Mad Push

I have lost 12 pounds in a little less than a month, using a couple of free calorie and exercise tracking apps. I am down to 206 pounds as of this morning's weigh in, from a starting weight of 218 on October 8th. There is nothing rocket science-y about it. It's just calories in/out. That being said, I have never been this light in as long as I can remember, and I still have a way to go. My weight loss goal is to get down to 200 pounds, which will entail burning off some fat stores that haven't been disturbed in decades. Those fat cells aren't going to relinquish their hold without a fight. But relinquish they will.

If you'd like to know which apps I am using in the current fitness challenge, leave a comment on this post and I will gladly tell you.

All You Need to Know About the Election Today in One Easy Graphic

Voting matters and if you are thinking about not voting because you feel you aren't informed enough, this is all you really need to know: Republicans are the party of Corporate America and Democrats are the party of America. In other words, Republicans will ALWAYS govern by putting corporate interests ahead of your interests (unless you are a wealthy donor). Democrats will ALWAYS govern by considering what benefits society the most, emphasizing humanity and compassion (and their wealthy donors tend to be people-centered, like non-profit civil rights organizations and unions).

Also there is no graphic. Piss off and go vote.


What I Learned Using a Free Fitness App

I had been resistant to using diet and exercise tracking apps for years, mostly because of the extra effort involved in entering gym workouts and counting calories. But I started using one again and now I love it. So what changed?

Well, the available apps have come a long way in terms of user-friendliness. The one I use includes a bar code scanner that makes entering all but a small number of foods super quick and easy. The one I use is also manufactured by the same company that made my exercise tracking app and the workout data automatically transfers over. Seamless. The main driver though has been that my weight has been slowly creeping up in spite of the fact that I adhere to a healthy vegan diet. I decided to try a fitness tracking app for a fortnight (conventional time boundary for a fitness challenge) and see if it made any difference.

The app I started using was Lose It! I'd probably prefer that app over My Fitness Pal (MFP), except the latter pulls in my exercise data from Map My Ride (made by the same developers, as I said earlier). So a few days into the challenge, I switched to MFP. The algorithm is pretty simple. You enter you age, weight, gender, and a weight loss goal. The app then formulates an equation, which is basically food calories eaten + exercise calories burned = total daily calories I can eat to achieve the desired goal. At first, I set my goal to the maximum aggressiveness allowed by the app (lose 2 pounds per week), but I found I was always hungry and could not realistically stay below the allotted daily calorie intake, even with decent exercise. I lowered the stringency on my goals until I found a happy balance. I am currently down to 210 pounds from a starting weight of 218 pounds when I began the challenge. That's actually about 4 pounds lost per week on average, even though the goal set in the app was for 1 pound per week. It's possible the app is geared toward users who are less obsessive about success than I am, so it assumes many people will exceed their allowed daily calorie intake. Not me, man! I actually got down to 209 pounds yesterday morning, but I allow myself one "free day" each week - when I don't have to adhere to the daily goal - and that day was also yesterday, so my weight was up slightly this morning.

So what have I learned since using the app?

The main thing I have noticed is how many fewer calories fruit and vegetables have compared to legumes, grains, and especially oils of any kind. It encourages me to load up on veggies during meals, especially if I want to eat a bigger meal with less calories. No study has ever shown that more veggies are bad for you. Ever. And I use far less oil now when cooking. I've been using a kitchen scale to weigh out certain foods and the app database accesses the previously entered information of all other users of the app, so it is usually pretty easy to find a particular food and it's calorie content in the app. If the food has a bar code, it is even easier. If I know I am going out to eat on a given day or I am not going to the gym or I want candy, I can frontload my daily diet with low calorie foods so I can splurge a bit later on. The main thing I have taken away from using the app is that you are never to old to lose weight and get in shape. I am 50, well into middle age, and by conventional wisdom I should be on a gradual decline toward overweight and chronic disease. But there's no excuse to fade away and die in this technology rich 21st century. I'm healthier and lighter now than I was at 25. It's all about good habits and being reslistic. That said, I didn't need or want a weight control app before now, but it is proving useful.

I figure I will use the app going forward until I hit my weight goal of 200 pounds. After that I will probably use it intermittently as a guide to maintain that healthy weight.

Why should you care? I guess you really shouldn't...unless you are struggling with finding a simple, easy way to lose weight. The free apps are basically like Weight Watchers, functionally speaking. But you don't have to throw money away to use an app on your phone.

Leave a comment with your thoughts.

KEYWORDS: bike commuting, lifestyle coaching, punk rock