Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
21 Mar

12 Tools That Can Help You Achieve Your Health and Fitness Goals

nowlaterLast month, I wrote a couple articles on akrasia, or the phenomenon of acting against one’s own better judgment. First, I introduced the concept and described a bit of research surrounding it. Then, I discussed 8 reasons a Primal eater might suffer from food-related akrasia, including cravings, nutritional deficiencies, and mismatched Paleolithic genes trying to navigate a modern food environment.

Today, I’m restarting the discussion with a list of novel tools and techniques to help in the fight against fitness-and-health-related akrasia. As I mentioned in the first post, akrasia is universal, transcending culture and age and dietary persuasion. Whether we like it or not, we don’t always do what we know we should – myself included – so this post is for all of us.

Here are twelve online tools that will give you that little nudge you need to stay on track and do what’s best for yourself:

Aherk

Aherk is a goal-oriented self-blackmailing service. To use it, you set a goal – anything from basic productivity stuff like “finish your paper” to more health-oriented goals like “stay Primal on St. Paddy’s day” – with a deadline, then upload an embarrassing, potentially compromising photo of yourself to the Aherk servers. After the deadline, your Facebook friends will vote to decide whether you’ve accomplished your goal. If the vote goes against you, the picture will be published for all your friends to see (and laugh at). Though it’s still in beta, Aherk seems promising. I like the unique blackmail angle (though people already seem willing to post compromising photos to their Facebook accounts), but I wonder how effective it will really be.

StickK

With StickK, users interested in accomplishing a goal formally make a commitment to reach that goal by a certain date and put some of their own money on the line to be forfeited if the commitment is not fulfilled. You set the goal, lay out the stakes of your commitment (how much money, if any, will you put on the line, and where will the money go if you fail?), choose a “referee” to track your progress, keep you honest and report your progress to StickK, and choose other StickK users as supporters to cheer you on. Choose a goal template or create your own from scratch. Goals can be ongoing commitments requiring constant check-ins, or one-time things where you either succeed or fail.

Beeminder

Beeminder is like “StickK.com for data nerds.” You can use it to track anything with a numerical value, so it’s ideal for fitness-related pursuits. With Beeminder, you can track your maximum amount of pushups/pullups/burpees, grams of dietary polyunsaturated fat intake, days gone without a “cheat” meal, or days in which you walked at least one mile. It’s completely up to you, because Beeminder is highly adaptable to your situation and your goals. Based on your final goal, Beeminder will give you weekly goals – estimates of where you should be at certain dates in order to reach your ultimate goal – and plot your data points on constantly-updated graphs, complete with a “yellow-brick road” that, if followed, will get you to your goal. If you stray from the yellow-brick road, however, you will be forced to pony up real cash to keep things rolling. Provided you hit your goals, the money is yours, but if you don’t, the money is lost.

GymPact

For GymPact, users make a Pact – a commitment to go to the gym X number of days per week (minimum once per week). Then, when you go to the gym (or pool, or martial arts studio, or yoga center, etc.), you check in using your iPhone which allows the GymPact team to verify that you have worked out. Any gym (other than home or office gyms) is eligible. You lose $5 for missed workouts (to be paid out in part to other users who have fulfilled their Pacts) and get cash rewards for fulfilling your Pact. Most commitment tools that involve real money motivate users only with the threat of losing their money. With GymPact, you stand to both lose money and earn money. I think this sounds pretty cool. You’re not going to get rich off this ($0.50-$0.75 per workout, on average), but you will make a little scratch in addition to garnering the awesome benefits of maintaining a regular workout schedule.

Health Rally

Most of these tools thus far have employed the threat of losing money as motivation. Health Rally takes a slightly different tack: they use the promise of tangible rewards, as well as the support of your peers along the way, to promote successful attainment of set goals. To begin, you set a goal with an end date, then choose the reward that would motivate you to complete the goal. Your friends and family join your Health Rally network, chime in with supportive comments, and can even offer monetary rewards to motivate. Users can start Health Rallies for themselves or for friends and family – kind of a positive intervention of sorts.

Lose It or Lose It

This service allows users to set 10-week weight loss goals that must be attained on pain of lost money. You choose a goal weight, put up your money (minimum $100), consent to weekly weigh-ins (verified by taking photos of your feet on the scale) at set times, and have “accountability friends” (friends who track your progress and receive emails from the Lose It or Lose It team to ensure you’re following through). If you miss a weigh-in, you lose 5% of your pledged money. If you miss a weight target for the week, you lose 5%. I like the verified weigh-ins most of all. A lot of these tools can be cheated (although you’d just be cheating yourself in the long run), but photo verification makes cheating Lose It or Lose It (and yourself) much harder.

