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Taking My Diet To The Next Level

ReadWriteBody is an ongoing series where ReadWrite covers networked fitness and the quantified self.

Quantifying your activity and nutrition, as I’ve done for years, can only take you so far. Sometimes gathering the numbers just tells you the same bad news you can see in the mirror. Here it is: After dropping 12 pounds last year, I’ve been stuck around 195 pounds for months.

I’m still very active, going on runs with my dog around Telegraph Hill, spiking my heart rate with gym workouts, and trying different training techniques while I continue to test new fitness gadgets and apps. It’s pretty clear what I need to tackle next: what I eat.

And I have a short-term motivator: I’ve signed up to take my colleagues through a boot-camp exercise program in a month. My co-instructor is a former MMA pro. I’m feeling the heat.

Beyond Food Logging

As much as I love MyFitnessPal, an app in which I log everything I eat, it doesn’t feel like a good meal-planning tool. I use it for accountability, recording what I eat as I go. Rigorously admitting my food slip-ups keeps me aware of my food habits and where I can improve them. I don’t want to tinker with that part of my routine.

What I need is an app that plans my meals, generates a shopping list, and helps keep me on track.

Ideally, it would look ahead at my calendar. For example, this week, I packed five days’ worth of morning meals, forgetting that I had two breakfast meetings planned. Push notifications to remind me to eat at the right time would help—especially since the timing of meals may be a factor in weight loss.

And there’s always the unexpected, like the leftover Chinese food I’m having for lunch today. An ideal meal-planning app would adjust on the fly for the occasional overindulgence.

The Ultimate Food App Hasn’t Been Invented Yet

The last thing I want is connectedness: I want an app that automatically populates MyFitnessPal with my planned meals as I eat them, that consults RunKeeper or MapMyFitness to get an eye on my calories burned through exercise, that picks up my sleep habits from my activity tracker, that pulls menus from restaurants when I schedule a meeting, and that outputs a shopping list I can import into grocery-delivery services like AmazonFresh, Postmates, or Instacart.

From what I’ve seen, there are plenty of meal planners that focus on organizing recipes. What they lack is contextual awareness of the vast amounts of data I throw off in my quantified life. Somewhere out there, someone must be building the perfect next-generation food-planning app, one that factors in my schedule, exercise, sleep, and other measurable habits. If you are, let me know.

In the meantime, I’ve got some old-fashioned work to do, with a familiar set of tools to rely on. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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