It’s a great time to be alive: we have ubiquitous connectivity to ubiquitous storage and reference. Apps of fabulous utility are everywhere, making it easier to track some of the critical variables in your life. At the extreme, life blogging apps can help people identify what it is in their lives that stimulates asthma attacks, or contributes to depression. At the simpler end of the spectrum, just looking up data has never been easier. You can snap a picture of your someone’s outfit, and instantly be advised of where you can get the garments and what a good price might be.
We established in the past that the only way to lose weight is to generate a calorie deficit. My Fitness Pal (myfitnesspal.com) makes it simpler than ever to track your calorie (and carb, fat, protein, etc., etc.) intake, and it factors in your exercise. For a features list:
- Broad availability of foods by brand name, as well as homemade. You can store your own, but I doubt you’ll need to
- Recalls your foods for easy access
- Allows input via barcode entry (scan the candy bar label and it registers in your food diary)
- Calculates an intake target for you based on your critical parameters
- Allows you to enter your exercise; has some ability to calculate calories burned.
- Offers useful and attractive standard reports and graphs
- Forecasts future weight based on your intake
In short, it consolidates a number of tools that I used to do manually or have to aggregate from different sites.
While you can do it all with the app for phone or tablet, I like the website best. I have done most of these things manually in the past, and more recently in using several different applications or websites. Having most of it all together is really helpful and a huge time saver. I just started and am pleased with my success. A friend who has been using it for just a few months has lost 16 pounds and looks great!
Like everything these days, there is a social aspect to it, meaning that you can attach your friends and see their progress as they can see yours. Debbie, Jordan our daughter, and I are dabbling with that and it seems helpful a little; I can imagine scenarios in which it would be a very useful feature. Similarly, there is a blog feature that appears to grant you a fully functional fitness blog that I believe is available to the public, for FREE! (see below).
There are canned reports that Debbie enjoys; I don’t use them. I think, in fact, that there is a pile of functionality that is available, I just haven’t discovered it yet or haven’t had time to fiddle with it.
As a systems guy, I can’t get over how much functionality you get for FREE FREE FREE. The interfaces are completely intuitive, excellently prepared, and aesthetically pleasing. It has some advertising that does not impose on the use experience at all. I hope they are making a ton of money.
So, you need to create a calorie deficit, and myfitnesspal can help you track it. But what to eat?
I reached for Racing Weight about a year ago after reading reviews and promos for it. My recollection is that between the various news stories, magazine articles, and earnest books about how to get weight and fitness results you want, I just didn’t know what I should and shouldn’t be eating anymore.
If you don’t get anything else, get this: Racing Weight is geared toward people who work out a lot. It’s geared a lot more toward performance and fueling than it is toward weight loss for casual exercisers that are trying to reduce.
I liked this book so much I bought it twice, one e-book, and one paper one (grumble, grumble. That’s another essay.). I believe the author is a very able scientist, and I will avail myself of a lot that he has to say. I have used some features of the book to very good effect. However….
Even when the book and I were at our sympatico best, there was something that still just didn’t add up about the numbers. The principal feature of the book is a scoring system for foods that is pretty simple. One thing it does that others don’t is factoring that your fourth serving of whatever food group is not only not good for you like the first was, but is even bad for you. The scoring is easy, intuitive, logical, somewhat even somewhat forgiving. However, even when I followed it closely, I was not hitting targets for my overall calorie intake or carbohydrate intake (I was under). So, lulled into complacency about the overall volume of calories I was consuming, I ate a diverse diet featuring a ton of carbs. When my training wasn’t burning thousands of calories a day, I started gaining, because all those whole wheat bagels and all that peanut butter, which scored me big points with Racing Weight, were costing me my calorie deficit.
I’m still trying to reconcile the calorie intake levels (myfitnesspal vs. Racing Weight); myfitnesspal makes intuitive sense to me, and I take the point the Racing Weight makes, which is that endurance athletes seldom consume enough carbohydrate for peak performance when left to their own devices. I think after I have used myfitnesspal to help me get back to my racing weight, I will turn my attention to getting enough carbs while monitoring the calorie intake, with an eye on performance vs. carbs. Simple, no?