Do We Really Need Another Weight Loss App?

MyFitnessPal. Lose It. Fooducate.  The list goes on and on.  The market is reaching saturation with weight loss and exercise apps and now there’s one more that claims to be superior to the other smartphone trackers.

My Meal Mate is the first free weight loss app developed by nutrition scientists that uses scientific evidence based on a piloted weight loss clinical trial.  The app developers are excited about the trial that found users of their app had better weight loss results than the other volunteers in the study.

The study was conducted at the University of Leed’s from grant money provided by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research.  For the study researchers recruited 182 overweight volunteers and divided them into three groups.  Each group relied on a different method of food tracking:  One group relied on the My Meal Mate, one on an on-line food tracker, and one kept a handwritten food diary.

Smartphone

Flickr photo by Digitpedia

 

Clinical Trial Results

At the end of the six month trial, researchers evaluated the participants’ weight and compliance with their assigned weight loss tools.  The volunteers that relied on the on-line tracker and handwritten diary made entries about once a week.  The My Meal Mate users used the app on an average of every other day.

As far as weight loss, those using the on-line tracker lost an average of 3 pounds, those using the handwritten diary lost about 6.5 pounds, and the My Meal Mate users lost an average of 10 pounds.

Reserachers believe that the volunteers that used My Meal Mate were most successful because the app contains a large national food database called Weight Loss Resources that provides calorie and nutrition information on any foods that UK residents are likely to encounter. The app also has a feature that allows you to take photographs that can be used as memory prompts, as well as an option for text message prompts.

The best part is it’s free.  The developers say they know how difficult weight loss can be and they really just want to help and have no need to make money from selling the app or selling advertising. The My Meal Mate can be downloaded at the Google Play store.

Do We Need One More App? 

Phone apps can be a good tool for people that are trying to lose weight and can teach them about the calories and nutrition in a variety of foods.  They can save people from making bad choices when they are dining out or on the road and have to hit up the fast food stand.  Seeing those calories add up throughout the day can prevent overeating and support better food choices.

How much better is one app over the next?  That depends on the user.  There’s still plenty of room in the market for something new.  The ultimate goal is to use the app – whichever one you select – as a tool that initiates positive behavior change that will last even after the infatuation with the app is gone.

What’s your favorite phone app for nutrition or fitness?

Be Social! Share! 

Review: The Biggest Loser Power Ab Blast DVD

Dolvett Quince and Bob Harper team up to deliver Power Ab Blast with six contestants from the Biggest Loser television show.

The Ab Blast consists of four workouts: Standing Abs, Cardio Abs, All-Out Abs, and Yoga Abs.  The workouts are short in length. Three are 10  minute workouts and one, Cardio Abs, is 15 minutes. Power Ab Blast is a new release from Lionsgate.

Here’s a summary of what each workout contains:

Standing Abs – This workout has some of my favorite moves.  Dolvett has the contestants use a medicine ball for the squat chop move that is a great way to work obliques.  The bonus is you’re also working arms and legs.  Standing abs also has knee strikes with the medicine ball, and planks on the ball.  This isn’t Tony Horton’s 10 Minute Trainer.  It’s a doable workout that is a good place to start if you’re looking for a 10 minute ab workout.

Biggest Loser Power Blast Standing Abs Workout

Biggest Loser Power Blast Standing Abs Workout

Cardio Abs – Bob Harper leads this segment.  It’s a quick cardio workout that’s based on the philosophy that you can have a six pack, but if you’re covering it up with fat no one will see it.  The moves are simple.  Bob has the group doing weighted jacks, wood \

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Tell-Tale Signs That Your Obsession With Tracking Has Gone One App Too Far

Tracking Options Are Endless – flickr photo by Dru Bloomfield

‘More’ Tracking – A Virtual Monster

Modern technology has created a virtual monster.  Or maybe what I really mean is, modern technology has virtually created a monster.  Trackers.  Does anyone know anyone that is not tracking something with a Smartphone, iPhone, iPad or computer?

I’ll be the first one to say that if you set a goal – for example – to put more steps in your day – you need to know how many steps you’re taking now.  It’s the old “if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there” adage.

Plus, the word ‘more’ is ambiguous.  The definition of the word ‘more’ is “an additional quantity”.  So, in the example of taking ‘more’ steps, ‘more’ could easily mean ten. Taking ten more steps won’t have much impact on our overall health. Tracking steps with a pedometer would help you see if you’re taking enough extras steps to make a difference.

