Yeah, so now I’m reviewing iPhone apps.
One aspect of my personal life that probably doesn’t come through that much on this blog is how concerned I am about health and, specifically, my weight. Now, some of this may come from having been married to a self-diagnosed anorexic, but, mostly, it goes further back than that. In any case, weight and general health have always been a concern for me, but even more so since surviving cancer. So, I know from all the health magazines I read that one of the greatest tools for weight loss is tracking caloric intake. I had been doing this via a Moleskine, but I always had to look up the calories in a book or on a website or something. It was just challenging enough to make me want to quit. So, naturally, when I got an iPhone, I went looking for an app that let me do record my intake that way. Enter FoodScanner.
Not only does this fantastic app have seemingly endless lists of food, including many popular restaurant menus, but you can scan the barcode on the package and it will automagically find the food and all the nutrition information for it. But, wait! If that’s not in the database yet, you can add it in manually and link the barcode yourself! How cool is that! Seriously, I love this thing. It’s made it so much easier to track my calories I can’t believe I ever lived without it. And, at $0.99 it’s a real bargain, especially if you want to work on consuming less to lose weight. Fantastic!
Now, as cool as FoodScanner is, what’s even cooler is the free app that goes with it called DailyBurn. To get the full functionality, it does require that you setup a free account with their service, but, trust me, it’s totally worth it. Once you’ve setup your free account, DailyBurn will get the calorie and nutrition information you put in with FoodScanner and use that, so you don’t have to enter it twice.
Now, as you’ll notice from the screen shot to the right, the default screen on DailyBurn shows you your caloric intake, what you’ve burned via work outs, and your current and goal weight. There’s also a tracker to show if you’ve met your workout and nutritional goals, which I’ll mention later. This page, as you might have guessed from the title “Today’s Stats”, is updated daily, which they define as 12:00AM to 12:00AM.
Notice, though, that the Nutrition indicator only shows when you’ve met all your “goals”, which, frankly, aren’t quite my actual goals. For one thing, I want to keep my calorie consumption below what they have as a goal, so as to lose weight. Also, notice the “Upgrade to Pro” link. That takes you to a sign-up screen for a monthly membership, which I didn’t want to get roped into paying. Not sure what the upgrades are, actually, but one presumes additional control over goals and additional exercises and other options.
On the screenshot to the left, of this paragraph, you can see the “Body Tracker” page. Here you can track any number of physical characteristics including weight, waist size, body fat, resting heart rate, arm size and many more. Frankly, it’s got all the recording features of any big program that you could want. Also, if you upgrade your free account, which I have not done, to a “Pro” account, there are even more things you can track, like sleep levels.
I like having the chart to see how well, or poorly, I’ve been doing over time. Sure, maybe it’s a little bit over-kill, but, I’ll be honest, I love charts and graphs and stats. My favorite page on my Flickr account is the stats page. It’s true; I’m a stat whore. So, yes, this feature appeals to me. Your mileage may vary.
Also, like I mentioned, I didn’t want to get started paying a monthly fee for something I may not continue to use in the long-term, so there may be additional features here that are worth having. Not sure. Right now, I’m just a rookie fitness nut, so my health isn’t worth a monthly fee for those kind of intangibles. Heck, I don’t even pay for a gym membership yet! So, that may be something worth checking out for you super-hyper fitness nuts.
The next page I seem to hit a lot is the “Workouts” page. Granted, I’ve probably worked out more since I got this app than I have in the past month, but, still, if it’s working, then that’s all that matters.
Now, one of the things I don’t like is that the exercises it DailyBurn measures are somewhat limited. And, you can’t enter anything new. So, if, for instance, you were to get exercises out of Men’s Health and knew the caloric expenditure, there’s no way to enter that in. Now, I assume that buying the “pro” version of this, which is actually a membership and not a one-time payment, you might be able to add more exercises or have a larger selection, but, frankly, I get close enough that it’s not worth it to me to pay a monthly fee for that kind of “upgrade”.
I should also note, however, that I haven’t looked into the “My Workouts” section too much, but it looked like it had promise. It gave you workouts to achieve certain goals, like Fat Loss and Strength Building and so on. Under each section, there are several workouts designed to help you with that particular goal. Kind of like a personal trainer in an iPhone app. (Though, I prefer the Men’s Health app for those kind of things to the ones I saw in DailyBurn.) The last section is essentially a workout log that shows all the sets you’ve done and how much weight you lifted on each set. The only problem is, it only shows today’s workout, not any previous day. It like this to show a chart of progress, not unlike the body goals charts shown above. But, again, I’m sort of a stat whore, so take that for what you will.
Now, what I think is the best thing about DailyBurn, next to showing me how little I burn off with my wimpy home workout, is the “Nutrition” screen. I specifically chose the screen at the left because it showed several things I want to highlight. This is not what I hope a “typical” day is for me. Or, at least, not what I hope a typical day will be for me going forward.
In any case, you can see that it shows you your consumption levels and whether or not you’ve met your “goals” for the day. Goals not met are shown in blue. Goals that are in the “good” range, or met, but not exceeded are in green. And, finally, goals that have been exceeded are in red. You can see that I was a bad, bad boy on the day used as an example. Also, since I’m trying to lose weight, I’m doing my best to keep my caloric intake between 1500 and 1900 calories. My goal here is to burn more calories than I actually need so as to shed some poundage.
Now, again, I’m a total stat geek when it comes to this stuff, so I love see all this. Also, in just the few weeks that I’ve been using these two programs, I’ve learned some very valuable lessons. For one thing, I need to work out more. My little, tiny workout in the morning doesn’t even burn off breakfast most days! Not acceptable! So, I need to adjust that. Also, I noticed that I’m not getting anywhere near enough protein while consuming way too many carbs and, obviously, more than enough fat, too. So, I need to adjust my diet as well as step up my exercise program. But, it took getting good information to do it.
For the couple of bucks it cost me to get FoodScanner and the free version of DailyBurn, I’ve gotten a lot of valuable information and awareness of what I need to change and improve in my personal health and nutrition plan. Well worth the small change I paid.