My Favorite Health Apps

iPhones are amazing. They really are. They can do so much, and they come in such a small package, and I seriously do not use mine to its full potential. Let’s be honest here, how many of us use our iPhones (or other smartphones) mainly for browsing Facebook when we’re bored or playing the newest game? I certainly do. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, but do those apps really improve my life? Yes Probably not. So, I’ve been making the effort to take advantage of my phone and put it to work for me. One of the ways I’m doing this is by using it to improve my health. I have to say, it’s almost kind of sort of working, so I want to share with you a few of my favorite health-related apps. The best part? They’re all free!

1. MyWater

So simple, so brilliant. MyWater is a tool you can use to track how much water you drink. You set a daily goal in either glasses or ounces (don’t worry, it can be set to metric units too), and that goal is displayed at the top of a large, empty glass on the main screen. To track your water, just select your glass size and swipe up. Before using this app, my daily water intake was this weird, vague number that I probably couldn’t tell you even if you threatened me and would almost definitely make a nutritionist cry. Now, I actually drink water! And while this means I pee every five minutes, I do feel healthier.

2. Lift

Lift is an app designed to help you build habits. It’s not just for health-related endeavors, but it is quite handy for them. To use it, create a list of habits, and then every time you do one, simply check it off. You can come up with the habits yourself or browse the examples. Lift also allows you to see how frequently you complete the habit each week. A nice aspect of this app is that anyone else who also has the habit on their list can give you “props” for completing it. For my own health-purposes, I have the habits of “Be Active”, “Eat More and Better”, “Yoga or stretching”, and “Take Iron Pills”. You can also set personal reminders for each of the habits, which is particularly helpful because the app lets you choose which days and time you want to be reminded on.

3. Clue

Sorry non-menstrating readers, but this is a period tracking app, and it is wonderful. Clue keeps track of your average cycle length as well as any hormonal symptoms you might be experiencing throughout the month. It’s designed to help you better predict your menstrual cycle, and the longer you use it, the more accurate it becomes. If you’re trying to get pregnant (or trying really hard not to get pregnant), it also tracks your “fertile window”, and you have the option to mark every day that you have protected or unprotected sex. I’ve only been using it for about a month or so, but it’s been pretty fun so far.

Advertisements

Funxercise! Hiking

photo-31

I’m not normally the type of person that enjoys hiking. I feel this is probably because I associate it with my mother waking me up at some ungodly hour during my summer vacations to go trapsing through the foothills with her and one of her middle-aged friends. However, today I decided to wake myself up at some ungodly hour (8am) to go trapsing through the foothills by myself!

Perhaps it’s the introvert in me speaking (it’s definitely the introvert in me speaking), but hiking alone is way more fun, particularly when the trail is basically deserted and there’s no one around to make me feel awkward about talking to myself. The trail I chose actually starts in my neighborhood and goes through the foothills behind it. It’s not the most difficult trail. In fact, I’d say the hardest part of the entire thing was walking up my neighborhood to reach it. Nonetheless, it was a great walk and a wonderful start to my day.

I have to admit that I was quite proud of myself for going alone. I don’t know if hiking alone is one of those things that’s considered “dangerous” for young women to do alone, but it seems like it might be. So as ridiculous as it probably was, I couldn’t help but feel a bit “I am woman, hear me roar” as I stood above my city.

Of course, I did spend quite a bit of time absolutely convinced I was about to run into a mountain lion or rattlesnake. Still, I did it. All by myself. Take that patriarchy!

Funxercise: Blogilates

In my quest to be healthy again, I’ve been looking for fun ways to exercise that don’t involve trudging along painfully on a treadmill. And yes, I am calling it Funxercise. Don’t judge me.

Anyway, I decided to try an exercise video. Now this isn’t my first venture into the world of instructional videos of the exercise variety, but I’ve never been able to stick with it. I’m definitely a solo exerciser, and even having an instructor kind of but not really there annoys me. Plus, there’s always people in my house and I’m too embarrassed to do it around them.

But, exercise videos have their benefits, namely in that they allow you to work out with minimal “getting ready” effort and have instructors that actually hopefully know what they’re talking about. So after a bit of googling, I found the YouTube channel Blogilates.

