Gamer Girl Gets Thin

{August 17, 2010}   Guest Post: Lose It the Geek Way!

Hey all! As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, my dear friend, Veronica, has a wonderful blog with the most delicious looking food I’ve seen in ages.  Not only that but she’s brilliant, charming and just as nerdy as I am. All of the things I love in a friend. That said, I’ve asked her to guest post over here and, lucky for me, she said yes! She’s sent over a lovely Game Guide about an app Andy mentioned a while ago- Lose It. Check it out!

Lose It the Geek Way
Finding a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle without resorting to deprivation and dieting can sometimes seem like an impossible task. But, thanks to the iPhone app store, for once our geekery can help, rather than hinder.
Meet Lose It!, one of my all time favorite apps. A couple of years ago, a combination of Lose It! and finding the proper meds to treat a chronic condition helped me lose 35lbs in a matter of months. Unfortunately, a pretty severe foot and ankle injury a couple months ago has made it temporarily impossible for me to continue the lifestyle and habits I worked so hard to gain with the help of Lose It! So I’m getting back on the routine for damage control.
How it Works

Lose It! makes tracking your intake and output of calories fun, in a totally geeky, neurotic way. Tell it your current info, such as weight, age, and gender, and your goals, like what you want to weigh and how much you want to lose a week on your way there. After that, just let that geek tenacity take over. You know, that tenacity that forces you to play Zelda for 20 hours straight because you just can’t quit for the day until you finally figure out how to get past that really difficult boss? Well, that tenacity can serve you well outside of video games, too. All it takes is consistency in a task as simple as the most basic data entry.
Track your food
and your exercise,
While keeping an eye on daily goals
and weekly goals.
If you know you want to cut loose on the weekend, create a surplus during the week. If you have a rough Monday, make up for that deficit later on. It’s basic math!
You can also go further on your quest for healthy living. Seeing your daily food intake laid out before you makes it super easy to count your fruit and vegetable servings. It also helps you catch unwanted habits, like showing how much of your daily calories come from unhealthy snack foods or beverages or alcohol or whatever. You can even track personal dietary needs, like carbs, cholesterol, fiber, sodium, or saturated fat. It can be quite insightful to see how you divy up the percentage of your calories amongst the calorie types.
For me, tracking food helped me gain an increase in mindfulness throughout the day. Tracking exercise allowed me more flexibility to splurge now and then with the knowledge that, you know what, that’s totally okay because of my activity level. Anything to alleviate any tendencies toward guilt around the issue of food can only help. Before discovering Lose It!, I tracked my exercise by notations on a calendar of how many miles I walked/ellipticalled every day and every week, gradually upping the goal. Lose It! just made tracking daily and weekly goals easier and more all encompassing.
It’s not about dieting, it’s about mindfulness. Reduce anxiety, reduce guilt, break those habits. Find what works for you. For me, this visual and mathematic breakdown removes worry about the unknown and the factors I can’t control. It allows me to utilize my tendency toward stubbornness, errr, I mean tenacity, for good. And I find that it actually gives me more control and freedom. Personalize your metabolic info, set your own goals, and change those goals as often as you like. Take a day or two off now and then. Push yourself on the days you feel like it, and then feel free to let loose a little on other days. Or stick to your budget as a hard and fast rule, a solid wall that once you reach it, you can’t go any further. Lose It! doesn’t tell you what to do or how to do it; it just let’s you keep track.
While I’m injured, I’ve upped my calorie budget from where I had it set while losing the weight, because I know I can’t maintain the same level of caloric output through exercise in this condition. This takes the pressure off of even trying to do so. I can’t control how fast my injury heals, so I’m doing my best not to blame myself or feel guilt for any unwanted consequences of being injured. I know that, once my body is ready, it’ll be no time before the jeans I was wearing when I fell will fit again. It would be a waste of time and a hindrance to the end goal to allow guilt or shame to get in the way.
Seeing It In Action

