Good health is not always associated with modern convenience or amenities: Calorie-laden or preserved fast foods instead of healthy home-cooked meals. Time-saving driving in lieu of walking. Watching television rather than getting some shut-eye. These temptations too often win the battle over healthy choices.
But thanks to trendy technology like the iPhone, recent apps ("applications," for the technologically challenged or novice in all of us) are providing healthy conveniences that are not only easy and fun to use but also valuable tools for keeping your wellness in balance—even if your digital calendar looks like you’re spinning your wheels.
HealthyWomen polled its staffers to garner their favorite—and free—apps for your iPhone. Here are our top five picks:
- iPeriod: You'll never be caught off guard again when it comes to your monthly cycle! After two months of inputting the first day of your period and its duration, iPeriod can calculate where you are in your fertility calendar and when to expect your period. It can even track notes on premenstrual symptoms and side effects that you can bring on your next visit with your gynecologist.
- Go Meals: If you travel a lot for business and or socially like I do, this is a must! It provides a direct link to restaurants wherever you are. You can call to place an order at the touch of the screen. Go Meals can plan your daily meals while tracking your daily nutritional intake. This application is great for people with health issues to keep up with calorie count, sodium, carbohydrates and fats. It is also great for finding nutrition guides on your favorite foods in the store and in the restaurant. Go Meals helps you prepare for your meals in advance whether you’re at home or on the go. How nice is that?
- What to Expect: Like the bestselling book that preceded it, What to Expect When You're Expecting, this app helps guide you through pregnancy. Begin by entering your due date, and you'll quickly learn what lies ahead. For example, at 11 weeks 2 days, your first trimester baby is the size of a large plum! Weekly updates customized to your due date will keep you informed about your body—and the body growing inside you—and daily tips keep you educated about things like vitamin C, sexual relations and fashion and beauty tips, including cautions against teeth whitening while pregnant.
- iRelax: OK, this one's my favorite. Who couldn’t use a little relaxation in their lives? This soothing app mimics costly sound machines seen in high-end retailers and boutique catalogs. Plug your phone into speakers or simply play on speakerphone, and customize your own combination of calming sounds such as ocean waves, gentle winds, crackling campfire or rolling thunder. Set the desired timer for anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours—or none at all—and breathe your way into blissful slumber or renewed energy. You can even save your favorite combination for future enjoyment.
- My Fitness Pal: We all know the sensible solution to weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight is a simple formula of calories in, calories out. But many of us aren't sure how many calories we should be eating. And tracking food and activities can be time consuming for even the most organized women. But if you're like me and your phone is always by your side, this app makes tracking easy and takes the guesswork out of caloric intake. Enter your height, weight, goal or target weight and how much you’d like to lose per week (come on, ladies—set your expectations at a healthy rate of no more that 1 pound per week) and begin. Search and select foods as you eat them and calories as you burn them and log your way to success! You may be thrown by the calorie count of those Oreos—but pleasantly surprised at your morning’s caloric burn on the elliptical trainer!
So go ahead and log on—then pass it on!