Monday, September 26, 2011

Online Calorie Manager

I was always very active growing up and throughout school, so watching my calories only recently became important to me.  But fear not, it has caught up with me in a big way.  Between eating like I was still swimming for three hours every day and trying to fatten up my perpetually skinny husband (all while working sitting down for most of the day) I ballooned up to way bigger than I ever thought I could be.  I would of course notice that I was getting bigger, but I would write it off as inevitable.  Sometimes I would try to "eat better" for a few days, but it was always a nebulous concept at best.  I didn't know what I was doing, and it would peter out within a week without any noticeable success.

One day, shortly after a beach trip, I saw some pictures of myself on Facebook.  I went in, as had become my habit, to untag the ones that were unprofessional or unflattering.   I realized that I had untagged all of the pictures from the trip because I looked so fat in all of them. Every picture.  Then I hopped on the scale and in front of the mirror, and did some honest self assessment.  I was fat.  Actually, according to my BMI I was obese.  So I cried a little, and started looking into how to fix this.  For real this time.

I came across a site called Livestrong. They have forums and groups and articles, but most importantly for me they bought a program called MyPlate.  MyPlate lets you set your own calorie goals, track what you are eating, and gives you hard data about exactly how much you are consuming. I have learned so much about myself and my eating habits from actually tracking everything I eat. You can also track exercise, and calories burned are added to your eat-able total for the day.   The data base is cool because you don't have to know how many calories are in everything you eat.  Just start to type in something (like spaghetti) and pick the option that seems closest. Or make a new entry.  Plus, its working.  I have lost 22 lbs since the end of April.  I look better, I feel better, it is amazing.

Livestrong isn't the only option.  SparkPeople has a similar model (I think their exercise data base is supposed to be bigger, but their food database is smaller).  These two programs are free, but there are lots of pay versions as well.  Many of the pay versions offer extras and more customization.  The point is just that if you are struggling with weight loss (like I was for such a long time) maybe an online calorie counter would help.

Keywords: weight loss, online calorie counter, calorie counting, meal planning, social media, Livestrong, SparkPeople

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