Hi and welcome back.
Even the best laid plans of mice and men are thrown aside sometimes. My dieting regime had gone a little off balance recently. Nothing alarming but enough to make me think that my own advice wasn’t working terribly well.
It came about from me just feeling hungrier than normal, and rather than stoically keeping to the calorie count, I gave in to the craving whilst saying “back to good behaviour tomorrow”. Sometimes you simply can’t resist your body saying “feed me” like raving mad super pot plant Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors.
I avoided the pull of the dark side thanks to my phone.
I had previously written about apps that assist you with dieting, and had briefly mentioned MyNetDiary. Despite singing its praises, I’ve been diligently writing down my calories in a notebook because I just found it easy. Why I decided to give MyNetDiary a second chance is anyone’s guess but I figure that it was something that could calm my stroll to larger waist jeans.
I think my biggest objection, (and this may be down to my Scottish ancestry) was that it was free on Android and $4 on the AppStore, but I remembered it had been the best of the apps I’d tried before I returned to simple pencil and paper and downloaded it anyway.
I was surprised to find that it was the push I needed.
For those of you who’ve never heard of it, its a simple app (it can do a lot more if you start paying for premium services) that shows you your net calorie consumption and remaining balance based on its calculation of a few parameters you supply.
Basically you give it your current weight, height and age and your target weight. It then establishes the reasonable calorie limit it has computed you need to stick to to get to your target in, in my case a month. It was 15 calories off of the 1800 value I’ve always successfully used in times I’ve been over the BMI which was was inspiring.
You then select a meal group from Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks and then add what you eat. It handily has a scanner so you can use barcodes to short cut the process, though it can sometimes give you values that are less than a standard serving because of whatever database tables it establishes its version of a serving. To get around this there’s a custom mode where you can enter anything you want, along with its calorie count. It also allows you to add detailed data for the food if you have it, while seeming to miss the point that you’re using custom mode because you don’t have these figures to hand, or need to butcher them significantly were you of a mind to supply what for me is way too much information.
The app provides useful feedback about the food / drink you add. If you click on the > to the right of the Analysis summary on it’s lead screen you get a summary of progress to date (called Bottom line) which explains how far under standard calorie consumption you’re having to manage and the rate it predicts you’re losing weight at. (All positive news). Below this there’s a Day highlights section which enthusiastically lists the good points of your performance while not playing up too significantly minor bad points (like including 5 grams of ‘fiber’ – it’s misspelling not mine.
I’ve only been using it a few days, and it has coerced me back towards target, which I definitely wasn’t on a few days and several chocolate bars ago.
I’ve found so far that it’s marvellous if you eat a lot of pre packaged food, where its scanner can (with a few excursions into silliness re servings) and background logic can confidently establish your calorie count. Where I’ve found its not so easy is when you prepare your own food, for example by making your own sandwiches.
Before the app, I’d reasonably guess the calories dependent on portion size, e.g. 50 grams of Tuna. With the app, you feel passively persuaded to get this right and enter the right information, which leads to the weighing scales coming out and extra effort (probably using uncounted calories in their own right) has to be expended to obtain the proper figure. I say passively because the 1 and 0 counting phone app has no idea of anything else aside from its quite clever AI assisted logic. You could be a pink pelican for all it cares. That would almost be an advantage because you never see them fussing around with weighing scales.
I also found that the initial enthusiasm of patiently scanning and correcting the program began to give way to a little bit of indifference, when I realised that MyNetApp (as far as I’m aware) is not at all concerned about regular use. It positively gushes if you enter your weight readings, but doesn’t castigate you, or broadcast your failure to utilise its clever interface to all and sundry on the web if you just ignore it. I find myself just being lazy with it – it needs you to be diligent and painstaking, and sometimes that’s just not part of my day (unless it comes to my job where I’m being paid to be painstaking).
Despite the fact that at present I feel that I will inexorably be drawn back to pencil and paper, I am sticking with it because without being melodramatic I feel it’s a temporary guiding light to get me back on the path, and when I’m still recovering from injury it’s a help.
It isn’t too heavy on paid services reminders but you find that after a while a little reluctance creeps in to using its links because half of them inevitably lead to billed premium services. This is fine once you can differentiate between them, but the more you explore the more you encounter these and you do begin to wonder why you had to pay for the app (on iphone at least) when so much of it is only unlocked by an £84 a year subscription (£7 per month). I don’t pay that to Netflix so the chances I’ll succumb and press the purchase buttons is remote.
Saying this it has enough on board to keep you exploring, including a food check function you can use when buying food which allows you to compare it with similar offerings, the ability to link activity trackers and access to forums used by other people using the app.
I’m going to use the app for another two weeks and see if my grumblings were excessive or bang on, and compare two other apps with it to see which looks the best value.
If you have observations on your use of this or any other weight loss app I’m sure those looking for help with their slimming regime would be interested, particularly if you’ve found any apps to become erstwhile electronic companions that you’d now be reluctant to part company with.
Bearing in mind this is only part 1 of a two parter, if you think this has been useful please click the like button so more people can see the article. There may be other useful stuff in my previous blogs that will assist with your diet.
If you’re wondering where the reference to ‘best laid plans of mice and men’ came from, it wasn’t from me, but originates from Robert Burn’s poem ‘To a Mouse’ about a farmer apologising to a mouse for wrecking his home while ploughing, and is the origin of the also much quoted ‘Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie’. Of Mice and Men is also of course the title of the famous novel by Ernest Hemingway.
Here’s one for reference.
Last and not least, keep up your dieting – you will make it!
See you in a couple of weeks and hopefully not too many choccy bars.