Eat Smarter

If you don't want to read the whole thing, just go check out The Daily Plate

So I've been mildly weight conscious for as long as I can remember. I look back at pictures of myself when I was 23 and think it'd be nice to be that fit again. It's one of those things where I'd like to be in better shape, but I don't want it bad enough to wake up every morning at 6am to go to the gym. Nor do I want to give up on one of my favorite activities in the world: eating delicious food. I'm in a bit of a pickle, I'd like to be in better shape but I'm not ready to make a radical life change. I walk up the stairs instead of taking the escalator on BART every day, and I try to eat healthy balanced meals, but that's not enough. It's funny because I realize that if I want to do more than that, it's up to me. Nobody's going to come banging down my door asking me to loose weight.

Or at least, that's what I thought. Last year I got a letter in the mail from the Cholesterol Research Center in Berkeley. It was an invitation to join a weight loss study where they would provide me with frozen meals to eat for lunch and dinner every day, and at the end of the 4 month study, they would pay me $800 for my time. I figured it was win, win, win. I get free food, I lose weight, and they pay me?! I can do just about anything for 4 months. I filled out the application and sent it in. (I don't know what studies are going on right now, but if you're interested in something like this I definitely recommend checking it out. You can contact them here: http://www.chori.org/Human_Research/Human_Research/CRC/CRC_Contact_Info.html

So I ended up being accepted into the study. I had to go in once a week to get weighed and pick up the frozen entrees. There were a handful of blood draws, and I got body scans and resting breathing oxygen consumption tests. No alcohol or smoking for 4 months, and I had to follow a pretty strict program. The good news is, the entrees were actually pretty tasty compared to other frozen meals I've had. Still, it was a lot of work, measuring and weighing every single thing I ate, and even half-decent frozen meals get REALLY tiring if that's all you eat. At the end of the program, I'd lost a few pounds, although not enough, I wasn't keeping to the rules as strictly as I should have been. Still, I got my $800 and had lost a little weight. At that point I had no interest in ever seeing another one of those frozen entrees again, and I'd had enough egg-beaters to last a lifetimes.

So now I've found a better way:

Lose weight with The Daily Plate

It works on similar principles, tracking my exercise and calorie intake, but instead of having to eat everything on a list, weighing and measuring each item, I can eat whatever I want and The Daily Plate tracks it for me. There's a database of food and you can go through and search for what you eat, clicking the "I ate this today" button when you find the right one. It does all the work for me. The site feels a little immature still, with lots of duplicate entries in the database, and pretty mediocre graphic design, but it's a great start, and it's totally usable. Their search engine is a little rough. I had a bagel with butter this morning. Searching for "butter" pulls up 3,680 hits, with the first page having lots of butter pecan ice cream, peanut butter, buttered popcorn, i can't believe it's not butter, etc. but no actual butter. Still, even with all the quirks, I'm totally enamored with this site. I love everything Web 2.0 and this is no exception. They track my daily food intake, exercise, and help me maintain the correct calorie consumption. The act of entering each item into a website alone is enough to keep me from going in for that late night bowl of lucky charms. Check it out if you're interested. And if you do join, let me know and we can link profiles and cheer each other on.

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