Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Weird Wednesday: My Fitness Pal

I’ve been trying to lose 10 pounds for about two years now.  Recently, I discovered that to legitimately use the word “trying” requires some sort of actual effort.  Apparently, the mental work of setting the goal and feeling health conscious does not qualify as “trying” no matter how many glasses of wine you consume while contemplating the goal.  There is even some scientific evidence that pounds and inches will not melt away from mentally wishing it so.

Who knew?

Anyway, I can now put this whole trying conversation behind me because I am well into the process of “losing” 10 pounds.  And, yes, you guessed it -- there’s an app for that. 

In fact, there is a quite popular app for that called “MyFitness Pal.”  It’s easy to use and offers a wealth of information about foods, exercise and how all that relates to you and your body.  This past weekend, for instance, the kids wanted lunch at Chipotle where I usually crave the chicken burrito that tops out at about 1,000 calories, almost half of what I’m allowed per day.  Between the door and the counter, I discovered that the Crispy Chicken Tacos are only 465 calories and they made a nice lunch.

Did I mention that it’s easy to use?  In fact, it’s so easy to use that it can make you a bit obsessive.  Those of us who remember when computers were only connected to the wall socket (we used bear skins to stay warm in the day) probably remember when Quicken came out years ago.  I lived in California’s Silicon Valley at the time and I knew people who were losing sleep because they were staying up all night obsessing about their finances – simply because they could.  Facebook has the same effect in the connected world.  These tools turn seemingly straightforward aspects of your life into a 3D IMAX screen of endless data and analysis – all about you. 

It’s like Narcissus died gazing into a smartphone rather than a pool of water.  (You’ve now had your cultural moment here on When Dad Cooks and we’ll return you to our regularly scheduled gonzo food rant.)

Once upon a time, you had to first live a life interesting enough for an autobiography, write the autobiography and then find a publisher who agreed that people might care.   Today, any mundane detail of your life can be turned into an autobiography with a few taps of a screen.

“Want to see what I ate yesterday?” I asked BMW.  She was making pancakes at the time.

“No,” she replied.

“But, it’s right here," I said.  "Look, the fish was only a couple hundred calories.”

“That’s nice dear.”

“Which doesn’t even count since I burned 385 calories on the treadmill.”

“Uh huh.”

I picked up the bottle of maple syrup we would have with the pancakes and scanned the bar code.  Up popped all the information you would want to know about something you might put in your body.

“Whoa,” I said.  “This gets me close to the amount of sugar I need for the entire day.”

“Have some pancakes with it," BMW said.  "They’re multi-grain with high fiber.”

I noted that in my automated food diary.

“Maybe we can take a walk after breakfast,” I suggested, tapping away at the screen.  “Should we do a basic walk at 3 miles per hour, a brisk walk at 3.5 miles per hour or a very brisk one at 4 miles per hour?  And how long should we go, that will determine total calories burned.”

“It depends,” BMW said.

“On what?”

“On how fast you can run.”

“I thought we would walk.  Look, there’s still plenty of calories burned,”  I pointed out helpfully.

“You’re going to run because if you don’t get away from me with that phone I’ll be chasing you with this spatula.”

Twenty minute sprint with frequent lunges to the side: 948 calories burned.


  1. Now that I am not working at The Job From Hell anymore, I suspect it will be easier to get back to my own fighting weight. Back to the gym on Friday! Is there an app for THAT?

    1. Well, technically, yes. It's called a calendar. Jobs from hell cause either weight gain or weight loss. Go figure.

  2. I must say that restaurants posting nutrituional information is quite helpful. The Missus and I were in a Buffalo Wing Wings recently, where they've started printing the calories right on the menu. You'd think, "Hey, chicken must be reasonably good for you, right?" You'd be wrong -- other than the salad (which we had) there's almost NOTHING on their menu south of 1,000 calories.

    1. Pretty brave move on their part when you think about it. Just needs Obi Wan Kenobi to wave his hand and say "This is not the meal you're looking for..."