Back in April, when I started this whole “hey, maybe I shouldn’t die” kick (again), I joined a site called Achievemint, which connects to your various apps and websites, tracks your health-and-wellness activities, and awards you points. Points which, once you accumulate enough of them, translate into a modest little check ($25). $25 is not much money, but it’s motivating for things that I should be doing anyway.
There are apps for sleep tracking, mental health, remembering pills, blood sugar tests, insulin shots, and so forth. There are apps I’ve connected but keep forgetting to use (FourSquare, I’m looking at you!) However, in 8 months, I’ve racked up 20,000 points, and am looking to hit 25K sometime early next year.
To connect, you either have a web-based app, like MyFitnessPal or Twitter, where you either go into your app profile or click the “Connect” button on Achievemint. For mobile apps, you open the app’s preferences, where there’s usually a place to enter your Achievemint username and connect both accounts.
Here are some of my favorite connected apps, and how I use them to reinforce the routines and habits that help me get healthy:
- Monitor Your Weight – Everyone says “don’t weigh yourself every day!” Well, those people don’t get 10 points a day for doing so! Interestingly, I see this one isn’t available anymore in the “Discovery” area– I wonder if that’s going away soon.
- Fitbit – I own a Fitbit. I bought it for $20 at the REI garage sale, which was totally worth it. I wear it every day, and it just tracks my steps/miles/calories expended for me. It’s an extremely passive thing– all I have to do is clip it to my bra in the morning and remember to move it to my sports bra before I go workout. I still get a kick out of seeing my # of steps on Fitbit, though. In a way, my fitness journey has been a lot of “numbers porn.” Points are based on how many steps you take.
- RunDouble and RunKeeper – depending on my workout, I will turn one of these on before I start, go for my run, and when I stop, the app automatically hits the Achievemint servers with my earned points, as well as cross-posting to Facebook. Points are based on how far you run/walk/ski/bike/whatever.
- Twitter – Every time I have a fitness-related post on Twitter (like this one being cross-linked from my blog), it hits the Achievemint server and gives me 5 points!
- MyFitnessPal – This one is relatively new to the Achievemint profile, but a very welcome addition! It’s a food tracker (web and mobile app) which I have used almost every day since August 1, even on the days when I ate (or, realistically, drank) over 2200 calories. You don’t have to eat at a deficit to get your points– just tracking is sufficient. 30 points, twice a day.
- Foursquare – Oh, I have utterly failed on FourSquare. So, here’s how it was set up when I first started: You earned points when you checked in at the gym. That’s cool, except I didn’t have a gym. I linked and installed anyway, because you never know when I might get dragged off to a yoga class. In fact, I was dragged to a yoga class, but did I remember to checkin? No. About a month ago, I noticed that Achievemint had changed their guidelines, and I could have been earning points for going to the park to run! Or for going to the doctor! Or “a salad bar” (I can only assume they mean a place like Sweet Tomatoes). Or, of course, the gym. So I checked in at the UNLV Rec Center, except Foursquare on my phone hates my GPS and it couldn’t find the rec center, so it checked me in as being at some completely random place. I’ve been to the gym since then, but again– I forget to check in. Oh, well– this might be one that I keep and never actually use.
No idea how many points it’s worth– probably about 10-20 per checkin.Finally got this to work last night– 65 points for checking in at the gym. And I remembered why I hate it– the Foursquare app is abysmal and slow on Android.
- Sleepy – I stopped using it, because my sleep problems can’t be addressed with an app that makes me click when I go to sleep, and click when I wake up. There is no real “insomniac” mode, nor is there a “my cat is a jerk” mode. 20 points per night.
So, the inevitable question is probably something like “don’t you feel uncomfortable having all your data mined like that?” I don’t know– on the one hand, Achievemint is probably selling my data– theirs isn’t a subscription model, after all, so if you aren’t paying for the product, then you are the product. And on the other hand, what is actually happening is that, over the past 8 months, I’ve adapted my routines and habits to include exercise, diet tracking, and regularly focusing on my health. I’ve lost a little weight, gained a lot of strength and endurance, and can run up the stairs and leave the last slice of pie alone. That might be worth being “monetized” for a while, yeah.