Feature Entry: Phone Apps and Weight Loss
To understand this blog entry, you may need a brief crash course in social networking terminology. A smartphone is a personal computer that is contained in what formerly was a cell phone. An app is an application that you can download to your smartphone for a nominal amount of money and are often free. Since the smartphone was invented a couple of years ago, there are apps for everything imaginable including weight loss/weight maintenance assistance.
The National Weight Loss Control Registry of Brown University is making good use of the app for food tracking. The Registry has already established that by keeping a personal food consumption journal, your chances are doubled for weight-loss success.
Here is the rub. As my Anthony Trollope friend Dolly Longestaffe likes to say, “It is such a bother.” But food journaling need not be that difficult. It seems the behavior need not be connected to counting calories—just a quick notation of what has been consumed seems to do the trick.
However, with smartphone apps, you can have it all and avoid the excessive “bother.” Just download an app and it allows quick and painless logging of food and exercise information. A bonus of the app is that it also counts the calories and exercise expenditure. Moreover, the selected app gives immediate feedback as to your weight loss and calorie goals. Available apps include Lose It!, My fitness Pal, My Net Diary, Daily Burn, Calorie Counter by Fat Secret, and SparkPeoples app.
Most of these are free are cost just a few dollars a month. They are customizable and some will establish a daily calorie budget for you—how cool is that? Also, the apps help you establish a community forum for support and questions and most provide motivational testimonials (social networking.) My blogs are filled with comments concerning the value of “personal accountability.” The app lets you know if you are meeting your goals, and if not, why not.
It turns out that we lose weight differently. We all have a nutrient specific RDA—computer speak for recommended daily allowance. For those that like competition for motivation, the app provides an internal motivation device which helps the weight loser/weight maintainer focus on “beating” a personalized daily calorie goal or “outscoring” one’s RDA.
Apps have built-in help for setting your RDA. A general rule is to multiply your goal body weight by 10 for sedentary folks and by 12 if you exercise regularly (exercise 3 times a week); or by 14 if you exercise moderately three to five days a week; and by 16 if you exercise intensely five to seven days a week. Most apps help you with this by asking a series of intensity/frequency/intensity questions. Caution, many of the programs overestimate the calories burned, so experiment with your own exercise routine.
My factor is 16; thus my caloric goal is 2310 calories per day. So why was my morning weigh-in five pounds heavier than my weight goal? Simple according to the app, I am consuming more than my allotted RDA. Solution, up the exercise regiment or cut back on the calories. I guess this is bad news for those late evening raids of the ice cream bucket.