I’m obsessed with my iPhone. Specifically, I love tracking apps. I’ve never met a checklist or diary that didn’t appeal to me on a visceral level. I used to worry that I was thinking too deeply about life. My habits. How much I eat, walk, how often my heart beats, how many minutes I meditate. When I go to the loo. A few years ago Jeff and I did a round of Whole 30 (clean eating and no snacking for 30 days) and one of the rules of Whole 30 is no scales and no food diaries.

I hated it.

Whether it’s an enduring affection for Anais Nin and her lifetime of journaling or a slightly obsessive worldview, I am firmly in the camp of ‘if it wasn’t journaled, checklisted, logged… it didn’t happen’. I’m comfortable with it these days. For whatever reason, I find journaling and checklisting to be motivating for me.

This Christmas I bought myself a present of an Apple Watch, which has taken my love of monitoring and journaling to a whole new level. The watch knows when I’m walking around, sleeping, tossing and turning and there’s even an app to record how often I go to the loo – #1, ladies, not #2. Although I’m sure there’s an app for 2’s, too, 

Once I got my Apple Watch a whole new world of tracking opened up for me. We’re an Apple family and I’m all-in the Apple Universe. I love Apple Healthkit, which is a native iPhone app that talks to other apps and reports on a range of health-related metrics. My meditation app tells Apple Healthkit that I’ve meditated for 16 minutes this morning and my Walking app tells the Healthkit that I worked out for 42 minutes yesterday. My heart-rate app, which is connected to the heart-rate monitor on my Apple Watch tells me that 38% of my workout was fat-burning, 6% was warm-up and the rest was fat-burning.

Obviously, my phone is the only one who knows what I weigh, how old I am and how tall I am. I haven’t been honest with the DMV since I got my learners permit. So the reporting’s fairly accurate.

I’ll list all my apps below for my fellow tracking-junkies, but in particular, I love HeartWatch and its companion app, AutoSleep. You can use these two apps without the Watch —  with an iPhone only — but are awesome with an Apple Watch. HeartWatch tracks my heart rate throughout the day. It measures average resting, workout, sleeping… highest rate, lowest rate. It sends me a warning when my heart rate is unusually high when I’ve been not moving around much. Last night the warning went off when Jeff was removing a particularly recalcitrant tick from my leg. Not only do those suckers hurt, but just the thought of a bug burrowed into me makes me freak the f*#k out.

My Apple Watch knew. My BFF. She knows how much I weigh and is with me when I’m freaking out.

Back to HeartWatch. The app has a ton of information and it’s all displayed in circles, which, if you have an Apple Watch and use the Apple Workout app, is super familiar. Every day HeartWatch shows a circle that summarizes how my heart rate was for the day. Blue = good. My heart rate was in the normal range. Purple = a little high and Red = freaking out because of a tick. The colors are arranged from the center out, blue, purple, red. Good days look like blue circles with maybe a thin outline of purple around the edge. Bad days show almost all red.

Every morning I have a routine. I get up, meditate, then update all my logs and journals. I checkout HeartWatch and see how much blue or red I had from the day before. Yesterday after I finished meditating and wished for a cup of camp coffee (I still hadn’t learned how to light our Coleman stove. Turns out, its easy and today I made my first cup of camp coffee while Jeff slept in.) Anyway, it’s pretty telling looking at the app. Since I started using the app at the end of December, there’s lots of red and purple in my circles. Then, very abruptly, the day we headed out from Daytona to start our van adventure the circles are much, much bluer.

Apparently, sleeping in a van agrees with me. My Apple Watch tells me so.


The Apps I Use and What They Do 

And sorry if you’re Android I didn’t take the extra time to see if these work for you, too — I think a lot do, but some are IOS only!

Apple HealthKit – this app is a brain-type app that collates information from all the other apps that I connect to it. You can see all kinds of information — steps walked, flights climbed, sleeping habits, calories consumed/burned, nutrients, menstrual cycles, meditation time, exercise log — the list goes on. Some things are automatically tracked by your iPhone and will show in HealthKit, but it’s more effective if you use in conjunction with other apps that are more specific and ‘talk’ to HealthKit.
Cost – Pre-loaded on iPhone

Streaks – this is a habit tracker and I like it because it works with Apple HealthKit, so a lot of the tracking is automatic. You can set up habits or choose from a list of pre-loaded ones. It allows for positive and negative habits. I.E. you can track for stuff you want to do (drink 8 glasses of water a day) and stuff you don’t want to do (eat chocolate). Of the habits I track, water intake, sleep, meditation, steps, yoga, and workouts are all automatically tracked from Apple HealthKit. I track vitamins, updating my food diary, and daily journaling manually.
Cost: $4.99
Works With: Apple HealthKit, Apple Watch

Map My Run (and Map My Walk) – these two apps are from UnderArmour and do the same basic thing. Press a button when you start running/walking and the app will record distance, steps, splits and will show your route on a little map, which I love. You can also take pics and add to the route and your walks/runs are saved in a Facebook-like timeline. There are sharing features which I don’t use, and a cool route-finder which is awesome when you are traveling to show where other folks walk/run. The only difference between the two is the routes — runners and walkers use different routes. I had always used Map My Walk until I got the Apple Watch. The Walking version doesn’t have a Watch App, and the Running version does, so I can glance at my watch to see total distance, etc. while walking.
Cost: Free (for the features I use)
Works With: HealthKit, AppleWatch (Map My Run only)

