The only proven successful way to be healthy, fit and nutritionally sound is to develop a strong balance in the way you live your life, how you eat, play and work.  And if some of us need a little outside influence or help to get there, so be it.

No matter how much we argue this point – we care what people think of us and are influenced by their perceptions of us.  The countless times I hear that someone is not impacted by what others say or think about them, I know there is at least some element of untruth to that statement. With exercise, diet, health and nutrition – one of the best motivators is being accountable to others. If you leave most people (and I say most because I know there are committed individuals out there too) to their own devices, they would probably fall off their healthy choices fast.  Bring in others to the mix – those that are vested in your results or are witnessing your journey – and the stakes completely change.  In fact, you can leave them to their own smartphone devices and watch what happens.

Haven’t we seen and read so much about the “buddy system” being a better way for people to stick to long-term exercise and a balanced, regimented nutritional lifestyle?  People almost always succeed with their goals when family members eat healthy with alongside them.

Today, we have smartphones.  Enter those neat little apps bombarding our smartphone devices with a storm.  It doesn’t matter if you have an Android, an iPhone, BlackBerry or anything else – have you browsed through some of these lately?  There are apps to help you count your steps (bye-bye pedometer), log your calories, track your weight loss and even design a specific targeted workout for you.  You’ll find these nifty little programs that are so easy to use and almost addictive at our fingertips.

In my quest to get anybody and everybody motivated to get up, fess up and take control of their lives, I thought it would be useful to share some of the most popular apps.  They are helping people to get and stay in control of their healthy lives.

Lose It!

This app is perfect for people that want to keep track of all their weight loss data and get recognized for their achievements as well.  Like most health websites these days, smartphone access is part of the extended features of Lose It!, allowing people to quickly and easily use their account while on the go. This app is unique in that you can track nutrients (as in proteins, carbs, etc.) not just foods, earn success badges and it has barcode scanning as well. You can even set up daily/weekly email reports and get reminders for any meals you missed tracking.

You get all this without paying anything.

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is an online tool that allows you to track calories and exercise amounts then compare them against your weight loss or fitness maintenance goals.  Users register and then are able to access their accounts on their iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, iPad or Windows Phone.  A huge database of foods, both conventional and from restaurant establishments by name or brand allows people to find most of what they are eating and keep track of it.  Among the most popular features, the ability to input exercise by specific type is most liked, giving people flexibility within their own program.

This app doesn’t cost you a dime.

LIVESTRONG

The calorie counter offered by LIVESTRONG supports BlackBerry user interface and like the others, allows you to see where you are in your fitness goal for the day based on calorie intake and exercise output.  This is also part of the overall health and fitness tool LIVESTRONG.com and provides anyone lacking in self-control the “push” to keep on track.

There is a one-time download fee of $2.99.

Fitness Pro

This is a great application for anyone except hardcore fitness buffs.  And I only say that because the level of detail may not challenge the very serious gym goers.  Still, with a comprehensive description of all the major exercises, including how to use proper form while doing each – this is a pretty cool app.  Users can log all their fitness activity and even customize their workout tracking my muscle.

Downloading this one doesn’t cost a penny.

FitnessBuilder

Now comes something for those fitness buffs I mentioned earlier.  Compatible with iPhones and Androids, this app houses a ton of serious fitness routines – all in a variety of combinations that the user can customize to their own needs.  It is complex and fairly difficult to get the hang of it but is the perfect app for people that want to find targeted routines to suit their specific goals.

It’s expensive but users say it’s worth the $9.99.

MapMyWALK

Active people that walk all day long but have no idea just how much they walk will benefit from this app. Tracking the number of steps covered while taking into consideration speed and distance – it is ideal for walkers, runners and hikers. Users can measure and save their routes and have the option to add geotags to those routes.  A heart rate monitor can also be integrated into the tool, which is accessible to iPhone, Android and BlackBerry users

At $1.99 it’s worth trying it out.

We know that the American Heart Association reported on a study that demonstrated people opting for smartphone technology as opposed to traditional methods are actually more motivated to get in shape.  In fact, people using these tools were reportedly doing better than non-users in everything from meeting daily calorie goals, keeping up with exercise, monitoring daily fat intake and taking part in group support sessions.

The results are so significant that the stalwart organization created their own app called Walking Paths and it’s available for iPhone or Android. How much does it cost for the motivation and accountability you get with it?

Absolutely free.

Now there really are no excuses for not fighting obesity and staying in shape.