Prev Next
Exercise with iPhone Apps

Losing It, With Your iPhone

By Amalah

Like practically every other human being on Earth, I own an iPhone. It’s helping me get into the best shape of my life.

Now: I also own a very dusty and neglected Wii Fit — a thing I wanted so badly to love, especially after giving birth, but I didn’t. The hula hooping was fun for a little bit, and I rented a variety of workout games and gave them a shot. I didn’t lose any weight, didn’t notice any changes in my lumpy postpartum-ness, and generally found that I got bored of the games and workouts fairly quickly. Just like I got bored of each and every one of the workout DVDs currently cluttering up a shelf in my house — I’m just not really good at anything that keeps me tethered to the TV and a small space in my living room.

Bounce Back ArchivesThe iPhone changed all that. Well, the iPhone, a few apps and a velcro armband.

I bought a Couch to 5K app (there are a few of them, and they all seem to do the job — I use the one by Felt Tip Inc.) and a few godawful guilty pleasure workout songs and started running around a big field near our house. Select that day’s workout and the app works over the iPod and cuts in with prompts to walk, run, tells you when you’re halfway, etc. That’s it. That’s all it does. It’s brilliant.

The rush of realizing that I could RUN, and LOVE IT, and get BETTER at it sent me back to the App Store to see what else I could do. And lo, you can do everything. Free workout music podcasts and ready-to-go playlists (just go to the “Fitness & Workout” category and click around until you find a mix to your tastes). Calorie counters and diet trackers. Weight Watchers. There’s a free Couch to 5K podcast (Robert Ulley’s Podcasts for Running) to use as an alternative to the app and your own iPod music. Honestly, if there’s a specific type of exercise or fitness routine you like, there’s probably a way to break it down into reasonable, achievable goals right there on your phone. When you’re bored or killing time somewhere, open the app and view your progress — even if you’re still wearing maternity pants on occasion, it’s nice to remember how you felt on Day One vs. Day Seven, or how good it felt that day you skipped the Pop-Tarts in favor of a healthy smoothie.

(Not completely related to fitness but for new breastfeeding mothers: there’s a handful of apps that allow you to keep nursing logs, set timers, note which side baby nursed from last, even ones with complete reference tools for what medications you can and cannot take while nursing. I never even realized these things existed when Ezra was born so I haven’t personally used them, but MAN, I wish I’d had something like that, instead of relying on a worksheet from the hospital, my brain and a bracelet I only sometimes remembered to move from wrist to wrist.)

Using the Couch to 5K app and a (very silly, very one- or two-time use) free app called Portion Control that shows what the correct portion size of food looks like (i.e. your side of rice or pasta should be similar in size and volume of a bar of soap — anything more and you’re actually eating too much), I’ve lost about 18 pounds and am wearing clothes that haven’t fit since before I had a baby. My FIRST baby. Who is almost FIVE YEARS OLD.

Since I love the gradual, progressive nature of the Couch to 5K program, I’ve added two similar apps for my non-running days: 200 Sit-Ups and Hundred Push-Ups. If I can stick with them, in six weeks I should be able to do exactly what the app names suggest: 200 sit-ups and 100 push-ups. For added incentive, I’ve strategically arranged the icons for maximum self-nagging: Right in-between the Chipotle online ordering app and Plants vs. Zombies.

If you don’t own an iPhone or smartphone, checkout other strategies for postpartum exercise that worked for our friends.

Click here for the Bounce Back archives.


Published June 9, 2010. Last updated July 22, 2017.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

icon icon
chat bubble icon


  • Jen

    June 9, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Congrats on the new bod! It’s so inspiring to hear your story, and about the options available through smartphones.
    I will be bookmarking this for 6 months down the road after my little one is born. How soon can I return to a regular workout schedule after the baby is born? My guess is to just listen to your body and start off slowly?

  • jodifur

    June 9, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    I’m doing couch to 5k also, but a different app. I’m just so jealous you like it. I hate it, but I do it. Maybe I should try yours.

  • Stephanie

    June 9, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I love Plants vs. Zombies. My husband, mom, and I played it sooo much leading up to the days before my baby was born and then again anytime she took a nap. It’s not quite as fun on the iPhone, but still a winner on planes. I’ve been trying to get these last five pounds off from my pregnancy and have majorly stagnated, so will try some of these apps.
    Congrats on all your weight loss – very inspiring.

  • Jaymee

    June 9, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    I’m glad that you are working out and all, that’s fantastic. Congrats on that. However, I felt like this wasn’t a very good post. It was as if you are being paid to advertize the iPhone. Practically every other human being on earth does not own an iPhone. In fact most people don’t own iPhones. This entire post has icky sales person vibes. I feel like you are trying to tell me to go buy an iPhone and I don’t like that. I’m sorry, that’s just how I feel. You don’t need an iPhone or anything to do the CT5K program. You can find it all over the internet, and it’s not hard to time it yourself.

  • jen

    June 9, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    I agree that it’s awesome you’re working out and that you’ve found a method that works for you. I think that’s the thing, Jaymee–the tech-y hype of an i-phone app might actually be an accessible means of exercise for some people, and if it works, then use it.

