Technology is Your New Coach

Before I even get *started*, let me get my happy news out of the way: 374.0 pounds!


Now, back to the actual post

By sheer coincidence, I *finally* got a real smartphone about a month before I started all this work. It’s an iPhone 4S, so you can tell I’m not one of these daring early adoptors or anything, but it was quite a revelation. Most of my relationship with phones has been wall-mounted units and pre-pay $10 cellphones – in which having a camera and a functional calendar was a big deal – so even a two-generation-old smartphone made me feel like a rock star. And like everyone else when they first get one, I played with it. A lot. Free video game apps, for instance. I’ve downloaded a lot of them, and then deleted them because many of the free video game apps are both stupid and freemium attempts to get you to waste money on playing the stupid more frequently.

I’m sorry. That was a rant. I’ll get back on subject.

When my doctor finally dropped the word ‘diabetes’ on me – as I’ve mentioned before – I freaked out a little. But it also got me digging into the tools on my phone, and hunting through the apps, and looking for things I could use to track my calories and help me lose weight. Some were useful. Others were… well, let’s just say that I trawling through the free apps and getting reminded that you get what you pay for.

We won’t be discussing the bad apps, though. No sense giving them free advertising, after all. Besides, several of them weren’t so much ‘terrible’ as ‘not right for me‘, and it’s not fair to hate on something over that.  Instead, over the next few weeks I’ll be reviewing the ones that I found useful – even if I’m not using them now.

So let’s start with a quick one. If you’ve got an iPhone, you’ve got a built-in app called “Health”. (If you’ve got something else then I have no idea, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s something comparable.) This app is pretty much a health notebook for tracking… hmmm, let me see…

  • Active calories
  • Biotin
  • Blood Alcohol Content
  • Blood Glucose
  • Blood Pressure
  • Blood Type
  • Body Fat Percentage
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Temperature
  • Caffeine
  • Calcium
  • Carbohydrates
  • Chloride
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Cycling Distance
  • Date of Birth
  • Dietary Calories
  • Dietary Cholesterol
  • Electrodermal Activity
  • Fiber
  • Flights Climbed
  • Folate
  • Forced Expiratory Volume, 1 sec
  • Forced Vital Capacity
  • Heart Rate
  • Height
  • Inhaler Usage
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Lean Body Mass
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Monounsaturated Fat
  • Niacin
  • NikeFuel
  • Number of Times Fallen
  • Oxygen Saturation
  • Panthothenic Acid
  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Peripheral Perfusion Index
  • Phosphorous
  • Polyunsaturated Fat
  • Potassium
  • Protein
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Resting Calories
  • Riboflavin
  • Saturated Fat
  • Selenium
  • Sex (As in your *gender*, not frequency or duration or the like. And it’s pretty binary. Sorry, trans people.)
  • Sleep Analysis
  • Sodium
  • Steps
  • Sugar
  • Thiamin
  • Total Fat
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K (Honestly, I thought ‘vitamin K’ was something made up by Bugs Bunny…)
  • Walking + Running Distance
  • Weight
  • Workouts
  • Zinc

Whew. That’s a lot, right? And I’ll be honest: I don’t even know what a third of those are. “Peripheral Perfusion Index”? No clue. But all of it is something that is useful to someone, I’m sure. As time permits, I’ll see about adding some links to that list so you can find out more if you’re curious.

When I started, I zeroed in on “Workouts” (which automatically included workout time, distance, and active calories), “Weight” (to keep track), Blood Pressure, and Blood Glucose (my doctor, after all, had me checking it four times a day for the first month). Kind of a manual process, but there’s things you can do to automate it if you are planning to use this app – a lot of other apps will talk to it.

Oh, one other nice feature about the Health app. It’s also got an emergency medical information feature that can be accessed by someone a) who knows about the feature and b) has your phone but not your password. I’ve got my major health conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, and sleep apnia) listed in it, along with the prescriptions I take for the high blood pressure. I haven’t needed it, but I recommend filling it in anyway. You know… just in case.


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