It's officially fall, which means one very exciting thing: It's no longer bikini season!
With bundling up in comfy sweaters, sipping on PSLs (or Toasted Graham Lattes -- whichever floats your boat) and watching the leaves change color outside your window, we get why health and fitness would take a backseat.
There's so much delicious food to eat, so much cuddling to do and so few reasons to wear a bikini.
But staying in shape this fall is still probably a good idea.
Keeping up with healthy habits will make you happier, prevent the "it's almost bikini season" panic and ensure you look awesome in a little black dress should any formal winter occasions come up.
Not convinced? Well, what if we told we've figured out a way to make staying healthy through fall and winter really easy?
Nope, it's not a super expensive Apple Watch or even a FitBit.
A free fitness app will do the trick. Still skeptical? We have the inside scoop from fitness experts on why they work so damn well.
They help you change your habits.
If you're not familiar with the magic of the fitness app, here's how most of them work: You track your physical activity (sometimes the app does that for you) and log what you eat.
You usually have a goal -- maybe you simply want to maintain your weight, maybe you want to lose a few pounds.
Whatever the case, your fitness app will keep you on track to achieving your goal by letting you know how many calories you should be eating a day and how much you should be exercising.
Kat Ellis, head trainer at Uplift Studios in New York City, told Elite Daily that one of the reasons these apps are so effective is that they build new habits surrounding food and exercise.
Most of the time, losing weight is not just about lowering the number on the scale. It's about changing behaviors, both physically and mentally, which leads to a healthier lifestyle. Apps help you do just that. They give you a tangible tool that allows you to change your behavior. In tracking your progress, you develop a habit of understanding what works for your body. Before you know it, you won't even need to think about choosing a more nutritious option at a restaurant or going for a run. It'll be second nature.
Kev Dineen, a trainer at Structure Personal Fitness, adds fitness trackers are great for building awareness.
He tells Elite Daily,
Most people have no idea how many calories they eat, how many calories are in a specified food or how many calories they should be eating.
Sadly, you're probably eating more calories than you think you are. But that's what your fitness tracker is for!
Here's what you should watch out for.
Like anything, fitness apps can fail if you don't use them correctly. One thing Ellis cautions against is getting too obsessive.
She tells Elite Daily,
Fixating on calorie counting, a number on a scale, or your max heart rate takes away from understanding the behavioral change. Those last five pounds will always be there, that max calorie burn will always seem unattainable and you'll forget the fact that you walked in the door to workout. That's the hardest part, and doing so always deserves serious props.
Strength coach Joy Victoria tells Elite Daily the numbers should really just be a jumping off point, saying,
Tracking numbers is just one tool to use to help us nail down the process we need to get success.
Obesity doctor Spencer Nadolsky notes another way people get tripped up is when they don't accurately track their food intake.
One of the biggest mistakes, though, is not understanding serving sizes because the tracking won't be accurate.
Make sure you're honest about those portions. If you had two orders of fries, don't just enter one!
So, which one should you download?
There are tons of free fitness apps out there, but Ellis, Dineen and Nadolsky all recommend My Fitness Pal. Additionally, Ellis recommends Hot 5 and Nike Training if you want to focus more on exercise.
Now that you have the tools and information you need, go forth and start tracking your food intake and fitness.
You'll thank us when all your friends are on juice cleanses in May.