit Charge HR or the Apple Watch can give you a better idea of your calorie burn, but they’re not perfect as wrist-based heart rate monitors can give low readings during weight-bearing activities. Strap on a chest bluetooth heart rate monitor (for iPhone and some Androids phones) while you pump iron to get a better estimate of your calorie burn. I personally like the DigiFit app to record indoor workouts as you can set it to not turn on your GPS (which saves your battery). DigiFit also exports your activities to RunKeeper and adds the activities to FitBit.
- Throw out the scale: Your weight will fluctuate a lot day to day. Many factors, including sodium intake (water retention) and whether or not you need to use the restroom can change your weight by 2 pounds or more from one day to the next. Seeing the numbers creep up when you actually didn’t gain fat can kill your motivation. Plus, you’ll find that building more muscle can cause your weight to go up as well. Instead, try out a body fat measurement device. Although it’s not perfect, it uses a harmless electrical wave to estimate the lean mass in your body from fat. This, too, can vary from day to day, so try to take the measurement at the same time each day (some suggest first thing in the morning after using the bathroom). As you get fit, you’ll want to focus on building lean mass and not worry so much about the number on the scale.
Sign-up for a workout aggregation site: I looked at EveryMove and Earndit in the past and they are great tools for not only earning discounts from online health and wellness shops, but they also serve as great activity aggregators from across many different services. This can come in handy if you’re using a Misfit, but your friends are using a Jawbone. Or if you record your runs in RunKeeper but record your biking in Strava. With EveryMove, you can even enter exercises manually, so you don’t need an activity tracker to participate. Alternatively, if you would like to send your workouts from one service to another (for example, from Strava to RunKeeper), check out tapiriik.
- Harness the power of social networks: Follow your favorite athletes on Twitter or join an exercise-focused photo stream on Instagram. There are also plenty of fitness-focused pinners on Pinterest. Receiving regular updates from other exercisers in your social streams can do wonders for your motivation. Like running? Be sure to check out the #RunChat conversation on Twitter. Or if you need a little extra motivation to start your week, check out MoveItMonday.
With these hacks in your arsenal, get ready to place a huge check by this year’s fitness goals come December!