*Update, my mom has passed away since I originally published this article. She died on October 13th. Diabetes is a terrible disease.
For years, my main fitness goal was to look good in a bikini. But recently, after seeing the debilitating effects of diabetes on my mom’s overall health, that goal has changed. Now I want to do whatever I can to prevent myself from ever getting that horrible disease.
My mother got diabetes when she was pregnant with me. (Yes, I still feel guilty.) Unfortunately, she never really took care of herself. She smoked. She didn’t watch what she ate. She didn’t exercise. She gained a ton of weight. And all those years of poor health choices has caught up with her.
My mom is now completely bed-ridden in a nursing home. Her vision is practically gone due to a series of strokes as well as the diabetes. And while I am happy to report that she is doing well, (as well as could be expected in these circumstances), when I look at her lying in that bed, it scares the hell out of me. I don’t want to end up like that.
So now that I’ve been scared-straight, I’m all about making exercise a regular part of my day. And since I like to workout at home, I find myself downloading more and more apps that help keep me motivated.
Here are 5 health and fitness apps I’m currently using on a regular basis.
Every February I run the Mercedes Half Marathon with my best friend Missy in Birmingham, Alabama. This started back in 2013 when she mentioned to me that she had just signed up for her first half and asked me if I would come down to Birmingham to cheer her on. I told her I could do better than that. I’d run it with her! So each year when I start training for the half, I use the Runkeeper app.
This app is great at motivating you to stay at a certain pace or even beat your previous day’s pace. It works with iTunes and your playlists and it [gently] reminds you if you’ve missed a workout with a nice “Hey, let’s go for a run” push notification.
I have to admit that I don’t really LIKE to run. I do, however, like the feeling I have after I finish a run. Prior to this massive heatwave, I was on a 5K/5 days a week run schedule with Runkeeper. I’m taking a bit of break right now though because I’m not an elite runner and I don’t want to die of a heat stroke.
#2. Daily Yoga
If you are a beginner looking to start a simple yoga program at home, there is no better app for you than Daily Yoga. You can download a number of different sessions depending on your overall yoga and fitness goals. From Easy Flexibility Improvement to Yoga for Great Legs, you get step-by-step instructions in short, easy to accomplish sessions.
There are two versions of this app…a free one and a paid one. I upgraded to the paid version (which is $1.50 per month…well worth it in my opinion) so I could have access to all the different programs, including a 5-Day Arms Toning Plan and a Fatigue Eraser Plan.
In addition to using this app, I also do regular workouts from the Time Warner Cable Yoga-on-Demand channel. The Sportskool “Yoga for Beginners” and “Yoga for Runners” are two of my favorites.
NuMi is an app from Nutrisystem. I’m not actually doing the full Nutrisystem plan, but I do order some of the food occasionally because it’s perfectly portioned and easy to just grab and go. (I’m especially a big fan of their thin mint bars. Just like Girl Scout Cookies but without the guilt!)
The NuMi app allows you to set and track fitness and weight-loss goals as well as record your calorie intake on a daily basis. It has an extensive database of foods and nutritional info that makes it easy to keep up with how many carbs, calories and grams of protein you’re consuming.
I use this app to set a daily limit for myself of 1200 calories and I space those calories out over 3 meals and 2 snacks throughout the day. The great thing about NuMi is that if you have a FitBit, it will sync all your daily activity and update it inside the app. It also has a daily water intake tracker to make sure you stay hydrated. And you don’t have to sign-up for Nutrisystem in order to use the app.
#4. Beachbody on Demand
I have been a huge fan of Beachbody.com workouts for a very long time. Starting with P90X and then moving on to Insanity, sometimes I think I’ve spent more time with Tony Horton and Shaun T than I have with my husband.
And while I have to admit that I can still barely do one pull-up and still can’t make it through an entire Insanity workout without taking a little break, I have actually managed to maintain a healthy weight over the years thanks to these workouts.
I was absolutely thrilled when Beachbody.com decided to offer an on-demand subscription service that gives you access to every single workout and trainer in their arsenal. And, at $40 per quarter or $160 a year, it’s a lot less expensive than a gym membership or a personal trainer.
The Beachbody on Demand app is especially handy when I’m traveling. Now I never have an excuse not to get in a good workout.
#5. Box4Fitness Heavy Bag Workout
This is the newest app I’ve downloaded. For years I’ve had a heavy bag in my gym in the basement, but I rarely used it. I’ve been trying to make a point of doing 50 kicks to the bag each time I go downstairs to do laundry. (My washer & dryer are in the same room as the gym. If I threw in a tanning bed, I could totally do gym, tan, laundry.)
The Box4Fitness Heavy Bag Workout App is very basic, but damn does it get the job done. It’s like having a boxing coach standing right behind you. You choose the number of rounds you want to go for your workout, how long the rounds are, and how long you rest in between. Each time I finish one of these workouts I’m sweating profusely. Not only is this a great way to get in shape, but it’s also a great way to take out your aggressions and reduce stress.
You do actually need a heavy bag and boxing gloves for this workout, though. Here are a few options.