Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Thursday, February 5, 2009

Over the past few years I’ve used a few different trackers for food & exercise. I started off trying out CalorieKing but it was meh. It had online and offline versions and the original version I tried had a pretty limited database. The app got better the more it went online, and even had mobile versions for Palm (I had a Treo at one point) and Blackberry (Pearl & Curve) and probably have an iPhone app. The main drawback was that it was too expensive.

My old roommates Zac & Steph started using Fitday which was free and had a premium, no-ads version too. I tried it out but found it a little too much work. It had a good database but I just found it a little clunky. Everything was entered in 1 gram or 1oz and then you had to enter how many grams or ounces you consumed. Great if you’re weighing everything out, not so great when you’re eating on the run.

In 2005 (or so) I found a link to DailyPlate which was the same sort of thing, but was using this new AJAX method for updating the website dynamically. I can’t remember where I initially read about it, but I’m thinking it was probably Lifehacker. I immediately took a shine to DailyPlate and found that it was easy to use, had a gigantic database of prepared/restaurant food (mostly prepared/restaurant food to be exact, sometimes it was a chore to find a “roast beef sandwich” that wasn’t a specific dish at some restaurant or other. They had a “gold” premium version as well, but didn’t hard-sell you on it as much as Fitday or CalorieKing did.

Since then, I’ve used DailyPlate in fits and starts… I think I was 90% accurate for over a month straight one time, but usually I’d go for a week or two and then start to peter out and then leave it for awhile… sometimes it was a pain in the ass to remember exactly what you ate and when and where and then find it and enter it later. The other side to that is that the geek in me sees these things like video games and want to “win” it and see the graphs and charts… to see that you have to have data. To get data you have to track what you eat and DO exercise so you can track it.

This week I went back to DailyPlate to track again (at least for awhile) my intake and output while I was running and doing Wii Fit. I put in my weight this morning at 178lbs (based on the Wii Fit scale) and told it I wanted to lose one pound per week. It calculated my caloric intake to be 1854 to stick to that goal. (As an aside, if you try to enter something too aggressive--more than 2lbs per week--it displays a warning that it’s not realistic and probably isn’t too healthy to eat so little and I shouldn’t try it except under the guidance of a doctor).

I found (and I’m not surprised really, considering they were early adopters of tech advancements) that they’ve been bought by someone else and are now part of LiveStrong and… wait for it… ta-da they have an iPhone app called the Livestrong Calorie Counter that works in conjunction with your DailyPlate account. You can look up their database on-the-go and add foods/exercises and then sync it with your online username/interface.

I installed it, logged in and synced it with my online account, where I had just entered in my breakfast. The main display (My Plate button) shows “TODAY” and has a Calorie Breakdown box that shows your daily calorie goal (1854) and your progress in a nice bar graph. So far I’ve taken in 17% of my daily intake, for breakfast. Below that is the calories remaining (1533).

Below that is broken down what I’ve eaten today and if you take the step to categorize when you enter (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, etc) it will group them together for you. Each entry has the little “more” arrow > and if you click it, it takes you to the nutritional information for that item. Time of day eaten, period (breakfast), servings (1.00) (which are all editable) and then a box with the actual info for that item/product. It’s all displayed with a dark background/pattern with white boxes and dark text. Very easy on the eyes and high contrast.

Other buttons along the bottom take you to the different screens. My weight is a chart that shows your weight over time (if you enter it on a regular basis). Food shows you recently eaten items and a search box at the top will let you add new items from the online database. Fitness lists your exercises and a search box like the food screen does. Mine’s blank at the moment because I just installed it and haven’t done anything yet. Finally the 5th button is Account and that’s where you log in to the online portion and also shows your Sync information. You can also edit your profile from this tab, which is your height, weight, goals and activity level. Mine’s set to “lightly active (i.e. desk job, computer work, etc).

I’ve put the icon on my home screen on the first page where I’ll see it all the time and that should be enough to keep it in my conscious mind and keep up to date with it. I’ll make another post in a couple weeks after having used it more with more insight.

Thursday, February 5, 2009 9:54:32 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Fitness | Food#
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