Using Technology to Aid Weight Loss

America is fat. Mostly. Over 33% of Americans are overweight (CDC). I am clinically overweight since my BMI is over 27.  Looking at me you would not agree with that, well now at least. I used to weigh 360lbs. Today I fluctuate between 195lbs & 205lbs but mostly around 200lbs. It has been a rough road from 2007.  

After failing with diet & exercise programs I turned to weight loss surgery. At the time my options were Lap Band and Gastric Bypass. I heard too many horror stories about bypass and opted for the Lap Band. I started out great. I was down 40 pounds in 6 months.  Shortly after that I plateaued with my loss only losing a few pounds here and there and I got discouraged. I started cheating with my food and stopped following the diet plan. That lead to weight gain. In 2010 I started having severe abdominal pain and went to the ER. After 12 hours of pain, testing and drinking nasty fluid, the doctors determined that the tubing that connected the saline port to the band around the stomach had become loose and wrapped around by bowel. I have a very high pain tolerance but this was nothing I have experienced before. Had I waited any longer, I may not be here today.   

Since then I have had the lap band removed, started and stuck to a diet & fitness plan.  My plan is not for everyone, you have to find what works for you. You should always consult a physician before starting a diet & fitness plan.  I eat a low calorie diet and run about 15 miles a week. I also throw in some strength training just to keep balanced. Helping me stick to this plan is my trusty iPhone and a couple of other gadgets.  With over 700,000 apps available in the App Store there is no shortage of health & fitness related apps. I will go over the tools I use on a regular basis.


I use the Withings Wi-Fi Scale to track my weight. This the the best scale I have ever used. It tracks weight, BMI and can detect you body fat % for up to 8 users. Once connected to your wifi network the scale will send the data recorded to your Withings account. You are able to view the recorded information on your smartphone or the Withings website. Your smartphone will get a notification that there is a new measurement. Once you open the app you can see a graph of your weight loss. The app also allows you to set a weight goal for yourself.  You can also connect multiple apps to the service, check the website for more details. The Withings Scale is available for $149.95 

Withings iOS App (Free)


My second device to help motivate myself and be active is the FitBit. The FitBit tracks how many steps you take daily. The default count is 10,000 but you can increase or decrease them based on your goals. Every week you will get an email showing your progress. If you have friends that use a FitBit you can “compete” with them as their weekly step total is also included in the email. FitBit helps motivate me by not only trying to reach my daily goal of 10,000 steps, but also trying to get more steps in than the day before. They offer 3 devices:  

  • The Zip tracks your steps, distance, calories burned.                                                                                                                  
  • The One also tracks the floors climbed and your sleep.                                                                                                              
  • The Flex does everything above but is a wrist band versus a belt or pocket device.

All 3 devices can sync to your iPhone 4S & 5 via bluetooth. If you do not have a smartphone then you can plug in a little usb dongle that will sync when you are close to it. Both the smartphone app & website will allow you track your food & water intake and any additional activities you may have completed. FitBit also has a smart scale similar to the Withings Scale. That came out after I purchased mine so I am not too familiar with it but from what I have read they are almost identical. FitBit is available at  and the prices range form $59.95 to $99.95

FitBit iOS App (Free)

A heart rate monitor is also a good idea to invest in. There are many that can tie in with your iPhone or be used separately. The one I use is kind of old but still works.  They are good for helping you keep your heart rate in the target zone. Again make sure you check with your doctor before starting any programHere are a few for you to look at.  PolarTimex and Wahoo.  Now, on to my apps for helping my weight goals.


My Fitness Pal

My Fitness Palwebsiteaddedand is a calorie tracking app and does it pretty well. This app is more advanced for tracking your food then the FitBit app is. You can scan bar codes for food/drinks, add your own recipes, add exercise, view your weight progress, view your friends progress and give them cheer and encouragement. An excellent feature of this app is the ability to tie in other services. I have my FitBit and my Withings scale tied into this one app. Every time I step on the scale my weight is automatically sent to My Fitness Pal. My FitBit sends calories burned to My Fitness Pal every time it syncs.  There are more services available to tie in, make sure you check the for more details. Another interesting feature of the service is how your calories are broken down into nutritional categories: Fat, Carbs, Protein and Vitamins. You are also given daily goals for each nutritional section based on your weight goals. For example, I should be eating 101 grams of protein daily. Another great feature of the app is how your exercise affects your calorie intake. Example: You are allowed 2500 calories a day. Its 5pm, you had breakfast, lunch and a few snacks and have 300 calories left. Your planned meal for dinner is 600 calories.  That puts you over your calories by 300. You decide to go for a walk or run before dinner. You can enter that exercise into My Fitness Pal and get calories  to your allotment. The run/walk you went on burned 450 calories.  You now have enough calories for your dinner  a small snack.  

My Fitness Pal iOS App (Free)                                                                                                                                  Other calorie tracking services try are Lose It and Daily Burn Tracker

Nike+ Running                                                                                                                                                   

I know the first thing that popped into your head. You want to say I don’t/can’t run. I did the same thing and its the wrong thing to do. The right thing to do is to start slow. I started by going on long walks with my wife and son.  I gradually added some jogging into the mix, jogging for a minute then walking for two. Every two weeks I increased the time jogging and decreased the time walking.  Eventually I stopped walking all together and was able to make it a full mile in 8 minutes, something I was never able to do.  I even managed to run a 5K in July and finished with a time of 33:06. I will be looking to shave 5 - 10 minutes off of that this year. Now on to why I love the Nike+ app. The app uses the iPhone’s GPS to track you. You have four types of run to choose from: Basic Run (no goals), Distance Run (how far do you want to run), Timed Run (set how long you want to run) and Speed Run(try to beat a previous pace). You can also choose location, Indoor/Outdoor, select a playlist of your favorite music and get support from your Facebook friends. You can also share your run on Facebook, Twitter and Path. After each run you are presented with your summary and comparison to your previous runs. 

There are other free apps out there: Map My Walk, Run Keeper, Nexercise, Couch to 5K

Nike+ Running iOS App (Free) 


There you have it folks, my resources for helping me lose & now maintain my weight.  All of the apps listed are free.  Some of them offer In App Purchases and upgrades but they are not necessary.  They all also offer social network integration if you want to share with or need support from your friends. The price for the scale and the FitBit are high so check out Amazon and you may be able to find a better deal. If you would like to friend/follow me on any of the above apps feel free to send me an email with your user name and the app you would like to be friends in and I will make sure it happens.  Let me know what apps you use in the comments.

Written by Danny Tammaro.  You can follow Danny on TwitterAppDotNet, Google+