I’ve always had a moderate weight problem, being 20 to 30 pounds overweight, and have tried a myriad of diets over the years. There was the protein diet, Dr. Atkins, Weight Watchers, and many fad diets. Over the past three months I’ve been trying something new that has worked better than anything else, using technology to help me along.
It began when I discovered the free app, Lose It, and then received a Fitbit Charge as a gift from my daughter. The combination has worked remarkably well. In three months I‘ve lost 13 pounds. Now that’s not a lot, but it follows the advice of experts who recommend you lose slowly and steadily to alter your eating habits, in contrast to going on a fad diet on which you lose faster but then gain it all back.
Unlike diets that limit the types of food you can eat, I eat anything I choose. The success is based on a premise we’ve all known since we were in grade school: eat fewer calories than you expend each day.
But calorie counting has always been a real pain. You need to identify the food, figure out how much it weighs, and look it up in a calorie guide. But imagine if counting calories was far easier. That’s the main benefit of Lose It.
When I began to count calories I paid attention to the what and how much I ate. After a few weeks I found my mind and body adjusting to lower quantities and lower calorie foods. Surprisingly, I never experienced any hunger pangs as I had on other diets. And I never craved any food that was not permitted, because all food is allowed.
I love ice cream and have it nearly every day on this diet. But I’ll take just 1 to 1 ½ ounces, add some fruit and a little Cool Whip, and create a mini-sundae with just 100 to 150 calories. I also like to drink a glass of wine each night, but until I checked the calories and portion size, I never realized how big my pours were. Now I use a smaller glass and pour 4 ounces instead of 6. In each case I’ve found the smaller portions to be as satisfying as larger ones, and the guilt is gone.
Weighing food can be a pain, especially when eating out. But I found after a few weeks of weighing quantities at home, judging weight has become much easier.
When you download Lose It, it asks for some basic information such as height, age and weight, how much you want to lose and how fast, and it will calculate your weekly calorie intake. I chose two pounds per week and it allotted me 1434 calories per day.
You enter the food and portion size for each meal and for snacks. Its database has essentially every possible food you will eat, including every packaged food product and item from nearly every restaurant chain in the country. The app will create your own list of foods you enter, to speed up the search when you enter them again. It memorizes your meal totals, so if you repeat the same breakfast it’s a single entry. You can also scan any package and it will immediately enter that item into its database to share with other users of the app. In fact, this crowd sourcing is what makes its database so large. You have access to entries from millions of users.
The app keeps track of all of your meals, calories, and weight loss, as well as carbs, proteins, and fat. You can enter your weight as often as you like, and it provides an end date as to when you will reach your weight loss target.
I started to use the Fitbit to monitor my steps each day about a month into the diet, and the weight started dropping more rapidly. I’ve always been sedentary, sitting at my desk for hours on end. So I was embarrassed that on some days I walked under a thousand steps. I set my initial target for 3000 steps. It became somewhat of an effort, but at the end of the first month, it was much easier, and I’m now at 5600 steps. (10,000 steps is a recommended target).
The Fitbit Charge ($129) works well, tracking steps, stairs climbed, minutes of activity and calories burned. I set it up to communicate with Lose It so that Lose It knows how far I’ve walked and raises my allowed caloric intake when I exceed a certain number. The more basic Fitbit Flex ($99) or other devices that track steps, should work equally well.
Of course, I can’t say how well this will work for others. I’m not an expert, but logic tells me that taking in fewer calories than you expend will result in weight loss. For me, using Lose It and a Fitbit have enabled me to easily track my caloric intake and daily steps, and using both together has motivated me to reach my goals.