One of the first apps I downloaded when I got my iPhone was Lose It. In the app, you enter some initial info—how much you weigh, how old you are, how much you want to weigh, and how quickly you want to lose weight (1/2 pound a week, 1 pound a week, etc.). This amazing little app then does some quick calculations based on your entries and tells you how many calories you can eat in a day to reach your goal weight (this is called your calorie budget). For every food that you put in your mouth, Lose It reduces your calorie budget for the day. For instance, my budget is 1578 calories, roughly 500 calories per meal. Thus far today, I have used up 878 calories.
But wait! I also ran for 40 minutes this morning. Lose It added 327 calories back into my calorie budget, so I can eat 1,027 more calories today and still stay in maintenance range (1578 – 878 + 327 = 1027). The app comes with a large database of grocery foods and restaurant foods. You can also add your own foods to the database. For example, I know a Wal Mart brand supreme pizza slice has 425 calories because the box says so. I added that information to the database one day while the pizza was cooking, and I never have to add it again.
Numerous exercises are in the exercise database of Lose It, including things like housework, Wii games and yardwork. To get the full benefit of the app, you have to faithfully enter the foods you eat (everything!) and the minutes you spend exercising.
The BEST thing about this app is that it makes you aware of what you are consuming. How many times have you said (or heard someone else say), “I don’t know why I can’t lose weight; I hardly eat anything.” This app will beg to differ! I only used the app for one month, but it made a huge difference in my perceptions about food in general, and about what I ate, in particular. It was also a major factor in me losing about 20 pounds over a period of several months time (the right way to lose!). I only had to use the app for a month because in that period of time, I was very careful to enter everything that I ate, and I became educated as to the calorie content of the foods that I ate on a regular basis.
For instance, I snack a lot on almonds. They’re very good for you and they are also filling. However, did you know that each little almond has 7 calories? That may not sound like a lot until you take into account that most of us don’t eat single almonds, we eat handfuls.
Another example. When I was counting calories, I regularly had canned Chicken Tortilla Soup for lunch. I really like Chicken Tortilla Soup, and I like it best over chips. Do you know how many calories there are in chips? 150 per ounce! How many chips in an ounce? 10-15! With a daily calorie budget of only 1578, I decided that chips just weren’t worth it; I learned to enjoy the soup without them. The nice thing about that choice is that it was exactly that: a choice. No one or no diet plan told me I couldn’t have chips. I just did the math and decided I didn’t want them that bad!
Do you see how this works? This is where fitness meets geekiness—a perfect combination for people like me.
The only downside (if you want to call it that) to using the app is the time that it takes initially to look up the calorie contents of foods that are not in the database. This is fairly simple. In Google, you can often type something like “how many calories in Braum’s Cappuccino Chunky Chocolate Yogurt” and get an answer. In some cases, such as your homemade recipes, you may have to enter all the ingredients and then divide by the number of servings that the recipe should provide. Sometimes you just have to guess, but after using Lose It for a while, you get pretty savvy regarding calories and your estimates will probably be fairly accurate. The main thing is you’re not eating mindlessly!
If you don’t have a smart phone, you can set up a Lose It account online. But if you do have a smart phone, it is far better to download the app so you will always have it with you (search for Lose It in the iTunes app store). You never know when you might need to look up the calorie content of a candy bar. It’s best to have all the facts so you can make the right choices!
This is Day 18 of the 30-Day Challenge. I’m batting 100 (18 posts for 18 days) so far, but my real challenge starts next week when I am out of town for the whole week. How are all of you doing with your challenges? I’d love to hear of any great lessons learned. Leave me a comment by clicking “comments” below.