    You’re also right though that couch to 5k programs are easily found online and all one really needs is some paper to record your progress, a dollar-store timer, and a good running surface. That’s how I did it, and it worked wonders for me. Cost? Maybe $4.

  • Melissa

    June 10, 2010 at 1:54 am

    I feel like responding after that last comment. I am a long time follower, but commenting for the first time. As a mom to a 3 month old, I actually enjoyed this post. Yes, I have an iPhone….and for the most part so does everyone I know. So, this was a revelant topic from a mom who has given us countless reviews on what has and hasn’t worked for her. While I might not always agreed (kiddopotamus I heart you and all your sleep through the night swaddling)…this is generally a great reference for new moms. I had actually been wondering about that app and will probably give it a shot to lose that last ten pounds based off this review. Oh, and I’m posting this with my iPhone…so there.

  • Ulla

    June 10, 2010 at 7:04 am

    Man, I wish I was rich enough to buy an iphone… I’m a runner, or used to be, and that sounds like a great app. I’m trying to get started running again but because of the car that mangled my foot last october it HURTS in more ways then is normal, I’d love a voice telling me where I am in the workout so I could go into some sort of meditative state where pain doesn’t exist.
    Instead I have my mp3 player with “what have you done today to make your feel prrrrooouud!” playing at the hard bits.I would love an iphone. So jealous.

  • Isabel


    June 10, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Hi all,

    Jumping in here on the whole conversation about “why a post about an iPhone when most people don’t own one.”

    First of all we have already discussed postpartum exercise (it’s listed in the “related posts”) and I’ll link to it in the actual post now. Second, the reality is that the iPhone is an economy unto itself and has been a game changer leading to innovation that many of us are benefiting from in mobile technologies and smart phones. Heck there are entire magazines dedicated to reviewing apps built for the iPhone, and now iPad. Print magazines and web publications dedicate articles and entire issues to listing their favorite apps. It’s kinda standard now that the iPhone has been around for 3 years (I know!!!) and a gagillion apps have been sold.

    We weren’t sponsored by Apple, nor any of the developers (we would have disclosed that). In fact, I asked Amy to edit her draft post and list which specific apps she uses because people want to know that stuff when it comes to apps. As someone lucky enough to own an iPhone, I see it as value-added. (I want her sit-up & push-up app!)

    Anyhow, as always, there will be times when some posts won’t hit the mark for you and others will. We hope it’s overwhelming the latter.

    However, I do appreciate the passionate responses. It means you care. So, thank you. You support does mean the world to us and we’re listening.


  • Ms. K

    June 10, 2010 at 9:49 am

    @Isabel, thanks for the explanation. I’m glad that you are not being sponsored by Apple. And I’m glad that iPhone apps work for a lot of people. However, both the post and your explanation sound like you and Amalah are still in the dazzle of the Reality Distortion Field (i.e. the Steve Jobs aura that makes the impossible seem possible and the ordinary seem desirable…)

    personally, I’m with Jaymee on this. I don’t own an iPhone, I know lots of people who don’t, and writing a whole blog post – on a blog supposedly about postpartum issues – kvelling over a cell phone is strangely off-topic and commercial.

  • Dawn

    June 10, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I don’t own an iPhone, have no desire for one but that doesn’t make it any less interesting to me in how someone was able to achieve postpartum weight loss goals using it. Like all of Amy’s columns, she is listing what works for her. And what works for her is using this remarkable technology to keep her on track. I respect that and admire that. SHE FOUND SOMETHING THAT WORKS FOR HER. Could it have been worded differently, sure, but if you are a long time reader then you know that this is how she ‘talks’. It’s what we love about her. I’m no psychologist but it seems *maybe* that those who are offended might have the teensiest bit of longing for one? Just sayin’ cause sour grapes are often the manifestation of jealousy.

  • Sheila

    June 10, 2010 at 10:50 am

    I don’t have an iPhone but I didn’t find this the least bit off-topic. Amy seems to be saying that, like many of us, she was finding it hard to get motivated to exercise and get back in shape. She had tried the Wii, she had tried DVDs, but nothing got her excited enough to stick with it. But then she found some neat iPhone apps, and for her, that has worked.

    To me, this post is a great starting point for what could be a lot of helpful comments. For those of us who don’t have iPhones, what OTHER things have we found to get us motivated to exercise? For me, it’s been meeting up with two other moms who I met at daycare when we breastfed our babies over lunch. We take our kids to the park once a week and push each other to walk faster than we would on our own.

    I know people can get different impressions from the same post, but I feel bad for Amy here. Anyone who has read her for even a short while should know that she does not mean “Like practically every other human being on Earth” seriously.

  • Jen

    June 10, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Passionate responses! You gals are right, not everyone owns (or wants to own) an iPhone. However, as Isabel mentioned, Apple is a game changing leader. The success of Apple’s App Store has driven other smartphone companies to develop similar app stores to get a piece of the pie. Check out BlackBerry’s App World, Android’s Market and Ovi for Nokia devices. Each of these app stores feature inexpensive (sometimes free!) apps created to promote healthy lifestyles. Happy downloading!