More Is A Popular Word

As a wellness coach, I hear the word ‘more’ everyday. “I’m going to drink more water.”  “My goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables.”  “I’m going to the gym more this week.”  My response to all of those statements 100% of the time is, “How much more?”

Using My Fitness Pal or one of the other popular systems is the obvious way to track how successful we are at doing more.  Putting the data in a gizmo to track your workouts, water consumption, or calories is okay.  But are you able to recognize when you’ve become more concerned with the tracking than you are in reaching the goals?

Tell-Tale Signs You Have A Tracking Obsession

You’re Cheating The System (and yourself) – When people start using a calorie counter they put in their weight and their desired weight. The app calculates how many calories they should eat daily to reach the desired weight.

I’ve noticed that when people first start using the app they put everything they eat in.  After awhile only some of the foods go in; others don’t make the cut. There are plenty of reasons for not including everything.  Maybe you just forget, or ate such a little bit of it that it didn’t really count.  Or – here’s a big one – you had such a bad day that you just couldn’t bear to admit to yourself – or the phone – that you really ate all of that!

The day that you are no longer putting everything you eat in the tracker, is the day that the tracker has lost its effectiveness. When you have to cheat to reach the calorie goal for the sake of the tracker, it’s time to give it up and find a new strategy to assist with calorie and portion control.

You Continue To Track Even Though You Never Meet The Goal – Let’s say you have a goal to eat five servings of fruits and veggies everyday and decide to use an app like Munch-5-A-Day.  The first three weeks you had a success rate of between 65 and 75%.  Now you’re at week six and still only eating two or three servings a day but, you’re still tracking everyday.  Is the tracker helping?

Using a phone app is like a lot of things. It’s a novelty and increases our awareness. Over time we lose interest in it and it’s no longer useful yet we continue to track.  Just because you delete the app from the phone doesn’t mean you have to give up on reaching the five-a-day goal.  You can find other things to do that will keep you motivated.  ‘Like’ Five-A-Day-The-Fun-Way on Facebook.  Updates will automatically land in your Facebook News Feed with ideas on ways to add fruits and veggies to the dishes that you’re already preparing.  It’s a helpful reminder that eating five a day doesn’t have to be a chore.

You Rely On A Tracker To Guage Your Exercise Intensity – There are some fancy, high-tech pedometers on the market that will track every step you take along with how many calories you burn when you take them.  If you’ve purchased one and it’s helpful in increasing your motivation to exercise and pushes you to increase the duration and intensity of your workouts, keep it up! At the same time, proceed with caution.

How many calories a person burns doing specific activities is based on Basal Metabolic Rate which is as individual as your fingerprint.  We’ve talked about this before.  If you don’t trust me that determining BMR is a complex, scientific calculation, take a look at Wikipedia’s article on the subject.  To accurately determine your BMR, you first need to have your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) calculated.  There are ways to get this done so that the results are accurate, but putting data in a phone app isn’t one of them.

If you’re using an app to calculate calorie expenditure, keep in mind that it is an estimate and should not be used as a free pass to eat as many calories as the calculator says you’ve burned.  The best way to gauge exercise intensity is still perceived exertion.

You’re Obsessed With Tracking But Your Goals Elude You – If you’re tracking every breath you take and every move you make, you may be headed towards an obsession.  It may be time to take a break from the tracking – at least for now – especially if the tracking is no longer helpful in getting you to your goals.

Motivation is a moving target.  Your strategies to stay engaged and enthused about a healthier lifestyle need to evolve as you reach your goals and the subsequent plateaus.  Put down the phone and engage the right side of your brain.  Create a colorful, non-virtual vision board that outlines your goals.  If you’re totally addicted to using on-line tools, you can create your vision board in Pinterest.  You can also check out some of the other amazing and inspiring boards while you hang out there.  I have a feeling finding the pictures and arranging them on the board will inspire you as much as putting stats in the phone does.

Sometimes To Go Fast You Have To Slow Down

Sometimes Less Is ‘More’.

Tracking calories, exercise, water, etc, may be one piece of a very large puzzle.  If tracking is used as a means to an end it can be helpful.  Keep in mind the end goal is long-term behavior change, not keeping up with the tracker.  When the habit of putting stuff in the phone no longer affects change, it becomes a waste of time.