21habit

We all have bad habits. We all regularly do things we know we shouldn’t be doing at all, let alone all the time. Conversely, we all have good habits that we’d like to work into our daily schedule. Potentially habitual behaviors that we aspire to make habits. 21habit acknowledges this and asks you to choose a habit that you’d either like to stop doing or start doing. After putting up $21, you have 21 days to instill (or banish) the habit, and every day you have to log your progress. You forfeit $1 for every missed day and get $1 back for every successful day. Forfeited money goes to charity. Daily progress checks (with immediate positive or negative feedback) should keep you moving toward (and hopefully not away from) your goal.

Succeed or Else!

Next time you want to accomplish something, but you’re a little worried about actually following through and accomplishing it, check out Succeed or Else. You submit your goal and desired date of accomplishment to the team, who reviews your case and responds with two things: a projected fine (the amount of money you’ll have to pay if you don’t complete it) and how you can prove to the team that you actually completed your goal. If you agree to the terms, you send them the money, which they hold until the deadline. If you’re able to prove to them that you completed the goal, you get your money back, plus the accomplishment of hitting your goal.

Fatbet

Fatbet is pretty simple. Make a Fatbet by setting a fat loss goal and placing a wager that you will reach the goal. Convince other people you know to make Fatbets and place wagers, too. If you lose your Fatbet, you must pony up the wager, whether it’s money, donations to charity, personal favors, or buying dinner for the winners. By drawing on mankind’s innate drive to win bets and defeat opponents, Fatbet can help keep you making the right choices on your path to losing weight. This seems like a good choice. It doesn’t necessarily involve money, if that’s not your thing, but it should be effective because everyone likes winning.

Fitocracy

Fitocracy is gaming that doesn’t involve Cheeto-stained fingers, pyramids made out of Mountain Dew cans, and couches with butt imprints. It’s a social game that combines elements of Facebook with elements of roleplaying games. You post workout updates, choosing from hundreds of different exercises, and get points depending on weights lifted and exercises performed. Harder exercises get you more points; reverse dumbbell Swiss ball curls won’t get you as many points as deadlifts. Get enough points and you level up (for all to see). You can even create challenges (like “Max burpees in five minutes”) and invite participants. While I don’t use it, several of my workers do, and they report that it’s highly motivational. Of course, these were already pretty active people, but still: Fitocracy has blown up, claiming over 230,000 active users as of January 2012. That’s a lot of people exercising on a regular basis.

The Jerry Seinfeld

Detailed here, Seinfeld’s method of staying productive while avoiding day-crippling bad decisions is decidedly low-tech and is normally used for getting work done or doing chores, rather than reaching health and fitness goals. But that’s okay. It’s easily modified. You set a few goals (like “lift heavy things” or “eat no grains”), set daily minimums for each goal, devise boundaries and strategies for each goal, print out a calendar for each goal, and procure a big red pen. Every time you hit the daily minimum for a given goal, make a big red “X” on the day of the given goal’s calendar. If you miss a daily minimum, you don’t get an X. Strive to get an X on each day of each calendar. Chain them together. Don’t break the chain! I like this one. First, I’m a Seinfeld fan, so I might be biased. Two, it’s simple and it requires the user to interact with real-world objects: pen and paper. On the computer, it’s easy to minimize a window, switch to a different browser, ignore email updates, or just never visit the website that logs your unfulfilled commitments, but a calendar on the wall or your desk stares you in the face. It’s right there in your line of vision, and if you want to avoid it you have to physically remove it. I suppose you could use an online motivational calendar like Streaks, but I wonder if the effect would be the same.

Online Alarm Clock

I like this one a lot. A few of the girls in the office have been using something similar. They’ll set the alarm to go off every thirty minutes or so, and use it as motivation to get up and do a set of pushups, pullups, and/or squats, just to keep active throughout the day. If you sit a lot at work (or even if you’re a standup workstation superstar), using a basic alarm clock to keep moving every hour (at least) should keep some of the negative health effects of sitting at bay. You know you shouldn’t be sitting for that long, and the clock is free, so you really have no excuse.

Not everyone needs a dedicated online tool to keep on the straight and narrow, but I’d wager that very few of us are completely rational actors who make nothing but logical decisions each and every day. Even something as simple as the alarm clock method or the Seinfeld method could be useful. The only way to really know is to try it out yourself.

