The Devil’s Food Triangle

Paula LabrotBy Paula Labrot      November 13, 2020

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The Devil’s Food Triangle
We have now sailed into the Bermuda Triangle for dieters: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Here, in the Devil’s Food Triangle, thousands of dieters mysteriously disappear. Rogue waves of Pumpkin Cookies, Thanksgiving Side Dishes, and Christmas Candy sweep calorie-counting voyagers off the deck of self-discipline with violent, unrelenting storms of sugar, butter, and flour. Having lost more than 40 pounds this year and setting course to lose 40 more in 2021, I am tied to the Mast of Hope as my ship begins its heart-pounding journey to the other side of Christmas. I need all the help I can get, so, of course, I look to technology for help to navigate the Triangle’s treacherous seas. THE BASICS Let’s start with the understanding that, no matter what diet you follow, to lose weight you have to eat less than you burn. Dieting is a very, very old problem. But there are quite a few new solutions from the world of technology to help guide you through the seasonal squalls. There are loads of websites you can use to guide you through a diet program. The most well-known is Weight Watchers (WW), whose program will give you a personal science and behavior assessment and then match you with a plan geared toward your goals. The WW approach is very data driven and loaded with metrics to help you toward success. Food tracking includes bar code scanning from your smart phone that you can use at the grocery to gather information on foods from calories to nutrition. Fitness tracking uses your device to get the most out of your exercise and…these online programs have vast, digital libraries of recipes and meal planning plus plans for eating out. Not only do programs like WW track your behavior, they also offer to connect you with digital pen pals from all over the world who share your desire for better health. That is great, because as Carl Jung said, “The wounded doctor heals.” If you have 100 pounds to lose, talking to someone who has done that successfully means a lot more than talking to someone who wants to lose 10 pounds. If you plateau for a length of time, it is great to talk to someone who has been through it. You can watch your weight and make new friends! There is nothing like experience to create a wellspring of tips and tricks. For instance, when someone tells you to lie down on the floor for an exercise, it’s fine for some folks and impossible for others who might not be able to get up again! I love the success stories, the ups and downs and eventual victories. They are inspiring. GADGETS According to data by Marketdata Enterprises, a market research firm that specializes in tracking niche industries, Americans spend north of $60 billion annually to try to lose pounds, on everything from paying for gym memberships and joining weight-loss programs to drinking diet soda. Sixty billion dollars! What a country where one of the biggest health problems is too much weight. When I think of the starving people of the world…. $60 billion dollars? Holy moly! You don’t even have to leave your house to participate in the diet industry. Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, and the upscale BistroMD, will deliver calorie portioned meals to your home by mail. It can be pricey, but effective, and this kind of help has been around for quite a while. Some of the newer technologies are not tried and true, but they are sure interesting. Have you heard of the Smart Plate or the Vibrating Fork? The Smart Plate was a kickstarter project. It is a product that connects to a phone app allowing users to instantly analyze and process up to three separate food items, measuring weight, total calories, and more. The Smart Plate app is ideal for those who are on the go. The app allows for mobile functionality. It is a simple program that works by holding your phone up to your plate and snapping a food picture. It is considered the world’s first intelligent nutrition platform. The app is compatible with operating programs such as Android and iOS. The HAPI Fork is an electronic fork that lights up and/or vibrates when you are eating too fast. Based on the idea you can lose weight by eating slower, the fork measures the number of servings per minute and alerts you when you eat faster than a bite every 10 seconds. Justin Peters, writing for Slate.com, says, “The HAPI fork is a conversation starter. Your blue fork is buzzing. ‘What’s up with that?’ your dinner guests will say. ‘OH MY GOD, IT’S A BOMB!’ you can say. ‘No, just kidding, it’s a HAPI fork.’” There is lots of room for impromptu comedy with your $60 fork that is also a vibrator. This isn’t your grandma’s fork! MORE DIETER STUFF EMS—electrical muscle stimulation sends signals to targeted muscles to make them contract. Dieters use them to “exercise” without having to actually move. (I have a vision of students trapped in front of computers all day, wired up for conditioning.) There is a variety of EMS products, including the Flex Belt for ab muscles. For gamers, you have Xbox Kinetic Training to create a home workout that is motivating and effective. Personally, I love Richard Simmons’ dance workouts….and you do sweat! (and laugh) There are tons (no pun intended) of online workouts from walking to biking to dancing to everything! Check out Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, etc. There are lots of Fatness Trackers. You input data like height, weight, age, condition, and the tracker will give your body fat percentages. There are Smart Scales that will not only give your body fat percentages but water percentage and muscle and bone mass. These units will also suggest appropriate workouts! Fitness trackers have come a long way from counting steps to the Adidas MiCoach that “talks” to you and tells you how to work out properly. Finally, the HydroCoach smart bottle measures and analyzes your fluid intake, letting you know how much you drink and keeping track of the times and intervals you drink to make sure you are getting “healthy hydration.” ANCHORS “A-WEIGH” We are in the Triangle, three sheets to the wind. There is no turning back. The shoals of Halloween Treats have passed…the storms and reefs of Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday eating still loom ahead. Tie yourselves to that Mast of Hope and accept help in whatever form it comes to you. May you sail safe and triumphant to the other side of Christmas. Vamos a ver!
Paula Labrot

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