I’m in love with the MyFitnessPal app

Diet scaleEver since my first child was born, I’ve been heavier than I like. I’m still fairly trim, but I am no longer slim. Even four and half years of martial arts didn’t change that. I became well-muscled, but not slim. Since my knee problems started, I’ve stopped exercising, but I didn’t change my eating habits.

When I couldn’t lose weight, I told myself two lies. The first lie was that my metabolism had slowed significantly with age and pregnancies. The second (and this was a whopper) was that I didn’t eat much. I’m a nosher, and so I just grazed all day, constantly telling myself that I was having “just a little bit.”

A friend of mine bemoaned her weight as well, although she’d always been more honest with herself about her role in her weight. Last week, though, she told me, “I’m finally on a diet that’s going to work. I am going to lose weight.”

Naturally, I was intrigued, and asked her about her certainty. She told me that she’s got a new app, free, called “MyFitnessPal.” The beauty of this app is that it’s incredibly easy to calculate calories eaten and calories burned doing exercise. It begins by asking you to put in your current weight, your fitness regimen, and your weight goal. It then calculates how many calories you should be eating per day.

My friend is right. MyFitnessPal is easy, especially because I can use it on my phone, iPad, and desktop, meaning I’m always near something in which I can enter my data and track my progress. No matter what food I’ve eaten, MyFitnessPal has information about its calories and nutrition. It’s endlessly scalable so, if I eat a third of a slice of Cello Variety Pack cheese, I can enter precisely that amount and get calorie data.

MyFitnessPal allows me to enter my recipes, and it will calculate the recipe’s calorie and nutrition content, ingredient by ingredient. If I exercise, it allows me to calculate roughly how many calories I’ve burned, which it applies to the calories I’m supposed to eat for that day. At the end of the day, MyFitnessPal will tell me how much weight I would lose in 5 weeks if I kept to that given day’s regimen.

For me, seeing the data play out in real-time is astonishing. It turns out that it’s not that my metabolism has slowed that much. Instead, I’ve been eating roughly twice as many calories per day as I should. If it weren’t for my metabolism, I’d be a butterball, five feet wide by five feet tall.

I think that, for once and for real, I’ll be happy to find a weight that’s comfortable for me — more than I weighed before babies, but significantly less than I weigh now.

If you’re looking to lose weight, I highly recommend MyFitnessPal.

One thing on which we both can agree: sugar is bad and high fructose corn syrup is worse

Alec Baldwin has undergone an amazing transformation in the last few months.  This is Baldwin at peak pudgy:

And this is Alec Baldwin today:

What’s even more impressive than this transformation is Baldwin’s claim that he dropped all the weight in four months, primarily by leaving sugar out of his diet:

Baldwin, who’s dating yoga instructor Hilaria Thomas, tells “Access Hollywood,” “I gave up sugar. I lost 30 pounds in four months. It’s amazing.

“(I do) Pilates, spin, not as much yoga as I’d like. When we’re shooting (‘30 Rock’) it’s tough… When we’re shooting and I can’t work out, I just have to eat less. So, I’m very conscious of that. But sugar was the real killer for me – that was the problem.”

In one of those frequent coincidences I so often see in the internet world, within minutes after reading about Baldwin’s weight loss, I returned to an email thread in a conservative group to which I belong.  The thread had made a fascinating journey, traveling from poor grammar (specifically, the loss of the declaratory in favor of the interrogative), to the feminization of speech, and then to chemicals in food that may affect boys’ hormonal development.  The last email in the thread, the one that arrived immediately after I read about Alec’s “I gave up sugar” statement, was about the dangers of sugar generally and, more specifically, high fructose corn syrup.  The author of the email made his argument against sugar compelling by including pictures that precisely echo Baldwin’s photos:  he went from middle-aged plump to trim and muscular, not through surgery and time travel, but through sugar control and exercise.

My friend linked to Peter Attia’s War on Insulin site, and said that it changed his world.  I have to admit to being intrigued.  Last year, I gave up flour (which transforms into sugar in the body) and felt better, although I lost at most three pounds.  By the end of the year, though, I’d slipped back into my old ways.  The War on Insulin approach, however, is better rounded than just giving up foods, and that may be what I need.  It’s not even so much about the weight gain, although I’d be happy to drop the last baby fat (13 years after the baby was born).  It’s also about feeling better.  I feel draggy, and draggy people don’t get black belts.

Aside from finding the whole thing very intriguing, I thought it was incredibly funny that, in a country that is currently experiencing a very deep, rancorous political divide, one that splits it pretty much straight down the middle numerically, two people from opposite ends of the spectrum (my conservative friend and the liberal Alec Baldwin) can find common ground in the world of low-glycemic diets.


How limousine liberals view starvation

Starvation, sadly, regularly stalks the African continent.  This religiously prophetic website, in its famine page, tracks those trends and provides truly horrible images, one of which I reproduce here (from Somalia):

In the great country of America, however, hunger has a different face:

I do not post the above picture to be mean to the voluminous ladies who appear in it.  Indeed, it’s not my picture at all.  Instead, it’s the picture used to illustrate an NPR story about the way in which rising food prices are affecting the poor:  among other things, they’re not able to buy all the food they want:

The rising cost of food means their money gets them about a third fewer bags of groceries — $100 used to buy about 12 bags of groceries, but now it’s more like seven or eight. So they cut back on expensive items like meat, and they don’t buy extras like ice cream anymore. Instead, they eat a lot of starches like potatoes and noodles.

I appreciate the story’s main point, which is that, for people who live their lives on the economic razor’s edge, inflation is devastating.

I also understand that the story is trying to show that, from an Atkins’ diet point of view, cheap hi-carb food is more likely to increase weight than more expensive low carb food, including meat.  The ladies above  clearly aren’t shopping at Whole Foods.  It’s just as clear, though, that these gals didn’t suddenly gain weight when inflation began.  Instead, it’s obvious that their weight problems pre-date the recent rise in prices, and that, even as they stock up on potatoes and noodles, they’re not buying much in the way of fruits and veggies.  And perhaps, just perhaps, they’re eating too much.  (Incidentally, you can still get a good value on meat at McDonalds, if you wish to offset your all carb diet, but I suspect McDs is a dirty word in NPR circles.)

Hat tip:  Moonbattery (and Danny Lemieux)