Have you used any of these tools to beat health-related akrasia? I’d be interested in hearing about your experiences. Can you recommend any of your personal favorites that aren’t on this list? I’m sure readers would love to know more. Thanks for reading!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I have a new fondness for myfitnesspal.com. I thought it was be trash, but it’s really helping me out (after I modified my macro ratios for paleo).

    PaleoDruid wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • An easy tool that I use to track macronutrient intake is fitday.com. I’ve used other sites do the same thing, and fitday.com is by far the fastest, easiest, and most accurate.

      Also, my online consulting services are a great way to meet any health and fitness goals that you might be struggling with completing. I tailor work outs and nutrition guidelines to meet your needs and goals.

      As a token of my gratitude for all that Mark and the Primal community have done to help change my life, I am offering my online consulting services absolutely free for two weeks. Just contact me through my website I’ll get you started on a path to meeting your goals right away.

      Matthew Caton wrote on March 21st, 2012
      • I think paleotrack is way better than fitday

        SophieE wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • I’d love to know how you modified the macros on myfitnesspal!

      Kim wrote on March 21st, 2012
      • From the home screen, select “goals”. The Goals screen has a “nutritional goals” section. Go from there.

        Chris G wrote on March 22nd, 2012
    • I also like myfitnesspal.com. Tracking works, but I have only managed to keep up with it for 3 weeks at a time, then I lose steam. I like the idea of “Lose It or Lose It.” I’m thinking about putting up $300 of my $600 clothing budget for the spring and summer. If I lose the money, I have less to spend on new clothes. If I keep it all, my husband is kicking in an extra $300 so I get $900 to spend. Which I’ll need to buy smaller clothes. =)

      Abbie wrote on March 23rd, 2012
    • How do you modify your macro for paleo?

      Robin wrote on March 17th, 2013
  2. Kind of amazing

    Harry Mossman wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • seriously. I had no idea stuff like this existed haha

      Burn wrote on March 21st, 2012
  3. I don’t really agree with the first 8 methods as far as measuring weight loss goals because people don’t lose weight on schedule. Seems to me if you don’t meet your goal it will be more demoralizing than anything else.

    I do like both 9 and 10. The Seinfeld method is very basic but as you say, very effective and it only measures whether you followed your plan, not whether you lost what you wanted to lose – weight or inches.

    As for the alarm clock method I can verify that it works. One of the worst thing about having arthritis is that the pain keeps you from moving around so you don’t tend to exercise, and exercise really helps. I have arthritis in my knees and the way I make myself exercise is to make it a rule to move at least 5 minutes every hour. I set the alarm and a lot of times find I end up doing more than 5 minutes. Over the last year that I’ve been doing this my arthritis has definitely gotten a lot better. I know a lot probably has to do with going Primal as well, but even so ….. something to consider.

    Joanna wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • Well, he’s not saying, “Set your goal to lose 10 pounds,” and if you don’t lose 10 pounds then you suffer and feel like a loser. He’s saying set goals such as work out once a day, don’t eat any cupcakes today, limit myself to one snack at my friend’s part, etc.

      Kauru wrote on March 21st, 2012
      • ” Lose it or Lose it …. This service allows users to set 10-week weight loss goals that must be attained on pain of lost money. ”

        I don’t think just not eating cupcakes would cut it here.

        Joanna wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • I’ve set up Beeminder with goals that contribute to my fitness, but I don’t track weight loss. I’ve got it set for lifting heavy things 2x week and sprinting once in 10 days. They’re healthy behaviours, and I’d rather have my focus on behaviours I have control over.

      Hannah wrote on March 21st, 2012
  4. this is an awesome post!

    Fitocracy looks pretty great. But i noticed you need an invite code to join. Hope it’s open to the public soon.

    northerngirl wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • I can send you an invite code if you need one.

      Stacy wrote on April 6th, 2012
  5. I takes all my energy to make myself do what needs to be done. It sounds extra tiring to play mind games with myself and still have to do it anyway!

    Grokitmus Primal wrote on March 21st, 2012
  6. Why did this post have to happen today? I was going to order chinese take out, be lazy,and watch the muppet show after work. Now I guess I’ll work out….pooo

    Maureen wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • the muppet show?! maureen, you rock my world! after your work out, please give my regards to dr. teeth and the electric mayhem.

      whitney wrote on March 21st, 2012
      • “If you ain’t be happy lately, don’t put it on the blues
        If you ain’t be dancing lately, don’t blame your shoes
        Don’t blame the Dynamite if you can’t light the fuse
        There’s a party all the time for them what choose!”