Lifestyle change is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash.  It requires considerable training that’s fraught with trial and error, starts, pauses and maybe even some temporary stops. You’ve got to learn to pace yourself so you can make it to the end of race. Is there an app for that?

Lose A Pound A Week Without Dieting. It’s Simple Math

Sometimes To Go Fast . . . . . . You Have To Slow Down

This is the first week of our Biggest Loser Competition at work.  Everyone that’s signed up is super excited to do what they need to do to lose weight and ultimately win the prize money. Sometimes the folks that are totally motivated and drop the most weight in the first two or three weeks lose their momentum somewhere around week four and can’t get going again.  By week twelve they are no longer coming to the weigh-ins.

There’s no doubt a variety of reasons for this.  Mostly it’s because once the start gun goes off and the over achievers are out of the starting gate, they begin a diet too low in calories and double up on their workouts.  By week three they feel like it might not be worth it.  By week four they’re starving and exhausted.

How Does The Turtle Win The Race?

The people that started out slowly, making small, yet effective changes that don’t totally turn their entire life upside-down end up getting to the goal.  Forgive me for citing an old cliché:  “Sometimes the turtle wins the race.”  Here’s why.

Weight Loss 101
One pound is equal to 3,500 calories so to lose a pound a week you have to reduce your caloric intake by 3,500, increase your physical activity to burn that much more, or do a combination of the two.  You may not be trying to win a Biggest Loser Competition, but if you want to be successful at losing that ever elusive pound a week, and get it done without upsetting your life and the lives of everyone in your path, you need to know what you’re up against.

To get started, take a step back and look at how you can 1.) Eliminate 500 calories a day from your diet, or 2.) Exercise away 500 calories a day or 3.) Reduce your calories by 250 and increase your physical activity so you burn 250 more each day.

#1 – Reduce Calories by 500 A Day
Let’s start with the first one.  What are some of the foods that you eat everyday that you can live without?  These may not be the big diet sabatogers like ice cream and pop that we always think of giving up first – although those should go too – but some of the foods that are labeled ‘healthy’ can be just as much of a problem because we don’t bother counting them most of the time.

Here’s a list of foods that seem innocent enough.  They certainly sound healthy, but have too many calories for their nutritional value. Plus most of them are high on the Glycemic Index which means you’ll get a sugar rush followed by the inevitable fall, and wind up hungry again in an hour.

  • Orange juice – 12 oz bottle – 167 calories
  • Yogurt  - Greek with strawberries – 140 calories
  • Whole grain bagel – 340 calories
  • Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars – 180 calories
  • Ritz Whole Wheat Crackers (5) -70 calories
  • Kashi 7 Grain Frozen Waffles – 170 calories
  • Luna’s Sports Bars – Chocolate Peanut Butter (1 bar) – 190 calories
  • Dried Fruit – Banana Chips – 1.5 oz = 218 calories
  • Terra Chips – 1 ounce – 140 calories
  • Trail Mix – 3 tbls. = 137 calories
  • Sun Chips – 16 chips – 140 calories

There are plenty more.  These are the foods that we really need to look at when we decide we want to lose a few pounds.  We think they are lightweight and good for us, but they add up quickly throughout the day.

Last week I hit up the vending machine and ended up with a Special K Chocolate Pretzel bar which had 130 calories and not much of anything else.  As soon as I ate it I realized my mistake.  I was in the hole 90 cents, had consumed 130 calories and the pretzel bar hadn’t made a dent in my hunger.  Thankfully I was out of change or I might have purchased something else.

#2 – Burn Off 500 Extra Calories A Day
This will require spending 45 minutes to an hour each day speed walking, jogging, biking or participating in a fitness class.  Determining exactly how many calories you’re burning during exercise is tricky. The best way is to wear a heart rate monitor, but if you’re okay with an estimate, you can get a reasonable calculation at Calorie CountNutri Strategy has a list of activities and with estimated calorie expenditure that you can use.  Keep in mind, these are not entirely accurate so just use them as a guide and, to be on the safe side, underestimate.

#3 – Combination of #1 and #2
Move more and eat less.  This strategy does not entail a crash diet, require a gym membership, and will allow you to live a normal life for the most part.  You can purchase an inexpensive pedometer and once you find out how many steps you take each day, set a goal to increase your steps by 3,000 daily.  This should help you get to the increased calorie burn of 250.

