Tools For Keeping Yourself Honest

I have mentioned before that I have a pretty sedentary job, like most people. I am also a consultant, so I spend a lot of time traveling to client offices in Southern California.

I average 300-800 miles per week in the car (or on Metrolink, Amtrak and Metro). This translates to 2-6 hours per day in the car – that’s a lot of sitting. It also leads to a lot of meals on the go, snacks, skipping meals, etc. I’m not going to lie, Peanut Butter M&M’s definitely start calling my name as I head for the car in the afternoon when I am heading back to the office or home.

Sometimes I go to client offices for project meetings (I am an engineering consultant,) sometimes I go for business development and client relationship building. My job involves a lot of business lunches, coffee meetings, lunch presentations, after work social mixers, happy hours etc. I love it and this is probably the part of my job I enjoy the most…If you are anywhere in LA or Orange County, I can point you in the direction of a great restaurant you’ve never heard of.

This, though, can be problematic for maintaining a reasonable level of fitness.

Something you need to know about me: I am into exercise and I have really never had a problem staying pretty consistent at the gym or outside, but…I am HORRIBLE at tracking and recording workouts, eating and progress. I have tried everything. I have probably started and re-started a food log and workout journal 20 times in the last 4 years. I will do good for 2-3 weeks, them just stop recording.

I think some of the reason is how often I am on the go, out and about. Tracking was easy at home, but I wasn’t doing a good job bringing a notebook with me, I would miss a meal, a workout, a day, two days, 6 weeks…You get the picture.

So, about a year ago, I decided to go pretty much paperless at work. All my project notes, meeting minutes, reminders I put on an IPad (Mac fanboy here!). It worked great, because I got some sweet apps to assist (most notably Evernote).

It only took me another year to have the great idea that I could probably do the same for my workout and food log. So I got a couple more apps – here is what I use:



I use this app to track all of my non-gym activity. It does a great job tracking walking and cycling. Based on the GPS location on my iPhone (needs cell service to work) and the accelerometer, it tracks, walking, running, cycling and time in transit. I love it because it is simple. It tracks steps, mileage, etc. It is very basic, so don’t expect it to do elevation like a Garmin or cool “fuel points” like Nike. I have found it to be very accurate, it even counts my walk to get coffee across the office. There is a great visualization tool for long term tracking. Also, it is free.

There are only three downsides:

1. You have to carry your phone (obviously). If you can live with some missed steps each day, no need to be OCD about it, but there are definitely times I don’t have my phone and I kick myself for missing a good walk. This usually happens when I am walking to a meeting in Los Angeles and I carry only my work phone (i.e., didn’t bring my briefcase) so I don’t have two phones bulging out of my pocket like a total nerd.

2. There is no synching between devices (this goes together with Issue 1). So there is no way for me to load the app on my personal phone and my work phone and have them communicate. This would solve the first problem in nearly all circumstances for me (unless I just leave the phone at home).

3. Battery drain! Because the app uses GPS and the data signal to track your position it seriously reduces battery time. I could get through an 8 hour day without charging, but barely.


I use Evernote as a workout log. I can input from my phone or iPAD and put it all in a dedicated virtual notebook. It will synch to all devices and allow you to organize the, by date created and tag the, for future review and search. This is a fantastic app that I use for all my work projects, fantastic for teams and sharing as well.

There’s not much more to say about Evernote…if you aren’t using it at work or as a fitness log, you should be!



This app is a really great way to track food intake at the macronutrient level. It has one of the best food libraries I have seen in an app like this. It also allows you to create your own foods (I put in my favorite yogurt). It also lets you designate favorite foods and meals for quick entry. This app was out together by Sanof; my Dad (who is a Type 2 Diabetic) turned me on to it. If you’re diabetic, you can also track blood glucose levels.

So, what’s great about it?

1. Food library is super good (as I mentioned above).

2. Macro nutrient break down gives you a full picture of what your calories came from (I shoot for 100g of carbs, and the rest of my calories from fat and protein) so the pie chart helps me visualize it.

3. Has a graph feature to track long term trends.

What’s not so great?

1. You can track activity in the form of calories burned, but it doesn’t offset your daily caloric intake needs based on activity completed (if you’re OCD this will drive you nuts).

2. It shows food consumed on the graph in terms of calories of fat, protein and carbs, not in terms of grams of each. I would like the option to view both ways.

If you are like me and constantly forget/misplace your log or just aren’t that motivated, give ese apps a try.

Have fun out there!

About the author  ⁄ Andy Thul

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