        -Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem

        Maureen wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • i seriously need this song on my “go outside and play” playlist. thanks for the tip, maureen! peace and janice!

          whitney wrote on March 22nd, 2012
    • OMG I am dying over here @ “watch the Muppet Show” LOL

      Icepyk wrote on March 21st, 2012
  7. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that, in today’s tech centric 1st world, this list is essentially 90 percent new whiz bang websites. I am reading this on a website and commenting about it on one, after all. I have to say though that I’m so over the ‘website to do this, product to buy to do that’ soup we’re constantly stewing in these days. In fact, when my own world started to turn toward much greater productivity about four years ago, I spontaneously dumped all those things (including a personal cellphone, very liberating) in favor of the much more difficult but also more fulfilling activities I’d been avoiding like fine art, learning new languages, writing more and taking an interest in my health (going paleo, working out more, etc.) I’ve had friends ask me what happened to precipitate these changes, what made it all come together, and I honestly don’t know. If I could tell you I would. I think it was mental but I don’t know exactly what or when, likely it was a mix of things. It sure wasn’t Fitocracy though. I think we should be wary of easy solutions to complex problems like motivation and commitment. In my opinion the answer is unlikely to be found anywhere outside of ourselves.

    Tim wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • +1!!

      HopelessDreamer wrote on March 21st, 2012
      • +1 for me also!

        WildGrok wrote on March 22nd, 2012
    • I believe the above commenter is thinking of this all wrong. It’s true that “it has to come from within” but web tools can amplify your effectiveness at putting anti-akrasia techniques into practice.

      It’s like luddites who complain about how the internet makes communication so impersonal and we should go back to connecting face to face. There’s a point to be made there, and some people really go down the rabbit hole (they probably need commitment devices to get themselves off the computer once in a while!) but on the whole the internet makes us *more* connected, not less.

      Danny of Beeminder

      PS: Thanks so much, Mark, for the list of tools, and especially for including ours! :)

      Daniel Reeves wrote on March 21st, 2012
      • I am not a Luddite, Danny, but I had the same reaction that Tim did. I work on a computer 8 to 10 hours a day as an independent translator. The last thing I need to add to my primal lifestyle is another reason to check in electronically.

        The little alarm system might be a good idea, but I simply try to get up and move whenever I finish a section of work. Working with a dog and a couple of cats in the office also ensures that I have plenty of “natural” interruptions.

        Chica wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • +1

          Joe wrote on March 21st, 2012
      • I agree with Tim, the writer you responded about, and Chica below. Yes, computers open communications up for us, and if you would like to use a website that’s just fine and dandy, but what was the world like before computers and electronics? Life went about its way just fine, believe it or not. To summarize what Tim says, humans rely on computers WAY too much. You never even see people doing simple math anymore. What do they do? Pull out a cell phone to use the calculator. In my math classes in high school, we were allowed to use calculators to get he answers to our homework as long as we still wrote out the steps to get it on paper.

        Kauru wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • I do have to admit that you could do most of what Beeminder does with pen and paper (and a like-minded friend). But I think there’s a lot to learn from Beeminder in terms of how you’d want to set up such a system. So I hope you’ll still check it out! :)

          Daniel Reeves wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • +1, Kauru

          Joe wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • I am not a Luddite either…I like the Internet. I like having my blog, and being able to read other people’s blogs. But I have to say it is NOT the same as face to face human interaction. In fact, sometimes it feels kind of lonely. There is a place for all types of interaction, but I must agree with Tim and Chica and those who +1′ed them.

          Emily Crow wrote on March 24th, 2012
  8. Northern girl…this is the url it would send you if I put your email addy in the invite. Maybe that will work for you. I used it for a bit, but just never got in to it. I use Workout Hero to post my CF WOD’s to FB for accountability. Really, nobody keeps me accountable on those either, but at least I get to brag. :-)
    http://ftcy.co/r0qgvW

    Brandon wrote on March 21st, 2012
  9. I’m reminded of “Quitters Incorporated” by Stephen King. Talk about hard-core consequences for not achieving your goals: Your spouse gets kidnapped and made to dance around in an electrified room for a few minutes; your little finger gets cut off, etc.

    dragonmamma wrote on March 21st, 2012
  10. Great new list of tools! Thank you for sharing this.

    Scott wrote on March 21st, 2012
  11. My husband got me a Striiv for Christmas, and I absolutely love it. It’s a pedometer, but it also keeps track of stairs climbed, running steps, and estimated calories burned. It creates mini-challenges for you throughout the day as well, and it also has a built in little game that allows you to spend “energy points” (that you’ve earned by walking and completing challenges) to build your own little island paradise. The other really cool thing about it is that you can also spend your “energy points” to donate money to a charity.

