Weight loss tracking tools (software)

30 01 2013

In my last post, I covered the hardware tools I am using to help me drop fifty pounds on my first step to regaining my overall health. With this post I’m going to complete the description of my toolbox by looking at the software I am using to monitor my weight loss.

The software suite I’ve cobbled together consists of the following:

  • FitBit dashboard – this free online tool integrates with the Zip and Aria scale to track your activity and weight measurements. It also includes features to track food and water intake. Mobile apps are available for iOS (Apple) and Android.
  • LoseIt! – this is a web-based application which allows users to track food intake and activity. It can integrate with FitBit (although it also works as a stand-alone application). Again, mobile apps for both iOS (Apple) and Android are available.
  • TrendWeight – this is a very simple web-based application which tracks “moving average” weight trending (in the style described in the Hacker’s Diet book). It also allows integration with FitBit (to automatically get weight readings from the Aria scale) although it can be used independently.

The FitBit dashboard (obviously) integrates with both the FitBit Zip pedometer and the FitBit Aria scale and also includes features to (manually) track activity, food and water intake, body measurement, sleep, blood pressure, and a bunch more. Some of these can be automated (e.g. the FitBit One can be used as a sleep tracker). It’s a pretty well designed all-encompassing fitness tracker and it might be all that some people would ever want or need. They also have developed an API and integration with a bunch of external websites and services.

However, I wasn’t wildly impressed with FitBit’s food logging functionality, which is where LoseIt! comes in. After using the food logging in both FitBit and LoseIt!, I found the LoseIt!’s system fit my needs best. LoseIt! also includes most of the monitoring functionality of FitBit. In fact, the two applications are fairly similar. I would encourage people to try both and see which one works best for you. The good news is that since LoseIt! is a FitBit partner app, FitBit can be configured to import the meals you log in LoseIt!

The final piece of the puzzle is TrendWeight. This is a fairly simple app which just “smooths” the data from your daily weigh-ins by using a moving average as espoused by The Hacker’s Diet. I find this extremely useful as it means that random upward blips in scale readings don’t cause me to freak out and start re-assessing the plan. TrendWeight is also a FitBit partner which means that scale readings from the Aria are automatically input.

Some other tools I have tried and I would urge folks to check out are Noom and The Hacker’s Diet online.  Noom is a smartphone app which provides much the same functionality as the FitBit or LoseIt! apps. They have come up with a unique way of logging food which relies on estimation (e.g. was that serving of chicken the size of a deck of cards, or the size of a tennis ball?), which might work well for some people. However, the engineer in me couldn’t get past the inherent imprecision — the LoseIt! method works better for me so I discontinued logging food with Noom. Noom also serves up daily content: health and weight loss related articles and suggestions. I continue to look at these on a near daily basis, but that is the extent of my interaction with Noom.

The features and functionality offered by The Hacker’s Diet online is extremely similar to those in TrendWeight. The two big differences are that The Hacker’s Diet doesn’t integrate with FitBit, so one has to manually enter daily weights, and the Hacker’s Diet allows one to track their “rung” on the Lifetime Fitness Ladder, which is an exercise program detailed in the book. At this point I have been using THD online to track my progress up the fitness ladder, but other than that, it doesn’t provide any utility that I don’t get from TrendWeight.

So that is basically the structure of the system I have implemented to track my weight loss. I have no doubt that it will continue to evolve over time, but at the present I feel like these tools are really going to help me stay motivated as I make my way back down to a more healthy weight.

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5 02 2013
Some more “weight loss” apps « DeeJay K’s Musings

[…] a recent post I covered some of the tools I am using to help me stick to my weight loss plan. In this post I wanted to highlight a couple of […]

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