Welcome to the New Year! The old one always ends with some sparking beverages and hopes for positive changes. Whether it’s the New Year or a certain stage in your life, an effort for change to secure your health is always welcomed!
Lose It! is a free weight loss program that assists you in tracking calories and exercise, and increases motivation by setting personal health goals so that you can lose weight. It currently comes in iOS (iPhone and iPod Touch only), mobile web (i.e. iOS Safari), Android, and web-app (i.e. you can access it via the internet) flavors and is free to download.
Problem: Unhealthy Eating Behaviors
Sometimes, as human beings (and not just social workers), we may overeat, overindulge, and not exercise enough. For social workers, it is especially important to consider our needs to nourish our mind, body, and spirit to prevent burnout and so that we can serve our clients well.
For some of us, this manifests in sitting 8 hours in our office environments, sitting during our lunch breaks, and scurry home to handle the rest of our personal obligations. For some of us, nary a shred of attention is put into our self-care.
Goal: Increase Healthy Eating Behaviors
The behavior that this app intends to help you change is eating and exercising behaviors, as calorie intake is monitored and exercise is encouraged (facilitating calorie burning).
I think it would be a great idea to familiarize / refresh you with change theory, as it applies to use of this application in context of self-care and social work practice. Prochaska & DiClementi (1983) proposed the following model:Social Work Toolbox (aka Social Work Toolkit)
As you can see, there are various stages of the model (and the behavior expected of the person experiencing change):
- Precontemplation: No intention of changing behavior; the person may be unaware that there’s a problem
- Contemplation: The person becomes aware that there is a problem, but has made no commitment to change
- Preparation: The person is intent on taking action to correct the problem
- Action: The person is in active modification of behavior
- Maintenance: Sustained change occurs and new behavior(s) replaces old ones. Per this model, this stage is also transitional
- Relapse: The person falls back into old patterns of behavior
- Precontemplation: The person may be unaware that there’s a problem, thus there is no intention to change behavior.
For me, successful weight loss has happened when I have hit “bottom”. And while the “Relapse” stage may look like the failure of healthy eating behavior, hitting rock bottom can be placed between “Contemplation” (assessing the extent of the problem) and “Preparation” (planning to make a desired change).
If one considers the notion of self-efficacy, people (including our clients and ourselves) get things done when they feel that they are capable of achieving a certain task. Lose It makes it easy to track calorie intake and exercise to help one facilitate healthy weight loss behaviors.
Lose It! helps you track calories in (food consumed) and calories out (i.e. burned by exercise). In however you log your food or exercise, it is very easy to input your progress via phone application if on the go or by the website if you are at your desk. Lose It has an extensive food library and will easily save any food you input for your plan.
One of the main reasons I really like LoseIt! is that it has a social media component to it where you can add friends and acquaintances that are also on LoseIt! Like Facebook, a user can see what activities their friends are up to (e.g. any weight loss recorded), and leave comments and encouragement.
Also worth noting is that the site has a wonderful Forum in which users can interact with others who are currently losing. Much like group work, this type of interaction is a great motivator that can help to sustain positive changes in eating and exercising behaviors.
Reminders, Badges, and other Motivators
In addition to the ease of logging food/exercise and the social component to the site, Lose It! has little motivational “stickers” or badges that they affix on the user’s page upon completing certain tasks.
Although digital and not tangible, when a user finds that they have “unlocked” an achievement, it may act as a motivator to continue with the healthy behaviors.
Having been on this weight loss program and Weight Watchers, there are merits to both.
Lose It versus Weight Watchers
- Lose It! is free, while Weight Watchers costs money. For social work students and clients, money is a factor in the decisions we make.
- Weight Watchers encourages you to eat a guideline of certain foods (i.e. a specific number of servings of fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy, healthy oils, etc.), this program simply keeps count of your calorie intake and calorie output without any special attention being paid to these other vital areas of nutrition. This is where a physician or nutritionist’s intervention would come in handy.
- Weight Watchers meetings are face-to-face and have Leaders that are encouraging and knowledgeable about the eternal struggle of losing weight. Those familiar with clinical group work know how encouraging a face-to-face meeting may be in continuing with a common struggle.
- On Lose It!, the online community on the site’s message boards become your main source of encouragement if you need it (although Weight Watchers has this too if you sign up for a certain type of plan). This can be as valuable as a face-to-face meeting to those who prefer to not go to meetings.
- Per their marketing, Weight Watchers has an advisory board of physicians that have tweaked and modified their weight loss plan. Lose It! simply uses the old formula that your body burns a certain amount of energy in a day and that to lose weight, you have to eat slightly under that budget.
- Both plans allow you to eat what you want and encourage moderation.
Weight Watchers has previously worked for me and I enjoyed it due to the fact that the leaders have been through the plan and the struggle of losing weight and can be empathetic to your own struggle. In addition (and perhaps I may blog about it on my Hack Social Work site), they use group work, cognitive behavioral techniques, and have other motivators in person to help encourage Maintenance (see above: Cycle of Change, above) of new and healthy behaviors.
Lose It! may be a good web app for a client:
- Expressing a desire to eat healthy and increase exercise
- Under the care of a physician who has advised the client to lose weight for health-related reasons (i.e. diabetes, elevated cholesterol)
- With technical skills and access to internet on their home computer.
Again, this intervention is for your consideration and it is up to you and your supervisor(s) to evaluate the advise given here and act in a clinically/ethically appropriate manner.
For social workers, it is especially important to consider our needs to nourish our mind, body, and spirit to prevent burnout and so that we can serve our clients well. If one considers self-efficacy theory, people (including our clients and ourselves) get things done when they feel that they are capable of achieving a certain task. For me, Lose it! has previously made me feel as if I was in control of my eating and exercise behaviors. And it is free!
This product is free, amazing, and has 100% the iggyp-Seal-of-Approval