This article is part of a series on weight loss using European approaches to losing weight and staying fit. This latest article on technology highlights some newer methods to track weight loss and calorie goals using smart phone and tablet applications. Most French do not use these type of methods to lose weight (and I will explain why) but I feel that using technology can help some to stay on track with weight loss goals. Would love your opinion! Let me know how you are doing with your weight goals.
Most People Regain Their Weight Loss
The statistics are depressing: a mere 3% of people trying to lose weight will actually lose weight and keep it off long-term. Most of the reasons the weight comes back are multiform: we return to our old eating and sedentary habits, our psychological link to food (eating out of boredom, stress and other emotional eating habits) is too strong , and/or we just don’t like the deprivation that is often linked to typical weight loss diets.
That is why I write this series on French and Italian methods to support you or give you other ideas on how to control your weight. I know there are other ways to lose weight besides following a strict diet, or deprivation of our favorite foods. (And that link with emotions and food is probably one of the hardest things to break and can really limit our weight goals). If you have read this series, I have tried to share with you how the French and Italian culture helps this population stay slimmer compared with other cultures.
But it isn’t typically French or in the French culture to use technology support, such as smart phone applications to help lose and track weight goals, and this newer method might be just the thing to help some who need real visual and concrete proof of their diet goals. In fact, studies show that such weight loss (and fitness) smart phone applications do help users to lose weight and keep it off, especially when these applications are combined with a health professional’s support.
Why don’t the French use technology as a ‘French way’ to lose weight?
I talk a lot in this weight loss series on how the French and Italians stay slimmer because of how the European culture supports a slower lifestyle with more emphasis on shopping for fresh foods, preparation of meals and eating slower and less. This is not to say that the French and Italians don’t have fast speed lifestyles, au contraire, some of them do, but there is that emphasis at the end of the day to take time to sit and eat and relax and take a walk. It keeps them balanced.
Technology is top of the rank in Europe, there is widely available WiFi and high-speed internet in most countries, France and Italy included. And smart phone applications are used for just about anything, such as checking your bank account or ordering groceries online.
But to imagine a French person using a smart phone application to track their diet plan and counting calories? Je m’en doute. (I have doubts about this). Because it goes against this established French foodie culture to use technology to count calories and food that is eaten. Food is just there and it is not to be analyzed.
But for some who are trying to lose a lot of weight, these technology diet trackers might just be the support to stay on track.
Those who have lost a lot of weight and kept it off, link their recording methods as a big weight loss helper.
If you have a lot of weight to lose these tracking methods may be one key to successful long-term weight loss. In my interviews with weight loss clients and in research on weight loss in obese patients, one method that helps to stay on track is using a recording method (by journal or computer application) to track eating and weight loss. In this documentary on obesity in America, called Weight of the Nation, two women discuss how they have successfully lost a significant amount of weight and kept if off for years; it was because they used a visual tracking method of how many calories they ate and what they ate. In fact, these women still use these methods to keep weight stable, despite being at their ideal weight.
One suggestion I advise my weight loss clients is to use a Food/Emotion Journal and to write down on paper everything they eat for a week, being completely honest and how they felt eating the food.
These tracking methods can make the difference for some who really have a need of visual tracking and have a long road ahead to lose a large amount of weight. By actually seeing on paper or screen what you are eating, how you are feeling, the calories and foods you intake; all of this can be a catalyst for making changes, for sticking with the small weight loss and diet goals, and to celebrate success when it happens (and it will).
What to look for in a weight loss smart phone or tablet application?
Here is what I would look for in a weight loss smart phone application:
- That you can download and use the application on Android, Windows, and Apple systems. If an application is available on these different systems, you can then use it on your smart phone, Ipad, and Windows-based laptop by keeping your account active.
- That it has a free version. By testing out the free version first, you know what you are buying (even if there are a lot of good free weight loss applications out there!).
- That it has a food base list that you are familiar with.
- That doesn’t try to sell you a diet plan, menu or extras that you really don’t need (or want!)
- That is simple to use and time friendly.
If you are still unsure, you can just use your phone to find your perfect app. Go into the applications center on your smart phone, and take a look at the weight loss apps. Read the reviews, and download 1-3 different ones and try them out.
What to remember with tracking programs on your road to weight loss
Using a smart phone application to help in weight loss is a weight loss tool, and it is just that: a tool. It isn’t for everyone, and while it can help those who really need that visual support and motivation, it can also pull you away from the pleasures of just eating food. Using technology sometimes takes things away from ‘normalcy’, just the act of simply buying food, cooking it and enjoying it with others.
And this simple acts are sacred to children. While using smart phone technology can be a useful tool, it is better when used as part of a healthy lifestyle and normal eating.
And what about fitness smart phone applications and other fitness tools?
Si, Oui, and Yes.
Fitness goals are equally important to staying healthy and to help reach our weight loss objectives. Do you use fitness applications on your smart phone? Let me know what you use. Coming soon is an article on fitness technology, another great tool to help us reach our health successes.
Final thoughts on using technology to help with your weight loss
There is no simple answer or way to lose weight. If I knew one, I would be a millionaire! I really do believe in using back to basics, simple methods (like in France and Italy) to lose weight, but technology is also available as a tool to help. But it is a tool and only that, the real work is up to you. And the real work means to survive without these technologies, to eat healthy, to eat real foods and to live life more slowly. And this is even more important to the little ones in our life who are watching us!
So keep it simple and keep reading the series on weight loss (you can read one of the articles here on eating discipline) and if you need more motivation, try one of the weight loss applications listed below.
List of popular weight loss smartphone applications
There are a few free apps that seem to rise above the rest.
And that is just a start. Here are three articles that can further help your search:
- 6 Smartphone apps for losing weight
- Diet apps on the Iphone, Android and Blackberry
- The 8 Best Smartphone Apps for Weight Loss
Do you use a smartphone app that you really like? Let us know about it.
Here is to using everything out there that can help you to stay healthy. Technology and smart phone apps included. Wishing you success to your health goals.
If you need more information on anything in this article, you can also contact me with any questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are looking for one to one counseling via Skype or telephone, I also counsel private clients. Contact me and I can send you a list of my services.
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