It’s no secret that I’m a technophile and data junkie. It’s an element that has it’s pros and cons, but it’s part of who I am. Lately I’ve been trying to really dial in on optimizing my recovery and working to sync my training loads and expectations to my monthly hormonal cycles. I’ve found a few new apps to really help with this effort. It was no small feat to get everything working together and fortunately, my parter-in-crime, Kathy, helped with a ton of the research, so I thought I’d share what I’m now using week in and week out to help with this endeavor.
Please note I wear an Apple Watch 3 and use an iPhone daily. I also use a Garmin Forerunner for swimming, biking and running and this foundation factored into the different apps I’m now using. Some are long-time stand-by favorites and others are new additions.
Food tracking and planning.
- MyFitnessPal. I’ve been using this app for a little over two years to track my food. Honestly, my favorite thing about it is that as a coach I can see my client’s food journals in detail and it integrates well with our client support software. The database is broad, but it isn’t perfect, so you have to be careful about using quality entries when logging food. I use the premium version to be able to fine tune my macros. All things being equal, I would love to try out Chronometer, which is getting great reviews for the way they validate and verify their entries, but they don’t offer the client support features we need.
- PlanToEat. This is my recipe log and meal prep planning tool. It’s an annual subscription, but I buy it on Black Friday when it’s 50% off for the year. I keep all of the recipes I use regularly and find online that look appealing in it, so then when I want to meal prep for the week, I can drag and drop recipes into a calendar and use the auto grocery list for shopping. I also love that their clean formatting cuts out all of the crazy annoying ads that pop up on food blogs where I get a lot of my recipes. I know it’s how they monetize their websites, but it still drives me nuts.
Sleep support and tracking.
- White Noise. I started using this in hotels when I would travel for business, but then I realized it was just as helpful to have on at home, especially when I go to bed an hour or two before my husband. I know I should get a white noise machine and get my phone out of my bedroom, but I haven’t forked out for one yet because this is working well enough. Personally I like the “red noise” sound selection.
- AutoSleep. This is what I’m using to track my sleep now that I’m working to get a firm handle on getting enough sleep at night. And enough may also be characterized as more. I’m not sure I’m to enough yet. It tracks sleep, deep sleep, heart rate variability and waking pulse, which is good for assessing whether or not I am accumulating fatigue night after night and whether I’m in need of a rest day. My understanding is that the margin of error on tracking deep sleep relative to what an EKG would show is pretty high, but I do know the data seems to correlate with how I feel and like tracking food, when I see a log of low sleep nights it helps me know how to adjust because how I recall it is poor.
- AutoWake. From the same makers as AutoSleep, this is an alarm that’s supposed to help nudge you to wake in a lighter sleep cycle to make it easier to wake up. When it wakes me up early (you can set how much early it can wake you), I find it annoying, but when I used a regular alarm recently when my Watch was getting fixed, I was definitely groggier getting out of bed, so I think it’s going to stay.
- FITR. This is to help track not only when your period is, but also the symptoms you have through out the month and it graphically shows you where in the month your hormones are in the cycle. There are tidbits of information on how your body is feeling and doing relatively to the cycle of the month to help women understand their bodies better. There are a lot of options for period tracking, but in terms of actually knowing what you’re tracking, I’ve found this one to be the best.
- Headspace. This is a meditation app, which is the only way I am able to meditate. I’ll fully own this is not an ingrained habit for me. I tend to do it in short stints fall off, try again. It’s also helpful for getting to sleep when I have an extra busy mind. But when I use it, I like it.
- ROMWOD. This is more my jam. I try to do ROMWOD daily to both stretch my body and force myself to do deep breathing and relax. It’s yin yoga geared toward crossfitters in 12-20 minute segments. The awesome thing I love about my body is that I put on muscle easily, but easy gainers tend to be incredibly tight, which can set up a cascade of injuries. Regular stretching is key for me to keep things happy, and I’ve found having a video series to follow daily works better for me than thinking I’ll randomly self program the stretches I hate (see Couch stretch and saddle poses).
Fitness fun (also the geekiest section of all).
- Garmin Connect. I mentioned I’m a Garmin user because I love their watches. I like their app for seeing the segments of my swims, bikes and runs in detail and I also use it to track my running shoe mileage. If I were using my Apple Watch or phone to track workouts, I’d probably more partial to Strava, but this tech integration works for me.
- TrainingPeaks. Because I’ve been doing triathons for years, I’ve been using TrainingPeaks forever. Even now while I’m not training, I like to loosely plan out my workouts for the week and make sure I’m not overloading myself in a given week. TrainingPeaks pulls in everything from my Garmin and my AppleWatch in one place to see it all. Also, I figure if I start tri training again, it will be good to have the current data available to my coach.
- HealthFit. Getting Apple Watch data into TrainingPeaks is no small feat. The HealthFit app makes that function possible. You could look at a lot of the Apple Watch data on the Apple Health App, but to see the Garmin data synthesized as well you have to look elsewhere. I realize this is a bit of a patchwork, but this app was a seriously exciting find (Thank, Kathy!) to get everything into one view. It even pushes my scale weight, sleep and HRV into TrainingPeaks to see how my workouts are impacting those elements.
Hopefully this gives you some fresh ideas about how technology could work for you. If you have something I should add to my repertoire, I’d love to hear about it!