This whole journey of trying to improve our eating habits, and improve our physical well being could well launch someone in to the land of the “latest fad” but that’s never really been me. I know at times I have been swayed by fashion (as my perm in the 1980’s would prove) but, fads? Just not my style.
There will be no “south beach diet” You will not see me actively following a “paleo” lifestyle, and since I am not suffering with Celiac disease I will most certainly not be burdening myself with going gluten free. That being said from time to time there will be meals which may fall into each of these categories….
While diet fads are NOT my thing, I have to admit that both my husband and I do have one weakness….. TECH TOYS!! So when this journey began, the first thing that I noticed was an app on his phone. It didn’t take long before we had both installed ‘My Fitness Pal” and had learned to use it to help keep us on track.
While we are not being paid in any way to do product endorsement, I can only rave about this app. What exactly does it do for me? Well, for starters, it lets me track all of the things I put in my body through the day. I can see how many calories I have consumed, and how many I have remaining before I reach my daily goal. Your goal is personalized. When you set up the app you input things like your height and weight and your weight loss goals (how much and how fast). With this information the app then calculates the optimal number of calories you should take in a day.
I know you are thinking this SOUNDS simple, but it must be a pain in the behind right? Well, actually I have to admit that it does take a little discipline to take the time to do it, but the app has tried to make everything as easy as possible. First, there is a built in bar code scanner with an extensive data base. Having wine with dinner? Scan the bar code on the bottle and low and behold your screen fills with all the nutritional information needed to log your intake. This also comes in handy when shopping, you can scan bar codes and see the nutritional values and make better decisions about purchases. If an item doesn’t have a bar code on it? Just type a description into the search bar and you will find your product in the list, click it and information appears.
What if you have a favourite meal that you tend to eat on a regular basis? Well just enter it in the “recipes” section and you can easily add it to any day of your diary. Of course if you have been following our blog at all, you will have seen recipies with nutritional infomation posted below them. This is another feature of the app. If you create a “recipe” in the app (either by importing a list of ingredients from a web page, or by manually entering your own list of ingredients), once you determine the number of serving, the app calculates the information you need to be able to know what that meal contains! It’s simply MAGICAL!! Also, if you have a partner in crime when it comes to calorie tracking, you can link your profiles on the app, and then you are able to copy meals and items from one diary to another.
The best part of the “My Fitness Pal” app (in my humble opinion), is the nightly routine of “completing” your daily log. Not only does this activity signal the end of a day, and the ability to relax and get some restful sleep, the app also does this wonderful thing, it gives you a visual/numeric reward. How? It looks at your caloric intake for the day, it calculates based on calories in and your activity level and such and provides you with a short term forecast, displaying a page on your phone that says “If every day were like today in 5 weeks you would weigh _____ lbs.” There is something about that message that just seems to motivate me. The timeframe is not so far away as to be abstract and unattainable. It’s like setting little goals along the way that seem to be just ever so slightly more acheivable. For that, I thank the makers of the app! (as a side note for those worried about those who might take using this app as a challenge, and launch themselves into the territory of an eating disorder I should also mention, if your eating habits do not include enough calories for SAFE weight loss, the app will NOT provided you with a projected weight los, but will instead inform you that you have likely not eaten enough for that day. Safety first of course!!
Seems like a great idea right? But wait. that’s not all it can do….. If you keep your iphone (I have no idea if this is available for android… I’m an apple geek) on your person at all times, the phone records your steps taken and actually adjusts your calories to reflect your activity!!! So if you are having a very busy physically active day and you feel hungry, you will be able to eat more in response without ruining your weight loss goals.
As an even greater advantage, the app links to other products. For example, the “fitbit” (again this is an unpaid, unsolicited endorsement, if at any time fitbit pays me for my reviews I will be sure to let you know! lol) will upload to the app giving you even more detail about your activity such as steps taken, distance walked and number of flights of stairs climbed. The fit bit records the “number of active minutes (because sustained activity affects your calories burned in a different way than sporadic activity) and if you were it to bed at night (as you should) it will even track your sleep patterns, letting you see how long you slept, how often you awakened and howmany periods of restlessness you encountered during the night. Yes this device has lead to the occassional
all out war “discussion” about who had the worst night’s sleep….
Fitbit also makes a wirelessly connectable bathroom scale, the Fitbit Aria, which can connect to the app and collect data about your weight and body fat percentage which is then automatically uploaded into the app and tracked for you. I have to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with this device. I love to stand on it and wait for the number, then I hate the number, then I delete it from the app so that I never have to see it again!!! I do leave ONE reading per week in the app, so yes I am tracking my progress, andit is always a morning reading from one of my weekend mornings, so that they are spaced one week apart (as they should be), but I just can resist standing on that device at least once (in reality a half dozen times) a day. So given that, I am not sure if my one critique of the device (that the batteries do not last as long as I’d like) is the fault of the device, or my obsessive compulsive need to weigh myfels and force the scale to burn batteries to connect via wifi……
While this whole suite of apps and toys may seem a little like over-kill, and yes maybe even “fadish” I have to admit that seeing other friends who have fitbits logging distances greater than mine (you can share this data among friend on the fit bit app) motivates me to walk more, do better, and sends them a little message to egg on some competition. So, for the sake of the motivation and convenience factors, we have bought fitbits, the scale, and use the “my Fitness Pal” app. I personally find the money spent to be valuable just for the motivation alone. And in the end, if it helps me toward my goal, it’s only money right??