Check out the “signs and symptoms ” section of the Wikipedia article on Cushing’s syndrome. I am experiencing most of these; not because I actually have Cushing’s, but because I have Crohn’s disease, which is currently being treated with prednisone, which ups my cortisol levels–functionally giving me an artificial case of Cushing’s. One of the symptoms on that list is central body obesity: weight gain that affects the trunk and head but not the limbs. After I started on prednisone I very quickly gained 30 lbs. and was suddenly at risk of needing to buy a whole new closet full of clothes. That, plus the acne, plus the moon face, meant that I had traded chronic pain for a host of body image issues. I think, on net, that’s a good trade, but still is less than ideal. So, despite my doctor rolling his eyes and saying, “On prednisone? Good luck with that,” I decided to try going on a weight loss regimen with the hopes of at least stabilizing my weight before all of my pants stopped fitting. Since the symptoms from my Crohn’s are still at a level that makes exercise difficult, I chose to focus on dietary weight control. To that end I downloaded an app for my iPhone called Lose It to help me track my calorie intake.
That was a little over four weeks ago. I’ve lost 9.5 lbs.
Lose It is more than just a calorie tracker. It calculates your resting metabolic rate and assigns you a daily calorie budget to meet your weight loss goal. Every day you put in the food you eat and, if you so desire, the exercise you undertake, and it keeps statistics about your budget management on a daily and weekly basis. What makes it really effective is that its interface for tracking diet is connected to an online food database that makes it largely unnecessary to know the caloric content of what you are eating beforehand; you can find the the meal you just ate, or a reasonable approximation thereof, from within the program itself. The database has specific meals from many national restaurant chains, most national grocery brands, and any individual ingredient you are likely to use. You can input custom recipes and foodstuffs, and the app remembers them so you need only select it the next time. I’m not an eater of staggering variety, so after a month of using Lose It I very rarely have to search for foods anymore; most of what I eat is there to be selected from my list of previous meals. I’m also not a person of great willpower, but the subtle feedback of my green calorie bar turning red when I go over-budget for day seems to be enough to keep me in line. I’m averaging about one over-budget day a week, making me consistently under-budget on a week-by-week basis. And, as I mentioned, it’s working. I’m losing weight.
Lose It (iTunes App Store link) is a great. It even has nutrition tracking functions, which I haven’t used because I’m more interested in vanity than health, but I’m sure they’re excellent. It’s a free download, so if you are an iPhone user there’s no reason not to check it out.