Mobility

PDA software can help busy IT professionals keep New Year's resolution

Looking for a way to keep that New Year's resolution to eat healthier despite business trips and hectic IT-workdays? Try this tool for the Palm OS.


Every January, millions resolve to eat healthier and exercise in the New Year. But what IT executive has time to count calories and log miles?

This year, I intend to increase my chances of success by enlisting the help of my PDA. HealtheTech offers a diet/weight management software suite called the DietLog Bundle for the Palm OS that can monitor everything from the cholesterol and salt content of cheese pizza to the calories expended walking the airport.

Okay, maybe watching what you eat isn’t the most legitimate work-related use of a company Palm. But considering the cost of finding and retaining experienced IT professionals, maybe it should be.

I’ve spent a few months testing the DiegLog Bundle suite. Here’s a quick look at what I’ve found.

DietLog

DietLog lets you keep track of what you eat.


DietLog relies on a database of common foods and drinks. You simply find what you’ve eaten, push a button to add it to your daily log, and see how that food fits into your nutritional goals for the day. You can also add your favorite foods to the database.

DietLog allows you to record what you eat during the day and automatically keeps track of:
  • Calories
  • Fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fiber
  • Sugar
  • Protein

You can set daily nutritional targets for each of these areas, and DietLog will track how close you are to each target. For example, if you want to limit your fat intake to 20 grams or less per day, you simply set that limit in the nutritional goals. Then, as you enter foods during the day, DietLog monitors the fat content and displays a bar chart showing how close you are to reaching your limit. You can also view a chart that shows all nutritional targets for the day.

DietLog charts your daily nutritional intake.


The software also includes a calculator to help you determine how many calories you should consume each day if you want to lose weight. You can base your weight loss goals on a variety of diets, including diabetic diet, a low carbohydrate diet, and a vegetarian diet.

I’m a vegetarian, so I chose that option. In addition, I specified that I wanted to lose one pound per week—a reasonable amount, according to most information I’ve read. Based on my exercise regime, which consists mostly of heavy typing, the software estimated that my calorie intake should be 1,235 per day—which is low, but doable.

How did DietLog know about my calorie expenditure? It interacts with ExerLog, another program that’s part of the suite.

ExerLog and WeightLog
ExerLog keeps track of the calories you burn—even if the only way you expend calories is by sitting through long meetings and talking on the cell phone.

ExerLog includes a list of exercise categories, including:
  • Walk/Run/Bike
  • Gym/Conditioning
  • Outdoors/Fun
  • Winter Sports
  • Personal Leisure
  • Lawn & Garden
  • Occupations
  • Music/Dance
  • Work Components

From these categories, you choose what type of exercise you’ve engaged in—for instance, under Work Components, you’ll find options like “carry at work,” “climb at work,” and “sit at work.” You then select an intensity level and enter how long you did the activity. ExerLog computes and records the calories you burned.

Don’t want to log everything? You can specify a lifestyle activity level in your profile. You can also create workout routines. You can even assign routines to specific days so that they automatically show up when you open the log.
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You can also use ExerLog to determine how well you’re balancing food intake and exercise. The program will create charts showing your balance of calorie intake versus calorie outtake and chart your calories spent versus the target goals you established. ExerLog’s charts will even estimate how much weight you should lose based on your food and exercise logs.

The suite also includes WeightLog, a program that lets you record your daily or weekly weight. You can view your progress on a line chart.

The skinny on this product
While the DietLog Bundle suite holds an impressive amount of data, its memory requirement is a little weighty: The entire package requires 585K. You can install the individual programs rather than the suite, but DietLog, which I found to be the most useful, is still a whopping 353K. ExerLog requires 182K, while WeightLog needs only 50K.

I found the program extremely easy to use. It was perfect for recording basic foods, like salad, lettuce, or bread, as well as junk food. In fact, I was impressed at the diversity of basic foods. For example, DietLog lists nine types of rolls.

However, the database includes very few non-American dishes. DietLog also doesn’t list many entries with more than a few ingredients—like meatloaf or tuna casserole.

And, of course, the nutritional information is generic. There’s no guarantee that the hamburger you’re eating bears any nutritional resemblance to the hamburger entry in DietLog.

Using the program didn’t make me healthier or slimmer. But I did find it useful for learning more about my eating habits and monitoring my intake of salt, sugar, and protein.

Diabetics might be more interested in GlucoPilot, a diabetes management application from HealtheTech. GlucoPilot allows you to record, filter, and categorize blood sugar records and create reports based on those records. It’s sold separately for $29.
What project management tools for the Palm OS have you tried? We’d like to hear from you about the best and the worst project management programs for the Palm OS. E-mail us your opinions or post a comment below.

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