The answers to many questions have been provided by an iOS app called MyNetDiary. First, I just have to say that I don't like the name. It does not tell me what the program does, who it was written for, or why I would want it. But, experience has taught me that this is no reason to avoid something. When I tested iOS calorie-tracking apps, this one was the best for my needs.
First, I wanted a program to look up caloric values for foods that I eat and help me keep a daily log. I wanted those calories broken down into macronutrients: fat, carbs, and protein so I could see how many grams of each I was eating and how that translated into calories.
Next, I wanted the same lookup and tracking for the calories burned by various exercises.
Then, I wanted something to track my longterm weight loss goal and tell me how many calories I needed to be in deficit for my body to use up the right amount of fat that day. Not so little as to keep the weight and not so much as to cause problems from losing it too fast.
And, finally, I wanted something to correlate all of this information to help me make moment-to-moment decisions about whether I need more exercise or more food. Or, more accurately, to tell me how much exercise I'll need to do if I take a second helping of beef stew.
Under meals, it tells me that I ate more than was recommended by 257 calories. Under exercise, I've done more than was planned by about 750 calories. And that gives me the daily goal under analysis: 522 calories left to exactly meet my weight loss goal for the day. Bingo!
You just tell it what you did and for how long. See those entries for "Skimble"? I'll be writing another blog post about this digital personal trainer app. After each workout, it tells you how many calories you burned. I then enter that info into MyNetDiary by hand.
First, the calorie chart. This tells me at a glance whether I need to eat more food before bed to keep my body from burning up fat (or maybe muscle) too fast. There are a ton of problems that can arise from starving yourself to lose weight so I don't want to do it accidentally.
In this chart you can see that today does not have enough calories in it. I need to eat at least 500 more calories before bed. That's a heaping spoonful of peanut butter and a glass of milk. Yeah!
See that big dip? I didn't realize how accurate this program is so I was being conservative in my intake "just in case". I lost weight way too fast for a few days and then intentionally ate more for a few days to bring myself closer to normal.
This is reflected in the calorie chart by a few days in a row of very low intake. And the next week I overdid it a few times on purpose, reflected by tall yellow bars in the calorie chart.
Now here's the part that's weird, but I'm doing it anyhow... All of this data syncs automatically with the web-based version. I've set my visibility to public so anyone who wants can follow along with my progress.
(Caution: shirtless photos.)
I sort of think that creating public accountability will keep me focused. I don't want to let y'all down, right? Besides, I write this blog to inspire others to follow in my footsteps if I'm doing something that they wish they could do. I don't have super-special magic powers to get things done. I just set reasonable goals and do my best to stick to them, using any tool I can get my hands on to help me.
And, if losing weight is a goal of yours, MyNetDiary can take a lot of the guesswork out of managing your diet and exercise.
Disclosure: I am in no way associated with this company. They just make a program that's totally amazing!
Update: The link above doesn't show very much info unless you're a member of the forums, I guess. If you're really interested, I'm pretty sure it's free.