Nutrition & Weight Management – Make Healthy Happen Challenge

Back when I was a college student, if I felt my pants fitting snug, the fixes were simple: cut back on pizza, take a run, go to bed earlier one night a week. Poof, the 5 lbs would fall off.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely noticed the changes in my body as it responds to food and exercise and sleep. Dropping a few pounds takes more effort, and sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Attempts at “dieting” have left me stressed, hungry, and unsatisfied with the results. I know that what I need is a lifestyle shift, but every plan I read sounds like a huge hassle. Friends who were so pleased with Weight Watchers failed to persuade me that the points system wasn’t another version of the exhausting food journal approach I had tried already. Nothing seemed to be the right fit for me, but finally exhausted with carrying around what I sarcastically call my “Minnesota weight” (20 extra pounds gained from hot dishes and fried fish), I went ahead and tried

I don’t remember where I heard about it, but I love and the app for mobile devices, and I recommend it to anyone who asks about fitness suggestions. The free version of the software allows you to set a goal – maintenance or weight loss – and then track all your food and exercise as well as your weigh-ins. There’s a sizeable database of food and exercise already built up, but you can manually add items that aren’t listed, and with the mobile app you can use a UPC reader to scan and download the nutrition info on lots of major brand foods. And it apparently works with connected devices like FitBit and Nike+ as well as other apps like Runkeeper.

Loseit does all the math – the most exhausting part about food journaling. It updates your daily calorie budget depending on your weigh-in; it updates your caloric burn in your exercises based on the same; it figures your exercise into your daily calories, and it keeps you posted on when you can expect to reach your goal weight. It’s easy enough that my husband doesn’t mind using it, but it’s also fun and robust enough that I enjoy logging. There’s also a social media type component where you can connect with friends who are also using Loseit and leave comments to each other. Plus they offer challenges originated by both the users and the admin.

So starting January 5, my husband and I joined the Make Healthy Happen challenge. It was free, and there was a possibility of winning prizes every week as well as a grand prize at the end – we didn’t win, but we both lost over 10 lbs so we can’t complain. It was a great motivator just to keep up with staying eligible for prizes, but I think the best part of the challenge was what I learned about my own eating habits. It’s one thing to simply cut total calories, but in order to be eligible for weekly prizes, we had to earn points for other factors – things like how many calories from vegetables and fruit we logged each day, how many times we burned at least half our body weight in calories (if 160 lbs – burn 80 calories = 1 point), and how many times we logged all three main meals of the day. When I was actually competing with myself to earn the maximum points in all the categories I realized how much more fruit than vegetables I tend to eat and how tempting it is to say “dinner was probably within the 500 calories I have left for the day.” I found areas in my habits to target, and it was great!

So, we didn’t win any giftcards or the trip to Mexico during the challenge, but we got a great kickoff to our fitness efforts for free. Most importantly, husband and I realize that logging with Loseit is something that we need to keep up for quite a while – beyond when we reach our goal weights – because our tendency is to overeat. So at least it’s easy and free and has proven to work for us if it’s going to be a part of a long term lifestyle shift, like I keep hearing all fitness goals need to be.

Posted by:

Heather James, MU Research and Instructional Librarian

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