    I actually asked for a FitBit for Christmas, but hubs got me the Striiv instead and I’m really glad he did. I’ve definitely become more active because of the motivation to earn “points” that I can use in-game on the Striiv. Sounds silly, but I’m a gaming nerd and that’s just what seems to work for me. :)

    Also, Striiv’s customer service is phenomenal. A couple weeks ago, my original Striiv crapped out, wouldn’t turn on, wouldn’t charge, nothing. I emailed the company about it, and within 36 hours they had shipped me a brand new unit and a pre-paid return label for the crapped-out one. We were highly impressed. I’d recommend a Striiv to anyone anyway, but that just really iced the gluten-free cake…:)

    ealachan wrote on March 21st, 2012
  12. Another tool that helps TREMENDOUSLY if you want to LOSE weight is a tool (like Fitday or other free trackers) to TRACK and JOURNAL your eating and activity. I am finally losing the weight I want to because of tracking and being aware

    Gayle wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • Totally agree. This helps with the idea of “mindful eating” more than I can say. I know calories in/calories out is not a perfect formula… but being aware of primal meals that rack up over 1000 calories helps control portions… for me, at least.

      Primal Texas wrote on March 21st, 2012
  13. I use a dollar-store calendar on the wall in my kitchen, I get a shiny butterfly sticker every day that I do a workout (the usual walking around at work doesn’t count) and try to see how fast I run out of stickers on my sheet. So far my longest string is 10 days in a row, gotta have a rest day somewhere.

    For reminders at work to keep moving (mostly a computer-based desk job, with some running between buildings) I use TimeLeft. Every hour I’ve programmed it to tell me to get up, move a bit and adjust my posture. Works great, but after a while I start to ignore the pop-up messages, so I change the message or the activity a bit to keep in engaging.

    Jasmine wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • I like the butterfly stickers on the calendar. What a positive image of the freedom achieved through primal living.

      As my kids get stickers on their calendar, this is a simple way to mark my progress. I’m pulling out the stickers when I get home. :-)

      Happycyclegirl wrote on March 23rd, 2012
  14. These sound like great tools, but I’m surprised at the statement that you have “girls” working in your office? Are you employing underage workers? Surely female adults are properly called “women?”

    Angela Glaros wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • Really? You’re nitpicking that?

      Callie wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • stop being silly

      Carlos Morales wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • I consider it an honor to be thought of as one of Marks “girls.” Makes me feel like part of his totally awesome family!

      Jaynee wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • Same here! (Liz here from the office too)

      We’re a pretty tight knit group of ladies and commonly refer to ourselves as “the girls”, so I can assure you no offense is taken. We are always treated with the utmost respect. :)

      Liz wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • I thought I was allowed to call any woman less than half my age a girl.

      David B wrote on March 21st, 2012
      • I’m getting to the age where it’s starting to feel nice to be called a girl again, but don’t call me “old girl”!

        Yeah, “the girls” jumped out at me a bit, but glad to get the word from the actual “girls” themselves that that’s their tream name anyway! lol!

        Joy Beer wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • +1

          KEW wrote on March 22nd, 2012
    • You represent everything that’s wrong with Western civilization. Low-IQ politically correct sheeple like you are the reason I left the US.

      Kris wrote on March 21st, 2012
  15. Hey Mark..I’m 62..6’1″…Was a flabby 205..read your posts on diet. Liked what I read and incorporated many of your great diet and exercise points into my program.
    The result was a 37 lb FAT loss thru 5 smallish meals per day, totaling under 2000 calories and running hiking climbing 4 days a week.
    My key was basically VERY little carbs from bread rice..potatoes etc.. carbs from veggies and some fruit..with lots of good protein from fish and chicken/turkey. Good fat from almond butter and olive oil..
    Also kept a detailed daily food diary, that I still keep over 6 months later. Keeps me on track.
    Thanks for your great e-guidance and encouragement ..
    Best to you…Warren Carnell

    Warren Carnell wrote on March 21st, 2012
  16. Such a coincidence that you posted this the morning after I went on a PMS fueled donut binge. (wait, donuts aren’t Primal!?) It’s an IF day for me, I think.