Download a good calorie tracker and get serious about reducing your intake by 250 cals a day.  My Net Diary and My Fitness Pal are two that are highly recommended.  Tracking calories will encourage you to make better food choices.  You’ll end up swapping the whole grain waffles and orange juice (total calories – 337) for a boiled egg, slice of whole wheat toast, and an orange (total calories – 232).  Calories savie – 105!  See how easy this is going to be?

After a couple of week you’ll get food smart, be in the habit of selecting more nutritional foods, and learn how some basic swaps can make a huge difference in your progress.

The ultimate goal when we set out to lose weight is to keep it off.  Gaining knowledge about the calories in food, how much we burn when we walk or workout, and discovering how to balance the two in a way that we can live with, not just this week or until the competition is over, but forever is the key.  There’s no need to rush the process.  Take your time.  Adapt the role of the turtle and win the race!

There’s Nothing Like A Contest With A $2,000 Prize To Get The Creative Juices Flowing

To Find Out How To Cash In On Your New Year’s Resolutions, Keep Reading

You’ve made your New Year’s Resolutions and many of you – I’m ready to bet – will be using technology applications of one kind or another to help you keep them.  Create a two minute video that shows how that techy stuff you’re doing is helping you reach your goals and you might be able to win some money.

The Healthy New Year Video Challenge (“the Challenge”) is being launched by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology which is an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  To enter you’ll need to produce a two minute video of how you will use technology to better manage your health and accomplish your resolutions. Of course you’ll want your video to be creative, enlightening, specific and convincing.

The deadline to submit your creation is February 16, 2012 by 5 p.m.  The first place winner receives $2,000; second place $1,000 and third $500.  There are three honorable mentions at $250 each and one popular choice prize of $750.

ChooseMyPlate.gov had a similar contest that focused on eating fruits and vegetables.  The winning video was catchy and down-to-earth. You can watch the winning MyPlate video (below) to get an idea of how this works.  Keep in mind submissions in this contest were only 30 seconds.  The Challenge gives you a little more time to tell your story.  All of the MyPlate video winners can be viewed here.


 

We’ve talked a lot about using technology to help you reach your goals here at Put That Cookie Down Now!  If you need some ideas for your video, check out some of the previous posts related to technology.

For a complete list of rules for the Challenge check out the Healthy New Year Challenge Site.

Good Luck!!

Getting A Handle On Sodium, Sugar and Fats Can Be Easy. There’s An App For That!

Sodium, Fat and Sugar.  How Much Is Too Much?

Now that we know what exercise regimes some of our favorite celebrities are doing, you just have to figure that besides the yoga, Pilates and Budokon, what they’re eating  is playing a huge role in their overall health and wellness plan.

It’s a new year and many people have resolved to eat better than they did last.  But what exactly does eat better mean?  More fruits and veggies, whole grains instead of refined flours, less sugar, salt and fat?

Setting a goal to add more fruits and vegetables to the diet and replace white bread with whole-wheat is probably easier than reducing fat, sugar and salt intake.  But cutting back on the three diet wreckers can be easier than you think!

First, let’s look at the guidelines for the three nutritional ‘evils’ in our diet so we have a place to start.

Sodium – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets the guidelines for recommended amounts of sodium.  The USDA has set the maximum amount at 2,300 milligrams a day and 1,500 mg/day for people that have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  The at-risk group would include people middle aged and older, African-Americans and people with high blood pressure.  It is worth noting that the American Heart Association says the amount should be set at less than 1,500 for everyone.

It’s easy to spot some high-sodium offenders like pretzels, salted peanuts and canned soups but some seemingly healthy foods are deceiving.  Lean Cuisine’s Baha Style Chicken has 690 mg of sodium, Kellogg’s Raisin Bran has 350 mg, and a Lender’s Whole Grain Plain Bagel has 490 mg.  So selecting foods that appear to be low-fat, high fiber, and otherwise good for us may still have too much salt.

Sugar – The average American consumes more than 20 teaspoons of sugar per day.  Although there is not an official recommendation by the USDA, the agency suggests a  maximum of 40 grams or about 10 teaspoons per day.  The guideline is based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet.

Just to give you an idea of how hard it might be to stay within that guideline, there are 59 grams, or about 14.5 teaspoons, of sugar in McDonalds sweet tea.  Yoplait yogurt has 27 grams and a bottle of Vitamin Water has 33.

