Someday Your Phone Breathalyzer Will Tell You If You’re Burning Fat

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

BACtrack Keychain breathalyzerI found a study at IOPScience that describes a breathalyzer that measures the amount of acetone in your breath.

According to them, acetone is a by-product of fat burning and excreted through your breath.

Acetone contained in our exhaled breath is a metabolic product of the breakdown of body fat and is expected to be a good indicator of fat-burning.

They can measure this with huge spectrometers, but that would be too difficult to carry around with you, so they have developed a small device that works with your smartphone to analyze your breath.

Here, we prototype a portable breath acetone analyzer that has two types of semiconductor-based gas sensors with different sensitivity characteristics, enabling the acetone concentration to be calculated while taking into account the presence of ethanol, hydrogen, and humidity. To investigate the accuracy of our prototype and its application in diet support, experiments were conducted on healthy adult volunteers. Breath acetone concentrations obtained from our prototype and from gas chromatography showed a strong correlation throughout the experiments. Moreover, body fat in subjects with a controlled caloric intake and taking exercise decreased significantly, whereas breath acetone concentrations in those subjects increased significantly. These results prove that our prototype is practical and useful for self-monitoring of fat-burning at home or outside. Our prototype will help to prevent and alleviate obesity and diabetes.

This study was sponsored by NTT Docomo, the largest mobile phone provider in Japan, so the idea that your phone could tell you if you are burning off fat may be a reality in the near future.

But is this information helpful?

At this moment, I would say no, but, way back when, I said the same thing about wearable fitness technology, which I ADORE now. More data certainly opened my eyes to my slug-like ways as far as activity is concerned. Perhaps something like this would help me know more about my body.

Or, perhaps it would be just a distraction. I can’t tell right now, but I am excited to see this fat burning breathalyzer show up on the market.

Image via: BACtrack Keychain Breathalizer


The Science of Addictive Food

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

This video shows just how food becomes so addictive.

Researchers are working every day to create foods that will taste so good that we physically CAN’T stop eating it. It’s not just marketing, it’s the science of the taste and texture of food.

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us at Amazon.comThey quote the author of the book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. I was unaware of this book before I saw this video, so I have a bunch of reading in front of me.

If you want to avoid food addiction, MAKE YOUR OWN FOOD. Cook your food from whole ingredients: meat, veggies, fruit, and grains. You will crave their food for a while, but keep eating your own food. You will eventually feel much better.


I Eat When The Fitbit Tells Me To Eat

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

The Fitbit Flex on my wrist went off at 10 am, but I was trying to write a blog entry. I ignored it. The irony is that I was trying to write an entry for Starling Fitness. I should have just looked at my wrist and realized that I had forgotten the most important thing to keep me eating healthy: I Eat When The Fitbit Tells Me To Eat.

Eat When The Fitbit Tells You to Eat from Starling Fitness

Fitbit Silent Alarms from Starling FitnessThere should be no question about it. I used to want to eat ALL day long without relief from the hunger. It wasn’t until I set alarms every two and a half hours that I found that I could go any amount of time without thinking about food.

Now, I find myself FORGETTING about food and making the alarm go away without bothering to eat. I went a half hour without eating my apple that was already washed and ready to eat. All I had to do was put it in my piehole.

Why? Why do I let myself forget the torment of constant obsession with food and fall into bad habits? As long as I FEED my poor, abused body, it will give me HOURS of time when I won’t even THINK about food. If I had to feed my cat every two and a half hours, I wouldn’t think twice about abandoning my work and jumping up when the alarm went off. Yet, when it comes time to feed MYSELF, I won’t even bother.

And the worst trick of all, is that if I don’t feed myself healthy food every two and a half hours, I get FATTER!! I end up feeling so hungry that I eat an entire day’s worth of calories in one sitting. It’s a paradoxical practical joke that I have played on my body for years, and yet, I still haven’t learned how to do it properly.

Maybe that’s why it’s so hard. I alternately starved and stuffed my body for YEARS and I’ve only been practicing this type of eating for three months. I’m trying to undo YEARS of bad habits, so I guess it’s going to take some time until this is second nature to me. Until then, I am going to jump when that alarm goes off and stick some food in my piehole!

Overeaters Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog.


Stop Thinking And Hold On!

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

A long time ago, I was listening to a mountain climber talking about climbing mountains, clinging to those red cliffs here in Utah. He said,

You think about letting go LONG before you actually let go.

I was reminded of this the other day. I think about eating poorly LONG before I actually do it. If I could just stop thinking about it, I probably would never let go. I just need to STOP thinking and hold on!

