Monday, July 14, 2014

Lose It App: Review of Week One - Down 5 Lbs.

When I was visiting family in South Dakota this 4th of July, my daughter drove down from Kingston, Ontario to be a part. It was so great to see her.  At six feet tall, she always looks amazing and it's actually very hard to tell if her weight is up or down. This time was different. She was obviously thinner and looked great.

In talking with her there were a few factors in her weight loss. She works on her feet all day and was playing on an Ultimate team - a sport that involves a lot of running. But top of her list was an APP on her phone called Lose It. When I returned to Vancouver, I downloaded it immediately and after a week and found myself extremely impressed.

A bit of history first. I had always been thin regardless of exercise and could eat whatever I wanted.  Then I hit 5 extremely stressful years where I had young children, was running a demanding business from home, just quit eating some days and only ate after 8 p.m. others. Each year my Set Point went up 5 pounds. I kept thinking it would come off.  Not so. When I finally closed the business after 5 years, I was up 25 pounds. Then I went through menopause early. Add in natural age related weight gain (for women this is particularly true) and it got scary. There is a pattern when naturally thin people gain weight - it wraps in a band around their middle. Research shows this is the highest risk way to carry extra fat.


Losing weight has proved difficult. I would work out for up to 6 weeks, watch what I ate and either gain or lose 2 pounds. Hard. I did a lot of research on current theories and realized there were other factors - thyroid, adrenal glands and food sensitivities that cause can cause inflammation (which adds weight), etc. I tried a basic elimination diet and didn't pinpoint anything specific although there seemed to be something. What I needed to do was separate out food/exercise from the equation. Once I achieved this goal, then I could explore other possible health issues. Lose It was perfect.

There is a Lose It version for Android and a Lose It version for iPhones as well as an online version for your home computer. When you set it up on your phone, you have the computer account as well. I returned home from holiday on Sunday, downloaded the app and by Monday was ready to fly.  First you start by entering your sex, age, current weight and goal weight. Then you select how fast you want to lose - 1, 1-1/2 or 2 pounds a week. I threw caution to the wind and selected 2. It gives you a daily caloric allowance to meet that can look a bit scary at first (mine was only 1237) - no problem. Want to eat more or have that glass of wine, there is a solution. It also keeps a weekly record in case you are over one day and under the next. Did your week balance out?

How you keep track of the food is super easy.  For fresh foods you just search their data bank, pick your serving size and click. The item also gets saved in your My Foods tab for future reference. The computer version allows you to input home recipes and it figures out the calories for you. Just be sure you put the right serving size. If your recipe says it serves 8, but you eat 1/3 of it - you need to be honest. Then on the phone version you can scan bar codes. Most modern bar codes will give you the calories and other information. Again, it's very important to be truthful about servings if you want to see results. And you need to record everything - surprisingly even coffee has calories. This is not a diet per se. What foods you chose are up to you. But remember not all calories are created equal, so choosing healthier foods makes this a much easier process. This system is so easy, it takes virtually no time after the first week or so to keep track of everything.


What I found was my normal daily eating really didn't need too much adjusting. Family or restaurant dinners were challenging, but an average day wasn't too far off - IF AND ONLY IF - I started working in some daily exercise. The beauty of this program is it firmly connects exercise to the equation. Click on your form of exercise, enter the number of minutes you participated and it adds those calories back into the daily allowance of what you can consume.  If I want a beer, that's about 1 hour of biking or walking, 30 minutes of circuit training, etc. Want to eat more calories that day, get more exercise. Weight loss can be slow and I am a bit ADD, so this instant reward for working out - more daily calories I could consume - was just the motivation I needed.


My first 7 days are over.  I had days I was over and days I was under, but over the week I stayed pretty much on track with my calorie count and didn't miss a day of exercise. Sometimes I did extra. I have discovered a long lost love of bicycling and with such a beautiful summer, I indulge in it every day. I will be sorry to see winter come. What will I replace this with? No idea, but important to figure out early. I am also down 5 pounds. This is pretty typical of weight loss - a quick drop followed by slower progress and occasional plateaus. For now, I'll embrace this loss as it is and use it to keep me on track for another week. One step at a time.

Lose It can also help you set goals for body fat, hydration, sleep, nutrients, measurements, macronutrient intake, blood pressure, sleep, etc. - but most are not available on the free app.  You can also connect with friends in the community, share foods and more. And they offer short-term challenges to help keep you focused.

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