    Cherice wrote on March 21st, 2012
  17. Lots of clever ideas and interesting tools there, but I don’t think any of it quite compares to just learning to love the movement and expression of your body. I’ve been studying Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, Ju-Jitsu, and Escrima and Arnis for almost fifteen years, and have added Tai Chi and Capoeira in the last ten months. I enjoy all of it too much to ever become stagnant. I’d suggest learning a martial art, or dance (and I don’t mean stuff like Zumba or Jazzercise), or gymnastics, or looking at stuff like MovNat as a method of falling in love with the amazing things a human body (your human body) can do.

    Caleb wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • If you like the “Jerry Seinfeld” method, you can use a free website called DontBreaktheChain.com.

      Peg wrote on March 21st, 2012
  18. I do the Seinfeld X already! I use a backslash, but whatevs! I like keeping it real, so to speak. :)

    outlookishazy wrote on March 21st, 2012
  19. That GymPact idea sounds great, but come on, iPhone only? Need an android app.

    Karl wrote on March 21st, 2012
  20. I love the idea of the ‘fitocracy’ but you can only join if you have an invite – is there anyone who can give me an invite code so I use this….I need help with accountability, I have a home gym and a hubby in A-stan so I have no one to keep me accountable!!

    Dawn wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • If you poke around the Fitocracy site, you will find that you can request an invite. And I read a blog post that had a “code” at the end to join the site.

      Exploration pays off, especially since there are rarely lions or tigers lurking in the Internet bushes.

      Joy wrote on March 22nd, 2012
  21. You missed one thing, start your own blog. ;-)

    Alison Golden wrote on March 21st, 2012
  22. Aherk sounds pretty cool. Season your daily routines with self-blackmail and you will never hunger for life.

    Primal Texas wrote on March 21st, 2012
  23. “A few of the girls in the office…”
    Yikes Mark. I assume they are women?

    LT wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • Again with the nitpicking. People take offense to damn near everything lately. Who cares if Mark used “girls” or “women”? Why does it even matter?

      Callie wrote on March 21st, 2012
      • I appreciate Mark as much as anyone (he has changed our lives), but his use of “girls” matters because he is not referring to school girls or even to college girls, but to working professional women. He relies on these women to keep things going for all of us and they deserve as much respect as we (all) can show them. I actually reread the sentence because I wasn’t sure he was referring to his professional staff!

        Chica wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • +1

          Tricia wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • +1

          Sabrina wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • Surely you meant ‘working professional girls’?

          conrack wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • speaking as a female, really! Being called a girl somehow reduces your standing, your professionalism? I think not. I’ve been called girl before (along with other less desirable things) and I managed to soldier on and remain a professional of the female gender.

          bbuddha wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • We are working professional women, but we (the office “girls” in question) often refer to ourselves as “the girls” and consider it a term of endearment. Trust me when I say there is some SERIOUS, girl/woman/female power going on here, so no worries! :)

          Liz wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • I am one of the ‘girls’ from the office that Mark mentions. I can appreciate you wanting to defend our status as professional working women. However, we are such a tight nit group here and we often refer to ourselves as the girls!

          Vanessa Lambert wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • +1

          Susan wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • Oh geez. The only females that get offended by being called a girl are girls. Once one is securely of the appropriate age to be called a woman, we are totally okay with being called by a term traditionally used for younger women.

          Pronunciation: \ˈgər(-ə)l\
          Function: noun
          Etymology: Middle English gurle, girle young person of either sex
          Date: 14th century
          1 a : a female child from birth to adulthood b : daughter c : a young unmarried woman d sometimes offensive : a single or married woman of any age

          Yes, it says that it is SOMETIMES offensive, but it depends on context. There was no indication of a lack of respect. Being easily offended is a waste of time and energy. Get over it.

          Antibarbie wrote on March 22nd, 2012
        • Liz and Vanessa,

          I figured that Mark would not use the term if it was not okay with you. And I have no objection if someone with whom I have a great relationship calls me “girl” (or “fille” in my current context, or “chica” by my mom and certain friends). But it is a loaded term, especially for women of a certain generation (mine, and older), who fought to get into certain educational programs, job positions, etc.

          We, Mark’s readers, don’t know you, so your shared friendly use of “girl”, which may be perfectly acceptable in a close-knit office, comes off as lacking in respect when used publicly.

          This is not bitterness or immaturity: it is a recognition of the instinctive reaction of many, many women based on their personal and historical experience of how the word has been used.

          Chica wrote on March 23rd, 2012
        • +1!

          Elizabeth wrote on April 10th, 2012
      • +1

        MaureenL wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • I’m happy when the issue of language and gender is discussed, but I also don’t take much offense when the word girl is used in place of woman because I know in most cases there was no disrespect intended. Perhaps this is anti-feminist of me, but it’s how I feel. Excellent post! Hope to use fitocracy if I can get my hands on an invite code…

          Lizzy wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • He might have called them girls cuz they are younger than him.