Ok, so all this data entry might seem daunting and tedious. Honestly, if you don’t have a somewhat neurotic, tenacious side, this might not be a suitable option for you. But for others, there’s something immensely satisfying about having a visual representation of your hard work. Watching that weight graph steadily going downward and knowing exactly what you’re doing to cause that trend – that’s something to feel proud of, and, conversely, helps you stick with it. Besides, the data entry is a lot easier than it sounds. Lose It! has a built in database with nutritional info on thousands of foods, including market brands and chain restaurant info. And it’s really easy to input anything missing from the database. Google it, or, if you have the packaging, just copy off the label.
Let me show you how this works with one of my many current food projects. I’ve been trying to find a quick, palatable way to make easy, healthy curry for less money than take-out. An almost impossible task, but I like a challenge. To satisfy the “easy” requirement, I’ve been working my way through various jars of pre-made curry at the market, with varying degrees of success. Lose It! helps with the “healthy” part. I often doctor the contents of the jars to overcome the flat, tinny flavor prevalent to the genre. I use Lose It! to track how my doctoring affects the nutritional end result.
My most recent attempt reinforced a basic lesson in nutrition. I prepared a Coconut Vegetable Curry using a jar of Mr. Kook’s sauce over steamed cauliflower, frozen peas, and sauteed mushrooms. I only doctored the sauce with a little additional light coconut milk.
The sharp flavor was barely tolerable even after I cut it with additional coconut milk. I won’t buy this jar again, but it still helps illustrate how Lose It! works.
First, I added the sauce’s nutritional info from the label to my custom foods.
Forevermore, I can use this sauce in any amount and Lose It! will do the math for me.
Then I created a recipe listing all the ingredients and the number of servings it creates.
This info will also be forever available, with the app doing all the heavy lifting of calculations.
So now I can log my meal for analysis and posterity.
Now let’s compare it to one of my more palatable experiments. This one involved a lot more doctoring, this time of a jar of World Food’s Thai Coconut Galangal sauce.
Along with the added vegetables (frozen peas and sauteed mushrooms) and meat (one shredded chicken breast, fresh off the George Foreman), I whipped together peanut butter and coconut milk with a fork until smooth and added it to the sauce as it heated. It improved things greatly, and next time (because it was good enough for a “next time”) I would even add a dash of fish sauce to the mix. Of course, with all these additional ingredients, the caloric content keeps ticking upward. Lose It! keeps track of these alterations for me.
But, surprisingly, the result still ends up calorically less than the Mr. Kook’s.
Which illustrates how Lose It! catches you up on your assumptions. I assumed that my increased doctoring would come out as the deciding factor in the comparison between these two dishes. But, instead, I’m reminded of a more basic rule – read labels carefully. While the two sauces were very nutritionally similar per serving, Mr. Kook’s considers its serving half the size, having eight servings per jar instead of four. That doesn’t mean I’ll eat less of it, just that what I eat suddenly has twice the calories I’d assumed. And these little things do add up. 100 calories/day = 10 lbs a year, approximately. So every 100 calories you don’t eat or burn off means an extra 10 lbs lost, or at least not gained, over the course of a year. Lose It! simply helps you take control by giving you knowledge so that you can decide for yourself where your calories should come and where they should go. Lose It! empowers you to make the choice, rather than leaving it blindly to some unknown variable.
It Works!

And that’s how Lose It! will help me get back into those jeans. It worked once before, and I’m highly confident it will work again. But don’t just take my word for it. In a show of support, the husband man (who gets full geek cred as a comic book and comic art collector, Star Wars fan, sci fi reader, gamer, former game programmer, and current Google programmer) also got really into this app and lost something like 20 or 25 lb, without even exercising.
Fellow geek blogger Chad Austin lost 20 lb in 20 weeks using Lose It! and detailed the process here: Of course, his general philosophy varies from mine, especially in his similarity to my husband in his lack of using the “output” column, but results are results. Proof that even a gamer or other geek, like myself, can get thin.
Veronica R. Lujan
la V en Rose

Andy says:

It really is a great app….God I miss my iPhone. hahaha!

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