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Click your way to a slimmer summer body
7:00am Saturday 7th April 2012 in AdXtra
Spring has arrived and with it comes the dread of peeling off the layers in time for the summer sunshine. Emma Everingham discovers the best websites and phone apps for losing weight and feeling fabulous.
Springtime is here, which means it's time to start thinking about getting in shape for the summer. But if you're fed up with the gym and diets, check out these handy websites and phone apps to help you look and feel fabulous in time for holiday season.
Get motivated Get Fit Health Manager, £6.50/month, www.getfitwellness.com They say: It's an interactive online fitness programme which acts as a personalised virtual fitness instructor, even sending you encouraging emails to keep you motivated.
We say: Health Manager's a pretty nifty website if you're worried about a specific health problem, or you've got a diet and fitness goal you want to achieve. You start by doing a lifestyle quiz, which summarises what's good and bad and suggests areas you might want to work on. It'll also do a variety of other things - from devising a fitness plan tailored to you, to helping you get a better night's sleep. It's especially good for those who don't know much about diet and fitness.
Rating: 9/10 Time for some relaxation Total Relaxation by Darren Marks, £1.99 for Android and iPhones, www.apple.com They say: A powerful hypnosis session for deep relaxation by Darren Marks, one of the UK's leading hypnotherapists and trainers, plus video interviews and relaxation tips.
We say: Wowsers! If you're stressed out, or need calming down, this app is a must! It's a hypnosis session for relaxation, and comes complete with soothing music and Marks's expert tuition on how to de-stress. Head to a quiet place, stick your headphones in, and prepare to be soothed. It's a little bit strange having the additional videos on your phone, but you don't need to watch them - just listen to the music and you'll soon be calmed.
Rating: 8/10 Virtual bootcamp British Military Fitness: My Fitness Instructor, £2.99 for iPhones, www.apple.com They say: British Military Fitness: My Fitness Instructor is a real-time fitness trainer in your pocket. Set up your workout and you'll be vocally led through a session by a motivational instructor. Whether you want to get ripped, or just feel healthier, they'll be with you every step, helping you reach your fitness goals.
We say: Talk about a workout! There are thousands of exercise programmes to choose from and you can monitor your heart rate as you go. Watch demo videos to see how much pain you're going to put yourself through, and get motivational encouragement from your trainer. This isn't the most amazing phone fitness app, but it's certainly cheaper than a bootcamp!
Rating: 8/10 One for the road?
iDrinkMore Pro, 69p for the iPhone, www.apple.com They say: It's a fun, blood alcohol content calculator which will constantly update during your night out to let you know just how much you're under the influence.
We say: We thought this app magically updated with every drink you had, but no, you have to input it all yourself - and try doing that after a few! If you add your height and weight, it can calculate just how much of an effect those G&Ts are having on your body. It also has a nifty function that tells you how much alcohol is still in your body the morning after (however, it does state very clearly it's not for legal use). If they added how many calories each drink had, it would be fab.
Rating: 6/10 Keep on track Nike+ GPS, £1.49 for iPhones, www.apple.com They say: Map your runs, track your progress and get the motivation you need to go even further.
We say: What a clever little app! We planned runs with the map feature (the GPS is a brilliant idea), and you get feedback during your run to tell you how you're doing. Plus, you can also show off your runs on Facebook and Twitter. If you're a runner, or you're just attempting to get fit, this is the app for you. However, if you keep the GPS on while you're running, it can drastically reduce the battery on your phone.
Rating: 8/10 DIY remedies Home Remedies, free for Android phones, http://market.android.com They say: Natural home remedies are safe and useful for many common ailments. Learn how you can use natural cures to replace many of the widely used, over-the-counter drugs to treat common ailments.
We say: This handy app would be ideal for the budding naturalist out there. It covers all sorts of ailments, from heartburn to hair loss, or morning sickness to motion sickness. It does state the obvious from time to time (cures for a nosebleed include pinching your nose), but it has some interesting home remedies for snoring (force yourself to sleep on your side by sewing tennis balls into the back of your clothes), and drinking carrot juice to prevent varicose veins.
Rating: 8/10 Points plan Weight Watchers Points Plus Diary & Scanner, £1 for Android, http://android.market.com They say: This is the best app to help you stay on track with your diet.
We say: You'll find lots of useful tools on this app. The Weight Watchers app has the ability to scan a product and tell you how many points it has, which is really handy when you're doing a weekly shop! Other features include a points calculators, a restaurant database so you can get points while on the move, and a daily reminder to make sure you update your points.
Rating: 10/10 Tried & tested Getting a good night's sleep can make the world of difference but have you ever wondered what happens when your head hits the pillow? Ruth Harrison tested the latest app that promises to track your sleep, Zeo Sleep Manager Mobile.
What is it?
Zeo Sleep Manager Mobile is a device that monitors your sleep patterns during the night, tracking your sleep stages and sleep quality. A wireless headband tracks your brainwaves as you sleep and information is sent using Bluetooth back to your smartphone. You can then upload your sleep data to the website to receive coaching tips to help improve sleep quality.
What's it like?
The land of nod: it's an elusive place. I've always been interested in what happens when your head hits the pillow, so, when given the opportunity to test out an app which promised to unlock sleep's darkest secrets, I jumped at it.
Setting the Zeo Sleep Manager up is simple enough, but one thing to note is that it currently only works if you have an iPhone or Android smartphone.
First, slot the headband on to the dock to let it charge for a few hours. Once it's fully charged, download the Zeo app and pair the headband with your Bluetooth on your smartphone.
When you're ready for bed, slip on the headband, plug in your phone and launch the app.
I found that it took a few nights to get used to wearing the headband - I couldn't decide whether I had it too tight or too loose. And although soft and comfortable, it's easy to feel a little like an escaped Dalek.
After getting over the initial shock of waking up, it was exciting to see just how well I'd done at sleep.
A graph plots how much sleep you got overall, as well as light sleep, deep sleep, REM, and how often your snoring boyfriend has woken you up during the night.
You're also given a ZQ score to rate your night's sleep. I was pleased to find out that my score was above average - and surprised to learn that most nights I slept right through.
If you're worried about your sleep quality, or wondering how that tenth cup of coffee is affecting you, the Zeo Sleep Manager Mobile is an excellent tool to help you secure the perfect night's sleep.
By setting up a personal account on the website and uploading your sleep data, you'll receive daily emails and a seven-step coaching programme that encourages you to set targets - such as ditching that extra cup of coffee - to help improve your sleep.
There's nothing more important than getting a good night's sleep and knowing that I'd taken active steps to improve my sleep quality, certainly allowed me to rest easy.
:: Information: Zeo Sleep Manager Mobile £89. For more information or to buy visit, www.myzeo.co.uk