Anyone who's dieted knows how difficult sticking to it is. Most diets aren't one-size-fits-all, and even if they were, it's hard to skip that second slice of pie now when you won't notice the effects for weeks. Technology to the rescue!
Music by Rappy McRapperson
I'm turning 30 in March, and if ever there were a time that New Year's resolutions lined up with a desire to eat better and improve my health and fitness, it's this year. So I've committed to getting on top of my diet, eating healthier, and, yes, losing a couple pounds. So let's talk a little bit about the problem with a lot of diets—or at least the biggest problem I've always had. (You can get the gist in the video above 1.)
One of the more difficult problems related to maintaining a healthy diet is that food has a terrible feedback loop. You may overeat today, but you don't notice the results until a few weeks later when you're waistline's grown a few inches. If, on the other hand, your pants stopped fitting the moment you ate that third slice of pie, you may think twice about eating it. 2
Instead, your eating habits are left only to your self control, and with that long feedback loop, it's hard to stay properly motivated. On top of that, my body is different from yours, and neither of us may fit the baseline model used with diet programs.
Technology can improve this feedback loop, give us a better idea of how our bodies handle the calories we take in, and ultimately make it easier for you to exercise self control by making it easier to understand what's really going on with your diet before you've got to buy looser clothes.
Several gadgets aim to help solve this problem, and in the next couple of months, I'll be testing a few of them, starting with the BodyMedia FIT armband. This little gadget tracks the calories you burn (and, incidentally, your sleep quality), and integrates that information with a web site full of pretty charts and graphs. Along with tracking the calories you spend, it also allows you to track your intake and, hopefully (if you're aiming to lose weight), your deficit.
Over the next few weeks, I'll use the FIT to track my diet, then report back. After that I'll move onto the Fitbit.
 I'm ripping off this feedback loop bit from Aza Raskin, who recently left Mozilla to form a health startup called Massive Health. Massive Health is also aiming to fix this problem, though they're currently in a very early startup stage. [go back]