Friday, April 09, 2010

How smartphones can help you Lose weight and Stay healthy

I have never needed to go on a diet, till now. It all started two weeks back when I stepped onto the new digital weighing machine placed near my squash court. My body weight has always hovered around the 75-77 kg mark, so I expected no different. Thus I was completely caught off-guard when it showed 82.5 kgs. I checked again for zero error, but that was the fact.

I have a desk job which requires me to stare at the monitor for 10 hours. The only exercise I get is some weekend sessions of badminton and squash, which gets cancelled more often these days since my mates are either too sleepy or have more social things to do.

I realized it was time to press the panic button and take action. Logically, all I had to do was eat healthy and work those extra calories out. Which meant occasional jogs and trips to the gym. Now like a lot of you people, I am lazy and single. Thus inherently there is no motivation to sustain any such routine to look good and charm the opposite sex. I had rather sleep an hour longer in the morning than go for a jog.

Now If you are in similar situation, where you want to lose weight and get fit, but are too lazy to chalk your own routine, I have the perfect solution for you. This involves getting a free account in a food and fitness tracking website, (myfitnesspal), a Smartphone (iPhone or any web-enabled device) and a spirit for adventure to try something new for no apparent reason. So let's start our journey to fitness.

First, I downloaded the myfitnesspal app from the iPhone app store. For non-iphone users, you can use your browser to visit myfitnesspal. There, I entered my current weight and height, work profile, target weight state and no. of weeks to achieve it. The app then suggested a daily diet plan with a fixed amount of daily calorie allowance and the fat, vitamins and protein. And thus my routine began trying to eat within the allocated calorie budget. Now interestingly, if you want to eat more, all you need is to exercise and increase your allowance.

Smart, right. For instance, a 30 mins of jog burns around 200cal, would entitle you few more of those delicious cheese fries. Luckily there are some really nice apps for iphone like runtastic and runkeeper which let your track your daily exercise. I bet you can find similar apps for other platforms.

Success of this entire process depends on how diligently you follow your diet plan. To help you further, you can search and add the food you take from their comprehensive over 160,000+ food database.
I was really impressed by the food list since it covered not only popular instant food brands but also local (indian, chinese and thai) cooked food. Again, calorie count depends on the way a particular food was cooked but this gives a roughly right composition.

A lot of skeptics might turn this down, saying it isn't rational or scientific but if you delve deeper it is plain common sense. If you calculate your Body Metabolism Rate (BMR), which is amount of calories your body burns just to stay alive. For me it's around 1,394/day. This means, as long as I eat less than this, I should progressively see a reduction in my weight. The real challenge is to have a healthy and balanced diet given this upper calorie limit. So no more fast food, more fruits and green vegetables.

So does it work? I managed to shed 3 kgs in 2 weeks. Now I weigh a good 79.5 kgs.
To sum up, losing weight is easy. Eat healthy but less than your BMR requirement and exercise more. You have all the tools in your arsenal. Stay motivated and be happy :)
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