          Primalkag wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • I love a female, girl or woman that is open to love and being endeared, cherished, loved, honored and respected without taking offense. Those who take offense are usually easily offended because they’re not open to love & endearment, probably due to a lack of & adeep unspoken desire for love & acceptance in their lives and are the ones most in need of inoffensive love and respect.

          Spread the love of endearment, not the disease of militant & angry feminism.

          conrack wrote on March 22nd, 2012
  24. All of these sound like good tools and I have one more to add…I use a FitBit it is a thumb sized pedometer using Wii Technology. It tracks steps, miles, stairs climbed and even sleep paterns when you wear it on your wristband at night. It has really motivated me to challenge my self to beat my stats from last week, thus increasing my activity. Check it out at http://www.fitbit.com

    Horsepal wrote on March 21st, 2012
  25. Fitocracy doesn’t seem to be available to the public yet. When I tried to sign in, it asked me for an invite code. When I requested an invite code, it informed me that I would be told when Fitocracy is available to the public.

    Cireena wrote on March 21st, 2012
  26. Thanks!! I was just talking about websites like this at the gym the other day and didn’t have the original article that I had read months ago. So glad you posted these! :)

    Angie wrote on March 21st, 2012
  27. Thanks for the list Mark! These are some pretty cools tools for people to use. I think that I am going to use Succeed or Else. I like the idea of feeling the consequences (like losing some of your money)of not completing the goals you set.

    Plus you can use this for any kind of goal. Thanks again.

    David

    David wrote on March 21st, 2012
  28. Just tried to use Beeminder and had to send a ‘help!’ email to them! Unbelievably confusing!! Hoping I get great, clear answers from them because I like the idea of graphs and tracking. Unfortunately, I do not have an advanced math degree! :) Thanks for these ideas!

    ramsmom wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • Eep, just replied to that email with a link to this how-to video: http://dreev.es/howtobee

      I don’t know if that goes very far in mitigating the confusion of getting set up with Beeminder. We’re definitely working hard on making it less confusing.

      We’re actually committed (literally, using Beeminder of course) to averaging one user-visible improvement to Beeminder per day: http://beeminder.com/meta/uvi

      Daniel Reeves wrote on March 21st, 2012
      • I got two emails with that link and I SO VERY MUCH appreciate it! Will take time when kiddo is in bed to review and go back into the site and figure it out. Many thanks and kudos to awesome customer service!

        ramsmom wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • Phew! Hearing what’s confusing and getting questions helps us a ton in improving Beeminder. Really appreciate that.

          (Sorry about the double email. I and Jill (who helps us with support) simultaneously jumped on your email. Our customer service may be too responsive for our own good! :)

          Daniel Reeves wrote on March 21st, 2012
  29. Some of these might be tools that work for others, but I feel kind of ‘meh’ about them. I would never make any kind of bet, much less one that I’ll do a certain workout on a certain day or what have you. What if the day comes and I feel like going to the park for a hike instead of going to the gym? I might lose money if I chose to do the Essential Movements for my LHT at the playground or in my backyard. I’m too prone to impulse to risk money on my workout. I feel like, if I want to look and feel good, I know I’ve got to watch my diet and my exercise, and that is a reward in itself.

    Sanctus Real wrote on March 21st, 2012
  30. Oh these are neat! I am totally using the alarm clock idea and fitocracy seems like it is worth a look as well. I didn’t even know these sites existed – I wonder if I could get a poster made up of this info to post on the bulletin board at my school’s rec. center…

    Emily Mekeel wrote on March 21st, 2012
  31. hey, great list,

    I am using The Daily Challenge
    challenge.meyouhealth.com

    reminds me everyday of doing something new and exciting.

    Steven wrote on March 21st, 2012
  32. Great ideas-glad the “girls” in the office enjoy the last tool mentioned…ummm…this is 2012 and maybe they might be referred to as women? Just a thought.

    Deborah Cain wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • I’m offended by your use of the word ‘tool’ in connection with the ‘girl’s enjoyment’.

      conrack wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • Again with the ‘girls’ comment?! Next time my wife tells me she’s going out for drinks with some girlfriends I’ll be sure to correct her for you.

      Geetown Bomber wrote on March 21st, 2012
      • Yeah, I caught myself referring to a grown 30-something man the other day as a really nice “kid”. No offense meant by the use of the word “girls”. (I’d think that would go without saying.) I’m pushing 60 and just about everyone seems like a boy, girl, kid or youngster to me these days!

