In April my wife took me to the Apple Store. She needed to replace her Iphone, because a key part broke in a fall, and the software was going out of date anyway in a month or so. Although I had resisted getting one myself, being largely contented with cell phones, I was beginning to regret not being able to synchronize my calendar and contacts. So I bought an Iphone as well. Now we have two in the family – hers is white and mine is black.
We both sing with a chorus and not long afterward at a rehearsal I was sitting next to my friend Michael and I noticed he was doing something with his Iphone. He explained he was entering data in his calorie counter program. “It is all a matter of thermodynamics” he said (you have to study that to become a doctor). “I’ve lost ten pounds so far.” His program had a nice graphic that displays exercise vs food on a balance, and a graph that showed his weight over time since the beginning of his diet. A nice smooth straight line, heading down.
There are lots of these programs, I have since learned, and they are really catching on because they work very well. I got one, called My Fitness Pal, entered my desired weight by a certain date in the future, and learned right away that to do this I had to limit myself to 1550 calories a day. Before the era of handheld smartphones, this would have required a lot of tedious book-keeping. But with this application, all I have to do is enter what I eat. It knows how many calories that is. Also, it keeps track of exercise. Now I am in the habit of walking for an hour every morning – or doing exercise on a Nordic-Trac machine if the weather is bad. But the program knows that this exercise is worth 279 calories. So now, without doing a lot of reading and writing, I can tell just where I am along the trajectory toward those 1550 net calories. The more exercise I do, the more “free” food I can eat. If I want a snack it is no problem, except that I have to enter it in the smart phone. So I am a little less inclined to munch between meals. Of course I could skip all that, but after respecting the routine for a week or so, I became reluctant to break it, or to lie to myself, in effect. The program has built-in positive feedback, full of congratulatory messages and forecasts, like “If every day were like today you would weigh such and such in five weeks.” I could even sign up with “friends” in a kind of specialized Facebook associated with the program. There is a web site where I can view my data and get more information, that the program synchronizes for me as long as the smart phone is connected to the internet.
I told my doctor about this on a routine visit, and he smiled in recognition. “All of my patients, it seems, are doing something like this.” I cannot complain about the results. I have lost about 7% of my body weight in three months. I feel better. I can fit into some trousers that I had set aside as “too tight.” I get hungry before meals, but I have stopped considering that a problem. In a way, getting hungry reminds me that I do not really need all that technology. Still, I am hooked on keeping track of what I eat and how much I exercise, and I am determined to reach my goal weight or even do better – after all it was a pretty arbitrary target of 10%.
This could get expensive if I go “too far.” My wife says already that some of my trousers are “too baggy” to be worn in public.