Chick Wit: Losing weight with an app a day

Posted: June 16, 2014

These days, all you need to lose weight is diet, exercise, and a smartphone.

You know what I'm talking about?

Haven't you noticed the trend?

I haven't, either.

Daughter Francesca keeps me abreast of such things, so that I can sound remotely relevant at cocktail parties, which I never attend and doubt even exist anymore.

We begin when I was on my last diet, and Francesca told me that the best way to lose weight was to use an app that was free for your phone, called Lose It!

Unfortunately, I lost it.

Not the app, but the phone.

By the way, the exclamation mark is part of the Lose It! name. Don't think I'm all excited about a diet!

Because I'm not!

I'm excited about food!

Not diets!

And most of the time, I don't Lose It! but Gain It!

Anyway, the way the Lose It! app works is simple.

First, you have to tell it your weight.

Second, you're not allowed to lie.

Right there is the problem.

I never tell anybody my real weight, not even an inanimate object, but you can tell the app that you're five pounds less than what you really are, so in case somebody finds your phone, you have wiggle room.

Just not in your jeans.

And after you tell the app your weight, then it asks you how much weight you want to lose, and when you tell it your goal weight, it laughs for the next 15 minutes.

Just kidding.

But then, through some complex mathematical process, the app figures out how many calories you're allowed per day, in order to reach your goal weight by the end of the century.

Lose It! gave me 1500 calories a day, which I rapidly discovered gets me through midmorning.

Because every day you have to record what you ate, and this being America, it tells you exactly what calories, carbs, grams of sugar, protein, saturated fats, red dye, and rodent hair you have consumed each day.

If you're me, you will faithfully record what you ate for two days, then you'll start forgetting to record anything.

Which means you ate nothing.

Just like when something doesn't have a price tag on it, it's free.

On the plus side, you're also supposed to record any exercise you did, and the app automatically knows how many calories are consumed by the exercise you chose, so it deducts it from the mountain of food that you ate.

I say this is good news, because I found that whenever I did any exercise at all, I was very happy to record it in the app. But since I wasn't recording any of the food I ate, many of my days showed a negative calorie count, and I reached my goal weight in minus-three days.

That is, at least according to the app.

So I gave up.

Obviously, the way these things work is that you're supposed to be accountable for what you eat, and I sure hope this craze passes quickly.

Except that the other day, Daughter Francesca told me that there's a new weight-loss app and it's called My Fitness Pal.

She told me to give it a whirl, so I went on, got the app, and determined that it works basically the same way as Lose It!, except it has one horrible innovation that I didn't know about it until I got an e-mail from Francesca that read:

MOM, AREN'T YOU GOING TO RECORD YOUR CALORIES TODAY?

I called her instantly, surprised. "How do you know I didn't record any calories?"

Francesca chuckled. "Because with this application, I can see the diet and exercise you record every day. But you're not recording anything."

"What?" I asked, horrified. "You're inside my app?"

"Yes, when you signed on, you gave me access."

Big mistake, I thought, but didn't say.

"Mom, I gave you access and you can look inside my app, too. Whenever you want to, you can see what I'm eating."

I stopped doing that when you were three years old, was another thing I thought but didn't say.

Because my daughter is My Fitness Pal.

And there are now special bracelets, activity trackers, and a zillion new apps and gadgets that will keep track of our calories, exercise, and dirty thoughts.

I'm keeping mine to my chubby little self.


Look for Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella's newest collection of humor essays in "Have a Nice Guilt Trip," coming July 8. Also, look for Lisa's new novel, "Keep Quiet," in stores now.

lisa@scottoline.com.

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