6 Things Your Fitness App Can’t Do

If you’re like most Americans, you may be wondering if this is the year you’ll be better at getting healthy.

Or, you may be one of the millions of people facing another New Year frustrated by your attempts to get fit.

Did you renew your commitment to health and fitness last year – and even work hard to meet your new goals – only to find yourself in the same place as last January 1?

Jumping on the newest apps like Fitbit or Strava will help you track your activity and can make you more aware of the exercise that you do, but for many, going digital has not turned out to be the secret sauce to success.

Even apps that are smart enough to build in positive reinforcement and feedback might not entirely solve the problems that face us as we try to get fit.

Why do even well-intentioned attempts with help from the best available technologies fail?

Robert J. Szczerba has hit on an answer: “Fitness technologies work best for people who are already motivated and have a disciplined fitness routine. For most people, particularly those who have not yet discovered how to motivate themselves, fitness tech devices are the electronic equivalent of the millions of unused treadmills and elliptical trainers cluttering many American basements.”

When it comes to transforming your health, you cannot put the cart before the horse, now can you outsource certain aspects of health and fitness to an app or a fitness guru.

Well-known fitness blogger and consultant Vik Khanna warns, “Relying upon fitness tech without a plan and solid motivational foundation is like aspiring to build a secure retirement but worrying about which mutual fund to choose, even though you have neither a budget nor savings.”

Khanna offers a helpful list of 6 tasks to accomplish first before embracing technology.

  1. Prioritize your goals – Fitness apps cannot understand your psychology or the problems you confront on a day-to-day basis. Before committing to a new routine, set reasonable goals and plan around what is possible in your busy weeks and weekends. It is not a bad idea to consult with people who care about you and understand what you can handle.
  2. Develop a plan – Once you know what you want to accomplish and the barriers and difficulties facing you, formulate a plan. Figure out a schedule and write it out. An app can generate a schedule for you, but it cannot see which goals are attainable in the context of your life.
  3. Build determination – Wanting to change is often different than having the determination required to enact change. Learning to break your goals down into achievable parts and work on them until you build your capacity for major change can make a huge difference in if you succeed or fail.
  4. Recognize your own efforts – Experts in the science of change have said that celebrating your small and large victories can be really important to getting your brain on board for creating new and healthier habits.
  5. Practice positive self-talk – If you are the kind of person who always sees the glass as half-empty, start working on telling yourself your glass is half-full. It is very hard to achieve anything with a head full of doubt even if an app is telling you what a great job you are doing.
  6. Make course corrections – Often when we hit a roadblock we throw out the whole plan. When your app is telling you to do something that you find impossible – try something else and don’t give up.

Fitness apps and resolutions can help you achieve your fitness goals – but they are not where you should start. If you really want to make your resolutions count in 2015 start planning for success by following these 6 simple steps!

About the Author: Dr. Deborah Teplow is CEO and co-founder of the Institute for Wellness Education. She developed the competencies and training curriculum that became the basis for the U.S. Department of Labor’s approvals in 2012 of wellness coaching as a new U.S. occupation and a Registered Apprenticeship Program.

photo credit: G0361117 via photopin (license)