Walking – this is a walking/training app that I’ve found surprisingly motivating! The concept is fairly simple. You put in a few bits of info to start out with — general fitness level, etc. and the app puts together a 3-month walking program. Every day there’s a new ‘workout’ which is just walking with some high intensity intervals. Some days you get a picture of a sofa and it’s rest day! I like that it’s sort of mindless — I don’t have to decide how far to walk each day. But what I really like is the music feature — there are a TON of music mixes to choose from and the tempo of the music is adjusted according to how fast you should be walking. I honestly don’t get why I like this app so much — I have a ton of good walking music and can read a timer to see how long I’ve been walking. Map My Run has the same split info and GPS map tracking. There’s something about knowing the workout is ‘waiting’ for me and needs to be checked off that works with my tricky psyche. Plus there’s a mashup tracklist that’s awesome — playing Led Zepplin against James Brown gets 5 stars in my book!
Cost: $9.99 subscription (yikes, right?!) 
Works With: HealthKit, Apple Watch No

Map My Fitness – this is a diary also from UnderArmour with a lot of features, some of which are duplicated in Apple HealthKit, so I don’t use. Mainly, I use the food diary, which is extensive with a great database. You can put in macronutrient goals (i.e. 40% protein, 10% fat, 20% carb) and see how you are doing against your goals. It’s also a good weight and measurement tracker — allowing you to put in custom measurements if you like to, you know. Measure everything. 
Cost: Free (for the features I use)
Works With: HealthKit, Nope on AppleWatch, there’s also a web version with more features

Clue – this is a cycle tracker. I like to have a rough idea of when I will start bleeding each month because I’m always surprised by it. You can also use to record cramps, nookie, etc. and would be helpful if you’re trying to get knocked up. I have to admit, this is the second cycle tracker I’ve tried and while it looks cool, there’s something about it that’s hard to use for me. I switched because the one I used before, whose name I can’t remember (something brill like Period Tracker) didn’t ‘talk’ to Apple HealthKit. Note — the clue folks have a pretty rockin’ blog. 
Cost: I don’t think I paid for it, the App Store lists in-app stuff, but I don’t know what it is!
Works With: HealthKit, Nope on AppleWatch

WaterMinder – this tracks your fluid intake. It works with Apple Watch and you can set up custom ‘drinks’ size and beverage. So I have 10 oz coffee, 8 oz kombucha, 8 oz Gatorade and 16.9/20 oz water set up. The different beverages have a conversion rate – i.e. Coffee is .9, so 10 oz of coffee is counted as 9 oz of water for the day. You can set your daily goals and there’s a little outline of a person that gets ‘filled up’ as you record your intake throughout the day — you can even pick your avatar. Mine is a lady in a dress and a hat.
Cost: $2.99
Works With: HealthKit, AppleWatch

AutoSleep – this tracks your time sleeping. You can set goals (mine is 7.5 hours a night) and bedtime. This tracks a LOT of data! I only have used since I got my watch and it is spot-on accurate with the watch. This app is a partner app of HeartWatch.
Cost: $2.99
Works With: HealthKit, AppleWatch

HeartWatch – overall heart rate monitor with a ton of information. Partner app with AutoSleep.
Cost: $2.99
Works With: HealthKit, AppleWatch

Pee and See – this is a tracker for when you go to the loo. I was curious how often/when I had to go when getting ready for heading out on the road. Has a funny sounding reminder to log (sounds like running water). Now that we’re gone I don’t use, but if you’re worried about drinking enough might be good. You can ‘log backward’ – i.e. the reminder goes off and there are options for ‘went 30 minutes ago’ etc.
Cost: Free
Works With: AppleWatch, Nope on HealthKit

Headspace – this is a super popular meditation app that I really like. It includes a beginner track to get you started if you’re new and then you can choose from different topics — I’m currently on the ‘change’ track. There are also quickies for during the day and sleep tracks. Using the app records ‘mindful minutes’ in Apple HealthKit. It has an Apple Watch, which allows for quickie short sessions (I think) – I don’t really use the Watch part.
Cost: Starts at around $12 a month, much cheaper to pay for a whole year, free 30-day trial
Works With: HealthKit, Watch in a kinda lame way.

Breathe – this is an app native to Apple Watch which reminds you to stop and breath with a cool haptic (tapping on your wrist) breathing prompt. You can set how many times per day you’d like to be reminded. I’m trying to remember to stop and be mindful more often, so I like this. Time is tracked in the HealthKit as ‘Mindful Minutes’
Works With: HealthKit, AppleWatch

Start Stretching – this is a super basic stretching app. The stretches are similar to yoga poses and you can set the time to stretch (i.e. 60 seconds) and repeats. It’s basic, but I like it! The time spent using is recorded as Yoga in Apple HealthKit.
Cost: Free
Works With: HealthKit, Nope on Watch

Pocket Yoga – another basic yoga app with different sessions you can choose from. Not a lot of instruction if you need it, but easy to follow along. The time spent using is recorded as Yoga in Apple HealthKit.
Cost: $2.99
Works With: HealthKit, Nope on Watch

750words.com – my final ‘app’ isn’t an app at all! It’s a website but fits in with everything else. 750 Words is a website to help with a daily journal practice. The premise is simple. Every day you get a blank screen where you can type away. Once you get to 750 words you get a ‘finished’ notification. I believe the makers were working with the concept Julia Cameron’s ‘Morning Pages’ – 3 pages of long-hand, stream of conscious writing first thing in the morning. I’ve found that for daily journal style writing I’m more likely to type than write, plus I’m still lugging around journals from high school, so the online aspect appeals to me!
Works With: this is a website-based application
Cost $5 a month

patty brower

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