My first pick of 2011 and it’s no surprise that it helps with one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions – dieting. Myfitnesspal is a web, iPhone and Android based weight/calorie tracking tool. It was first recommended by a friend last year and I immediately dismissed it as I hated the name and the web site design wasn’t the best. What a snob! Roll on a few months and at the start of 2011 I wanted to track more carefully my food intake. Partly to improve diet and partly to provide a food diary to help with migraine root cause analysis. After seeing myfitnesspal being recommended alongside RunKeeper I decided to look again at the service.

First good aspect of myfitnesspal is that it’s a totally free service. After downloading the iPhone app and creating an account the biggest plus of the experience so far was the capture of daily calorie intake. Myfitnesspal has a large database of foods that are easily searchable. It’s also stocked with lot’s of UK foods as well and it means a typical day’s food intake takes a couple of minutes tops to add in. The app also remembers foods you’ve previously eaten so if you are a Scot addicted to Frosties and Diet Irn-Bru (not at the same time I hasten to add) it takes seconds to add these in to the app. If a food doesn’t exist it’s fairly straightforward to add that to the database so it’s searchable from then on. Based on height, sex and weight myfitnesspal will display a daily target for calorie intake and guesstimate how your current intake will decrease, or increase, your overall weight. As I’ve only been using it for a couple of weeks it’s hard to say how accurate this side of the app is. However it really does hammer home how much you eat in a day to day basis. I’ve already switched a couple of foods to one’s with a far smaller calorie/fat/salt intake.

The app also allows you to track weight and exercise but these have to be manually inputted – no link up with other sites like Withings here. One interesting touch is that alongside weight tracking you can also track body measurements like neck size so you can see if you are staying static in weight but reducing fat/increasing muscle. The reports within Myfitnesspal are rudimentary and basic but allow you to see progress over time.

There’s also a social aspect in that you can have friends on the service but at the same time still keeping certain aspects of your profile private. I can see this being handy for people who are working together to encourage each other during weight loss but for me this is purely a solo adventure.

Overall I like the service myfitnesspal offers purely due to the functional rather than pretty front end making it easy to add data and the very complete food database. The fact it’s free is another plus point but I would be interested in hearing from anyone using a similar service that they would be happy to recommend.

Withings WiFi Body Scale

As my current scales had become slightly inaccurate, it was the perfect excuse to pick up a Withings scale – the first wifi body scale. I’d been itching to get it since I first heard about Withings at the turn of the year but the main reason had always been the fact I had a perfectly good set of scales already. Also they cost a pretty penny – I paid £107 including shipping. Ouch. I’ve now been using them for over a week and it really is a lovely gadget.

So as scales go, they look good but the really nice feature is that they are wifi enabled, automatically uploading your weight, fatty mass and BMI to the Withings website. The weight tracking works for up to eight people from one set of scales so your whole family should be covered. The website is Flash based and lets you track your weight and add notes when certain events (curry!) have impacted on your weight. So far, so good. There’s also a free iPhone and iPad app that allows you to track your weight from the comfort of your iOS device. These are pretty straightforward but give you everything you need to know.

As it’s all automatic it means I can track my weight daily. Total overkill but it’s part of the new weight strategy – track all inputs and outputs. Track weight, exercise and calorie intake. Withings also make sharing information really easy with a number of options available. I can publish my data on the web via a link or an iFrame. I can also share my data with other users who can access via an e-mail address. I can also link Withings to a number of other accounts – Google Health, Runkeeper, even WeightBot on the iPhone. Finally, I can auto tweet my weight after each weigh in. No where to hide 🙂

It had to be done – a new twitter account has been setup just for my weight. Special. I’ve also hooked Withings into RunKeeper. I track all my hill walks on RunKeeper and also now track my efforts on the bike. Having all that info in one place plus the weight is really nice. Also, I’ve paid for one years access to RunKeeper elite which gives me more detailed graphs, stats etc.

The final piece of the jigsaw is to now track calorie intake. Couple of iPhone app’s are worth considering and I had recommended so I’ll give those a try. The up shot of all that is that I’m a couple of kilo’s heavier than a year ago which isn’t too bad as I’ve not been doing the same amount of exercise this year. I’ll be stepping that up between now and Christmas so hopefully I’ll lose a little in the next couple of months – not long until Santa’s here now.

As for Withings – great gadget, expensive and a bit over the top but I love it.