eliminate self-sabotage with health apps

May 23, 2010

in health communication,mobile health,social media,wellness

as i’ve written before, my parents were a bit odd about their dietary habits. my dad, in particular, struggled with besting his more unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. in a story that’s become family lore, he once took the gun he owned for self-protection (he was a psychiatrist and a patient had threatened him) and shot the refrigerator for its sirens’ call. nobody witnessed it, as none of us were living with him at the time, but the refrigerator hole, artfully hidden behind a dieting finger-wag magnet, bore silent testimony.

shocking, sure. but reach deep inside and tell me you wouldn’t, at times, want to throttle the habits that keep you from reaching your goals. or virtually kill them.

today we have tech-smart ways to do just that.

for example, i’ve been playing with loseit!, an app that lets me find new exercises for targeted areas of my body, track my workouts, and share them with others. i’ve been using it for a while now, and what i’ve noticed is that it drives me to do a few more reps, up the amount of weights, and add a few more variations to the routine i’ve been doing for the past 20+ years. it gives me a visual swift kick in the ass that shames me—or motivates me, depending on my perspective on that particular day—to do more. i haven’t tried the social aspect of it, which allows me to share my information with others and form exercise buddies who’ll serve as an extra layer of motivation. i’m a bit too independent an exerciser to do that, so lucky for me there’s another tech solution that might do the trick: health txts.

with health txts, i can receive random motivational tips throughout the day or schedule reminder texts for particular times of day. i can also write my own messages, letting me act as my own behavioral nudge (pronounced nooj, not nuj, in this case). that means i send myself texts at my weak moments: 10:00 a.m., when i know i’m supposed to hit the gym. 10:30 a.m., when i want to leave the gym. and so on. with the help of health txts, i can outsmart myself, as long as i’m willing to listen. and recent research shows that just a call (or a text) works wonders in getting us to stick with our commitments and push ourselves.

i’m going to play with health txts over the next few weeks and see what i think. i’ll let you know if i pick up the family mantle and shoot my phone.


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