STOP Thinking and HOLD ON! from Starling Fitness

Image via: Uzbekistan Mountain Climbing


My Higher Power: Fitbit Flex

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for atheists and twelve-step programs are the first few steps. In particular, the requirement to believe in a Higher Power as you know it. I may not be able to believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being who actually CARES about my inability to stop eating, but I can lay all my trust in science.

In the past, I have over-counted my exercise. I talked about that here:

Back then, I said:

Since I followed the program exactly, I was very frustrated that I was only losing minimal amounts of weight. I now know why. I am such a SLUG during the day, that I was over-counting my exercise points. What I would have counted as four points, is only showing up as two points with the ActiveLink because my workday is so sedentary.

Fitbit Flex from Starling FitnessMy solution was to count whatever the ActiveLink said, but now that I’m using the Lose It app, I needed something that worked with calories instead of Weight Watchers Points, so I bought a Fitbit Flex with my Christmas money and decided to faithfully use it as my Higher Power. It is ALWAYS on my wrist.

I’ve run into one problem with the Fitbit. I have not been able to get it to accurately measure riding on the exercise bike. I’ve tried wearing it around my ankle under my sock and putting the Fitbit into a Nike+ pocket on my shoe. Neither one showed any significant workout, even though I worked my butt off. This is one case where I need to trust my heart rate monitor and not worry about the outcome.

Additionally, the silent alarms on the the Fitbit Flex are a godsend. I set them for every two and a half hours and when they go off, I eat. No questions asked. I just do what my Higher Power tells me to do. The reason I do this is because eating tiny meals at such regular intervals has helped me be less hungry. I talked about that here:

Just like an anorexic, my hunger response is broken, so I don’t eat when I’m hungry. I would be eating ALL the time if I did. I eat when the Fitbit alarm silently vibrates on my wrist.

It might be strange to consider a fitness gadget my Higher Power, but it has helped me stay honest about the amount of exercise I’m doing and reminds me to eat at regular intervals. I have humbly put my trust in its evaluation of my activity level and faithfully ate whenever it told me to. This simple faith and humility have helped me stay on my program for longer than I have been able to in years, so I’m not going to stop.

Overeaters Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog.

Related entries:


My Higher Power: Lose It!

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for atheists and twelve-step programs are the first few steps. In particular, the requirement to believe in a Higher Power as you know it. I may not be able to believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being who actually CARES about my inability to stop eating, but I can lay all my trust in science.

Lose It App from Starling FitnessOne piece of science that has been debated is the Calories In Vs. Calories Out concept. There are those who don’t believe this is the case and that you can eat far more food as long as you tweak the macronutrients. Honestly, I NEVER lost weight when I ate more calories than I burned. I feel fuller when my protein and fat are higher than my carbs, but if I ate more calories than I exercised away, I didn’t lose weight.

So, I decided that one of my atheist Higher Powers was Lose It!. It runs on the web, on an iPhone and an Android phone. I put in my age, gender, weight and height into their system, told them I wanted to lose at least a pound a week and then I have faithfully followed their calorie counts. I just turned over all my food thoughts to Lose It. I can even monitor my carbs, protein and fat percentages, trying to manipulate them to keep me feeling fuller.

Entering food is easy. I can make recipes and find out the calorie counts for our favorite dinners. It even works with my Fitbit.

Most importantly, there is a community aspect to Lose It. If you have friends, you can post on the activity stream, asking for advice. Unlike a prayer to God, my Lose It friends can ANSWER my questions and help me through hard times with words of encouragement and advice. I can set my privacy as much as I want, but I let them see all of my food, exercise and weigh-ins so that they can have the full picture of my food life.

It may sound strange to believe in a web app as one’s Higher Power, but my hunger response is BROKEN. I’m hungry all the time and I can eat until I’m in PAIN and still want to eat more. Using the Lose It app as my Higher Power has relieved me of all those decisions that I used to make about food. Are there calories left in my day? Then I can eat. If not, I’m done. I have just released all of my decisions about food to this Higher Power and my life is more sane because of it.

Overeaters Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog.


My Higher Power: Heart Rate Monitor

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for atheists and twelve-step programs are the first few steps. In particular, the requirement to believe in a Higher Power as you know it. I may not be able to believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being who actually CARES about my inability to stop eating, but I can lay all my trust in science.

Polar RS300X Heart Rate Monitor at Amazon.comOne of the things I consider my Higher Power is my heart rate monitor. I use the Polar RS300X to monitor my workouts, but there are MANY heart rate monitors and straps that will work with exercise equipment at the gym and cost less than this one did.

