5 Ways to Use Your Smartphone to Lose Weight + Get Fit

5 Ways to Use Your Smartphone to Lose Weight + Get Fit

Your iPhone can be a great tool for diet and fitness, and many of the best features and apps are free! Here's how to use your smartphone to lose weight and get in shape

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Did you know that your new iPhone is more than a million times more powerful than all of NASA's computing power in 1969? You could definitely say that the smartphone is a giant leap for mankind.

You probably rely on your smartphone for dozens of things every day, but did you know your phone can be your health and fitness coach? Some modern devices come with health tools built-in, but there are hundreds of apps you can install to tailor it to your own needs. Smartphones could be the answer to the global problem of obesity and the rising level of diseases like diabetes.

The broad range of health and fitness apps available means you can use technology to achieve whatever goal you choose. For example, a running app can be used to train and prepare for a 5k or marathon. If you want to reduce your alcohol consumption or increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in your daily diet, there are apps that can help.

The following smartphone tools can improve your fitness and help you to lose weight, and most are free.

#1. Heart rate monitors

The free Health app on an iPhone offers a range of options and ways to monitor your fitness, including a heart rate monitor. For older devices and Android smartphones, there are apps available to track your heart rate and stress levels.

Heart rate apps work using the device's built-in camera and are a convenient way of taking a heart reading without the need for a fitness tracker or other equipment. Knowing your heart rate can help you to exercise at the correct level of intensity.

Best heart rate monitor app for iPhone / Android? Try Instant Heart Rate from Azumio. ($4.99 for iPhone, free for Android)

#2. Activity monitors

Monitoring your physical activity can be very helpful if you want to improve your fitness. An app like Google Fit can track the number of steps you take in a day and be used to track your progress to a goal. Most experts suggest a minimum of 10,000 steps a day. Tracking your activity levels and BMI can motivate you to find the time to exercise, and it's rewarding to see what you're achieving.

Best activity monitor app for iPhone / Android? Try Human Activity Tracker from Mapbox

#3. Exercise reminders

If you find it hard to build exercise into your daily routine, a nudge from your smartphone may be what you need. Google's (free) Calendar app can be used to set goals like 'Run 3 miles twice a week.'

The free app will suggest times of the day you can fit this in and remind you when it's time to put your shoes on. Some apps, like MapMyRun, offer the option to become part of a virtual community where you can encourage each other and share tips and ideas for sticking to your exercise plans.

Best free exercise reminder app for iPhone / Android? Try Johnson & Johnson's Official 7 Minute Workout

#4. Mindfulness apps

As well as helping to improve your physical fitness, there are smartphone apps focussing on mental well-being. Mindfulness has become very popular over the past couple of years, and an app is a great way to experiment with some of the techniques.

Your smartphone can take you through guided meditation exercises for improving well-being and aiding relaxation. Mindfulness apps can also help you to sleep better, and this, in turn, will improve your physical health and appetite for exercise.

Best mindfulness app for iPhone/ Android? Try Insight Timer for free, or Aura for a monthly ($7.99) or annual fee.

#5. Virtual personal trainers

If you lack the motivation to stick to an exercise program but can't afford a personal trainer, a virtual coach on your smartphone could be the answer. Basic versions are free, but for more advanced personal trainer apps charge a subscription fee.

They can suggest exercises to target different areas of the body, track your progress towards goals and even play music to keep you moving. Some apps also allow you to video conference with a real personal trainer and find local groups you can exercise with.

Weight Watchers now offers personal coaching that adds unlimited phone calls and text messages to your WW Digital subscription, but it will cost you more than FreeStyle (Online) only.

Best workout apps for iPhone or Android? Try MyFitnessPal, Map My Fitness, PEAR Personal Fitness Coach, or Workout Trainer from Skimble

Weight Loss & Fitness: Also Consider Wearing a Smartwatch

Smartwatches and other wearable devices like FitBit are taking fitness apps to the next level. Although I don't like watches and wearables for email or business-related use, they can be great for health and weight loss. Think about your current exercise goals and needs, and try some apps to see how they can help. (Just try not to lose them!)

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'Life Size 2' And 33 Other Movies You Can Watch After Finals To Restore Your Christmas Spirit

Ringing in the Holiday spirit with older & newer Christmas classics.

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December is here and everyone is excited for Christmas festivities to officially begin, and be socially acceptable. The Holiday spirit doesn't start 'til you warm up your hot cocoa, make gingerbread houses, listening and belt out Christmas carols, along with an epic Christmas movie by the end of the night.

1. A Christmas Prince

2. Elf

3. How The Grinch Stole Christmas

4. The Princess Switch

5. Christmas Wedding Planner

6. Love Actually

7. The Holiday Calendar

8. Home Alone

9. A Holiday Engagement

10. Miracle On 34th Street

11. A Christmas Carol

12. White Christmas

13. Prancer

14. Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas

15. No Sleep 'Til Christmas

16. It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown

17. The Nightmare Before Christmas

18. Daddy's Home 2

19. Santa Baby

20. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

21. Frosty The Snowman

22. It's A Wonderful Life

23. A Christmas Story

24. The Holiday

25. The Santa Clause

26. The Polar Express

27. Arthur Christmas

28. Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town

29. Four Christmases

30. A Bad Moms Christmas

31. Office Christmas Party

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*34. BONUS: Any of your favorite tv shows Christmas episodes*

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How Foods Affect Your Moods

There's a strong connection between our gut and brain, and what you eat affects your mood!

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You've already heard that "you are what you eat," but did you ever think about how food affects your moods? It does, and there's even an entire new area of research called "nutritional psychiatry" that studies this "gut-brain" relationship.

So, what have we learned?

Well, we've learned that most of our serotonin (happy hormone) is actually in our gut, not our brain. Maybe that's why what we eat is now considered a "modifiable risk factor" for depression and anxiety.

That means a healthy diet is linked with a lower risk of mental health issues, and and vice-versa.

So, what should we eat to improve our mood and overall mental health?

A Healthy Diet Is Good for Your Gut & Brain

Well, that doesn't sound very sexy. Anyway, let's define what a "healthy" diet consists of. Basically, a healthy diet should include nutritious and fiber-dense foods for both gut and mental health.

Components of a healthy diet include: Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, fish, poultry, lean red meat, eggs, and olive oil (not vegetable oil!)

A number of negative reviews online for commercial diets like Nutrisystem seem to have inspired them to focus more on gut health, resulting in increased fiber content in food and optional probiotics with their plans.

Fast Food Is Bad for Mental Health

Foods associated with poor mental health include: processed, sugary, salty, fried, high-fat foods, and sugary drinks. Wow, that pretty much describes the everything on the menu at Mickey-D's! And you thought that the worst thing fast food does is make you obese? No, fast food encourages anxiety and depression, too.

Ever drive through a bad neighborhood and notice how many fast food restaurants there are? The poor diet of people in these areas is directly responsible for both obesity and mental illness, making it even harder to climb out of poverty.

To Improve Your Mood, Skip the "Happy" Meals!

Oh, how I love irony!

Yes, even though ads for burgers, fries, and cola promise happiness, it's just the opposite. Fast food is bad for your mental health, (and clowns are scary!) so skip fast food altogether for better mental and physical health!

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