Weight Loss Tools and Gadgets

Good morning! :mrgreen:

Mal and I cooked another rockin’ dinner last night. We’re on fire this week!

Mal and I were in the mood for tacos, but we didn’t have everything we needed to make them, so we improvised with what we already had in the kitchen. The end result was a delicious chicken and rice dish with peppers, onions, and taco seasoning. It was awesome and, of course, easy to make. We aren’t that fancy when it comes to cooking.

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How to:

  • Cook rice as directed and grill/bake chicken breast
  • Meanwhile, sauté chopped peppers and onions in olive oil
  • Add a packet of taco seasoning + 1 cup of water to the sautéed veggies
  • Stir taco seasoning with veggies until it becomes a sauce; add more water if needed
  • Cut chicken breast into bite-size chunks
  • Combine rice, chicken, and taco-veggie mixture in a large bowl
  • Serve warm


I added a side of mashed butternut squash to my plate. It was such a delicious dinner.

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Breakfast was also really tasty this morning. I made a big pumpkin pancake with peanut butter, chia seeds, and maple syrup on top. For the pancake, I combined 1/2 cup Kodiak Cake Mix with 1/4 cup canned pumpkin, 1/4 cup of water, and cinnamon.

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Feel Great Weight

When I gained more than 20 pounds after college, I knew I wasn’t being completely honest with my weight-loss efforts, so I started to pay more attention to serving sizes with the help of measuring cups and spoons. Here’s how these slimming kitchen gadgets helped me lose weight: 4 Ways Measuring Cups and Spoons Helped Me Lose Weight.

Question of the Day

What tools or gadgets have helped you lose weight?

P.S. I’m hosting a giveaway on Trading Up Downtown to win TWO copies of the new Sparkpeople Cookbook! Definitely check it out. It’s a great cookbook!


  1. I think measuring body fat has helped me in the past, rather than focusing on weight–because of my disordered eating days. But that is a helpful tool for me–it may not work for everyone. And using smaller plates/cups–that helps tons too! And eating often–small meals/snacks.

    I would say as well, that the BodyBugg is a helpful tool because then you know exactly how much you’re burning (with only about 9%-ish error), so that’s pretty good!

    I LOVE pumpkin–and your b-fast looks fantastic!

      1. @Tina: Its a strap you wear on your arm (ideally 24 hours a day) and it tracks calories burned so you can exact numbers of calories in and calories out. They use them on the Biggest Loser. My spin class instructor wears one while she teaches – I love hearing calorie burns after tough classes!

        1. @Sarah: Yep–Sarah is right! It also synchs with your computer (Macs or PCs) so you can update food eaten and see the actual deficit.

          IT is really cool to see how much of a difference of caloric burn that happens on days when I lift weights versus days that I just do cardio. The actual caloric burn after the class is much higher during that day–very cool to see all the science I studied actually happen to me 🙂 Hah.

          I know 24HR Fitness sells it, but I believe you can get them online as well??

  2. I think your dinner looks great! I love using taco seasoning packets. They give so much flavor and plus I love Mexican food so it works out. 🙂 Breakfast looks yummy too. There is nothing like good pancakes!

  3. I think it’s keep to have a gym buddy, even if it is just planning to meet there and do different workouts. One of my favorite gadgets to use is Nike Training Club for the iPhone (a free app), which talks to through each workout and adds your minutes together for each workout…it feels good to see the numbers climb with each workout!

  4. I’ve maintained my weight loss for about four years now, and I STILL use measuring cups! I’m very, very visual, and portion control is key for me. This is a no brainer way to make sure my portions are reasonable!

  5. I come from sort of a weird weight loss angle, because after a nasty struggle with an eating disorder I’ve had to fight against weight loss tools and put weight ON. So my fave tools are my favorite clothes, knowing when they are fitting too tightly, my husband who keeps me motivated to work out for ME and work out to keep me healthy(not for crazy weight loss like I did before) and a great group of gal pals that love leading adventure-filled lives! Not to put any damper on things, just wanted to share my tools too:)

  6. I made a similar recipe the other day but I added black beans instead of peppers. I accidentally made like 7 cups of it, so I’m still eating it almost a week later 🙂

    I’ve tried using lots of tools over the years to help me lose weight, but I found just listening to my body was the best tool. I also use one cup and two cup glass bowls to portion out my lunches which helps me to not just eat until I’m stuffed.

  7. I have also used measuring cups to help me stay on track. I’ve used a Bodybugg before too, which is basically a calorie management system. You strap it to your arm and it is known to be one of the most accurate devices that determines your calorie burn. It’s way cool.

  8. When I was losing weight, I was a calorie counter. I talked a bit before about how it sort of got out of control, but for the time I did it, it worked. One thing that helped me out a lot was FitDay.com, where I logged everything. I think writing down food in a journal can be equally as effective though, especially for people that eat mindlessly and don’t realize how much they’re actually consuming.

