CheapyKeen

Exploring ideas for affordable, sustainable, enjoyable living.

Free Fitness Logs

There are many great online resources for diet and exercise tracking.  I’ve been exploring some of the free ones, and thought I’d share my reviews.

For GPS tracking of my outdoor workouts, I’ve been really happy with the CardioTrainer smartphone app.  It provides real-time data on steps, speed, distance, calories burned, plots my route on a nice street map, and would apparently integrate with my in-phone music library (if I had one).  I was much less impressed with the affiliated Noom application for diet tracking.  It would be great for anyone who wants to characterize a meal by size (small, medium, large) and color (green for healthy, red for unhealthy, yellow for in-between), but I found that to be far too subjective to be useful.

My new favorite online food diary is myfitnesspal.com.  It also has downloadable smartphone apps that work seamlessly with the main website.   The database for the food diary is extensive, and it is also simple to add your own foods or quickly log calories only.  The fitness tracker is equally efficient:  just tell it what you did and for how long, and it calculates your calories burned.  There are also handy tools, a blog, and message boards to help keep you on track.  The best part, however, is the instant gratification I get when I log my exercise and it immediately increases my daily limit for food calories by the amount that I just burned.  Bring on the cheesecake!  😉

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Kid Safety Tips

One of the greatest tips I’ve heard lately is so simple, and yet could make all the difference.  On your way out the door to take the kids to the park, the fair, or any other public place, pause for a moment and take a photo of each of them (use your cell phone, if you always keep it with you).  That way, should you get separated, you have a current picture of each child, including what they’re wearing that day.

This also works for pet owners.  There’s probably no need to take a picture of your dog every time you go out for a walk, but it’s a good idea to have a current, clear picture of each animal.  For pets, I’d also suggest trying to get a picture that doesn’t show the collar, or any other unique feature that would be known only to your family.  These details can be used to identify the true owner by someone who might find your lost pet.

While we’re on the topic, it’s also a good idea to prepare a child identification kit, to help in the search if the worst happens and your child goes missing.  Many schools and police stations hold events to help prepare identification kits.  You can also order kits from a variety of online sources, which typically include materials and instructions for collecting and storing your child’s fingerprints and DNA swabs, as well as a recent photo.  These kits may help to guide you in assembling all of the materials and information, but it is also possible to put together a kit at home.

A fingerprint card can be made using an ink pad, cardstock, and a little bit of practice.  For DNA samples, simply take two sterile cotton swabs and rub them on the inside of the child’s cheek (saliva is full of DNA), then allow them to dry and store them in a tape-sealed paper envelope…just be sure that the cotton ends are not handled by anyone else (before or after DNA collection), and don’t lick-seal the envelope, or they could end up producing a mixed DNA profile that would be much less useful to law enforcement.  To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to wear clean gloves while collecting the samples (that way your DNA won’t rub off on the swab sticks and potentially transfer to the cotton ends during storage).

These sites have more information on making your own Child ID kits:

http://www.ehow.com/how_8338341_make-photo-id-4yearold-child.html

http://www.ehow.com/how_4540932_make-child-id-kit.html

Leave a comment »

Free Campsite Finder

Camping is one of my all-time favorite vacation activities. Unfortunately, the price of campsite rentals has really skyrocketed.  I remember spending one summer as a kid road-tripping with my family and camping all along the way.  With a membership to a national campground chain, we could find a site almost anywhere for $8.00 per night.  Not anymore.  Many sites now range from $25.00 to $50.00 (US) per night.  In some places, it’s actually cheaper to rent a motel room.  That’s why I’m so excited about freecampsites.net.  The site has interactive maps for finding free and cheap campsites throughout the United States and Canada.

http://freecampsites.net/usa/

Leave a comment »