For the last month, I've been testing Health Cubby, a $9.99 iPhone app designed to track health and fitness goals. This is the first time I've used a computer program (much less an iPhone app) to track this kind of information, and I've been pleasantly surprised -- because I always have the iPhone with me, I find myself actually tracking my meals, weight, exercise, and various fitness goals. After a workout, there's a certain geeky fun in recording it in the app (a quick process) and watching my little "goal bars" fill in. Here are screenshots of a recent week with progress bars (left), and a list view of my cardio sessions (right):
Health Cubby lets you track weekly goals, and you choose what's important to you. To get started, I set a modest goal of three cardio sessions and one strength-training session a week. The sessions are open-ended -- you can define how long each session is, and the app counts up your total time spent. Health Cubby also tracks vices, for those inevitable moments when you fall off the wagon and indulge yourself with food, alcohol, or whatever your particular vice may be (you can customize the vice list). I set myself a fairly liberal vice goal (up to four a week!), and have actually found myself checking my iPhone to see whether I have any "vice points" left for the week. Yes, this is nerdy. And yes, I actually think it's helpful. By tracking weight and measurements (so far I'm just doing weight), Health Cubby automatically generates graphs showing you weight over time. To get a graph, just turn the device sideways, and you get something like this:
Even more interesting, you can sync the data to a central server and export your data for use in Excel! So if you don't like the graphs you get from Health Cubby, you can take your data with you and make your own. (The app simply emails a CSV file of whatever data you search for...to export everything, run a search and leave the search field blank.) What's more, you can add friends to your Health Cubby network, and share results with them -- that way you can see when your buddy is losing more weight or working out harder. (You can also hide your actual weight from friends, instead showing just a weight loss percentage. This is a smart feature!) While I haven't tested the social features, they seem useful in concept.
Health Cubby also lets you track meals, taking a simplified approach -- you simply list what you ate, what type of meal it was (breakfast, lunch, etc.), and give it a "star rating" from one to five stars. I like this a lot, as it lets me define what a "five star meal" is to me. Obsessive calorie counters may not like this approach (as the app is NOT counting detailed calorie breakdowns), but personally I've never felt that detailed calorie counting was a great use of my time. I'd rather track general goals and attempt to do better, rather than break down everything by the numbers.
To get started with Health Cubby (without laying down ten bucks), try Health Cubby Lite, a free version that is limited to storing only 10 records. While the Lite version won't get you very far towards your fitness goals, it'll be clear whether you're willing to upgrade to the full version. Personally, I plan to keep using the app, as I've become sort of addicted -- every week I feel compelled to fill in my little cardio bar, not fill in my vice bar, and strive towards "five star meals."