iPhone Life magazine

My Diet Coach: Can an iPhone App Curb Cravings?

It's official, summer is here. Time for days at the beach and afternoons by the pool: in other words, for many people, it's time to shape up. When it comes to staying bikini ready, my iPhone is my best friend. I have apps that help me track of my calorie intake, sign up for classes at my gym, and track my heart rate. But recently I've added a new app to my fitness arsenal, My Diet Coach - Weight Loss for Women (Free). My Diet Coach takes a totally different approach to dieting; this isn't a calorie counter or fitness tracker. My Diet Coach uses personalized motivation and tips to help you through social or emotional eating situations where you may be tempted to make unhealthy choices. 
The Basics
Upon opening the app you are greeted with a place to add your diet or fitness goal. Although the default goal is set to losing 30 pounds in 6 months, developers understood that might not be realistic for all users. Simply tap the bubble to input the pounds you wish to lose and timeline, or click on "add your own goal" at the top of the page to amend your objective. I currently have mine set for eating more fruits and vegetables, getting enough protein, and maintaining my weight. This is probably the thing I like most about My Diet Coach. So often dieting apps are designed only for people looking to drop weight while we all know health goals can revolve around gaining weight, muscle mass, or making wiser food selections. 
 
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Setting a personal goal is just half of your motivation. Users also have the ability to add photos. Again, the photos you choose are up to you. I've seen other apps do this with stock footage of super slim celebrities, which is fine if that's what you aspire to, but I'm already super slim and that isn't going to help me make healthier choices at dinner. One thing I've never been able to attain is the elusive six pack, so my app is set to send a reminder to my phone right before dinner flashing photos I've found from various internet sites of women with amazing abdominal muscles. There's no limit to the amount of photos you may add, so you can grab screen shots off the internet or use your camera to take a photo of that little black dress you hope to wear to your next high school reunion. Then, you can set reminders to flash random photos at set intervals throughout the day along with a verbal boost to boost your resolve. 
 
Tips and Tricks
Anyone embarking on a healthier lifestyle can attest to the fact that there are bumps along the road. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, open the My Diet Coach app and click on the light bulb in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. This opens up help for specific dieting hurdles such as eating out, emotional eating, or craving sweets. There are even categories for popular diets like Atkins or South Beach. Find the situation that pertains to you.
 
In this section, you'll be able to scroll through motivational sayings and photos to help you stay on track. At the bottom of each, you'll see a thumbs up and thumbs down symbol so you can give the app feedback to personalize your motivation. When clicking on "Diet Slip-ups," my first motivational screen asks if I "like having loose fat hanging under your arms." Since that problem doesn't apply to me, I tap the thumbs down and the app lets me know this tip will not appear again in the future. The next screen asks if I "want to feel sexy and attractive?" I give it the thumbs up, and this tip will get top priority the next time I visit this category. 
 
Pro Features
My Diet Coach offers premium features for $0.99 with in-app purchase. This gives you access to one of the best features I've seen on a dieting app, the panic button. When you're tempted to eat something that isn't on your diet, open your app and hit the panic button. A screen opens with the option to add the name of the food you are tempted by and even add a photo. Under the photo is a clock set with a default time of 20 minutes followed by a tip to help you avoid your craving. I wasn't sure if this would actually work, but when tempted to eat a candy bar, I gave it a try and I have to say, I was successful. By the time 20 minutes was through, I'd forgotten I'd ever wanted the candy bar. It was a surprise when my phone alerted me I had accomplished my goal of avoiding it. Pro features also include the ability to log your weight so you can keep track of your long-term progress. 
 
The Skinny
My Diet Coach is a great addition to any dieters iPhone repository. The app's unique features and customizability make it appropriate for people with diverse goals and who are following different types of diets. The app is well laid out and easy to navigate. Do I have six pack abs yet? Well, I've only been using the app for a week, so not yet, but I have been making better choices when it comes to the food I eat. My Diet Coach has become an important part of my daily routine and I'm confident that come August, I'll be rocking a six pack. 
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Carolyn Grayson's picture
As an educator, I am always interested in new and exciting ways to engage my students and prepare them for life outside of a school setting. Technology not only improves the quality of education, it helps indoctrinate students into the professional world. As an actress in Los Angeles and freelance writer, I juggle the responsibilities and commitments of three careers. I depend on my iPhone and a myriad of apps to keep me ahead of deadlines, on time to auditions, and ready for each day ahead.