8 Ways to Track Your Diet and Fitness for Free
So, you have a health or fitness goal and you've started hard work toward getting there, but you're still having trouble hitting your mark. Not a problem! One of the most motivating ways to stay the course is by documenting your progress. Whether it's toward a certain number on the scale or particular finish time at an upcoming race, logging food/exercise/etc. is definitely something worth trying. (See also: Best Strength Training Apps)
Here are seven websites to help — along with my favorite way to keep track of my own goals. These sites come highly recommended by my blog readers, and I've used several of them myself. I have now even found a few more to try!
MyFitnessPal allows you to track your weight and nutrition in great detail. You can even add recipes and get a breakdown of the calories, carbs, sugars, protein, fats, and sodium. Simply set a daily caloric goal and start tracking on your dashboard. You can also download their handy app for an on-the-go experience.
2. Lose It
On the front page, Lose It! professes to "help you make the small, manageable changes that lead to big results." Like MyFitnessPal, you set a daily caloric "budget" and set realistic goals for both food and fitness that fit into your lifestyle. Peer support is also emphasized by this tracker, and if you like your free account you can choose to go premium for just $39.99/year (a little over $3/month).
SparkPeople is one of the better-developed healthy communities on the web. Right now they even have a special free program to lose 10 pounds in two months. And along with recipes, tips, and articles, there's this thing called the SparkPoints motivation program where you can reward yourself for a job well done. (See also: Fun, Free Ways to Reward Yourself)
FitDay is yet another totally free weight loss and diet journal. Simply set a goal and get tracking. With over 6 million registered users, it's certainly a popular option. There are also some fun fitness-related articles on the site to inspire you toward your progress.
If you'd rather just track workouts, try dailymile. You can log anything from running to cycling to crossfit to your (walking) commute. This site focuses heavily on the social aspect, allowing you to quickly share activities on Facebook and Twitter — as well as get some major props from your own network from dailymile friends. (See also: Best Cycling Apps for $5 or Less)
RunningAHEAD goes beyond simple tracking to give you some powerful tools to improve your running — for free. You can even track your shoe mileage and plot your running routes. As with many others, you can also choose to enter your data manually or automatically upload via GPS watch (like Garmin, etc.). If you're curious, this site offers a demo account so you can try before you sign up.
If you'd like to track exercise specifically in conjunction with your GPS watch or other device, STRAVA might be your best bet. This dashboard is limited to running and cycling, but has some nice social features to keep you connected with your active friends. It's very popular in my area's runners club. STRAVA also offers a premium account for $6/month or $59/year with a few more bells and whistles.
8. Pen and Paper
How do I track progress? Pen and paper. I like the actual activity of writing down my workouts with how far/fast I went, what the weather was like, and how I felt. I have even kept loose food diaries without getting too involved with the calorie-counting aspect. If you're looking to generally gauge your health versus getting into too much mind-numbing detail — this old-fashioned method might be for you, too.
What's your favorite website for health and fitness tracking? Or are you like me and prefer writing it down the old-school way?