Newest Review: ... because each day it analyzes my food intake and offer a guide to improve my diet. By the way, I don't believe in diets in the usual sen... more
Can you tell me how to get...
Member Name: ryanando
Date: 28/01/09, updated on 28/01/09 (399 review reads)
Advantages: Easy to use, sensible advice.
Disadvantages: none that I can see.
The time for dressing up like a half naked nutter (burlesque night in February) is almost here. So I decided to try on my waistcoat to make sure it still fitted. It fitted just fine. My belly, however, hung out the bottom of it like I was in my first trimester. I know I've been having a lot of sex recently, but if I'm pregnant I will be quite shocked (and most likely very rich).
This belly had snuck up on me over the course of a few years. My job helped it along by making sure I sit on my arse as much as humanly possible (no, really, I actually get into trouble if I need to go to the toilet more than 3 times a day) as did the many nights spent in the pub (for which I also blame my job for paying me well enough to afford pubbage).
Much to my delight, just as I realised how awful my belly is (no matter how cute the mr tells me it is) one of my friends had started on a health kick and directed me towards a fabulous little website that has changed my life. Well, ok, just my month. But you never know.
About.com is a handy little place to go for advice on just about anything. Founded in 1996 you can be connected to a large and varied group of experts and services to make your life that little bit happier. To top it off it is all free to use!
---One, Ah ah ah!---
caloriecount.about.com is the part of the site that deals with dieting. It's incredibly quick to sign up and God forbid, it deals with it in the most sensible way I have seen yet. There are a tonne of useful tools and a plethora of brilliant information contained within the website. Each tab will show you a drop down list with the categories and tools under each tab so it's also quite easy to navigate.
---Two, Ah Ah Ah!---
When you sign up, it will automatically suggest a few groups that you may wish to join on their forums (for example I was told I may want to join the group "allergies" due to my hay fever and another group full of people who want to reach their target weight in the same month I do) You can either choose to join them or just forget about them. I chose the latter but many dieters may find it helpful to have that extra little bit of support there.
---Three, AH AH AH!!!---
Click on the "Advice" tab and it will give you access to some great FAQ's and examples of what to eat in a day. There are articles on eating disorders, portion control, pregnancy , nutrition and even supermarket psychology and how to avoid being suckered into a bunch of horridly unhealthy products. All of it points towards having a healthy attitude to eating rather than crash or fad dieting which can be dangerous and not give sustainable results.
---Get going. Ah Ah Ah.---
Once you are signed up you can have a read over the getting started guide situated under the "home tab" or you can delve into the website and discover its inner workings for yourself. I'm male, that's what I did. The getting started guide will make it clear that the point behind the calorie counter is to not subscribe to any particular dieting style and it should be used to make you more aware of what you are putting into your body. The site can also be used to maintain weight as well as loose it.
---Tools, Ah Ah Ah---
Some ace tools (under the tab "tools") will tell you all you need to know in a very individual way. Most of the little tools are a good way to learn about what kind of eating will suit you and how best to manage your food and exercise.
~~Diet profile~~ will ask you a series of questions to determine what kind of eater you usually are. I found it to be incredibly accurate, labelling me as an "excessive eater" who will eat anything that is put in front of them just for the sake of it. It also gives you a quick idea of how to solve the problem, such as eating foods higher in fibre to keep you full and adding more exercise to your routine to counteract the effects of over eating.
~~The BMI calculator~~ will tell you roughly where you fall on the scale of underweight to overweight (or just fine if you are) which may be another kick in the face for you, but a handy one. I was put into the "slightly overweight" category which, after looking at my belly, I agreed with.
~~Burn Meter~~ will tell you what you burn in a normal day without doing exercise by asking what kind of lifestyle you lead. I didn't find this tool as handy as the others as it's not detailed enough for me to trust that it is correct.
~~Calorie target~~ is another great tool and will calculate how many calories you should take in per day to reach your goal. It does this by asking for your current weight, your target weight and a date which you would like to have achieved your target by. If you leave the date blank it will automatically select the best date to aim for. If you decide you want to loose 2 stone by tomorrow it will tell you that your target is too aggressive and to think again.
