Welcome to Mondo Samu - Questions and Answers about my self-work.

Mondō: "questions and answers"; a recorded collection of dialogues between a pupil and teacher.
Samu: Work service; meditation in work.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Simply LoseIt! with Tai Chi

So, now that we've established that Savor! is the foundation of my work to lose weight, let's move on to the details of what I am doing.

My normal wake up time was 5:30 a.m., and I am a morning person.  My wife and kid are awesome, so to keep from losing time with them, I started getting up at 4:45 a.m., and the first thing I do (after caring for the family pets) is Tai Chi.

I pop in the Simply Tai Chi DVD, and do the warm up and then the 12 forms for 30 minutes.  Some days, I switch it out for a different style like the Yang style and do something a little different to keep it fresh.

I'm not qualified, by any stretch of the imagination, to write knowledgeably on Tai Chi, so I won't spend a lot of time on that.  Just know that, for me, it has proven to be a fantastic way to do some moving meditation, and burn some calories, doing something I truly enjoy and is low impact.  Beyond that you can check out the Wikipedia page which has some great links and information for further research.

More importantly, when I am done with that morning exercise, I immediately use the first of several iPhone apps I rely on:

LoseIt! by FitNow;

I tap on LoseIt, and enter my exercise (30 minutes of Tai Chi), then it posts that automatically (because I set it up to do so) on FaceBook so that all my friends who are using their time to play FarmVille can see that I have just used mine to get in shape and lose weight!

When I weigh in on Sunday or Monday, LoseIt! posts any losses (again, because I allowed it to do so) on my FaceBook as well.

Let me explain what (in my opinion) is the magic of LoseIt! - Nothing!  There is no magic!  LoseIt! makes it easy for busy folks to lose weight by doing what doctors the world over have been telling overweight people to do FOR-E-VER!  WATCH WHAT YOU EAT!

It sounds simple, but in a SEA of diets that each take their own path to help you lose weight, and usually fail, LoseIt! relies on the age old idea that if you pay attention to what you are eating, keep a journal of it, track the calories, you will lose weight.  This app fits extremely well with the Savor book because, if used, it MAKES you mindful of what it is that you consume, and how many calories it is.  Let me give you a real life example:

Up until a few months ago, a typical morning breakfast for me was a bowl of cereal at home, either a Starbucks Venti Mocha Frap or 44 oz. Soda (sometimes both), and either a Chocolate Chunk Cookie from Starbucks or a King Sized Reese's Fast Break candy bar.  That was breakfast.  Then one day, I started using LoseIt! to track my intake.  I diligently entered all my breakfast items.  Being a 6'4" 349 pound guy (back then) I had a calorie allotment of around 2500 calories or so per day.  The breakfast above went something like this (rounded for simplicity):  Cereal (380) + Soda (500) + Candy (480) = 1440 calories for BREAKFAST!  Not to mention all the sugar!  For lunch I would typically have a 1000 - 1500 calorie meal from some fast food joint, then dinner might be another 1500-2000 calories from say, maybe, a half a pizza.  Grand total on a given day could range from 4000-5000 calories!!!  More than double my appropriate amount!!! Add to that the fact that I am a sedentary office IT guy who LOATHED heat and sweating…and you get the formula that created my 349 lb. self.

On that first time using LoseIt!, when I saw the fact that my breakfast meal was well over half my daily allowance, I realized two things immediately.

  1. I had to change something immediately
  2. SODA was my ENEMY!  
For me, I could EEEEEASSILY consume 3-6 of those 44 oz sodas per day.  I drank big gulps at the 7/11 when I was a kid, I got a job at a Soda manufacturer that plied it's people with all the free soda they could drink and worked there for FIVE YEARS, I worked in a job that allowed me access to free soda for EIGHT years following that, and just have always generally drank soda as thought it were the nectar of the gods and I had found the magic fountain!

So, I cut soda out.  I used LoseIt! and lost 28 lbs. within a couple of months and was excited.  Then several factors caused me to fall off of it for a while and one day all that and more had come back to haunt me!  (Once again, let me stress that I was missing the mindfulness I have now found in Savor)

I've now been using LoseIt! for the last 3 months DAILY.  Setting up the "Motivators" (such as allowing it to post to FaceBook) has helped keep me at it this time, but really it's the Savor book that has helped me apply mindfulness so well that has kept me at it the most.  But, the bottom line is, I use it daily, I track my calories and my exercise, and I have now lost 45 pounds!

Now, to be fair, I can not tell you that LoseIt! is the perfect app (that honor goes to Happy Tapper and SimpleTouch for their apps I will talk about later).  There have been some bumps for me using it.  The first was the total loss of all my data during an update to the IOS.  Not actually their fault, but it happened none the less and there was nothing in place to prevent it.  They have since implemented online backups!  I also had, and continue to have, trouble finding a lot of the foods I eat in their database.  It's always been strange to me that they seem to have all the worst foods of a place, rather than the good items.  Like, they'll have SOME items that Burger Queen sells, but not ALL of them.  Or whatever.  It can be frustrating and, in the beginning, I think it could cause you to stop using it because what you eat may not be in the database.  They have since done regular updates, but this continues to be an issue.  Luckily, after a few months of using it, most of your stuff will be entered so it's no problem.

Now the great stuff!  The food entry methods are great!  They give you a bunch of great ways to find foods quickly which is extremely important.  You can search the overall database, your own foods, or you can quickly select from previous meals.  This last one is a GREAT thing if you eat the same breakfast every day or similar.  Also, you can create your own recipes, which can be a little time consuming, but is GREAT!  And other ways as well.  This app, just in general, works extremely well, and it's navigation is it's strongest feature in my opinion.  I think it's the simplicity and ease of navigation that keeps me coming back.  Also, a recent update introduced the ability to use the "app" online without having a smartphone.  So if you are not an iPhone user and still want to take advantage, you can!  They also greatly improved their overal structure online and introduced social networking with other users of the app.  It's pretty darned slick.  And in a less important nod to them, I have to give them serious props for their VERY nice security setup, AND testing....some social networking sites out there who rhyme with Schmacebook could take a page out of FitNow's book and be a lot better off!

There are countless other options out there that I have tried (because I keep hoping for a more comprehensive database and BAR CODE SCANNING!), but I keep coming back.  Calorie Counter is a good one, but ultimately (like most of the available apps for calorie counting) is a little overly complex for what it does.  All-In Fitness is a really slick app, but for some reason didn't appeal to me (though I am a fan of their apps).  And the best competitor to LoseIt! in my opinion is the LiveStrong.com app.  It is also more complex than I want, and not terribly slick, but it has the very best calorie database I have found anywhere.  There are numerous options for almost anything I have tried to find, even obscure items.  I believe - though I have no factual info on this - that it uses customer sourced info to build it's database, which can be both good and bad.  I like it so much, in fact, that I use it to find calorie info I can't find in LoseIt! and then enter them in.

So, to wrap up, LoseIt! is not perfection, but it's a fantastic app with a very strong community of support.  In recent months they have been a lot more responsive with new updates and I believe they even have a book coming out about the app as well.  

If I could only choose one app to recommend for calorie tracking it would be LoseIt!

Have you got a similar app that you prefer?  Please tell me what and why?  Let's get the Mondo part of MondoSamu happening! A little two-way discussion and sharing of info!

Go get LoseIt!

Til next time (when we discuss Meditate - Meditation Timer by SimpleTouch).


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