Monday, May 23, 2016

Lose It!

Despite owning just every other Apple products, last week I finally got my first iPhone!  I bought the new SE because of the smaller size and cheaper price.  I was gonna get a new phone anyway and I couldn't be happier that I was actually getting the newest model.

After I got my phone I spent hours obsessively playing with it and installing new programs.  One of the apps I downloaded was the weight loss app Lose It! It's concept is just like every other weight loss app: you count the calories you take in by logging everything you eat, and you count the calories you use by somehow recording your exercise. I usually really hate calorie counting, I always feel that is it is the opposite of healthy eating and a normal life style. But I saw all the positive ratings users have given to this app, and I thought, hey, I need to lose weight, what do I have to lose?

And now I see why so many people like this app.  Yes it is a calorie counting app, and yes if I were to download this even 6 months ago I would probably dislike it and delete it in a day.  But several things have changed in my life: I have a Fitbit that records all my steps and exercise and then some; I have a new phone that has a front and back camera; and I just have this overall curiosity to document everything I do.  I've been using this app for 3 days and although I can't say I will stick with it forever, I did learn some very interesting things already.

First: weight loss really require discipline and patience, and persistence.  When I first started using the app I set an arbitrary goal of losing 20 pounds.  The app told me that if I do it in a way that would not strain my lifestyle or my health I could achieve my goal in September.  If I want to do it even more leisurely I could do it by November. And it sort of struck me.  I know a health way of losing weight is to lose about 1 pound per week, but I never had the capacity, until with the help of this app, to actually determine that if I want to lose 20 pounds, which I genuinely do, this is how long it's going to take. I could do it in a more extreme way but I knew that I wouldn't be able to stick with it, so I contented myself with that fact that hey, September will roll around in an eye blink and I may still carry these 20 lbs, so why now use these months to do something that I really want to do.

Second: I way over eat. This app is extremely great for logging everything you eat because it has a tremendous database of nutritional information, everything from a generic food item (caesar salad, for example), to the specific nutritional value of certain restaurant or supermarket food items.  It also has a scan function so if you eat any prepackaged food (like a can of soda or frozen dumplings), you can just scan the barcode of said item and indicate how much of it you ate (half a can, or 7 dumplings, for example).  There is still some approximation involved, especially with home cooked meal.  It can accurately tell you, say, the caloric count of a 10-oz portion of cooked salmon, but because I didn't tell it how I prepared it, the app cannot accurately determine, say, salt content or the calories of the dash of oyster sauce I splashed on my salmon.  But overall it was extremely painless to log my food, which made the experience way nicer.

But as I said, it's apparently that I have been way underestimating how much I think I eat.  It's no wonder that with all the exercise I do I'm still not getting any lighter.  I always think I didn't eat a lot on any given day, but when you punch in all the items the numbers are pretty shocking.  For the 3 days I've been using the app I was able to keep under the caloric budget the app has set for me, mostly with the help of all the running and gym classes and walking I do, but I have been scared of putting anything in my mouth because I simply don't have the budget to eat anything.  It turns out that I'm not only poor financially, but also calorically.  I really can't afford to get as many take-out as I would like, but at the same time my body just cannot afford to take in the extra calories, without getting heavier that is.  It's a fun way to think about food intake, and in some ways makes you less likely to take in that extra sip of cream-and-sugar-filled ice coffee.

It may seem like a cruel way to live, especially given how much I enjoy eating.  But financially I've always lived according to my ability.  I'm not very good a saving a lot of money for some abstract thing in the long-term future, but I also don't get into debts just because I want something and it doesn't matter whether I could afford it or not.  And bringing this mentally into the way I eat may be a good thing.  I will be more encouraged if this way of life actually produce me results.

Third, and this is the downside: I can't stop obsessively syncing my Fitbit and checking and rechecking the app.  It's back enough that I can't stop fidgeting with my new phone, it's worse to unlock it every 3 minutes to see how much my walking as offset my food intake budget.  I have not been driven crazy by this yet, but I feel that I'm getting there.

I'm not trying to pimp this app on anyone, it's just that I've been kind of all over it for the past few days that I just need to write it down somewhere.  I really hope this will help me produce some real result in weight loss.

I'm still running semi-regularly, and taking gym classes, and occasionally doing yoga.  Summer is finally approaching New England and it's time to think about running outside (I know, I still haven't, I need the time to get over the self-consciousness).  I've not been very successful with running in summers, and hopefully this year there will be some improvement.

No comments:

Post a Comment