  • Ulla

    June 10, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Wow with the negativity. Strange how it pops up with this subject? I mean, Amy has written about things before that not everybody will benefit from – cloth diapers, for example, there have been many posts about those – and I wonder why the Iphone is less acceptable to write about?
    And anyway, not everything has to be completely applicable to your life. I read Amys column and I don’t even have a baby (nor am I pregnant). No need to get snippy about it just because you don’t like the product.
    Now if you’ll excuse me I have to research the Iphone to see if I can possibly afford one because DAYUM.

  • Kevin (The Girl)

    June 10, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I am with Sheila, whether you have an iphone or not is irrelevant. Amalah was sharing with us what worked for her and what didn’t. Great comments would be to comment on what things have gotten you motivated to workout and stick with it? I am pregnant with my first and would love to hear some suggestions on different things to try once my little presshus is here. In the past picking certain class times at the gym and going to those has worked for me. Not sure if it will be as motivating as it was in the past once baby gets here or not.
    And if anyone cares…I currently do not have an iphone either but I will be one of the nerds pre-ordering the new one in a few days (can’t stand in line with swollen feet). Can’t wait to finally join the iphone world!

  • Ms, K

    June 10, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    @Ulla, Dawn, etc. – the negativity is just because Apple is such a … corporate brand. It gets shoved in our faces every day. Cloth diapers come in many brands, so do strollers, toys, etc…but Apple is becoming ubiquitous and powerful in the same way that Microsoft, BP, Whole Foods, etc. are becoming ubiquitous corporate brands pushing a certain consumerist lifestyle (or so it often feels).

    I believe those of us who found Amalah’s iPhone post jarring did so because we like the column and think of Amalah as a virtual friend who wouldn’t push the same same buy buy buy BS on us that we get from other kinds of media constantly.

    For some reason the iPhone post struck a cord that the other posts haven’t. That’s all. Not trying to be super-negative. For real.

  • Tasterspoon

    June 10, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Eh, I live in Silicon Valley and don’t have or want an iPhone. (Although my husband does – he keeps trying to hand it down to me so he can get the 4G for himself. I won’t lie, I hate that you can’t run multiple apps simultaneously and would consider the Droid if I didn’t have to stay on AT&T’s stupid friends and family setup with him.) I DO have an iPod nano, which I LOVE for running (so much smaller than my arm radio) and even spent money on the Nike+ shoes. Nike+ is a chip you put in your shoes that links to your i-whatever and tells you your distance and pace, and you can download (from Nike I think) motivational workouts, interval training, etc. with famous voices (e.g. Lance Armstrong). There’s a whole online community as well. Of course, I’ve had the shoes/chip for two years and haven’t gotten to the track to calibrate it yet, so they’re just shoes. I wonder how long the battery lasts. Congratulations to Amy, though, that is supermotivational! For the record, I think this is as on-topic and useful as any of the other product recommendations for cloth diapers and stretch mark creams and what have you. FWIW, I have a friend who has a Motorola something and LOVES its toddler-lock feature (lets you draw little light pictures).

  • Jaymee

    June 10, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    After my first comment and reading some of the other comments after mine, I have to admit that some of you are right. I had absolutely no problem with last weeks post(or was it 2 weeks ago?) about the C-section scar remover bandage thingy. I’ve not disliked the post about cloth diapers or other products that have been suggested. Yet, I still have an icky feeling about this one. The other post just had a completely different vibe to them. Maybe it’s like Ms. K said, “Apple is such a corporate brand. It gets shoved in our faces every day. ….we like the column and think of Amalah as a virtual friend who wouldn’t push the same same buy buy buy BS on us that we get from other kinds of media constantly.” I was not trying to be negative, honest. I tried to be polite and constructive with my criticism, but I guess I was unsuccessful. I apologize for that. My opinion on the topic remains unchaged though.

    Since some of you suggested that people leave comments on what has worked for them, I will do that. What has and is working for me is the CT5K program. The same one that Amy mentioned, only I don’t use an iPhone to do it. I run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with nothing more than my watch. Every Monday I know to start the next week of the program, so I don’t even have to write down my progress. I also lift weights and do tons of lunges and squats. Running realy is the best form of exercise when you are trying to lose weight. It burns more calories and works your entire body. The weights are more for definition, and the lunges and squats are simply because I love doing lunges and squats.

  • Sheila

    June 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    I don’t have an iPhone (would love one though) but I do have an iPod touch and most apps that work on the iPhone work on the iPod (yay!) I’ve got an app that I use for house cleaning and other chores like that and it has really helped me. Apparently I am super motivated by giving myself goldstars when I finish things. So I appreciate this article because it’s given me some ideas of other apps to try & see if those also work for me.

  • -k-

    July 2, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Lord.. enough with the foisting of personal issues with Apple and/or capitalism in general on the columnist. Nobody told you to buy an iPhone. The post offers up ways to make use of one if you already have it, and specifically mentions/links to options for people who don’t. Take what you can and leave the rest, and for the love of god, quit whining.