January 31st, 2013 by () in Diet Log

Moves for iPhoneRecently I have been getting more interested in my personal health as I try and shed some pounds – so much so that I have even built this website to help me and others do so.

Been a gadget lover this has inevitably led me to look at some technology to help with fitness, weight loss and well-being. Currently there are two players in this market: Nike and Fitbit. Both produce hardware that will record your activity during the day (and night with Fitbit) allowing you to see how active you have been. They both do this with wearable devices – a wristband for Nike and a dongle for Fitbit. The issues with these are that the Fitbit just doesn’t seem practical to me, you have to clip it on, and both are expensive – £70 for the Fitbit and £120 for Nike equivalent.

Enter Moves for iPhone, which is an app that records very similar information to Fitbit and Nike but comes without the need for carrying any additional hardware and is free. What I like about Moves is that it is a set and forget solution. No having to remember to put on your dongle as it is part of something that I regularly carry with my anyway – my phone. Moves can record three types of activity: walking, running and cycling as well as logging when you haven’t been active by taking the car or public transport. The fitness information is shown as a series of bubbles on the screen for the day with a linear list below mapping out the day by time.

Having used it for a couple of days now a couple of things have become clear: Moves works incredibly well and when I am at home working I really don’t move about enough.

If I was Nike and Fitbit I would be worried as Moves really does eat into their market at a price point that you just cannot beat – free. No doubt there will be a pro edition at some point as they need to repay their investors and I am hoping that they introduce a calorie counter and an ability to set goals too but right now Moves is just perfect for the casual user to be able to track their movement or lack thereof.

Download Moves for iPhone here.

Posted in Diet Log
January 18th, 2013 by () in Diet Log

Tap & TrackAs I pointed out in a previous post the formula for losing weight is pretty simple – consume fewer calories than you burn. However, in practice that can be difficult to mange.

Consensus of medical opinion seems to suggest that a sensible level of calorie intake is about 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men a day. This depends on a certain level of activity. If you have a desk based job and don’t plan in any activity you may find that your requirements are less than this. Similarly if you exercise a lot you will need more. Either way once you have established what your intake should be it should be a simple case of just eating less calories than this amount to lose weight.

But, of course, nothing is as simple as that. Ignoring that your body is out to get you and goes into some lockdown mode when it thinks that you are trying to starve it, just how do you work out how many calories you have consumed?

For me I use the excellent Tap & Track app on my iPhone as I always have it to hand. Once you have set the app up with some basic information about yourself and set a daily calorie limit it it easy to use and keep an eye on how you are doing against those targets.

Tap & Track contains a huge database of items from major brands and stores (even if it is a bit US centric). You can also add your own items and, even better, meals, which is great and a huge time saver. The home page (which is shown above) gives a nice graphical display of how you are progressing on a particular day towards your goal.

The only thing that you have to be careful of is making sure that you enter every last calorie that passes your lips and that can be quite difficult to do. It is easy to pop a grape in the mouth without thinking about it. Or maybe you take a handful and think “I won’t record that as grapes are good for you so there can’t be any calories in them”, right? But it all adds up and, as I have found out, it is easy to slip over the daily limit without too much difficultly.

There are plenty of other apps for both mobile devices and online so if you choose to go down the calorie counting route you should be able to find something that works for you. Try and find one that has a reasonably large database of food items and is regularly updated as this will make your job much easier.

Does calorie counting work for you or do you prefer to do something else? If so let us know in the comments.

Posted in Diet Log
January 13th, 2013 by () in Site Updates

Scales

In keeping with our plan to rapidly improve the site we have rolled out a number of fixes today, one of which could potentially be very significant.

Previously when entering a weight you could, within certain limits, put anything you wanted allowing you to show great fluctuations in your weight day on day, which was pretty unrealistic.

So we have today implemented some checks and balances. This has been done for two reasons:

– firstly it stops the unscrupulous from sticking in unreasonable weights simply to win a challenge (that’s not you though, right!?).

– Secondly, it is simply not healthy to be losing (or gaining) too much weight over short periods.

Health professionals recommend a loss of about 1/2 to 2 pounds a week. You may lose more initially but this should quickly level out. The site now takes that into account by giving you an allowance that you can lose or gain a day. This is based on a number of factors and will be different for each individual.

If you are on a normal diet regime you shouldn’t notice any difference but there may be a few exceptional cases where you are prevented from updating your weight even though the change is legitimate. If that happens to you please then send us a message and we’ll work something out.

As ever we welcome your feedback on both this change and the site in general so please leave us a comment below.

Enhancements:

– change to the font used to aid readability.

– checks for sensible weight changes per day

Bug Fixes:

– user accounts that are closed or suspended are now excluded from challenges and won’t appear in the results.

– weight change percentages are now displaying correctly.

Posted in Site Updates
January 8th, 2013 by () in Guest Posts

Sized 10 JeansAfter watching a Horizon program on TV last year, I decided to give the 2/5 or famine diet as I call it, a trial. Its title refers to the calorie intake on different days of the week: two days are for restricted calorie intake- 400-500 and five days for eating pretty much what you want.

I found the programme and concepts intriguing and being persuaded by the science, decided to have a shot myself.

Initially I was sceptical about the proposed weight loss benefits as I’ve always had what could be called a healthy appetite to some and an obsession with food to others. Would I really not eat myself silly on the free rein days? However what really got my gastric juices flowing were the medical benefits assigned to the regime particularly the cancer risk reduction.

So, size ten jeans close to hand, I started the diet in September 2011 and have successfully followed it bar two weeks festivity slippage.

It took a little getting used to as I found my ‘famine days’ became early bed days due to the incredible lack of energy which overtook me by late afternoon. I have made allowances for this over time and in fact the early bed twice a week has led to an improvement in my sleep patterns- nothing else ever did.

My starting weight was 68kg and I am currently 64kg even with the Christmas gluttony.

I exercise regularly- three times a week which includes a half an hour run on both famine days- possibly a reason for the tiredness late afternoon. On the days of no calorie restriction I tend to be conscious of what I am eating in the week but if I get hungry I do not abstain whereas the weekends tend to be a free for all. I am now at the top end of normal weight for my height and body type so I am intrigued to see where my weight will stabilise.

The diet has so far been easy to stick to. To me it makes sense to adopt a diet which mimics the eating patterns our bodies had evolved to follow. I know that certain body types are pre programmed to lay on fat in times of plenty, ready for when food supplies are more scarce. I know I am one of these.

The only annoying part is I do not know what health benefits the diet has brought but guess I will one day and there is always the pair of size 10 jeans still waiting for me in my drawer!

Posted in Guest Posts
January 4th, 2013 by () in Diet Log

The Christmas BlowoutI had a really good run up to Christmas getting my weight down under 14 stone (196 lbs for our American cousins). Of course the Christmas break put paid to that and I am back above the 14 stone mark again.

Christmas is an important time for food in the UK where we typically consume far too much turkey and all the trimmings, much like the US for Thanksgiving. But it is not just Turkey that is the culprit but also all the cakes, sweets and other specialities that are on offer. Add to this that I haven’t being working so the usual distractions have been absent.

Now that the break is over and I am back at work I am really struggling to get back into the right midset for dieting. Part of the problem is that I like good food and at Christmas there is so much of it available. Once Christmas is over I have to reset my mind (and stomach) to accept a “normal” amount of food and that is proving to be a challenge.

For me keeping an accurate log of what I eat and being busy are the keys to not over eating. What works for you?

Posted in Diet Log