Shake Away the Festive Fat

Amanda Horlington highlights the best gadgets and apps available to those looking to shed a few pound this Christmas

Motherboard doesn’t do hangovers; they are no longer part of my landscape. The endless hedonistic weekends I enjoyed when I came to Brighton evaporated when children arrived, along with salsa classes, creative writing, yoga and long lunches.

Busy and healthy, when I prise myself from the immense gravitational pull of the sofa for a night out the resulting fug the morning after is like an old armchair; comfortable, threadbare and a tad grubby, a million miles away from how I live my life the rest of the time.

You see in January I turned a corner. Not normally one for the overblown New Year’s Resolutions I took possession of a Juicing Machine.  Having watched an orange chap on YouTube explain the many health benefits I decided that drinking something that looked like pond but tasted great and was good for me was indeed the way forward.

Newly invigorated, I joined a gym and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. Yes, I tried exercising at home, setting my alarm for an eye-watering 5.45am to fit an hour of Wii Zumba before the rest of the house awoke but shimmying and shaking one’s booty in the living room while it’s still dark outside felt a little silly, isolated and required a cast iron willpower.

Not so the gym, I have now joined the ranks of spandex clad mums at the school gates who gently shepherd the offspring into the classroom and make a dash for a dose of stress busting exertion.  Joy!  I leave the gym in a state of bionic euphoria where headspace and endorphins have created a perfect equilibrium; arriving at my desk I complete six hours work in four, sleep better and have more energy to meet the demands of my wonderful and lively sons.

So, whist technology is often blamed for a sedentary lifestyle and seemingly endless new health hazards such as Nintendo Neck, it can be a huge motivator when you choose a healthy lifestyle.[two_third]

A survey of my fellow gym goers revealed that MyFitnessPal is the most popular fitness app. I’ve used it for most of the year and in essence it’s a sophisticated calorie counter and exercise tracker and one of the easiest and most comprehensive apps of its kind to use.

Download the free app and set up an account with the usual statistics: height, weight, age, sex, and activity level; MyFitnessPal estimates how many calories you burn on a typical day. Logging what you eat is easy; just choose from a huge database of food and drink, finely tuning quantities as you go.

MyFitnessPal works in tandem with other fitness apps and wearable devices such as Fitbit One and, god forbid, it syncs with the Withings bathroom scales. If you want in-depth, it will give you the nutritional value of your meals, a wealth of recipe and exercises ideas and all the stats you could need on your stellar progress.[/two_third]

OK, so far so good, but things are about to change. The Apple Watch, launching in 2015, is set to turn the fitness app on its head.  Quite simply it’s a thing of beauty, a wearable computer that seamlessly allows access to information and your contacts via a myriad of colourful interfaces and apps. Also an impressive fitness tracker and sports watch, its mantra is simple ‘Sit less, move more and get some exercise’

Inbuilt pulse detectors, gyroscope and accelerometers collect data to provide a picture of your daily activity. It’ll then suggest realistic goals and rewards your fitness milestones.  Designed to scale up to even meet the needs of a serious athlete, the Activity app measures and encourages three aspects of movement; standing more, the recommended 30 minutes of light exercise or brisk walking per day and the serious work out. That’s when the Workout app kicks in enabling you to set goals of distance, time or calories to be burned and whilst providing an at-a-glance visual of your progress during the workout.

At around £215 is it an essential piece of fitness kit that you can’t do without? No. Do I still want one? You betcha.