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Four phone apps to kick off your New Year's resolutions

So: New Year, new you! Whether you want to lose weight, get fitter, win races or simply change your lifestyle here are a few apps to help you kick-start your season.

My Fitness Pal

The idea of calorie counting is nothing new but who wants to go keeping a diary laboriously by hand when you can scan in everything you eat with your phone’s built in camera? My Fitness Pal uses a quick questionnaire to give you a suggested daily calorie intake. Everything you eat goes into the daily diary.

Many items can simply be scanned into the phone (using the camera as a bar code scanner), entered by hand or you can search a database to add foods. It doesn’t only count calories though, the app also catalogues your carbohydrate, fibre, protein, fat (saturated, trans etc) and mineral intake to give you more of a balanced understanding of what you are actually consuming.

This app is fantastic for teaching you the importance of what you put in your mouth. You would be amazed at how crucial portion control is. After using this I weigh my muesli, pasta etc daily and I am a lot more aware of what goes on my plate. Lighter you means less mass to haul around on your bike. Not much point having a super light weight bike if you can’t match it.

Exercise can be traded off against calories burned with a whole host of activities to choose from. Rock climbing is even listed with an associated calorie burn per hour. Incidentally this can either be estimated by the app or input manually if you use a heart rate monitor when training.

The first thing to realize is that low calorie foods do not equal the best foods to eat, so it is not an exact science. But, on the flip side you will quickly see that certain brands or types of food stuffs are better than others and, most importantly, how portion control can make a huge difference.

As someone with a sweet tooth, this has been invaluable to me in learning how much I can and should eat of something. Seriously, 2-3 chocolates are often as much as a big bowl of pasta!

Cost: Free from the Apple app store and the Android marketplace.

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