Fat – The USDA recommends that Americans consume less than 10 percent of their calories from saturated fatty acids, less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fats to an absolute minimum. Here’s a breakdown of fat consumption recommendations:

  • Total fat intake should make up between 20 – 35 percent of our daily calories. Most fats should be the polyunsaturated and monounsatured kind that are found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • Saturated fats should make up 10% or less of  our daily caloric intake.  Saturated fats are found in meat, cheese, ice cream, butter, full-fat milk and yogurt.
  • Trans fats are the big no-no. There is a zero tolerance for trans fats because they can lead to high cholesterol, obesity and heart disease.  Trans fats are found in foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils including many baked goods, crackers, chips, margarine and fast food product. These fats are fairly easy to recognize because they become solid at room temperate.  Some oils, however, are considered ‘solids’ because they contain trans fats:  coconut, palm, and palm kernel oil.

So now that we’re armed with information and are aware of the USDA guidelines it should be easy to figure out how much sodium, sugar and fat we’re ingesting everyday and cut back on them.

Traffic Light Shopping Card Shows Us The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly

There’s An App For That!
All of the above may seem like a bunch of gobbely gook to someone that’s not familiar with USDA guidelines, doesn’t have a degree in nutrition, and can’t spend valuable time tracking everything they eat. There’s a tool that simplifies the process and alerts us to foods that are too high in sodium, sugar, fat and saturates a glance.

The Traffic Light Food Shopping Card, a well-known visual tool, uses the colors red, yellow and green to designate high, medium and low levels of sodium, sugar and fat.  The good news is that it is now a Smartphone and iPhone app.

Download the Traffic Light Food Tracker app, use it to check out some of the labels on the foods that you have in your pantry, and take it to the store to see what you’re getting before you buy.  Enter the data from the label and the app tells you if you’re in the good, the bad or the ugly zone.  It can help you quickly deicide whether or not the food in question should be on the shopping list or in the kitchen.

Here’s Another Quick and Easy Nutrition De-Coder

Fooducate is another place to get feedback about nutrition. You can enter a food name, or scan a bar code and Fooducate gives the product a grade of ‘A’ through ‘F’.  It also alerts you to high sugar, sodium and fat content, food additives, and even refined flours. Fooducate has a web-site as well as a phone app.

I ran a few of my favorite snacks through the web site and was disappointed to the learn that the Fiber One Chewy Bars that I like so much gets a grade of D+ because of food additives, sugar and processed flour.  For anyone starting the No Fast Food For 10 Days Challenge, this would be an incredibly helpful app to have.

Do you have a favorite nutrition app that takes the guesswork out of the daily guidelines or helps you track your calories without pulling your hair out?  Drop a comment in the reply box and share.

 

You Can Be Successful With Your Healthy New Year’s Resolutions. Here Are 15 Strategies To Help!

Lose Ten Pounds, Eat More Fruits and Vegetables, Workout Three Times a Week.  What’s Your New Year’s Resolution?

I had the Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda on this morning and at the end of the show they begn taking questions from the audience.  One of the questions, directed at Hoda, was “What is your New Year’s Resolution?”  Hoda answered, without missing a beat, that it would be the same resolution she’s made for the last ten years:  lose ten pounds and get organized.

I’m guessing that next year at this time Hoda will be resolving to lose ten pounds and get organized.

What was your New Year’s Resolution last year?  Is it the same one this year? I wonder how many resolutions made on January 1 are still in tact on March 1?  Not many I’ll bet.

A New Year’s Resolution is nothing more than a Big Hairy Audacious Goal; a BHAG.  BHAGs are great!  We don’t need to resolve not to make any more resolutions or set BHAGs.  We just need to put a Big Hairy Audacious Strategy in place to reach our Big Hairy Audacious Goal!

Don’t Worry.  It’s Easier Than It Looks

If your goal is to live a healthier lifestyle in 2012, whether that means losing weight, exercising more or eating less junk, I’ve got 15 Strategies for you to try. They will all keep you focused on your health but each in a different way.  Just when you think you can’t continue with the one you’re on, it will be time to move on to the next.

The key is not to try all of them at once and to set a specific timeline for each strategy.  I’ve assigned a timeframe to each one.  You can shorten or lengthen as needed.  If you’re really in love with one, don’t be afraid to start it again. You know; wash, rinse, repeat.

Remember, don’t get in over your head or get in a hurry.  Relax.  You have all year.

Fifteen Strategies For 2012 That Will Improve Your Health and Wellbeing and May Even Get You To Your NYR.