        And to those that will pass on one more website to have to visit, I don’t blame you. As I said in the post, these tools might not be for everyone. I for one don’t use any of them. I prefer to keep things mostly low-tech, but they might work for you.

        Mark Sisson wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • I’m guessing those of y’all offended by Mark’s use of “girls” aren’t from Texas! I’m wondering how ” ladies” plays in the rest of the country?

          Molly wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • Mark I get that we are in the habit of using diminutives for our friends, but it doesn’t mean that we should also do it in pullic. I note that your female staff themselves have said they call themselves girls around the office, just as I, a 61 year old man, call my male friends boys. But I think that when you are speaking in public women deserve the respect of not being talked about as immature females. It is innocent but it is still demeaning. Perhaps an upcoming post will discuss how the fitness world often treat women as sex objects and children by showing them in “sexy” exercise clothes or skimpy “girlish” outfits. (( Two magazines I know whose initials are MH and MF certainly do a lot of that!)

          Nigel Pottle wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • I’m offended too, because I barely function as a human being, have no sense of humor or warmth that any reasonable person would recognize, and derive my sense of self worth through a pittance of entitlement. Please apologize to me.

      John wrote on March 21st, 2012
  33. I’ve used Fatbet in the past, and have been using fitocracy recently, more to track my workouts than anything else. It’s got promise, but still seems pretty limited. I seem to have to work around it a lot to record some things. But it’s reasonably good, it’s free, and reasonably fun. Moreso, I’d say, if you had people you were competing with.

    Hal wrote on March 21st, 2012
  34. Similar to the Online Alarm Clock is a program called StretchClock ( http://www.stretchclock.com/ ). It provides 1-minute breaks for stretching at configurable intervals. Just enough to loosen up and keep going with the daily grind.

    Dave wrote on March 21st, 2012
  35. I have set myself a goal to do proper push ups-get off of my knees and pullups by my birthdayt which is in June. Im going to be 44btw. After reading this article im going to try the alarm clock system as im a real techno phobe. wish me luck its gonna hurt!!

    elaine wrote on March 21st, 2012
  36. I have book-marked several of these. Neat tools. A simple strategy for me is this–I can only have beer on workout days. If I miss a morning workout, I don’t get get the beer. I’ve considered donating $5 to a politician I hate every time I skip a workout. I’m going to use the Seinfield rule for sure!

    Daniel Wallen wrote on March 21st, 2012
  37. I love the iPhone app Way Of Life from Lars p Arendt. It comes in several languages (icon is a little calendar). Very intuitive, easy, super fast. Gives you little charts to see how you’re doing per month, by # days, and vs. other goals. You just enter “yes” or “no” for each goal each day, which shows up either red or green. Free version is same as full but I was so happy with it that I wanted to track more goals, so I bought the full version almost right off. Never a bug. 2 thumbs up for sure.

    anonnygirl wrote on March 21st, 2012
  38. …here on the web with people like MARK as a Guide >>>
    THANKS for the ONGOING AND FANTASTIC STREAM OF INFORMATION MARK!!!!!>>>
    I wonder if he heard that YAWP?>>>>

    Dave PAPA GROK Parsons wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • YAWP!!!

      Mark Sisson wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • Unconquerable Dave!!! I sent a friend to your Success Story because he reminds me of you and I want him to get INSPIRED!

      Joy Beer wrote on March 21st, 2012
  39. Another tool that I really like for just tracking is physicsdiet.com its basically just an exponential weighted average that tracks your weight with trend lines on a graph. Nothing fancy just helpful when you hit those plateaus but your “average” weight continues to decrease, has you step on the scale everyday but puts it into perspective.

    hiimrif wrote on March 21st, 2012
    • PhysicsDiet is awesome, and you might also love The Hacker’s Diet Online, based on the popular (in nerd circles) book.

      Beeminder of course also has an exponentially weighted moving average.

      Daniel Reeves wrote on March 21st, 2012
      • I will have to check out beeminder, I have just been using Physicsdiet for so long that it’s just part of my morning routine now.

        hiimrif wrote on March 21st, 2012
        • We can import all your data from physicsdiet to beeminder… :)

          Daniel Reeves wrote on March 21st, 2012
  40. Just signed up for Lose It or Lose It. Wahootie! Every dollar is precioussss to me so I certainly won’t be cheating much in the next 10 weeks.

    allie wrote on March 21st, 2012

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