Sadly, once the Christmas tree had been put away and the New Year’s Eve confetti had been swept up, I could find no excuse not to tackle my most pressing post-holiday need – losing some weight. Most adults put on at least a little weight over the holidays, and crowded fitness center parking lots every January attest to the fact that a good many want to then shed that weight, at least until New Year’s resolutions are forgotten. I decided to see if I could combine my weight-loss goals with my interest in technology. I found a free app for my Android phone called Lose it!, and suddenly the dreary chore of losing weight became a bit more interesting.
Lose it! is available for both Android phones and the iPhone. The app works well on my Droid Incredible (Verizon network). Once downloaded, the user enters a small amount of data and that’s about it. The app makes it very easy to get started and initial setup takes less than two minutes. Users are first asked what they weigh, what they want to weigh (their goal weight), and how much they want to lose per week. The choices are one, one-and-a-half or two pounds per week, well within what weight-loss experts deem reasonable. More user choices exist for the app, but those can be discovered along the way. After entering the three items listed above, I was ready to go.
Lose It! is essentially a calorie-counting app, and that may turn off some potential users. For me, however, it fit perfectly with my approach to weight loss. Having recently read The Physicist’s Guide to Weight Loss, by Mark Buesing, I have come to think of weight loss in terms of energy. As Buesing explains in his book, energy in equals weight gain, and energy out equals weight loss. From this perspective, Lose It! is an excellent app. The foods you eat are easily entered via a variety of methods. Tap the Log tab at the top of the screen. Tap Add and then choose the meal you’d like to enter. You can conduct a generic search for a food item or – and this is my favorite feature of the app – you can scan the barcode of the food you are eating. Once an item has been scanned, it becomes part of My Foods, and can be easily and quickly added to any subsequent meal.
For breakfast this morning, for example, I scanned the barcode on the box of my oatmeal. All of the nutritional information (130 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 170 mg of sodium, etc.) was instantly loaded. Click Add again and the food is added to your running total for the day. Exercise is added to your day in the same manner. I use an elliptical trainer at home, and I have found the calories burned figures provided by the Lose It! app to be very close to the numbers found on my elliptical trainer. When you add exercise to your day, the app gives you an identical number of additional calories you can eat that day.
As your day progresses, a quick tap of the My Day tab shows a bar graph that indicates how many calories you are allowed for the day, how many calories you have burned through exercise and your net total of calories remaining for the day. Lose It! also exists as a web site (http://www.loseit.com/) , and the phone app allows users to synch their data from their phones to their online account.
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I try to keep it simple when looking for cell phone apps. They need to be free, easy to use and effective at their stated task. Lose It! meets all of those criteria. I have already stuck with entering data far longer than I have with previous weight loss efforts. And by the way, I have lost weight for three straight weeks now. Wasn’t that the whole point in the first place?