  • Wear a pedometer and set a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day for seven days.
  • Take the No Fast Food Challenge for 10 days.  This means no drive-through, over-the-counter stuff handed to you in a bag, or heat-and-eat from the local grocery.  Get back to having fun in the kitchen again and create meals for you and your family using whole foods.
  • Add one 20-minute strength training workout to your normal exercise routine for six weeks. Purchase a workout DVD or utilize Exercise About.com to put together a workout that uses minimal equipment that you can do at home.
  • Invite a co-worker to take a walk break or invite a staff member to join you for a walking meeting once a week for four weeks.
  • Brown bag it four days a week for three weeks.  Set a goal to fix a nutritious lunch and snack that is ready for you to grab and take out the door with you in the morning.
  • Track your calories for seven days. Keep a food journal using one of the smartphone or iPhone apps or writing down what you eat in a journal and get real about how many calories you’re eating each day. In seven days you’ll know if you’re outside of the calorie range you need to be in to lose those 10 pounds this year.  Fit Click also offers an excellent calorie tracker.
  • Take a stress break twice a week for two weeks.   Find a quiet spot in your home or outdoors and focus on your breathing.  Listen to nature sounds through ear buds or an iPod dock or C.D. and get in touch with yourself and nature.
  • Say good-bye to processed flour for 30 days.  Use whole wheat breads and pasta and brown rice in place of white.  Is 30 days too long?  Try it for 15 days and then re-enlist once you’ve found out how delicious and nourishing whole-wheat bread and pasta and brown rice are.
  • Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables four days a week for three weeks can be fun. A serving may not be nearly as much as you might think. Check out the portion control guide at Web MD to get an idea of how totally achievable this goal can be. Don’t forget to count some of the foods you’re already eating.  Salsa’s main ingredient – for instance – is tomatoes.  (Just watch out for the chips!)
  • Take a waist circumference measurement at the beginning of the year. Set a goal to reduce or maintain your girth and retake the measurement every two months throughout the year.  Track the measurement on a calendar.
  • Buy a new workout video to have on hand when the inevitable snow day comes and it’s just too cold to go to the gym.  If  you put it on the shelf it will be new and fresh when you need an at-home workout to ease your cabin fever.
  • Use a smaller plate and 18 ounce bowl for your main meal.  You can purchase an attractive eight or nine inch plate and a bowl set at the local Wal Mart.  Precise Portions has a deluxe set if you’re really ready to commit. Use those throughout the year and see if it helps with reducing your portions.
  • Track how much water you drink Monday through Friday for 14 days. If you find that on average you’re only drinking one or two glasses, set a goal to increase your water consumption to at least five each day.
  • Sign up for a group fitness class that you haven’t tried before.  Most gyms, YMCAs and recreational centers offer fitness classes that allow you to enroll for one session. Whether it is boot camp, spinning, or Body Pump, do something different for one session to wake up your brain.
  • Volunteer at an organization in your community one time in 2012.  The best way to feel better about our own life is to help someone else.  The Humane Society, local senior center, hospital auxiliary, Boys & Girls Club or YMCA would love to have your help for an afternoon.

Creating a healthier lifestyle isn’t about losing 20 pounds or committing to a workout schedule of an hour and a half a day, five days a week.  It’s about self-care.  It’s about finding time in our day to drink a couple extra glasses of water, inviting a co-worker to go on a 10 minute walk with you, and taking a 20 minute relaxation break once a week.

A few years ago everyone was buzzing about the “Small Changes, Big Results” concept that became mainstream after the book by the same name written by Ellie Krieger was published.  Small changes, big results is about reality.  Finding those things that we can do that will change our lives in an undramatic way, but that over time are sustainable and add up to something really great.

I hope you’ll use the concept of small changes and big results this year when you attack your resolution.  I have no doubt that you’ll have great success.  Happy New Year!

If You’re Ready To Get Real About Those Last Ten Pounds You’re Going To Need A Food Diary

By Pink Sherbet Photography

“I’m working hard and still not seeing the pounds budge.”  I hear that a lot which almost always means it’s time to get real about what you’re eating.  It’s time for a food diary.

If you’re still searching for a phone app food diary, I have an endorsement for one that I recommended last week.

MyNetDiary Pro

One of my coaching clients downloaded the app from MyNetDiary.  She purchased the MyNetDiary Pro for Android for a one-time fee of $3.99.  She raves about the app and feels it is
making her much more aware of what she is eating.  Plus she says that when she does eat something higher in calories for lunch – a Taco Bell Beef Chalupa for example – she can figure out ways to offset that so she doesn’t blow the entire day.

