MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- It seems like everyone has a fitness goal for 2013. Some already are prepared to give up.
But wait - even the laziest among us can access inspiration, motivation and training expertise.
You just have to know where to look. Increasingly, that's on your smartphone or tablet.
In Consumer Reports' just released diet ratings, the top one was MyFitnessPal,a free smartphone app. The app lets users input the foods they'veeaten and the exercise they've completed throughout the day.
Oncethat information is in, the app calculates the calories, fat, sugar,carbs, sodium and loads of other health info. Before you begin theprogram, MFP asks for your current weight, height, age and fitnessgoals, then constructs a personalized plan. Users learn which bad foodsthey're loading up on, which nutrients they're missing, and how tostrike a diet/exercise balance that will help them reach their goals.
MyFitnessPal is not the first app of its kind, but it does seem to be the most meticulous.
Clinton Fitch, owner and editor of AlliOSNews, is a longtime user of the app and was especially excited when it became available for iPad last year.
"I'vefound MyFitnessPal to be the best solution for me managing my weightand caloric intake," Fitch told the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser viaemail. "The integration the app has with other solutions (such asFitBit) make it simple to use. The biggest benefit I have fromMyFitnessPal is the online database of foods. I recently moved to theUK, and I can scan a barcode on just about any food item here and itwill be in the database. It's really impressive!"
FitBit (www.fitbit.com) is a full-scale system, implementing exercise and sleep tracking devices, a special weigh-in scale and mobile apps.
Thereis a seemingly endless list of fitness apps out there. Search on theAndroid or iTunes app stores and you're likely to find one just for you.Hint: start out with the free programs - or the free versions of moreadvanced programs. Seek the advice of friends who use fitness apps. Ifthey're motivated and excited by it, chances are you will be, too.
Not apps - add-ons
Onefitnesss trend on the rise is cardio training combined with strengthtraining. For instance, spot training to reduce the dreaded "arm jiggle"of untoned triceps is a priority, especially for women.
In recentyears, trainers in the U.S., inspired by the European method of walkingwith weighted sticks, have implemented resistance poles into walkingregimens. These fitness tools have now entered the mainstream.
Usingthe Halsa Resistance Pole, for example, provides up to 13 pounds ofresistance with each step on your fitness walk, working triceps andother muscle groups. A pair of Halsa Poles sells for about $125 onAmazon.com and at some sporting goods stores.
Wear it out
Well-chosen workout clothing really can motivate people to exercise, said Nadine Gelberg, Ph.D., creator of Devigi, a fitness line that emphasizes function, style and comfort - a growing trend among fitness enthusiasts.
Theapparel is functional for fitness because of the fabric, which, likethe best modern fitness clothing, wicks sweat away. But Devigiemphasizes the feel-good factor as well.
"Nothing helps thefitness commitment more than enthusiasm and confidence," Gelberg said."The right fitness apparel can camouflage holiday bellies to give youthe confidence to hit the gym and provide the positive reinforcement tocontinue the commitment past February.
"You don't have to wait until you're fit to look good at the gym. The right apparel can make you 'gym-ready' today."
Stylishdesigns move easily from gym to grocery store or wherever you're headednext, making it more convenient to schedule a workout.
And whenyou're comfortable in your clothes - soft, temperature-regulating andnot confining, you are more likely to commit to your workouts, Gelbergsaid.
More popular fitness apps:
There arescores of fitness websites and mobile apps to help you begin yourfitness routine and reach your goals. Here are a couple that Montgomery(Ala.) Advertiser reporter and running columnist, Kym Klass, recommendsfor folks just starting out on the journey:
- Couch-to-5K($2.99 in iTunes store): The idea is to transform you from "couchpotato" to runner, getting you running three miles (or 5K) on a regularbasis in just two months.
The method: The program guides youthrough a 30-minute walk/jog program that, week by week, increases theamount you're jogging and decreases your walking time. If you keep itup, by the end you'll be running nonstop for 30 minutes, ready for yourfirst 5K event.
The app even gives you a round-up of upcoming 5Kevents in your area. This app was also the winner of the 2012 Appy Awardfor Best Healthcare & Fitness App.
Onceyou register to dailymile (www.dailymile.com) and get the app, you canfollow your friends, respond to their entries and explore your networkof dailymile contacts. You can upload workouts, notes and photos whileyou're away from your computer and share them via dailymile to Facebookand Twitter.