Want to know how many calories are in a breadstick? There’s an app for that. Or how many steps you took walking to the Empire State Building? There’s an app for that too! Can’t get up to work out in the morning? Your cyber coach will send a blazing alarm to get your lazy butt out of bed. Feeling blah and without motivation? The plethora of beautifully fit bodies on Instagram will inspire you to race to your next workout.
Think you’re one of only a few people feeling the wellness love on your iPhone? Think again! Studies show that the health and fitness mobile app market is now worth about $4 billion and could increase to $26 billion by 2017. There are now more than 100,000 apps dedicated to mobile health, and those who use them are mostly looking for fitness content and motivation. Google says that Facebook is still the most downloaded social networking app for health and fitness, and individual brands like CrossFit, Equinox and SoulCycle are leading the way, with more than a million followers on combined platforms.
Seems as though we’ve all been looking for help and have found it in our pockets. But the truth is, fitness through social media and apps is both good and bad for you. If you’re looking to your phone to help you get your mojo on, here’s the lowdown on the good and the bad and how to make it work for you:
1. It can and will help you get motivated (GOOD)
Fitness requires consistency and constant attention. Social media and apps are an endless stream of information and motivation. You can connect with people who do similar workouts. You can also find out about races and events and how to train for them. And you can befriend gym buddies who will keep you accountable and get you moving.
2. It gives everyone a voice (BAD)
Personal trainers and experts give their opinions and advice based on education, knowledge, and experience. For the most part, these experts have been trained to give you accurate information. But not all “experts” on the web are true experts. Bloggers and writers can position themselves as experts, leading you to believe that what they write is true. Their info and advice are usually based on what they think and what they’ve read “somewhere.” Be sure to check the credentials of anyone you’re following.
3. It can give you a voice (GOOD)
Social platforms are awesome because you can ask questions and comment on posts. You can also chat with others and commiserate about your battle to get fit (because sometimes whining with others about your diet and workout helps you work out better).
4. It can de-motivate while motivating you (BAD)
Gorgeous hips…perky breasts…six-pack abs…all look beautiful on-screen, and even though they’re intended to inspire you, sometimes they can do just the opposite. It’s tough not to compare your body with those that have been perfectly sculpted (or perfectly photoshopped), but try to remember to use them as they were intended, as inspiration. Don’t become obsessed with comparing your every flaw to theirs. Everyone is unique and beautiful.
5. It can help you keep track (GOOD)
You can count your mileage and calories and monitor your sleep and blood sugar. And that’s just for starters. You can track practically everything! This is good news because studies show that the more aware you are of aspects of your health and wellness, the more apt you are to work to make things better.
Successful entrepreneurs swear by it. Business execs insist on it. Weight Watchers has built their brand around it. Accountability is the number one tool used by people to be successful at whatever they’re working toward. Basically, accountability means being responsible for your actions.
Accountability doesn’t work only in business; it’s the best tool I’ve used for years to help my clients be successful at losing weight and getting in shape. It’s the number one reason why personal trainers (as well as gym buddies) are so effective at getting their clients and friends fit. It plays the most important role in making successful and permanent life changes. Why does it work? Here are the four reasons:
1. Accountability tricks your brain into believing that your weight loss and workouts are really important. Your brain naturally assumes that if you’ve taken the step to have to answer to someone about it, it must be really important. So it makes it a priority.
2. When you are accountable to someone else, they’re going to give you opinions about everything that you do. Whether it’s your food choices, your workout exercises or the times that you go to sleep. They’ll feel responsible for you and your success and will push you to get back on track and stay there.
3. Studies show that we’re wired to seek approval from others because we grow up with accountability in our families, our society, and in the classroom. When we seek someone to be accountable to it intrinsically feels comfortable, like we’ve been doing it our entire lives. And by appointing someone to that position, we become responsible for our actions and try to do our best to keep those who are watching over us happy.
4. Even though we’re not teens anymore, peer pressure still affects us. Most of us still want approval from our friends, and we’ll do anything to make our friends proud. We’ll skip the second helping of meatloaf or make sure to do the extra mile on the treadmill because our accountability partner is watching and judging.
How do you choose someone to be accountable to? Look around your circle. It should be someone who cares about you, like your mom, your friend, your sister or brother. Or you can hire someone to help you. Personal trainers are skilled at keeping their clients accountable, as are life coaches and groups like Overeaters Anonymous or Weight Watchers. Even your group fitness instructor can help keep you accountable to your workouts.
Don’t have an actual person who can help you? Health and fitness apps do a great job of keeping you honest. They give you real-time advice, feedback and keep you forthright about your workouts and what you eat. If you don’t have a smartphone or just prefer pen and paper, food and exercise logs can work really well. The simple act of writing down what you eat and drink every day, as well as logging your workouts, will help you be mindful of your goals by keeping you honest about your daily habits and patterns.
Commit to moving for just 10 more minutes a day, and in a week you’ll feel different (more energy), in a month you’ll look different (looser jeans), and in a year you’ll be different (healthier, happier).
Reach For More
This year, let’s redefine what it means to get in shape and how to make our way there. Declare that success isn’t measured by the size of our waistlines but by how much better we feel. Decide that a single day of too much sitting isn’t a deal breaker but a reminder that we’re in charge of every day. Exercise is no longer an all-or nothing proposition. It’s fun we fit in however we can, as trainer Larysa DiDio shows here