Apps that helped me lose 22 lbs/10 kgs twice

(A Disclaimer: I am not technically qualified to give any fitness advice. This post is narrating my personal journey which may not be scientifically correct way of getting in shape. Losing weight Being healthy)

Highly recommended pose for checking your weight daily ☺

I am not a fitness freak, neither do I have a great body, but I like to keep my weight in check to avoid going back to my obese days. I was 90 kilos way back in 2009 and decided to cut down few kilos. I was too lethargic to do any physical exercise so I decided to take an easy route of reducing my calorie intake. I had no clue about the calorie content in each food so I decided to try out an App called MyFitnessPal on my Blackberry & later on the iPhone.

Here is a snapshot of my weight loss journey divided in two phases. Each phase had different challenges hence a varied approach toward my goal

Phase 1 — Lost 10 kilos in 6 months purely on diet control

MyFitnessPal: This is perhaps the oldest & most popular fitness App worldwide. How it benefited me:

1. Just helped me count my calorie intake. You will be amazed at your intake if you input every single food/drink item. It was shocking for me to learn that I have been consuming over 2800 calories everyday.

2. Learnt the right composition of carbs, proteins & fat. It’s essential to keep an eye on this and find the right combination for your body. This App will help you figure that out.

3. Specified my weight goal in the App & arrived at my optimum target consumption. I decided to lose 1kg a week, so this App suggested me to consume around 1200 calories.

4. I was routinely adding every food item in this app for several months and trying to stay close to 1200 calories (Note: I am not recommending eating 1200 calories. It worked for me, but I have been told it’s unhealthy to cut down so drastically)

Tip no.1: Keep an eye on your calorie intake, maintain the right proportions of carbs, proteins & fat and cut down on unnecessary calories. Some example of such useless calories includes extra cup of tea (80 Cal), chocolate (200 Cal), packaged juice (150 Cal), carbonated drinks (150 Cal), cookies (200 Cal) or biscuits (100 Cal), shakes (250 Cal), ice creams (300 Cal) etc. Believe me, just cutting down on these will bring your calorie counter down.

I am now going to contradict with what I said about losing weight by controlling calories. Check the graph below, I lost more weight & inches despite consuming higher calories.

Check the correlation between calories consumed, calories burnt & weight loss. So real weight loss happens only once you start burning calories

It’s not possible to lose weight in a healthy way without burning some of the calories we consume. Burning calories not just reduces weight, but also bring an all important inch loss.

Apps for counting Burnt calories: Moves & MapMyRide

Moves: This App tracks your daily movements like walking, running or cycling and gives you an approximate calorie loss. Another side benefit of this App is to find out the time I spent in my car from point A to B. This App is not for privacy conscious as it charts your daily movement (both on foot & vehicle) on the map which can reveal a lot about your day if accessed by someone else. I have gotten in trouble with this App ;)

MapMyRide: I started cycling in 2013 and realized that I need a more advanced app to track my cycling activities to take into account the elevation, speed, effort & surface type for accurate calorie loss analysis. Note- It’s not possible to get exact calorie loss through cycling as it involves many other parameters like your weight, cycle type, wind speed et al.

Surprisingly, regular cycling & increase in step count didn’t help me much. I started gaining weight again around this time.

Phase 2: Lost 8 kilos in 3 months with lifestyle changes

For almost 5 years, I maintained my weight between 78–80 kilos. I tried to lose weight in-between, but was highly unsuccessful despite upping my physical activities like cycling & step count.

In early 2014, I tried an App called Weight Loss Diet Plan (on iOS) and tried several diet modules.

Weight Loss Diet Plan App: This App has over 200 diet plans divided into various categories including Quick fix, Detox, Flat Belly, For Busy People, Vegetarian and more. However, my Indian readers will be disappointed with the lack of any Indian food diets. This App will create reminders to follow your selected diet.
Following several such structured diets didn’t help me lose any weight so I gave up on this App quickly.

I decided to get serious about weight loss again in the latter half of 2014 and that’s when I started yearning for a more systematic approach to weight loss. In the last three months, I ended up using several apps and most of them benefited me immensely to arrive at my current waist & weight levels:

Goqii: Goqii is not just an App, but a combination of fitness band, tracking App & a personal coach for guidance. It has a big hand to play in my current weight/inch loss. The band was an easier way to track my daily steps, but the real benefit came from the expert advice from my coach. She did three things for me:
1. Pointed small mistakes I made in my daily regime
2. Encouraged me every day to meet my daily step/exercise target. They have been trained well to motivate and extract the best out of you.
3. Make corrections to my daily diet by educating me about the negative effects of certain food items. So from my bread to biscuits to evening tea to late night fruit binge, I was making small but significant mistakes which got corrected. Unlike standard health articles/tips, the coach understands your daily routine and suggests accordingly.
Now Goqii is compatible with many fitness apps (including Moves mentioned above) and you can connect your favorite app to continue using it without actually wearing the band.

