Pop Culture

Losing Weight: There's an App for That, or How I Lost 30 Pounds Via Technology

As far back as I could remember, my dad was heavy, and while I never quite reached the same heft that my father did, I have been overweight for nearly 15 years, something uncomfortable for me to admit because I spent the bulk of my first 30 years on the planet as someone probably too skinny for his own good. It made the challenge of losing weight all the more daunting because it felt like I hadn't just let myself go, I'd also let myself down.

Earlier this year, I made the decision that it was time to really do something about it, but I wasn't sure what. I consulted with some friends who had gone to weight loss places with success, but I just didn't feel comfortable in that environment. I also disliked the idea of diets. I've always believed that changing your behavior, unless you are willing to change them for good, was pointless. Then someone mentioned MyFitnessPal.


For someone like me who spends way too much time nerding out to apps and technology, I was a little surprised I'd never heard of such a widely used app, but then again I never thought about using an app to lose weight.

What struck me was how much information was available through the app. Thousands and thousands of people used it and, as a result, virtually anything you could imagine eating had been documented with calories and nutritional information. In my case, I knew that decreasing calorie intake and increasing the number of calories I burned was the simple model for success.

It should be mentioned that I've known this for a long time. I just didn't heed my own knowledge. All the diets, pills, fad workout routines and infomercials are no substitute for simple math: If you take in more calories than you expend, you gain weight. Go the opposite direction and you'll lose. It's not easy, but it is no more complicated than that for most people.

Here's where things got weird because once I started looking at what I ate, I was shocked at the amount of calories I was shoving in my pie hole. I'm not some guy who routinely crams sweets in there either. This was the stuff I ate nearly every day: sandwiches, snack foods and, God help me, Tex Mex. The thought of abandoning margaritas and tortilla chips was almost enough to keep me from even going on.

MyFitnessPal, at its most simplistic, is a calorie counting machine and daily food tracker. It does many other things, but having that daily tracking of what I do on my phone with me wherever I go is a remarkable tool. Not only does it keep me honest, but it provides a support system of hundreds and thousands of users working at it like me.

This story continues on the next page.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke