Software is your personal coach in losing weight

Skip the classes and use software like DietPower to manage weight loss, nutrition and exercise

DietPower Food Log screen (click for larger image)

We’re finally at the part of the series on losing weight for people with disabilities where we get to the software that becomes your personal coach to more energy, a better life and maybe a few extra happy years to your life.
Most of these articles apply to everyone so even if you don’t have a disability keep reading.
In the process we all learn more about ourselves and the levers we can manipulate with food and exercise to maintain a better lifestyle despite disability.
So far we discussed –
 
1. It’s easier to get through every day without that “30-lb-turkey” of extra weight when you are living with a disability. 
2. Your ideal weight is unique to your age, height, and sex. Your Body Mass Index BMI is a good guide to ideal weight.
3. 40% above your ideal weight is called “morbid obesity” which means life threatening and we shouldn’t be there.
4. Extra pounds pile on when we eat more calories than our body burns in a day (basal metabolism rate BMR).
5. Each person has their own BMR. Eating 25% less calories than your BMR will cause a moderate weight loss  –new.
6. It’s important to east fewer calories but maintain a balanced diet with the recommended daily dose of the elements of nutrition.
7. If counting calories is hopeless, try counting the other 35 nutrients like fats, fiber, sugars, vitamins, minerals – ooh my head is sore from the math. That’s where software comes in: it does all the counting and reporting.
8. You will need a good scale, food scale and measure cups to carefully measure quantity – measure twice and eat it once. Without measurement, you can’t tell if you are eating 800 calories at supper or 1,500.

Top tip –perseverance pays off
You will have days when the scale reads a loss and days when you appear to be gaining. Water retention and other factors make day-to-day weight measurement look like a roller coaster.
Sometimes we give into urges, fatigue, hunger and social pressure to binge like at Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is not a religion so the odd transgression is all in the game of life. Don’t worry about it. Log it into the software and move on.

Finally – DietPower software

Dietpower
 is the software I’ve used since 2003. It’s not perfect but still the best one I’ve found. If you have another you like, tell us about it.
You can get Dietpower on a 15 day free trial and after that it costs $34.95. They have a money-back-guarantee. You’re not going to need that.
DietPower works and is very “user friendly.” When you compare the money spent on Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, this is so inexpensive.
DietPower main screen with Weight History – your goal, actual (red) and the coach’s projected weight

This is the DietPower main screen on my software.  Every time you start this snapshot of progress will pat yourself on the back or chide yourself for falling off the wagon, without anyone else knowing. This feature is awesome feedback.
As you can see from the red line, I just got back on DietPower 5 days ago – ahem. The Goal Weight is the blue line and it says by September 13, 2011 I should weigh 150 lbs. The little red line is my progress and the green line DietPower’s opinion of my hopes and dreams.
It’s funny to watch the software decide slowly that I might be keeping my diet.  Within a month the green and blue lines will merge since I’ve already lost 10 lbs before it was installed.

Mostly I used what I’d learned from DietPower in the past without logging food every day.


Down side to DietPower
 – they don’t have an iPhone, iPad version yet. The software was last updated for technology before Windows 7 so some screens don’t re-size perfectly. It also needs you to relax UAC in Windows. None of these are showstoppers or take away from the software’s ability to coach you to your weight goal.

Set your goal
After installing the demo, the program asks you to enter personal data and your weight goal, as in your ideal weight. Then it asks when you’d like to get there – next Christmas, next summer.

The coach will tell you if the goal is too easy or too hard. You can change goals anytime so don’t sweat this part.


Watch the video demos
DietPower has great online video demos that teach you the system in 30-60 minutes. These will save you lots of frustration and save me a lot of writing!

Log your meals and snacks
The screen at the top of the story is the place you log every bit of food you eat. From that DietPower can tell you if calories and other nutrients are on track or not.
There are two approaches to logging. DietPower has 20,000 food entries but I’ll bet you find some of your favorites are not listed by brand. You can accept the closest kind, like “Peanut butter, chunky, salted” or make a copy of that and enter the exact nutrition from the label of “Kraft Chunky Peanut Butter.”  To add your favorite foods go to the Food Dictionary.
The differences are minute but if you are fussy like me, you’ll want to enter your own brands. It only takes a short time the first time you come across something unique. DietPower saves your changes in the dictionary.
Once you start making entries in the Food Log you can add your normal diet to the Favorites button by simply dragging and dropping from the Log. It’s surprising how many of the same foods we eat day in day out. That makes logging the entries quick. If your breakfast is the same each morning you can combine the foods in a Recipe and make one entry instead of five.
You can also add your own recipes which is really cool in Recipe Box. My sister uses DietPower and we used to share recipes. I’d enter it and send her the printout. Impressive for a guy eh?
During all of this you need to be reasonably accurate with measurement, hence the need for measuring cups and a food scale. A quarter cup is not a full bowl so get it right.
Most of the heavy lifting will be done after you use the program for a week or two.  It’s actually fun to do since the program gives you instant feedback if you are on target for nutrients and calories.
 
Nutrient history shows how we are doing on each component of a health diet

This screen is treasure trove of information and advice. We watch our calories for weight loss but all of those other elements of the RDA are important as well. Right click on a yellow or red bar and it will tell you where the problem is.
For instance, I like Brazil nuts as a treat. I was eating 3 a day until I logged them into DietPower. Brazil Nuts are very rich in Selenium and one a day is more than enough. That’s why Selenium is off the screen. I switched to Almonds.  There are two pages to this screen: the other one has fats, sugar, protein etc.
I haven’t found any program that gives as much coaching with so little effort.
Have fun getting rid of your “30-lb-turkey”.  You will be so happy when it does. Next week I’ll add some thoughts on the Mediterranean Diet, nutrition and exercise.

Related
In adopting any diet you should consult a professional dietitian for special medical conditions. That being said, I’ve never found anyone who knew how to help someone who can’t run around the block lose weight.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network
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