Technology: The biggest winners

Bugged about losing weight? Read this.

scale weight 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
scale weight 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
With all the hi-tech help out there for people who need to lose weight, it’s amazing how high the obesity rate is in “the lands of plenty.”
That phenomenon has not passed by our little homeland. Now that Israel is a member of the OECD, we too have “grown.” A recent OECD poll says that we are the eighth “fattest” country by percentage of population. I guess if you start your day off with an Israeli breakfast (you know the kind I mean), move on to a siesta-style lunch and end the day with a proper dinner (as many do today), it’s not hard to pile on the calories.
What is hard, however, is taking them off, which is why there is such a market for diet books, with so many of them best-sellers. The charm of many of these books (and thus the reason they sell so well) is that they promise to make weight loss easy – ironically, by following often very complicated eating programs.
But any good nutritionist will tell you that the secret of weight loss isn’t complicated at all: It’s all about the calories. If you want to lose weight, you have to either take in fewer or exercise harder to get rid of the excess calories you take in.
That’s where body monitors like the Fitbit ( and Philips Directlife ( come in.
For most people, maximizing activity is easier than radically cutting calorie intake, and these devices help motivate you to get in shape by recording every calorie you expend, so that when you count intake calories, you know exactly how much you’re allowed to eat, and how much weight you can expect to lose (approximately, of course).
There are many other body monitor devices out there that can do the job as well, one of the most well known being the BodyBugg ( Termed by its manufacturer “the intelligent calorie management system,” the Bugg is famous for its being featured on the US reality show The Biggest Loser, with candidates trying to lose the most weight using it to keep their calorie burn higher than calorie intake.
Like the others, the Body- Bugg, which you wear as an armband, records the calorie count for everything you do; for example the calories you expend when jogging – and the calories you use putting on your running shoes, along with doing dishes, opening the mail, walking to the bus/car and even the calories you use up tossing and turning in your sleep. You can also easily add information on what you eat, and the device will keep a running total of your calorie “account balance” for the day.
The BodyBugg is one of the more expensive of the body activity monitors (usually about $250, but there is plenty of discounting). Critics say that it’s because of its “celebrity” status connection to The Biggest Loser. But users on review sites rave about it and attest to its claim that it is 90 percent accurate when it comes to monitoring calorie burning. And you get a free year’s subscription to the Body- Bugg website and a free phone coaching session with a professional trainer.
Similar to the BodyBugg is the ExerSpy ( It’s actually the same device, say many reviewers, which has more sophisticated exercise and calorie functions (it’s also more money).
If your budget doesn’t run in the hundreds and you’ve got a smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, Android device, etc.), there are all sorts of free or inexpensive programs that you can use to track your exercise and calorie intake.
Exercise tracking should be a no-brainer for smartphones – they’ve got accelerometers that can keep track of your activity, and built-in GPS to keep track of where you do it.
So far, there are no full-coverage body monitors for cellphones (although the BodyBugg offers an iPhone interface), but there are plenty of programs that will keep track of your runs, jogs, bike rides, power walks, heart rate and calorie intake.
Topping the list for runners is Runkeeper Pro ( – usually $9.99, but being offered for free through the end of January. Runkeeper keeps track of your speed, pace, caloric output, activity history and location – producing nice maps of where you’ve run, via GPS. Results get recorded on the Runkeeper website (you can share them with others on the site or via Twitter and Facebook).
And if you become a premium member, you can access all sorts of graphs and other features.
Despite its name, Runkeeper also keeps track of other activities, such as biking, hiking, walking, skiing – even swimming, for those adventurous enough to try it using a waterproof case ( Other good choices for smartphone exercise monitoring are Endomondo (, free, with versions for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Symbian phones) and Get Running (, perfect for beginners).
For calorie counting, the premier app (available for all smartphones) is by far MyNetDiary (, which takes the information you input about your caloric intake, crunches and munches the numbers and presents you with the effect your eating is having on your weight and health. If you subscribe to its Maximum service, you get to the MyNetDiary community, sort of a virtual Weight Watchers. If you’re looking for weight loss motivation, this is the place to find it.
But for real motivation, check out “Be a Beach Beauty... On a Ben & Jerry’s Diet” at It’s nice to be thin; and if you can do it while indulging in Phish Food, why not?