I keep my workouts in the 80%-90% range throughout the entire workout, except for a two-minute warmup and cool down. No matter what it says on the screen of my treadmill, I speed up when my heart rate falls lower than the 80% range and slow down when it goes higher. Here is a chart for Intense Heart Rate Zones:

Intense Heart Rate Zones from Starling Fitness

It’s amazing how difficult it is to follow this simple rule. When I’m running and I’m out of breath and I want to slow down, it’s HARD to keep going until my heart rate gets up to that upper limit. When things are feeling good and I only have fifteen seconds to go to log another fast minute, it’s HARD to slow down when my heart rate has gotten to that upper limit.

They always talk about “listening to my body,” but my body is a LIAR. It tells me I’m hungry when I’m not. It tells me I’m too tired to go on when I can run more. It tells me I’m just fine to run a little more when my heart is clearly beating out of my chest. LIAR!!!

That’s WHY I kept injuring myself when I was running before. Instead of running when my heart rate said I should, I was running too much. Honestly, running feels GOOD sometimes. So good that I disregard any stress I might be putting on my feet. I talked about this issue before here:

Back then, I said:

Even a long walk will make my feet ache like they never did before. My bulky and large feet, who have been my good friends all these years, have become fragile and temperamental. I have no idea how to strengthen them to be able to take the pounding that they did before.

Right after that, I started running again, using my heart rate monitor as my Higher Power and my feet have been happy and willing participants.

It may sound strange to believe in a fitness gadget as one’s Higher Power, but my internal monitoring of my body is broken. I can’t tell when I’m tired or just lazy, but my heart rate monitor definitely can. Someday, I may be able to run without heart rate monitor, but until then, I’ll humbly place all my exercise decisions on my Higher Power.

Overeaters Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog.


Lose Weight with Humility: Rediscover A Sense of Wonder

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

According to wikiHow, the last way to learn how to be humble is to rediscover a sense of wonder.

Lose Weight with Humility - Rediscover A Sense of Wonder from Starling Fitness

Every time I have searched with a child-like wonder, I have been rewarded with weight loss success, so keeping that alive is vital.

You Haven’t Seen It All.

This one is the hardest for me and it falls back to the accepting my limitations section. EVERY day, nutritionists, doctors and scientists are working on this problem of obesity. There is NO way I can keep up with all they have discovered, so I need to keep an open mind when I read new articles, studies and ideas. I haven’t seen it all and maybe there is something new to learn or see there.

React to Conflict with Gentleness.

So many of my backslides have been caused by dealing with conflict and negative emotions with food. Practicing gentleness helps me stop eating away my bad feelings and helps me to DEAL with them. Most people who I have had conflict with have reacted quite positively when I calmly respond. There is a slim percentage of people who think that sort of reaction is an invitation to more abuse and those folks need to be excised from your life. For everyone else, people react far more positively when you are kind, gentle and respectful.

Spend More Time in Nature.

This is HARD to preach in the dead of winter, but spending time OUTSIDE will help you. It’s not just the exercise that is beneficial when I hike the mountains, walk the beach or paddle the lake. The sheer beauty of nature is enough to let all negative emotions dissipate. For someone like me, who eats all her feelings away, finding other ways to deal with negative emotions feels like a miracle.


Science has shown that meditation changes the human brain, making it calmer and more resilient. Believe me, it’s difficult to do. I’ve talked about it on my personal blog here:

Taking fifteen minutes every day to think about nothing has helped me handle those stressful food situations.

Spend More Time with Children.

Who has not been humbled by our own lack of knowledge when faced with the barrages of “why” questions from a child? It’s a stunning example of my own limitations. I don’t know everything, but I can at least try to find things out. Additionally, sometimes kids know what to do better than I do. They don’t exercise, they PLAY! Adding more play into my life is the perfect way to keep that sense of wonder alive.

Rediscover A Sense of Wonder.

Keeping humility strong within me is a struggle, but one I’m willing to work at.

More Humility Advice


Lose Weight with Humility: Appreciating Others

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

According to wikiHow, the second way to learn how to be humble is to appreciate others.

Lose Weight with Humility - Appreciating Others from Starling Fitness

This aspect of humility has given me the most trouble, especially on Starling Fitness.

Appreciate The Talents of Others.

There is a lot to be said about recognizing the successes of other people. I have posted a few entries about the weight loss of celebrities here, but never from ordinary people. I’ve never asked you to share your weight loss stories with me to post here. I find them inspiring, but I feel an incredible shame that I have never even ASKED you to share your stories with me.

That all stops now. If you have had great success at weight loss, tell me about it here:

I will contact you for pictures and post your success right here on Starling Fitness.

STOP Comparing Yourself to Others.

I’ve talked about this before here:

Every time I have let jealousy be a driving factor in my weight loss, I have failed. Comparing my weight loss with other people has hurt me. Comparing my food logs with other people has hurt me. Comparing my food plan with other people has hurt me. It’s not the losses, the food logs or plans that have hurt me. It’s the comparison.

