Thursday, August 8, 2013

The mechanized infantry

Tanks typically don't work alone. Frequently they'll have some infantry support accompanying them to the battle. In my personal little war, this is true. My "armored division", Zumba, is supported by my "mechanized infantry", a fitness app.

My friend Pat turned me on to an app called My Fitness Pal that she had been using for some time. She told me all about the features and benefits and since she'd had wonderful success with it (congrats Pat!), she was basically a walking, talking ad. I looked up the website online not really expecting much though to be completely honest. The reason being that I have a Windows phone and many apps are only created for iPhone/iPad and Android. That's changing, but slowly. I figured I could just use the website on the PC, but when I started reading through the website, I learned that they did in fact make an app for Windows phones. Hooray! They even had one for about covering all the bases... So I created myself a profile and downloaded the mobile app to my phone and I was good to go. You want to know how much the app cost? $0 It is a really good app. It has a database with over two million foods and this includes many popular restaurants. It has a bar-code tool that lets you scan the bar-code on a food package to pull up all the nutritional information. Basically what you're doing is tracking how many calories you're eating in a day and balancing that with how much exercise you're doing each day (or each week). Creating a profile establishes a daily calorie intake based on your gender, height, weight, activity level, and goals. All you need to do to lose weight is keep your calories for the day below whatever your daily intake is set at. You can do this either by eating only that set amount of calories, or by exercising to allow for a greater intake. love the concept. I could break the description down to two simple words: food diary. In my senior year of college, I kept a food diary and used it to do basically the same thing as what this app does. It was a paper journal with a pen. Really low tech, eh? But it worked. I lost a lot of weight that year, about 45 lbs actually. All from power walking, and the eliptical machine, and exercise videos, and even DDR (Dance Dance Revoloution) for the PlayStation. That last one, in spite of having the word "dance" in the title, isn't so much like dancing. You see I know this, now that I have a good basis for comparison. It's really more shuffling and stepping, but calling the game Shuffle Step Revolution would have been a marketing faux pas. This was all long before Bry and I had children so any time I had that wasn't being devoted to school, was spent exercising. Those activities were all well and good, and this was BZ (before Zumba), but I did so many of them for such a large part of the day because I was trying to achieve a high calorie burn. Now, I can forget all that. All I need to do is a class a week and I'm golden. I only do more because I love it so much.

Going into my internship year, I was at my ideal weight. I had achieved my goals and I was proud. The internship at the middle school was a lot more work than senior year had been and I didn't have anywhere close to the same kind of time to devote to exercising as I'd previously had. That, combined with the fact that the school had a staff breakfast every Friday morning and a staff room table that almost always had some kind of food available, lead to me gaining back about 10 lbs by the time the year was up. Bry and I left our rental and bought a house. Getting the house in order was a big effort. Moving from the city to the country meant that I couldn't power walk any more because now it was boring and there was nothing to see. Well, the first two weeks were great...until I realized nothing really changed! Watching the same trees and fields was boring when compared to watching the movement of the city.

Unfortunately, that started something of a landslide. The journal I'd become so attached to finally ran out of paper and I couldn't find another one I liked as much. I know that probably sounds weird dear readers, but you know I get oddly sentimental about things. I turned to my eliptical but then it broke for the second time (same exact spot - while in use...). We'd gotten replacement parts in a two-pack the first time it broke so we used the last piece to fix it, but I never really trusted it again after that so I stopped using it all together. Doing my videos, and even my DDR, got repetitive and then I didn't find any activity to replace all of it with. I was working too, so there wasn't a lot of time anyway. Teacher staff rooms are pretty much the same everywhere, there's always some food sitting in there with one of those little Alice In Wonderland signs... "Eat me". I never did lose that 10 lbs, in fact I gained ten more in the first two years we owned that house. When we decided to start our family, it was definitely not the time to try to diet and lose weight, and when I became pregnant with our older son I was limited in the types of exercises I could do (enter the treadmill!) since I'd been so inactive pre-pregnancy.

Now that I've given you some back story, do you see what I mean about a rearguard action? I know I'm not the only one with a story like this. I also know there's nothing like becoming a parent for the first time to make you reevaluate yourself. What kind of example did I want to set for our son? A healthy one! I use this app every day. It keeps me on track and it helps me hold myself accountable.

Best advice: This app is free and for just about every platform available. There's no reason not get yourself some mechanized infantry.

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