Tracking your self-care: there’s an app for that

It is a widely accepted truth that measuring and recording things you do improves the effectiveness of those things. Keeping a food diary can help eat healthily; tracking your exercise helps keep you on track. I have personally found that tracking things I do to look after myself helps me do them more often.

Today I’m talking about some free apps I use on a daily basis to monitor how I’m addressing my basic needs, particularly nutrition, exercise and sleep.

MyFitnessPal

This app, available for Android, iOS and the web, can be used to track your food and water intake and exercise. I only use it as a food tracker, and find it quite handy. The main features I use are:

  • Reminders to input your meals. I have set up three reminders a day to make sure I use the app.
  • Barcode scanner. This comes in handy when you’re eating any pre-packaged food.
  • Food database. You can usually find most foods in the online database, or add your own.
  • Nutritional summaries. These give me a quick overview of what macronutrients I’m consuming, and in what proportion.

The app also allows you to create your own recipes or input ones from the Internet. It can also connect with other apps and some devices (although I haven’t personally used this functionality).

GoogleFit

Available for Android and web, this is a versatile app that links in with a wide range of apps and services. I only use it as a step counter – not having to wear a pedometer as long as I’m carrying my phone in my pocket makes life much easier! The features I find most useful are:

  • A tracker for steps, distance and time walked, and calories burned.
  • Setting a daily goal. You get an alert once you’ve reached it.

You can also track other activities, such as running, cycling, and a variety of sports.

SleepBot

This app, available for Android and iOS, is one of many sleep apps on the market. It’s great if you’re looking for a free app that doesn’t require a wearable. I’m happy to say it’s made a huge difference to my life!

To use this app, you need to place your phone on your mattress overnight. It tracks the movements of the mattress, as well as any sounds you make, and uses the data to deduce the optimal wake-up time. It tries to wake you up during a ‘light sleep’ phase within a pre-set time interval.

SleepBot is a fairly minimalist app, with basic features such as:

  • Customisable ringtones and waking intervals.
  • Graphs displaying your sleep routine, how much you were moving and how much noise you were making.

The combination of these three apps should go a long way in tracking your basic self-care. Do you have other favourites?

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