Apparently the UK faces an obesity crisis. Helpfully, as reported in the national news [1,2], I am annually weighed in public in High Wycombe. This year, I had lost weight thanks to The Sherlock Diet.

Today, I have lost 10kg since Christmas, 8 of them in the last 10 weeks.

I was significantly overweight with a Body Mass Index of 29, just 3 kg off obese. My wife, a GP, hinted fairly heavily that the trajectory of my health was not good. Combined with the prospect of another public humiliation, I realised I had to do something about it but what?

I’d tried the Atkins diet with poor results and too much difficulty. Other programmes seemed too painful, with special foods or whatever. The gym has always bored me and I injured my knee running too hard carrying too much body weight last August.

Two brilliant pieces of technology came to the rescue.

The first was calorie counting app MyFitnessPal on my iPhone, iPad and the Web. It’s free – anyone with access to the Internet can use it. With a range of features for adding food and remembering common meals, including a bar code scanner, it quickly became trivial to know just how much I was eating and whether I was on target to lose or gain weight.

Most of the days pictured are under target thanks to exercise – net intake is calories from food and drink less calories used in exercise. MyFitnessPal includes a vast array of exercises with standard calorie counts but, to create motivation to exercise, I allowed myself a heart rate monitoring GPS watch.

The Suunto Ambit was painfully expensive at about £300 but it has transformed my incentives. A brisk walk in the Chilterns for an hour and a half can be 565 kcal, as much as I now consume on a hard 5k trail run and more than a pretty boring 30 minutes in the gym.

Even the gym is more interesting now I know my heart rate and how much headroom I am creating for that dessert with dinner.

Suunto’s Movescount website let’s you track your exercise and explore your progress (see Garmin Connect too):

Click to enlarge

The result: I’m enjoying exercise without it being a thoroughly miserable experience and eating sensibly without giving up beer, cake etc. The difference is that a decision to have a Snickers is now a decision to have a smaller dinner or go to the gym.

Incredibly, if I eat less and exercise more, I lose weight. To which you might well reply, “Well done, Sherlock.”

The trick is generating motivation and obtaining visibility. It turns out the rich-world problem of excess weight can be solved by technology: there’s a vast range of devices, many of them fairly inexpensive, and software, much of it free. You may not be facing annual public humiliation in High Wycombe but if, like me, you have reached a point when it is time to sort out your health and fitness, the good news is that it does not have to be miserable or expensive.

You too can lose weight fast with The Sherlock Diet.

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