Shifting The Balance
12:00 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Online Tools Helping You Track Weight Loss Success

Losing weight can be a struggle; having a support system can go a long way toward helping you overcome hurdles and succeed at it. A number of weight loss web tools have sprung up in recent years to help you track your progress and find encouragement from others, so you can still find support – even if you can’t find a gym partner.

Just getting started? The CDC provides Body Mass Index (BMI) calculators for both adults and children & teens. These are simple to use and will give you your current BMI, as well as a target weight and BMI for your height, allowing you to create a realistic, health-based goal for yourself.

Once you have a goal, you’ll want to keep track of what you’re doing to achieve it. MyFitnessPal is an interactive food and exercise diary that offers tools to find the caloric content of your meals, calculate how many calories your activity is burning – regardless of whether you’re running miles or just playing Wii Tennis – and an online community forum to share it all with others. You can also use your diary on the go, with their smartphone application.

FatSecret and SparkPeople are other online all-inclusive communities, similar to MyFitnessPal, each with their own unique features and feel. FatSecret, for example, has community fitness challenges to sign up for, and an Activity and Exercise Finder that allows you to find an activity that fits the intensity level you’re looking for and the amount of energy you’re looking to burn. SparkPeople offers progress graphs and awards for the visually minded, and contact with registered dieticians and trainers via their message boards.

Exclusively a workout tracker, dailymile lets you track your exercise duration and, if applicable, mileage in a Twitter-like format. Dailymile will share with your Facebook or Twitter account if you want it to, and it will also integrate with Garmin and Nike+ GPS-based distance tracking devices and several iPhone and Android apps.

Weight Watchers has been around for over 45 years, but they’ve been evolving. The most recent iteration, their proprietary PointsPlus program, is still available through local meetings; if you don’t have time for meetings, or the idea of going to one and weighing in terrifies you, their entire plan is available online as well. Unlike the other tools mentioned in this post, which are free to use, there is a monthly cost associated with the Weight Watchers program, but some of their resources – recipes and workout ideas, for example – are available to everyone.