Friday, January 17, 2014

My Fitness Pal - by Matty Jacobson


Being sexy isn't easy. It takes a lot of discipline: eating correctly, working out, and keeping track of everything so you know you're doing it right.

It's true those things come naturally to the luckier of us. But for everyone else, we either have to be meticulous about what we put into our bodies and what activities we do to ensure our food is getting put to good use, or we simply become unhealthy, out of shape and overweight. 

There are a lot of apps that serve this purpose. I've tried a few, but the one I'm most satisfied with is MyFitnessPal. 

This app isn't just for people like me who are trying to trim the fat. It's also for anyone who wants to maintain a certain weight, or even gain muscle weight. 

The program gets your current weight, your goal weight (if you have one) and your height. It then generates how many calories you should be consuming each day. Surprise, surprise, it's not 2,000. In fact, for me to stay at a svelte 185 (I'm 6-feet 2-inches tall, mind you), I should only be consuming 1,390 calories per day. 

"But Matty!" You're screaming right now, I assume. "Swimmer Ryan Phelps! He's about your height and he consumes 12,000 calories a day!" 

Well, that's because he's an athlete. And most days, I end up consuming between 3,000 and 5,000 calories because I also run. That's one of my favorite parts of the MyFitnessPal app. 

At the end of your workout, you let the app know what type of activity you were doing, and how long you were active. It then adds the applicable amount of calories to your diet. So if I want to go to a movie and plan on downing an entire tub of popcorn by myself, then I need to work out for about an hour to free up the necessary 1,000 calories. 

It's simple, but I had to get into the habit of adding my food to the diary after every meal. (Ideally, this app would come with some sort of computer chip you swallow that doesn't digest and reads everything you eat so you don't have to do any work -- but I'm not holding my breath for that technology.) But the food diary is really simple to use. Anything you purchase can be scanned with the app's barcode feature. Anything else will most definitely be in the diary's database. 

And if you're cooking a ridiculous recipe all your own, just add the ingredients to the diary separately. The diary keeps track of what you put into it, so once you've entered it in once, you only have to scroll through your foods to add it again. 

At the end of the day, MyFitnessPal tells you how much you will weight in two weeks if your eating and exercise habits remain the same. 

Some days, the app tells me I'll weigh 175 pounds, and one or two times I've been told I'ld weigh more than 210 if I kept it up. But for the most part, actually utilizing the app has made me more aware of the kinds of foods I eat. 

Now if only the App Store could come up with something that would track my food and activity without my having to do a thing. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

'Anything After' App - Matty Jacobson


More and more filmmakers are utilizing the movie's credits to add additional scenes. These can be throwaway scenes meant just for laughs, they can be plot clarifications or, as we see in most Marvel-related superhero flicks, the scene during and/or after the credits usually sets up some sort of sequel.

I affectionately call these extra scenes "Credit Cookies." But they're also known as stingers or just plain old "that scene after the credits."

Whatever terminology you prefer, the fact is sometimes there's extra footage that you don't want to miss. But sometimes there's no footage at all.

And sometimes, what's even worse, is sometimes there's footage -- but it's just not worth sitting through two or three minutes worth of credits.

There are actually a few different apps that provide this information, so you can go into the movie knowing whether or not you want to sit through the end credits. But the one I've come to rely on most is Anything After.

Anything After does cost 99 cents, but because of that, you're not bogged down by stupid ads popping up whenever you want to quickly plug in the title of a film before the trailers start playing. The films are relatively easy to find because they're listed by what's in theaters.

If you're looking for an older title, then click the button and type it in.

The best part is you get peer responses on whether a credit cookie is worth the wait. In my case, however, even if it's been downvoted, I tend to hang around just to see what it was people didn't necessarily like about the after-credit scene.

I do that mostly because I want to be able to add my reason as to why the scene ain't that great, which is an option with the Anything After app.

This app has also saved my skin a couple of times as I've been heading out of the movie theater. I decided to double check to see if "Anchorman 2" had something to wait for, and indeed, it did. Of course the scene wasn't actually that great, so I noted it as such in the app. But at least I wouldn't be left wondering what I missed.

The Anything After app is available on iOS and Android devices.