Cool tools

May 15, 2011

Countdown calendar

I used to view calendars and props and food tracking programs as unnecessary time wasters  that don’t really help all that much when you’re trying to lose weight. I’ve changed my tune. I think we need every bit of help we can get. At least I do.

This tool was inspired by the countdown calendars used on “I Used To Be Fat,” an MTV program about overweight teens who want to change their bodies and their attitudes before going off to college. The one they have is several feet wide, whereas this one is 5-1/2 inches, but the concept is the same. And this one has some extras!

I’ve created a pdf called “Countdown To Fabulous” and am making it available as a free download here at It goes up to 365 days, but you can print out as many or as few pages as you need for your particular countdown. It includes instructions on how to print (on regular copy paper), cut, and collate it.

Sample page - click to enlarge

I encourage you to sit down and figure out your own weight loss time frame, keeping in mind that a loss per week of no more than 2 pounds is recommended. However many days you think it will take you, divide it by 4 and print out that many pages. Each day has a motivating phrase for you to ponder for the day, as well as a checklist of healthy behaviors.

I hope you’ll enjoy using it, and if you do, pop over to my Facebook page and let me know!

Countdown To Fabulous!

Motivational Posters

Don’t underestimate the power of posters! It’s good to keep inspiration nearby when you’re on a weight loss regimen. Hang these in your workout area, your office, your bedroom, wherever they will help you the most. They’re 8-1/2 x 11 size, but you could have them enlarged at an office supply store if you’d like by giving them the PDFs.

Click on each poster to download it.

No More Excuses

Work Don't Wish

Onward and Downward

Fitness tracking iPhone app

I love this fitness tracking app for my iPhone: Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal (and it’s free!)

You start out by entering your crucial information such as current weight, goal weight, height, and activity level. It allows you to enter a calorie goal as well as your weight loss goal per week and exercise plans. I don’t see a way to enter a carbohydrate goal, which would be helpful. The calorie counter will tell you how many calories you have left for the day, and it would be nice if it told you how many carbs you have left if that’s what you’re counting. But all you have to do is check the Nutrient tab and it does track that for you.

I log all my meals and snacks for the day, using their huge database of foods including brand names. You can also enter your workouts: type, length, and intensity, and whether they were cardiovascular or strength training. You can also tell it how much water you drank, which is a good way to remind you to include lots of water as part of your overall regimen. There’s a place for notes as well.

Another handy feature is the ability to add your own custom foods, meals, and recipes. If you have the same meal every day, saving it makes quick work of adding it the next day.

It takes some time to get used to logging all these things, especially if you’re not in the habit of keeping track of what you eat or how much you exercise, but it’s well worth it. At any time you can check the Nutrients tab to see exactly how much fat, cholesterol, carbs, protein, or vitamins you have consumed that day.

Enter your weight at whatever intervals you weigh yourself, and it tracks your overall progress. There’s a social aspect, too: You can add friends, send messages, and work together toward a common goal. More information on how to use the app and other helpful stuff can be found on their web site.

I haven’t used all its features yet, but even so, it’s an invaluable tool in my arsenal. At the very least, it makes me conscious of what I’m eating and how much. I look forward to seeing the little bar graph continue its decline!