Human: Came across this activity tracking App featured by Apple recently. Instead of focusing on step counts, it encourages you to walk for at least 30 minutes everyday. It’s a way to track your active time in a day, which can include walking, doing household work, climbing stairs, cycling or running. It gamifies your daily target and unlocks goodies on achieving it. I used this app primarily to track how many floors I am climbing. My office is on 5th floor and I stay on 2nd floor so I made it a point to climb at least 20 floors daily by doing several rounds up & down.

Argus: Yet another activity tracker App ☺ By now, you must have known my obsession with such apps. While Argus is yet another step tracker, but one feature for which I use Argus in conjunction with other Apps is the basal calorie meter throughout the day. It tells me the basal calorie level at any point in a day. It’s a rate at which I am burning my calories in a day. So it helps me to adjust my calorie intake accordingly. Ideally, one should keep calorie intake similar to your basal rate. This app also helps me compete with my friends on my daily step count, sends me reminders to drink water and also syncs with my Sleep Time App.

Sleep Time App: While this App may not directly help you lose weight, but I have understood the importance of good sleep to stay active throughout the day. This app not only tracks my sleep time, but also the depth. With our lifestyle, six hours of deep sleep is bare minimum we must extract. This App is just FYI so you can’t do much with the data except just try to include more hours of sleep daily. I noticed an extra energy whenever I slept for 7 or more hours. I could go for the walk, Play Tennis & go for cycling the same day.

I tried several other Apps like 7 Minute Workout, Pedometer +, HealthifyMe, Obino, My Plate, Google Fit & Ideal Weight but gave up quickly as I didn’t derive any additional benefit through these Apps.

Tip no.2: Cutting down on calories may be the easiest solution, but it’s not practical/easy to keep consuming less and still feel energetic. Hence eating the right kind of food, burning extra calories through physical activities & inculcating small lifestyle changes is the best way to lose extra kilos & feel healthy.

While our body’s basal metabolic rate will burn anywhere between 1800 to 2200 calories, it’s useful to lose an extra 300–400 calories through physical exercise to keep some scope for the occasional cheat days and daily dose of your favorite indulgence.

Some useful tips to lose 300–400 extra calories without going the extra mile ☺
1. Walk at least 30 minutes everyday to lose 100 additional calories
2. Climb 20 floors everyday to lose another 100 calories
3. Walk while you talk on the phone. 5 minutes = 15 calories
4. Run for just 10 minutes everyday & lose 75 calories

In addition to the above activities, I included the following:
1. 1 hour of Tennis twice a week — 150 calories
2. 1 hour of cycling every Sat-Sun — 300 calories
3. 30 minute of running twice a week — 150 calories

I stopped eating fried food for first 2 months which was pretty helpful. I allowed two cheat days to myself in a week, but I restrict high calorie/fat food only during the lunch time. I do not count/enter those calories in any App☺

☺ There are no magic Apps which can make you lose weight. Magic is inside you.

Hope you find this article useful. Each body type is different, so it’s never easy to adapt to someone else’s regime. My only advice is to go slow and create your own chart as you move along. First step is to keep track using the technology available and then move towards taking a corrective action.

Feel free to get in touch with me at dabbot@gmail.com or twitter.com/deepakabbot


P.S. My typical 2000 calories day to maintain my weight:

Morning:
Tea with Sugar & Milk — 80
Almonds & Walnuts (Handful) — 70
Banana — 100
Egg White Omelette — 60
Bread Slice (one) — 80

Afternoon:
Black Coffee — 0
Guava — 70

Lunch
2 Chapatti or Rice — 200
Dal/Vegetable/Chicken (one bowl)— 200
Salad — 80
Dark Chocolate (single piece)— 80

Post Lunch
Orange — 70
Apple — 80
Raw Carrots — 40

Evening
Tea with Sugar & Milk — 80
Nuts/Light snack — 100

Dinner
2 Chapatti — 200
Dal/Vegetable — 200
OR Grilled Chicken/Fish — 200
And then leave another 100 calories for some daily indulgence (ideally before 7pm)

My 1800 calories day when I was reducing weight:

Morning:
Tea with Sugar & Milk — 80
Almonds & Walnuts (Handful) — 70
Banana — 100
Egg White Omelette — 60

Afternoon:
Black Coffee — 0

Lunch
Brown Rice — 250
Grilled Vegetables/Chicken — 250
Salad — 80
Dark Chocolate (single piece) — 80

Post Lunch
Orange — 70
Raw Carrots — 40

Evening
Tea without Sugar — 50

Late Evening
Home made Tomato or Veg Soup — 150

Dinner
Grilled Chicken/Fish — 200
Brown Rice (Half) — 100
Salad Greens — 50