My blood pressure was high and my doctor wanted me to do something about it. He suggested taking blood pressure pills and even wrote the prescription, but I declined. His other suggestion was to lose some weight. Over the years I had risen to about “two bills” (200 pounds) and nothing, not even 2-4 mile daily walks, seemed to bring it down.
I had no choice. I had to lose some weight, start taking pills, or possibly die young. I considered joining Weight Watchers, but I didn’t like the idea of weekly public weigh-ins or paying for the privilege of losing pounds. Although I’d seen it work with others, I didn’t sign up—and I didn’t lose an ounce, either! In fact, at my annual December physical I achieved a personal record by weighing in at 210 pounds. Ouch!
Edibles to the rescue
Finally motivated to take some action, I went looking for an iPhone app to help me with my weight. There are many such programs in the iTunes App Store, but I selected Edibles-Diet Journal, a $5.99 app designed to help you keep track of what you eat and judge its value. Since the beginning of 2009, it’s become my constant companion. (Available for $5.99 on the App Store; developer’s Web site: random-ideas.net/Software/Edibles/.)
The badge on the Edibles Home screen icon
displays your unused calorie allowance.
Edibles takes advantage of the iPhone’s Badge function, which displays useful information in a small oval “badge” superimposed over the app’s icon in the Home screen. For example, the badge over the Mail icon tells you how many unread e-mails you have. In the case of Edibles, the badge displays your unused daily allowance of calories (or carbs).
Edibles Displays Daily and weekly totals.
As with many calorie-tracking programs, Edibles lets you enter and track the food you eat each day, so you can stay within a certain calorie limit. You can also track any exercise you do, and Edibles will give you credit for the calories you burn. Edibles updates your totals as you enter food and exercise, and tells you how many calories, carbs, or whatever unit you’re counting you have available for the rest of the day.
Setting my goals and counting “dots”
The settings screen for Edibles is located on the iPhone settings page, rather than within the app itself. This is where you enter your physical details and ultimate goal, expressed as your wished-for weight. As I was setting my goal, I was surprised to see that I was starting out in the “Obese” category.
The food entry screen is simple and easy to use.
Double-ouch! I needed to lose a full 40 pounds just to get into the “Healthy” category. I set my goal at 170, the first place “Overweight” changed to “Healthy.”
The app is very configurable. You can even rename the units you’re counting. Want to call calories “goodies” to put a positive spin on it? Go ahead. You can also select what you’re going to count. Edibles provides a sample, but you can modify it to suit your own experience. I went with “dots,” a custom unit I created that is based on three elements: calories, fat, and fiber. After I specified what a dot was, Edibles calculated and displayed a dot value every time I enter the calories, fat, and fiber associated with a food.
The Edibles Calculator lets you determine
the "dot" value of your meal.
Edibles food log page shows you how
well you’re doing food choice by food choice.
Determining calories, fat, and fiber
There are many books and online references that will give you the calorie, fat, and fiber content of your favorite foods. It addition, most prepared foods you buy in the store display nutritional content on the label. But dining out is filled with danger for a person watching weight. If you find yourself eating at a fast food restaurant, what do you do? Pull out your iPhone, of course!
Restaurant Nutrition (also called simply "Restaurants") is another handy app available on the App Store. This little friend gives you the info you need about the food served in most fast-food restaurants, including carbs, calories, fat, fiber, sodium, and more. Before you get in line, take a look at the menu and plug the numbers into the Edibles food calculator to get your dot-value instantly.
Having fun with exercise
In the end, you’ll have to exercise more to lose weight, and that can be a chore. Fortunately, I found a way to use my iPhone to make that more enjoyable.
The Restaurants app gives dieters information
about the foods served in your favorite eatery.
Exercising year-round is essential, so in bad weather, I set up my bike to ride inside on a “trainer,” which allows me to ride in place. Doing this can be a bit boring, but music helps pass the time. So I synced my iPhone with my complete collection of The Beatles original British CDs. To add a sense of surprise, I select “All Songs” and then shuffle. Music of the most amazing variety comes out of the headphones, and it’s never the same twice. I find myself focusing on Ringo’s drumming while I exercise. Every song gives my ride a different rhythm, and before I know it, my iPhone’s alarm has gone off and I’m finished. I plug in the activity dots into Edibles—1.65 dots for every ten minutes of strong riding. After 20 minutes of riding I’ve burned enough to have a pale ale (3.5 dots) or a bowl of ice cream (3.2 dots). Or I can skip the treat and lose some weight. It’s pure math!
And speaking of numbers, your progress will come in small amounts, so you’ll want to get a scale that displays weigh in decimal points. It will make it easier for you to see the weight slip off over the days and weeks ahead. So, power up the iPhone and lose some pounds. You’ll have to buy new, smaller jeans every so often, but that will be money you enjoy spending!
To pass the time while exercising, I listen to the
Beatles; riding along to Ringo's beat is great.