Listen To And Take Advice.

People come out of the woodwork when you tell them that you’re trying to lose weight. I have always just nodded politely and let them tell me about their great plan, but lately, I’ve take a different approach that has helped me. I LISTEN to them. Almost every bit of advice given was given with love and caring, so I listen to it and follow it to the best of my ability.

Let Go of Preconceived Notions.

Scientists are taught to create theories, but let go of the outcome of the experiment. We may believe something is true and find that the data for the experiment shows an entirely different outcome. The same is true for us. If I let go of all my thoughts and theories about weight loss and let the DATA speak for itself, then I will know if I am following the proper food plan or not. Am I losing weight? Am I constantly hungry? Can I forget about food for even ONE minute of the day? Letting go of all my ideas about weight loss and looking at the answers to these questions is a far more effective way to live.

Treat Everyone As A Teacher.

This corresponds to the Listen To And Take Advice section. There are times when I sincerely do NOT know what to do. I have been in a panic about a meal or a situation. Every time that I have turned to Twitter, Facebook or even my friends on Lose It, I end up with people who have helped me with my problem. Being willing to accept that I don’t know everything and maybe someone out there does, has helped me in the past. The scientific term for that concept is crowd-sourcing and it is a tool that can direct you in ways you may have never thought of before.

Appreciating Others

I feel the worst about how little I have even THOUGHT about others, except to compare myself to them. It is the aspect of humility where I need the most work, and I am willing to do it.

More Humility Advice


Lose Weight with Humility: Accepting Your Limitations

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

According to wikiHow, the first way to learn how to be humble is to accept your limitations.

Lose Weight with Humility - Accepting Your Limitations from Starling Fitness

Here is the list in detail:

You Can’t Do Everything

This belief overcame me not too long ago and I talked about it on Starling Fitness here:

I realized that my hunger response is BROKEN. I can’t control it, no matter how much I eat. I am hungry all the time and it has NOTHING to do with how I have fed myself. Knowing that I have no control over my digestive system was a revelation to me. I can’t do everything. I can’t even control my hunger.

You Don’t Know Everything

EVERY time I think I have figured out what is best for weight loss, I have a problem. EVERY time. It has taken me TEN freakin’ years to learn that I know NOTHING about physiology. Not even all the doctors and nutritionists know everything.

Whenever I have just given up all hope of knowing and just mindlessly followed a plan, I have lost weight. It didn’t matter what plan: Weight Watchers, Atkins, anything. As long as I didn’t try to tweak anything, I lost weight. The instant I tried to change the plan, I would start gaining again.

I don’t know anything. I’m just going to choose a food plan and freakin’ stick to it without trying to inject any of my “wisdom.”

You Have Faults. Find Them. Fix Them.

Every time I overeat, it’s because of one of my faults. It’s NEVER about the food. It’s ALWAYS about my emotions and my inability to face up to the fact that I’m fearful, conceited, and stubborn.

Be Grateful for What You Have.

I don’t spend enough time acknowledging all the things that truly WORK in my life. My body, that I have maligned and starved and stuffed over the years, is a marvel. Despite my being almost one hundred pounds overweight, I can exercise every day. It’s an instant access to a touch of happiness when I can run without pain, and I get that feeling every day I get my butt off the couch.

Make Mistakes And Learn from Them.

I have made hundreds of mistakes over these last ten years. I like to think that I have learned from them, but have I really? I honestly feel like I should do full entry retractions from entries I’ve written over the years to fully understand how my faults played a part in my failures.

At the same time, I can’t let all those mistakes over the years keep me from trying again. Here I am, despite all my lack of success, to do my best and make more mistakes if I have to.

STOP Bragging!

The biggest backslides I’ve made have been after every bragging session I’ve made here. I’m not successful. When I am, my path may not be the path for anyone else but me. I am happy to document what has worked, but it is SO important that I learn not to brag about my success here. Right now, even the smallest downward movement on the scale is a great accomplishment in my mind, but the moment I brag about it here, I am lost again.

Give Credit Where It’s Due.

Weight Watchers has been a victim of much complaining on my part, but honestly, those weekly meetings and my leader have been incredibly helpful. Low carb has been hailed and vilified both on this very blog, but honestly, my hunger abated when I ate a higher percentage of protein and fat, keeping my carbs low.

I have done my best to link to any video or article that has helped me on this journey, so I feel as if I have done my best on this concept, but at the same time, I worry that any ideas I’ve had are never fully my own and I’ve mistakenly not given credit.

Accepting My Limitations

I’m not perfect. I’m not even close. I have NO idea how to curb this unyielding hunger, but that isn’t going to stop me from trying. I will humbly keep searching and faithfully follow the food plan I’ve chosen for myself.

More Humility Advice

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