~~Go Mobile~~ is a tool which allows you to access the site from your phone. If you have the internet on your phone, you can just use the website as normal. If not you can text the name of your food to a number and you will get a text back telling you how many calories it will have in it. Personally I wouldn't use it, but a more enthusiastic dieter might like it.
~~Toolbar~~ is another one I wouldn't really use myself. It's just another toolbar for your browser to give you instant access to the site just in case your bookmarks aren't quick enough for you. Hmm.
~~Challenge~~ is less of a tool and more of a little game, allowing you to email your friends with two different foods and asking them to guess which holds more calories. I'm not a fan of this one as it just pushes things a wee bit too far.
Overall the tools are a brilliant way to start out on any diet or food related lifestyle change as they can give you both the kick and the advice you need to get yourself on the right track. Far too many places will only give you one or the other..
---More tabby goodness. ahem. Ah ah ah---
Once you've gotten your kick in the face, the tab "my home" will give you an "at a glance" look at your calorie count profile displaying your target weight and an estimated time of arrival at said weight along with some other helpful displays.
The main things I use on this site are the Food, Weight and Activity Logs and the analysis clicky link, all situated under the "My Account" tab.
---Food, Ah ah ah---
The Food Log has a search facility so you can try and find the product you are eating. If you can't find it through the search, you can just enter it manually. Be prepared to start looking at the labels! It will then list the foods and the calories that you have taken in, giving a nice little running total at the bottom.
This tool can be quite handy for planning your eats for the next day and making sure you aren't pigging out on a bunch of unhealthy crap. It also might shock you to see the amount of calories that are in certain foods. Once you have logged all your food, if you go to your homepage it will display your total and your target calories.
---Burn, Ah Ah Ah---
The activity log is similar to the food log, but will let you search for activities (and yes, sex is included as an activity, but the breast stroke will burn off more calories). It will list how many calories each activity will burn so if you do go over your targeted intake, you can see how to burn off any extra calories. Once you have logged all your activities for the day, it will display your total burned calories next to your intake on the home page.
---Scales, Ah ah...ok I'll quit it---
The weight log is a bit more simple in that you just need to type in how much you weigh. You can log it every day if you so desire (which they suggest you do only if you can deal with unexplainable fluctuations, as it tends to keep you more motivated) or you can do it less often. When you log your weight, your progress is charted out in a lovely little graph so you can see where you were and where you are now a lot clearer. The only down side to the Weight Log is that its done purley in Pounds so you may need to search for a converter if you are lazy like me.
This screen will give you a mark based on how nutritional your food was for the day. Each item is graded A+ to F- and your aim should be to get an A+ mark as often as possible. This is to make sure that your getting the essential vitamins and minerals that your body so craves. The only downside to this screen is that if you enter any foods manually, it classes it as "other" and is discounted from your overall score since it can't mark how good for you it is. Unless of course you enter every single detail from the pack manually.
---Oh sweet Jesus there is more?---
Yep. In fact there is a tonne more. There is a whole tab dedicated to exercise plans full of information on how to get the best from your exercise. There's another tab dedicated to the community forums where you can ask questions, share recipes or just have a bitch about someone who farted in an elevator (I kid you not, there's a whole thread for it). You can even keep a journal to help you cope with your diet and other issues.
---Does it work?---
Yes. Simple as that. It gives a lot of support and encouragement to look at what you are doing with your food. It helps you eat what you are supposed to (both eating more if you haven't eaten enough and eating less if you eat too much) and ultimately helps you loose weight with only a little bit of will power from yourself. I've been a member for just over two weeks and I have been loosing weight steadily since I signed up. My belly is almost gone and my awful eating habits have started to get beaten out of me. Hurrah!
---So much to say, so little time---
Over all this website is a one stop shop for anyone who wants to have a healthier lifestyle, loose some weight, maintain the weight you're at or even just find some really nice ideas for cooking. The site has so much to offer and has an incredibly helpful and sensible attitude towards eating with access to some very knowledgeable people and great information. It's easy to use, neat, organised and just bloody ace. And did I mention it's free???
Check it out: http://caloriecount.about.com
Summary: A great website giving you the info and encouragement to better your health