Imagine the surprise on my friends' faces when I whipped an iPod Touch out of my purse last weekend to run a calorie count at a restaurant. That's something they'd never seen me do before.
I keep discovering new gimmicks in the world of apps that are helpful while I'm on this diet for the paper's Shape We're In project. There are myriad apps in the healthcare and fitness and lifestyle categories from which to choose -- everything from pedometers to low-cal recipes to tracking your weight-loss and exercise.
I like the Restaurant Calorie Counter for several reasons: It doesn't require Wifi to run, all my favorite haunts (drive-thru or sit-down) are listed, and it's only 99 cents.
You just call up its alphabetized restaurants list (everybody from Applebee's to Zaxby's is there), scroll down through the entree/appetizer/beverage listings, tap your entree and up pops its calorie count. Tap it again and you get a complete nutritional breakdown.
There are also exercise charts that tell you how many calories you burn within a specific time period and nutritional graphs -- everything in one handy location.
The Calorie Counter was put to the test last week.
You know how you can sit home for weeks, then get several invites all for the same day? That was the case last weekend when I had five consecutive days of dinner meetings, two birthday parties and a girls night out to attend.
I used my app at each, checked calories and tried to balance meals out with lighter fare the rest of the day.
For example, at one birthday party held at Olive Garden, I ordered the grilled chicken dish I wanted and even ate a piece of birthday cake, but that late-lunch splurge was it for the day. I kept a calorie count for the day and ate only fruit for dinner that night.
I approached Tuesday's weigh-in with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation to see how well the app had worked.
The bad news was I had gained one pound. The good news was that I had gained only one pound when it could have been SOOO much worse had I followed old habits.
So the app helped me rein in a party-hardy weekend so that five consecutive days of meals out didn't set me back.