Thursday, March 8, 2012

App-etite for distraction

OCD runs in my family, but we all manifest it differently. I indulge my obsessive habits through record-keeping in such a way that starts out as admirable and then ends up making me look like John Forbes Nash meets Adrian Monk. Example: I once read that a great way to find out where all your money goes is to write down every single penny that goes in and out and to track it based on what you spend it on: e.g., food isn't just food, but there's dining out-food and grocery store-food and snack-food. When you start to track money so specifically, you'll a) become more aware of where your money goes and how and where you can curb spending, and b) think twice about spending money, knowing that you'll have to write it down on the list. Most people will do this for a few months at a time until they get things under control right?

I did it for eight years straight.

It started out as a way to track my spending and became one more thing that I "had" to do. I finally stopped when I realized that it no longer made me conscious of my spending, which was the original purpose in tracking it in the first place. I had finally attained the spending and saving habits that I wanted--I was conscious of what I spent, and Guy and I had gotten our expenses down as cheaply as possible while still enjoying life. So, I finally put that little Moleskine notebook on a shelf to let it moulder in peace.

Ah, but now I have a smartphone, with which I can do dumb things. But this time, The Precious isn't about tracking money, but rather calories and activity. When I visited the exercise physiologist at the Canyon Ranch Spa at the Venetian, as I do every year in Vegas (and for which I am good-naturedly abused by Scarlett and Guy), I realized in talking with her that my usual habits of weekly nutritional choices and exercises weren't cutting it anymore for my now 36-year-old physique. It was time to refocus and rethink how I work out and how and what I eat. (As we age, it turns out, diet becomes more and more important. Sonofabitch, there goes my nightly cookie habit.) The exercise physiologist turned me onto an app called Lose It!, which has a bunch of preprogrammed foods (regular, name brand from the supermarket, and even restaurant) and exercises (run-of-the-mill and odd, including curling) that you can choose from to see if you're eating well and working out enough to achieve whatever goal you set up (gain, lose, or maintain weight). You can even program in foods, so if the app doesn't have your kind of soda (Izze) or canned beans (Kuner's Black Beans, no salt added), you can plug them in.

I've been using this for a week, and it's been eye-opening. First of all, I didn't realize how many calories that even healthy-ass me has been drinking. Five tablespoons of flavored Coffee Mate creamer have 175 calories and barely lightens up my coffee the way a half-cup of 2% milk will at only 61 calories. I learned that my favorite Chipotle concoction (chicken tacos, hot salsa, cheese/lettuce/sour cream) is a little over 600 calories (which are negative calories if you get food poisoning/stomach flu and barf them up, see Monday's post). I also learned that Kitty's and my favorite chicken tortilla soup recipe is only 264 calories per bowl (based on eight bowls per Crock Pot, which is what Guy and I usually get out of it), but it's got about 1,000mg sodium per serving (use low-sodium taco seasoning, Kitty!). This app has made it easier for me to actually maintain a food diary, the way nutritionists have been begging Americans to do for years--it already has a lot of the nutritional info for many foods programmed in, so you can just input something and know that you'll have some accuracy in your calorie intake estimates, which is what I've been wanting.

This app makes me keep my phone out on my desk, which is something I always swore I wouldn't do with a phone. I like having a cell phone for my convenience, not other people's convenience. I've had acquaintances give me shit for not picking up my phone or even having it on when they call, but me having a cell phone is not so they can reach me, but rather so I can reach them when I choose to do so. It's a phone, not a leash, or even a shock collar. But having said that, I like having my phone nearby so I can input in what I've done (walking? yoga?) or eaten (Hershey's Kisses? pork chop?) and see what effect my choices have on my goals. So, yes, it feeds into my particular flavor of OCD. We'll see how long this lasts.

6 comments:

Lilylou said...

I seem to be unable to get all OCD about my food tracking, but it sure has been the key to my almost-40 pound weight loss during the past year. And it's kinda fun!

Miss Kitty said...

Will detailing every penny I spend bring in more money...'cause, umm, my problem is how little I'm bringing in. :-P

Food diary sounds interesting. I'm not trying to lose weight, but it might be interesting just the same. Even for blog fodder of my own. Hmmm...

Intern Timmy said...

I think I'm more amazed that you have a smart phone now :)

Anonymous said...

I love that app! I've been using it for quite some time and it helps me see that walking around all day does make a difference (vacation eating + walking a lot = no net weight gain). It helps me see how many calories I drink - beer is expensive that way.

Orchidophile said...

Thanks for sharing this tip! I must have it! Enjoy your mom's visit.

KIMBERLY ALLEN said...

yeah! this app is a must


\I'm Kim. I work in denver family counseling