MyNetDiary also has a web site – that syncs with the phone app – so you can combine the applications for more usability. Prior to our coaching session today she e-mailed the data to me from the programs she has been using including a weight chart, exercise diary, goal sheet, and nutrition report.  I was able to see exactly what she had been doing the prior week and we were able to talk about her goal success and progress.

Why Keep A Food Diary?

You might be thinking that’s all really nice, but why do I need to keep a food diary?

Get Really Real – Food tracking is a way to get completely honest with yourself and own everything you eat.  Let’s face it. We all cheat.  Track your food, including your cheats, for one month and see if your eating pattern has changed.  Journaling brings a special awareness to what we’re eating and how much we’re eating better than any other tool.  You may also find that if you think about what you’re eating, you’ll begin to ask why, which will lead you to whether or not you really need it.

Photo by o5com

Have an Ah-ha Moment- You don’t know what you don’t know.  I was working with a client several months ago that was struggling to get to her goal of losing ten pounds.  She thought she was doing everything right; eating more fruits and veggies, getting more physical activity and drinking more water.  The pounds did not budge.

I suggested that she keep a food journal for one week and she agreed, reluctantly.  The following week when we talked she said that she was shocked at how many calories she was eating.  Once she realized she was simply taking in too many calories to lose weight, she started making better choices, getting creative with lower calorie exchanges and lost the ten pounds.

Re-evaluate Your Activity – It might be that once you start tracking your food you’ll see that you don’t have much to work with.  If you’re eating within the calorie range necessary to lose weight, you may need to increase your physical activity or mix up what you’re doing.

For example:  If you’ve been going to the gym and doing 20 minutes on the treadmill at level five, followed by a 20 minute strength training circuit on the machines your body may no longer be responding to that workout.  Try adding some intervals to your treadmill work and move over to the free weight section of the gym for some squats and lunges with a body bar, ab crunches on a stability ball and tricep dips on the bench.  Every thirty days it’s a good idea to make changes to your workout so that your brain and your brawn aren’t just going through the motions.

If you’re not particularly enamored with phone apps or on-line tools, purchasing a cute
notebook with an inspirational saying on the front and writing in the entries by hand will work just as well.  You can look up the calories on-line at Calorieking.com

 

Food Diary and Calorie Counter Apps Can Help You Reach Your Weight Loss Goals

Even Too Much of the Good Foods Can Result In Weight Gain 

Now that you’ve conquered the Ten Day Challenge and are on your way to one hundred days of no fast food, it might be time to think about portions and calories.  One of the participants in the ten day challenge that I launched at work said she gained weight.  She must have been eating too much of all of those good-for-you foods.

Food Diary Apps That Work! 

  1. Calorie Counter by Fat Secret:  Besides the food diary, the app provides calorie and nutrition information, a barcode scanner for label reading, an exercise diary and a weight chart.  This is one of the highest rated calorie apps on the market. Compatible on both Smartphone and iPhone.
  2. MyNetDiary– Food Diary and calorie counter plus an on-line community to connect you to other people that provide support and motivation.  The app is free but you can upgrade to the pro version for $3.99. Compatible on Smartphone, iPhone and iPad.
  3. Diet and Food Tracker by SparkPeople.com – SparkPeople claims to be the most popular diet and fitness site and is offering a free app that provides a food and calorie tracker, fitness tracker, weigh-in and detailed weight and calorie reports.  Works on Smartphone and iPhone.

These are three of the top-rated apps.  There are many, many more.  If you’re looking for an app that will help you track your food for a week or two so you can get a baseline of how many calories you consume on a daily basis, any of these will work.

Stick With Tracking Foods 

Don’t get too dependent on the exercise trackers that claim to tell you how many calories you’ve burned for each workout sessions.  These are terribly unreliable and lead people to believe that they’ve spent more calories than they often do.  Your metabolism is as unique as your fingerprint.  The calories you burn in a thirty-minute session on the elliptical at level eight is totally different than the person doing 30 minutes at level eight on the identical elliptical next to you.

The food diary/calorie counters however can be quite helpful.  If you think on an average you consume 1,700 calories a day and you are in fact taking in 2,200, you’ve may need to think about making some changes if losing 10 pounds is your goal.  Here’s where the food diary app comes in handy.