The One Year Project

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Accountability and Calorie Counting for the Tech Savvy

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Photo by teamperks

Photo by teamperks

I’ve been at it for three weeks now consistently losing weight.  I’ve done this by eating healthy, exercising, and, you guessed it, counting calories.  Now, up until this point I had been using the Mac’s calculator widget.  Every time I ate I’d press the dashboard key and punch in the calories.

This works, to be sure, but it’s not very safe or convenient and it’s not as useful as it could be.  More than once I’ve had to restart the computer, losing all the calories and having to redo the whole mess.  Not to mention the fact that I am consistently calling on the calculator only to remember when I see it that the calories are there and the calculator can’t be used.  Plus what if I mess up, what if I lie or what if I forget something.  There’s no way to track the foods and there’s no way to be held accountable.

I’m a web designer so needless to say most of my time is spent at a computer.  I need a quick entry system for calories that’s preferably easy to learn and works well with my computer.  The best solution for me, hands down?  Well…

Tweet What You Eat

I’m a Twitter addict.  I update a few times per day promoting new posts, asking questions, responding to other tweets.  I use Firefox and, having tried Twitterific and Tweetdeck and the like, I’ve found the Firefox extension Twitterfox to be the greatest tool ever for keeping track of who I follow since most of my time is spent in a browser.  Twitterfox is almost always open (and when it’s not, it just takes a single click) so it makes quick entry very easy.

Well, some geniuses had the bright idea to turn your tweets into a food diary!  TweetWhatYouEat.com is a very minimalistic approach to calorie counting that is incredibly convenient and also offers the potential for accountability.  Go to their site for more detailed instructions on how to sign up and get started.  Basically, though, you follow the Twitter user ‘twye’.  Once you follow them, you can track what you eat via the web or a mobile device (however you can tweet things, you can update your calories.)

To add a new food to your log, send a direct message to ‘twye’.  For example, if you have a taco with 120 calories you just send the tweet ‘d twye Taco:120’ and it will be added to your log.  You don’t have to put calories if  you want and you’re free to log in to you diary page at a later time and add it.  They also provide a crowd sourced calorie look up that will feel in the calories of unknown foods automatically if you set your account up for it.

Anyway, the best best thing about it is this diary page you get.  Mine is found here.  All your tweets are organized into an easy to read chart and also shows a total of the calories you’ve eaten.  But in the top right corner by your username is the best part.

An RSS feed!

Copy the link of this feed and you can set yourself up for some accountability.  For example, I copied the feed and added it to my sidebar!  Take a look to your right.  You’ll see a listing of what I’ve been eating.  This will no doubt shame me away from any bad foods (like cookies or cakes).  In order to fail I’ll have to tell everyone I failed.  It definitely keeps me in check!

So, this is how I’ll be counting calories from now on.  Oh yeah, and feel free to follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/jdbentley.

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Written by J. Bentley

January 2, 2009 at 8:00 am

Posted in Losing Weight, Tools