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What fitness app should you use? Why not try something old school Add to ...

The question: What are your thoughts on fitness apps that help you track your diet and exercise? Are there any you would recommend?

The answer: Whether your write in a journal or use an app, tracking can be useful because most of us simultaneously overestimate our exercise and underestimate our calorie consumption. Tracking offers a “wake-up” that allows us to become aware of our current health habits.

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That said, I don’t think people should track forever. In my experience, being too rigid about tracking food consumption can lead to an unhealthy relationship to food and our bodies.

Track for a limited time. Then, live your life, but be aware of what you learned about yourself and your health habits. Every few months, track for a week and “check in” to make sure you have not slipped back into old habits.

Many of my clients use the My Fitness Pal app. It allows you to record your nutrition and exercise habits.

In addition to the app, I encourage that everyone journal (at least for a couple days) and ask themselves questions like: Did you eat because your were hungry, bored, angry or sad? Did you feel better after your workout? Just recording your calories in and calories out can misrepresent your progress. It is important to be aware of how you relate to food.

For example, if the app tells you that you are over your daily calorie limit because you ate a 50-calorie cookie, the app doesn’t know that, in the past, you might have had 12 cookies. Becoming healthier is a process. Keeping a journal allows you to see a single cookie as an accomplishment, not a failure.

Judge yourself based on your current position, not by where you want to be in a year, or by how well other people in your life are doing.

Trainer’s tip: We make hundreds of small choices a day. Stop fixating on what went wrong. Take a moment to highlight your positive choices. Maybe you passed on birthday cake, or ate green vegetables with dinner. Whatever the choice was, however small, celebrate it. If you don’t, nobody else will.

Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail’s Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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