Away back in the beginning of this my most recent and longest and more or less most successful slog towards better health and fitness, I set out to figure out what I was and was not willing to do for the rest of my life, or at least for long periods of time, in order to achieve my goals. And one thing I was pretty sure I did not want to mess with was counting calories or points or any such thing. It's cumbersome, it's crazy-making, it's punative, it's just plain hateful. Life is too short.
A friend from one of my online fitness support groups has been raving about Lose It, a free app for Android and IPhone. I've been playing with it for the past several days, and it's really cool.
I'd tried a few online programs --- My Plate via the LiveStrong website, and a couple of others --- but I always found them very cumbersome to use, and you had to spend so much time looking up food, most of which was processed name brand crap that I don't eat. Lose It is much easier and more convenient. And cute. It's almost like playing a game.
First, you set goals, and enter some information. How much you currently weigh; whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain; how much you'd like to lose and how quickly; your age, etc. Lose It then calculates how many calories you have to "spend" each day. In addition to calories, you can custom program the app to track certain nutrients.
Then, you log your food and exercise intake. And not unlike Weight Watchers, when you log exercise, YOU EARN MORE CALORIES TO STUFF IN YOUR PIEHOLE.
I'm not a big app person, so one of the things I like about Lose It is that it's easy to figure out. It's easy to look up and log foods, or to add custom foods or exercise. And then, it's right there ON YOUR PHONE, which you have with you all the time. Or at least, I do. At this point, it's part of my anatomy. As soon as something goes in the piehole --- or even before --- you just whip out that phone and punch in what you ate, or are contemplating eating. And you get a cheery little screen that shows you where you are with your daily budget.
And let me tell you, friends, that budget is a BIG deterrent to overdoing it. When you're craving ice cream and looking at what you have left for the day, you have to make a real conscious choice to go over. It's right there in your face. It's like the calorie counts at Starbucks'. When I see "Scone, 460 calories" my desire for it flickers and dies like a cellulite-covered candle in the wind.
There are all sorts of other goodies associated with Lose It that you can play with. Forums, blogs, support groups ('cause everything has to have a social media application these days), emails, and so on. I haven't gotten into any of that; I like to keep it simple, and right now, the simplicity of the app is a large part of its charm for me.I like the cute little icons, I like the aforementioned gamelike qualities, I like that it's FREE. It's a very useful tool.
There is one major drawback to Lose It, however. And that is that all it can do is work with the information you give it. Feed it good information --- don't lie about the amount of exercise you did or what you ate or how much --- and you will get accurate results. But Garbage In, Garbage Out applies.
This means you may have to do a little research to make sure you're feeding in accurate information. For example, today I did an approximately 10-mile bike ride. I didn't keep track of how long it took me; but I do know from the odometer that I tend to ride between 8 and 11 miles an hour most of the time. The app calculates your calories burned by the amount of time you spend riding at a certain pace, not distance; so I made an educated guess and thought the resulting calorie bonus was pretty generous. Next time I'll pay more attention. Also, this means you have to measure your portions, too (which, to be honest, we all should be doing anyway).
So there you have it, Lose It is a winner. Will I want to do it forever? I dunno. But right now, I'm having fun playing this game, and it's helping me over a hump. So yaay.