Happy 2013 everyone. I hope you all had a fantastic New Years and got to kiss that special someone at midnight. In my previous post I outlined how social media may change this year and I encourage you all to give it a read and send in your opinions. But how can social media help you in 2013? Well, we all end up making some rather sane New Years resolutions but often never, ever stick to them. In fact up to 1/5 of gym members don’t actually go to the gym. They simply make the resolution, pay for the annual fee and only go once or twice. So why make resolutions at all if you’re just going to break them? Well because New Years resolutions are actually really, really good for us. It’s good to try and get healthy, to stop smoking or to try saving more money. But how can we harness the awesome power of technology and social media to bring these dreams to fruition? 

Get Fit!
Are you like me and you’ve noticed that you’ve gained a few extra kilos in the last few months? Who can blame you, really? Holidays are times of indulgence and hedonism and binge eating over Christmas is simply a way of life. As Christmas comes to an end and New Years rolls around, you often take a look at yourself in the mirror and wonder where that hot, buff, stud-muffin (or the female equivalent) went. It is then, on January 1st, that you decide that this will be the year that you get in shape. We’ve all made these resolutions before (and collectively spent billions of dollars at the gym) but we just never seem to keep them. Yet now, in the age of social media and smartphones, it’s easier than ever to keep in shape for the fraction of a personal trainer.

Tracking: What better way to know exactly how much exercise you’re getting (or not getting) than by tracking your every move. There are a few different types of tracking programs and technologies that help you understand exactly how many calories you’re burning just by walking to work vs going in by car. I use the FitBit One which is clipped onto my person at all times. It tracks how many steps I’ve taken, how many floors I’ve climbed (a surprisingly compelling way to get you to take the stairs rather than the elevator), how many calories I’ve burned and if I’ve managed to reach my daily goal limit of X number of steps. It all ties together in a great little iPhone and web app. The web app has a intuitive dashboard that shows you everything in a bright and easy to understand series of graphs.

There are two main competitors to the FitBit One. The Nike FuelBand and the Jawbone Up both of these are wristbands rather than a pedometer like the FitBit One (though FitBit has shown off its upcoming FitBit Flex will be released in mid-2013) and are designed to be worn at all times…even in the shower. Whilst there are most certainly some benefits to the wristband approach I prefer the FitBit One because it gives more options than the others and have always preferred a naked wrist (though I may end up getting one of the new Pebble Watches sometime this year).

But what if you didn’t want to spend that kind of money? Well there are scores of apps that can do the job for you.

I’m a huge fan of the Runtastic school of apps. I’ve bought all of them (even the pull-up app despite not having an adequate bar to pull up on anywhere near me). The apps all cost less than $5 and are excellent at tracking and reminding you to run, do push-ups, sit-ups, squats and pull-ups. All of these are the most basic exercises you need to stay healthy and fit. I personally chose to spend $25 to upgrade to Gold Membership though this isn’t a requirement. The slew of non-running apps by Runtastic help even the most passive individual get started on the road to good health.

But what about motivation? This is where the social aspects of these apps comes into play. There’s nothing worse about exercising alone. It’s always better to exercise with friends. In fact it’s been prove that those who exercise with friends are more likely to lose more weight. They are motivated by their friends, held accountable, hold friendly competitions and can often expand their social circle. But how does this translate into the online world? Well Fitocracy is the answer.

An online social network which allows you to compete with friends and earn a variety of points for various exercises, Fitocracy, brings gaming and social elements to those who are often leading more sedentary lifestyles.  It’s a great way to track how much you’re losing in a fun environment.

The greatest danger of technology is that it is making us live a lifestyle chained to our desks. Whilst our ancestors used to toil in feeds and walk everywhere we are spending all our time sitting in front of various screens. But if technology is the problem then technology can be the solution. All of these different apps and services can help you keep those bellies flat. You’ve got to want it but it’s always nice to know that you’re not alone.