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Losing weight can be a challenge – but there are tools that can make it easier. ShopSmart, the shopping magazine published by Consumer Reports, highlighted free apps that can help those on a weight-loss journey and the best sites for deals on workout clothes and gear that can get in you the mood to move.
“It can be hard to start a diet and get into a workout routine, but by using some of these great free apps and sites for workout outfits and other gear, dieters might get that extra push to start dropping the pounds,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart.

Free apps can help

Most weight-loss apps, free or paid, work in the same way – so stick with the free ones. Dieters set up a profile with their current weight and goal, and then the app calculates a time frame for them to lose the weight and creates their daily calorie budget to help them shrink at a safe rate.
All the apps have a bar code scanner for at least some devices and can get nutrition info for packaged foods. Here are some of ShopSmart’s favorites:
• Calorie Count helps users make good choices by giving them a grade for all the foods logged.
Cool tool: Voice-activated logging lets users speak their daily food entries – a handy function for those on the go who want to quickly log their lunch.
This app is available for Android, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and online at caloriecount.about.com.
• Lose it! gives users access to its brand-name restaurant database that features nutrition info for all kinds of brands and chains – from A1 to Zedric’s.
Cool Tool: Nutrient preferences. You can pick which nutrients you want to keep an eye on – such as fat, carbs, sodium and sugars.
This app is available for Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and online at loseit.com.
• Sparkpeople allows users to create meal plans on a weekly basis and keep calorie intake in check. All you have to do is enable the Show Meal Plans feature, follow along and tap items onscreen to log them into your diary.
Cool tool: Users can access calorie counts for prepared dishes from sister app SparkRecipes.
This app is available for Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and online at sparkpeople.com.

Find great workout buys

Want to look look snazzy while sweating off the pounds? Shopsmart recommends Athleta for mix-and-match swimsuits, Champs Sports for shoes and Eastern Mountain Sports for gear and clothing for kids.
Here are some additional sites it has uncovered where shoppers can score some great deals on workout clothes and gear.
• REI.com features outdoor gear for less. Head straight to the outlet section – the Under $20 area is full of steals.
Sign up for REI email and get 15 percent off and other special offers. Also, consider a $20 lifetime REI membership for an annual refund on eligible purchases, members-only offers and discounts.
• SwapMeSports.com is a great source for used gear. The site makes it easy for users to buy, sell, trade and donate used sports equipment. From baseball gloves to skis, folks around the country are offering up their old gear at discounted prices.
• TitleNine.com is an online sports clothing haven especially for women’s athletic apparel, offering everything from running skorts to sports bras that are truly bounce-proof.
The shop-by-activity feature is a great tool to find outfits for cycling, swimming, yoga and more. And the sports-bra selection can’t be beat – the site has “bravangelists” who test the bras and rate them by barbells.
Most weight-loss apps, free or paid, work in the same way – so stick with the free ones.