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



At present, my hatred for Ticketmaster far outweighs my combined sum total love for Weezer and the Pixies, which is disappointing.

But principles must be upheld if we ever hope to see positive change in the world.

KEYWORDS: bike commuting, lifestyle coaching, punk rock


An Irony

It's ironic to me that the lowest calorie (190) Lärabar flavor is Chocolate Chip Brownie. Most other Lärabars range from 200-220 calories.

Your thoughts?

Leave a comment below.


A Less Marathonic Weekend Road Trip

This year we decided to make our annual "mecca" to Oshkosh for the Northeast Wisconsin Horror Film Fest a less marathonic day trip rather than a full weekend endeavor. This was far more enjoyable on many fronts, including doggie day care options and overnight lodging expenses.

We carpooled up to the fest with some good friends mid-morning and our timing was perfect for grabbing some warm, caffeinated beverages at the New Moon Cafe when we rolled into Oshkosh, before the fest started. We enjoyed various and sundry short and long horror films, interspersed with ample breaks, during one of which I won a door prize! I was geeked, because I almost never win door prizes. During the 90-minute dinner break, we feasted with some friends from Oshkosh that we see only about bi-annually, with horror fest weekend usually being one of those times.

The films ended earlier than anticipated and so we grabbed more warm, caffeinated beverages before driving back to Madison, where we arrived home at a decent hour.

Dietary habits were thrown to the wind on this road trip, as they often are, but we had anticipated this and scheduled a dietary "free day" to correspond with this trip. This allowed for some flexibility to eat popcorn and enjoy a fulfilling dinner at a waterfront brewpub. However, Deuteronomic and gastronomic reforms will be re-implemented tomorrow.

I have been successfully using the Lose It! app to quality control my eating and exercise habits to conform with my nutritional and wellness goals. It allows me to make wiser dietary and fitness choices in order to stay within specified goals, which are easily tracked with the app. I lost seven pounds within the first three days of using the app, because I had set my goals at maximal aggressiveness. But I subsequently made the goals less stringent.

How was your weekend? Leave a comment below.

KEYWORDS: bike commuting, lifestyle coaching, punk rock


Perfect Storm of Quietude

Due to a conflagration of non-events, I find myself with a "free day" on my hands, for the most part. I intend to exploit it for self care purposes.

KEYWORDS: bike commuting, lifestyle coaching, punk rock