Wednesday, May 1, 2002

Lose those winter pounds with BalanceLog


By Heather Wardell

Like many people, I have a few extra pounds that I would dearly love to get rid of (assuming that 20 is "a few"). Most diet experts will tell you that logging everything you eat is a great way to gain control over your eating and eventually lose weight. Sure, this is a great idea. In the real world, though, it can be incredibly difficult to do. You need to have a quick and easy way to record your food's information and how much of it you had. You also need to have your log always available, or else foods will be missed. "I think I only had one or two doughnuts at this morning's meeting; hardly worth counting!"

BalanceLog, which can be found at, fits the bill. It contains a vast array of foods, adding new foods is easy, and its summaries and reports really make you feel in control. BalanceLog comes from the company that made DietLog, ExerLog, and WeightLog, and it combines all three applications into one, with both a desktop and handheld version.

Installation and setup

Most programs that have both a handheld and desktop version install the handheld version when the desktop is installed. I performed a HotSync operation right after running the installer, and BalanceLog was not automatically installed to my Palm handheld. The Palm OS version was readily available in BalanceLog's folders on my computer, and I installed it from there. An additional component, the "InterBase Guardian,"' is also installed, and BalanceLog cannot access its databases if it's disabled. I was told that this is a database manager, which does make sense, considering how the program behaved when I turned the Guardian off. However, my computer's firewall software reports that the Guardian tries to access the Internet each time it's run. Those who are concerned about security might want to prevent it from doing this, as I have.

Once the software was on my Palm handheld, I decided to enter all my settings using the handheld. Eleven screens later, it determined that I should have a budget of 1950 calories per day. My sister, a personal trainer, agreed with the application's assessment of my needs. While eleven screens may seem like a lot, it actually went very quickly, and all of them were very self-explanatory. Figure A shows one of the screens, where I entered how much sleep I get a night.


This settings screen allows you to enter how much you sleep.

The concept of the "calorie budget" really does give you choices. It means that you should end up having taken in 1950 more calories than you burned off. So, you could eat 1950 calories a day without exercising. If you burned off 300 calories a day exercising, you could then eat 2250 calories. This allows you to test out things like, "How many hours would I have to walk to burn off this piece of cake?"