Beverly Godfrey column: Phone app shows me who's boss
Is it not fun yet? Did you enter the Duluze Weight Loss Challenge, and 13 weeks now seems like a long, long time?
We're almost three weeks into this, and I can hope that at the very least, you feel like we're in this together.
I didn't expect to have fun, if I'm being honest. That's why weight-loss is so hard, though, isn't it? People tend to enjoy food and drink as part of their fun, and there is less of all three now.
I didn't really keep track of that food and drink until I started this challenge. In the back of my mind, I'd be sort-of aware of how many calories I was eating, always trying to be "reasonable." What I didn't recognize, however, was how I would turn that self-monitoring off and on when it suited my purpose.
But now I have this dang phone app. Teammate Rick Lubbers and I are both using Lose It! to track our calories and exercise. It doesn't budge when showing you how many calories you've eaten and how many are left in the day. Like the "Terminator," it can't be reasoned with.
I started by entering my birth date, weight and goal. My phone then showed me how many calories I could eat each day. I noticed I had entered my birth date wrong and corrected it. Fessing up to being four years older took, like, 200 calories off each day. I also get fewer calories than Lubbers because I'm female. I've been aiming at 1,300 a day, and that has led to some interesting revelations.
For example, I've had my birthday during this challenge, and those four Smirnoff grape ice vodka drinks I had added up to 912. Fortunately or unfortunately, I hadn't started using the app yet, so I didn't need to confess it to my phone.
But soon after, I started using the app, and my phone is the boss. I might think about eating a Hershey bar, but then I'd have to tell my phone about it, and I might not have enough calories left for dinner. Don't want that to happen.
So it has been a process. I'm thinking more before eating something. "Is it worth it?" is a frequent question. One big "no" are the tuna snacks I keep in my desk drawer. I scanned the barcode into my app, and it said there were 300 calories per box. I had always thought they were 220, but now I see that the tuna salad is 220, and the six accompanying crackers are listed in a separate nutrition panel at 80. Are those six crackers worth 80 calories? Not to me. I'm just using them as a vehicle to deliver the tuna stuff, so really, I should be using a spoon.
I've spent a couple of weeks reconsiding everything I eat and whether it is worth it. I'm making my hot cocoa with skim milk and half a packet of mix now because it's just as good. I'm still putting butter on grits, but I got some low-calorie kind that is mixed with canola oil; I can't tell the difference. Gumdrops aren't worth it; dark chocolate is. It's a give and take.
But it also can't be all about food, can it? This whole experiment has made me face another cold and uncompromising truth: I need to exercise more. Because if I do, my phone will give me more calories, and I'll get to eat more food.
We all find our motivation in our own ways.
Beverly Godfrey is features editor of the Duluth News Tribune. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.