There’s an old saying in performance management circles “what gets measured, gets done”. Let’s see if using an app to lose weight actually works.
Keen readers of ScarletFire might be aware that for the last 8 months, I’ve been sort of homeless. I say sort of, because it’s not entirely true. I sold my house on the basis that we were buying another property, and then they decided to change their mind about selling. It was horrific. But I’ll spare you the details.
It should have been 6-8 weeks temporarily staying at a parent’s house (with my wife and two kids), but it’s turned into 8 months. There is light at the end of the tunnel however, and we could be moving soon. Yippee.
The naughty cupboard
Now, my old mum is a bit clueless when it comes to nutrition, and always has a cupboard chock full of biscuits and chocolatey stuff. I think of it as “the cupboard of pure evil”.
Despite knowing that processed sugary food is really not worth eating, it’s very hard to resist. Hence the mass rise of obesity in the Western world. Now, I’m not saying that my mum’s cupboard is single handedly responsible for producing a nation of diabetic fatties with heart disease, blindly choking the NHS unnecessarily.
No, I’m not saying that.
But, this change of environment, and the perpetually temptation of the naughty cupboard have meant that I’ve put on about 10 pounds, or 5kg.
An app to lose weight? There’s an app for fat!
Here on ScarletFire, we all know that recording your bike rides can help you towards achieving specific training goals. You measure it, decide what you need to change (or keep doing), keep going, and repeat.
By focusing on a specific measurable bit of information, you’re in control and there’s no hiding from the data. The numbers can’t lie.
And so it is with weight loss. It’s a very simple equation – if you expend more energy than you take in, you’ll get thinner. If you consume more calories than you use up, you’ll get fatter.
I’ve always been a bit sceptical of all these diet fads with their points systems and low fat processed products filled with sugar instead. They’re doing it all wrong. Cynically, one could accuse them of enslaving the fatties just as the cigarette manufacturers created armies of enslaved coughing zombies.
Calorie awareness – just how many donuts can I eat per day?
The problem with eating food is that you might not be aware how many calories are in each and every item. Eat just a few of the wrong things and you’ll be slowly gaining weight.
So the trick is to track the numbers. That’s where the MyFitnessPal app comes in. It’s a totally free app to lose weight. Get MyFitnessPal here (it’s free)..
How MyFitnessPal helps you lose weight
It’s incredibly simple to use. Just download the app to your phone or tablet, and create a profile.
Don’t bother syncing it to facebook, because believe me, nothing annoys your mates more than smug auto posts from fitness apps. Oh, apart from pics of new babies.
#1 Tell it how heavy you are
#2 Tell it how heavy you want to be
#3 Tell it how quickly you want to lose the weight
The app then calculates a target daily calorie allowance. If you stick to this, you will lose weight at the rate you specified.
There are two hard parts.
#Hard part 1
The first hard part is remembering to record every little thing you consume. There’s absolutely no point in cheating here. Do you want to lose weight or not?
Actually, the app makes it very easy to log foods. It has an incredibly detailed directory of products to search from, and you can scan barcodes directly, adjust the quantity and get an accurate total of how much you’re eating. The daily allowance ticks down as you log more items and you might start to realise how much you’ve been overeating!
#Hard part 2
The second part, as you may have guessed, is having the will power to resist your usual snacking habits, and go for a few carrot sticks instead of that Snickers bar.
The fantastic news for us cyclists is that with every ride, you earn back calories. For example, I might eat 300 calories for breakfast but my commute to work uses about 600, so that’s a net gain of 300 in the bank. It’s a great feeling on bike days to be able to eat whatever you want and still finish under the allowance.
By the way, MyFitnessPal can now sync to Garmin Connect too, so your activities will automatically show up, with their calorie estimations. You can also enter exercise manually.
At the end of each day, the app tells you how much you’d weigh in 5 weeks time if every day were like today. This helps to reaffirm that idea that every little bit helps, and it all adds up. Slowly but surely.
And so, I draw my line in the sand….
I’m currently 160 lbs, and I’d like to get down to 150 if I can, which is roughly where I was last summer, and it felt great. I was climbing well and completed the Etape Cymru in 5:32 which I was extremely happy with.
I’ll post some updates every week or two, to share my progress.
Incidentally, the act of sharing this stuff on the blog becomes a powerful motivator to want to succeed and not give up.
Anyone else fancy joining me?
If you feel the need to lose a bit of weight and fancy some extra inspiration, why not post in the comments here?
I’ll write an update post in a week or so, and we can compare progress and notes.
Get MyFitnessPal free here.
Incidentally, if you’re looking for a specific resource about getting lean for cycling, the book “Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance” comes highly recommended.