My Fitness Pal

In April my wife took me to the Apple Store. She needed to replace her Iphone, because a key part broke in a fall, and the software was going out of date anyway in a month or so. Although I had resisted getting one myself, being largely contented with cell phones, I was beginning to regret not being able to synchronize my calendar and contacts. So I bought an Iphone as well. Now we have two in the family – hers is white and mine is black.

We both sing with a chorus and not long afterward at a rehearsal I was sitting next to my friend Michael and I noticed he was doing something with his Iphone. He explained he was entering data in his calorie counter program. “It is all a matter of thermodynamics” he said (you have to study that to become a doctor). “I’ve lost ten pounds so far.” His program had a nice graphic that displays exercise vs food on a balance, and a graph that showed his weight over time since the beginning of his diet. A nice smooth straight line, heading down.

There are lots of these programs, I have since learned, and they are really catching on because they work very well. I got one, called My Fitness Pal, entered my desired weight by a certain date in the future, and learned right away that to do this I had to limit myself to 1550 calories a day. Before the era of handheld smartphones, this would have required a lot of tedious book-keeping. But with this application, all I have to do is enter what I eat. It knows how many calories that is. Also, it keeps track of exercise. Now I am in the habit of walking for an hour every morning – or doing exercise on a Nordic-Trac machine if the weather is bad. But the program knows that this exercise is worth 279 calories. So now, without doing a lot of reading and writing, I can tell just where I am along the trajectory toward those 1550 net calories. The more exercise I do, the more “free” food I can eat. If I want a snack it is no problem, except that I have to enter it in the smart phone. So I am a little less inclined to munch between meals. Of course I could skip all that, but after respecting the routine for a week or so, I became reluctant to break it, or to lie to myself, in effect. The program has built-in positive feedback, full of congratulatory messages and forecasts, like “If every day were like today you would weigh such and such in five weeks.” I could even sign up with “friends” in a kind of specialized Facebook associated with the program. There is a web site where I can view my data and get more information, that the program synchronizes for me as long as the smart phone is connected to the internet.

I told my doctor about this on a routine visit, and he smiled in recognition. “All of my patients, it seems, are doing something like this.” I cannot complain about the results. I have lost about 7% of my body weight in three months. I feel better. I can fit into some trousers that I had set aside as “too tight.” I get hungry before meals, but I have stopped considering that a problem. In a way, getting hungry reminds me that I do not really need all that technology. Still, I am hooked on keeping track of what I eat and how much I exercise, and I am determined to reach my goal weight or even do better – after all it was a pretty arbitrary target of 10%.

This could get expensive if I go “too far.” My wife says already that some of my trousers are “too baggy” to be worn in public.

2 thoughts on “My Fitness Pal”

  1. Hey! Great results! I lost just over 10% but now at 7.5% after a wedding and 2 vacations. Back on the counting routine today.

    1. I noticed that after a big dinner out my weight would jump the next day. Takes over a day to recover from that….What is the reason for this? Is it the weight of the food itself?

      Harry Roy
      Professor of Biology
      Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
      Troy, New York 12180
      518 276 8170

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