Guys, I kid you not, I love these videos. They’re both fun and incredibly painful to do. The trainer, Cassey Ho, is adorable and fun enough to keep me from wanting to throw things at her even when she’s making me do burpees. She’s got quite a bit of variety in her videos. There’s plenty of cardio to get your heart pumping, as well as playlists to hit every muscle group you could want. My favorites, though, are the dance workouts. If you’re anything like me, you’ll look like an idiot trying to follow along with the choreography, but I promise it’s fun.

Today, I did a few of the cardio workouts and then followed them up with “What Makes You Bootyfull Butt Challenge” and “Good Times Abs Challenge”. Oh boy were these hard. I’m already sore and it’s only been a few hours. I can’t wait to see how I feel tomorrow.

A New Healthy

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about health. In our society, we typically equate health with weight. Overweight? Unhealthy. Skinny? You’re doing great. With this correlation, I have an excuse to almost never think about my habits and whether or not they’re healthy. At 5’3 and 102 pounds, I’ve never had a weight problem. It takes very little effort for me to like what I see in the mirror, so I don’t think about what I’m eating or how often I’m working out. I don’t think about being healthy.

            Except, I’m not healthy. I don’t eat nearly enough, and what I do eat isn’t all that great for me. I was recently diagnosed with anemia, and unlike most girls my age with anemia, mine isn’t caused by heavy menstruation. It’s simply from not eating the types of food that supply the body with iron – namely red meat and dark, leafy green vegetables. I do workout fairly regularly, but I don’t often push myself hard. I get out of breath quite easily, which is just discouraging enough to give myself an excuse to stop. Normally, my self-esteem is at a level that I like to call “healthy” and my friends refer to as “egotistical”, but lately even that’s been suffering.

            This wasn’t always the case. I used to be fit. Like really fit. I was always an active kid. I loved the outdoors. I loved roller-blading and climbing trees. Even watching TV meant running back and forth across and jumping all over the couch while Spongebob played in the background. When I was nine, I started soccer. I played for four years, three of which were in the competitive league. After quitting that, I tried every other sport I could get my hands on. In 8th grade, I played basketball and ran track. In 9th grade, I did volleyball, basketball, track, and tennis. In 10th, I did track. When I was doing all of this, I felt great. I had energy, I was eating a lot, and I could do everything I wanted without running out of breath. I could run a mile in 6 minutes. Nowadays, it takes me 10.

            I want to get fit again. I’m too young to feel this old. So I’ve devised a plan to get back on track. 

Eating Healthy: I’m not talking about going on a diet here. I don’t believe in diets. I’m talking about reconsidering what I want my food to do for me, namely by actually considering it in the first place. I’m a big fan of junk food. While I’ve cut down on the chips and I’ve accidentally stopped drinking soda, I still consume an impressive amount of cookies, ice cream, pizza, etc. While I will always love these foods, I want to start thinking about what these foods do for me. In the short term, they make me feel great. In the long term, not so much. For example, I love Cheez-its. When I’m eating them, all I think about it the salty goodness. About ten minutes later, however, I feel like shit. I feel sluggish, like there’s a big ball of carbs in my stomach.

One thing my doctor recommended for me is to eat protein in the morning. I typically eat cereal or some sort of granola bar. I’m not very hungry in the mornings, so big breakfasts aren’t appetizing to me. However, those carbs break down into sugar in the body. So even if the cereal seems healthy, I’m still starting off my day with sugar. Another thing I want to work on is eating more vegetables, particularly of the dark, leafy variety. I know they’re good for you, I generally enjoy eating them, and I feel better when I do. Overall, I want to eat more real food, the type where I don’t have to google the ingredients to find out what the hell they even are.

Acting Healthy: I’m a huge fan of running. I love it, I really do. But running when you’re out of shape is kind of really fucking awful. It’s painful and it’s discouraging. Not exactly what keeps you going when you’re trying to get back into the habit of being active and healthy. As much as I love running, I just can’t restart my fitness using only that. It’s too discouraging. So instead of making a goal to run everyday, I want to make a goal to be active everyday. This can mean quite a few things. Yes, it means running. But it also means sprinting. It also means hiking and swimming and yoga and pilates and dancing and whatever else I feel like doing that day. I know that some days running around is going to mean running around to different stores when I run errands, but even that is at least something. 

Thinking Healthy: In short, I want to be egotistical again. It’s much more fun than second-guessing myself constantly or feeling insecure about the stupidest things. So, I will be nicer to myself. I’ll give proper recognition to my strengths and a realistic evaluation of my weaknesses. I’ll look into affirmations, and I will try to take myself seriously enough to do them.