  9. Glad to see I’m not the only one using measuring cups for everyday meals like cereal for breakfast, and quick snacks throughout the day. When my boyfriend and I first moved in together he thought I was absolutely neurotic for measuring out portions. He’s coming around and realizing that sometimes one serving is more than enough to fill up.

  10. I think one of the greatest tools for me is actually SparkPeople and their nutrition tracker. It forces me to be honest and actually document what goes into my mouth, so I can see the patterns, issues, places to cut, etc. I’m always startled when I think I’ve had a great day and see a bunch of ‘extras’ that have somehow added an extra 300 calories to the day!

  11. Two great meals in a row! You’re on a roll! 😀 I wish i had time to make pancakes in the AM… when I get to work I throw GF bread, peanut butter and banana together and call it breakfast… if I am feeling fancy I drizzle maple syrup on it all and pretend it’s French toast! Because that is what i reeally wish I could be eating 😉

    The colors on your dish look so vibrant… eating colorful meals feels awesome.

    I definitely use measuring spoons and cups just to keep in check… I don;t like to be obsessive about it but I like to have a good idea when it comes to things like peanut butter, oatmeal, whey protein… things like that. I pretty much can eyeball tablespoons but it’s still nice to just know.

    I actually used to have the problem of overestimating my portions… in that my idea of a tablespoon of PB used to be less than what it actually is once I started to measure it… score! Just means more delicious PB I guess haha

  12. I use measuring cups/spoons for calorie dense foods or to make sure I’m getting enough veggies in. I used caloriecount for awhile to log my foods, but in the end it made me feel obsessive and I was unable to function without it. That made restaurants run 🙁
    Recently, I’ve started to trying really listen to my body, because I think that is what is going to work for me long term. Some days I might eat pizza and cookies, but I eat less of them now than I would have on a “cheat” day before. I also try to put everything I eat on a plate. I think that is key for controlling portions.

  13. I TOTALLY agree with the measuring cups. I remember back in high school, I got into that silly special K craze and was eating 2 bowls of cereal a day for months and had no idea why I wasn’t losing weight. Turns out I was over doubling my portions. But I still dropped the plan altogether and wound up losing weight with REAL food, not commercial scams…

  14. Measuring cups really helped me to “get” serving size but I think I have the reverse problem now: I freak out if there is something I can’t measure. I never really went too far “over” a serving (minus on pasta…) but it was quite surprising to learn what a serving is – way more than I thought in a lot of cases.

  15. For me, I attribute a huge part of my weight loss to my food scale…I was a major victim of portion distortion up until I started using scales! I still weigh foods like cereal and rice as it’s SO easy to go overboard wtih both!

  16. I use measuring cups occasionally. I think it is a great way to get an idea of just what an actual serving is! So many places give huge servings that could really feed 4 or 5 people…so better understanding single servings could help to provide what is needed. Now I am pretty good at eueballin it!

  17. My best weight management tool is my food journal. It’s a really nice journal that I don’t mind carrying around. I use it whenever my pants start getting tight to help get me back to my happy weight. I like it better than an app or a calorie counting website because there’s just something special about a ‘diary’ that I can go back and read. I record the day, date, and weight on the top and the foods that I eat throughout the day along with physical activity, and sometimes how I feel (energy levels, digestion, moodiness, etc).

    By the way, if you have chilli powder, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne powder in your spice cabinet, I promise you… you never need to buy taco seasoning packets again! Even the low sodium ones are unnecessarily high in salt and have all kinds of nasty ingredients that do more to extend shelf life and prevent caking than add flavor. (Yellow Corn Flour, Maltodextrin, Salt, Paprika, Spices, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Ancho Pepper, Garlic Powder, Citric Acid, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Onion Powder, Caramel Color (sulfites), Silicon Dioxide (anticaking).)

  18. That dinner looks great! Aside from measuring cups, a food scale has been really helpful for me. And I use myfitnesspal.com and their phone app to track calories – it’s so helpful!

  19. I have a really cool scale that gives full nutritional info for items such as chicken that don’t have it on the package. Just punch in the code for boneless skinless chicken breast or whatever you are having. I also find that I need to pull out the measuring cups more often than I have been to recalibrate my eyeball.

  20. I bought the Body Bugg when I was obsessed with the earlier seasons of Biggest Looser. When I first got it, I thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread (…which, ironically, if I didn’t think sliced bread was so cool, I probably wouldn’t need the Body Bugg in the first place). It allows you to see how many calories you burn throughout the day and night with almost 95% accuracy. The downside is that not only do you have to buy the device, you must also pay for a subscription, which was rather pricy!!! I let my subscription expire and haven’t given much thought to renewing it. Looking back on it, it’s kinda lame. Am I really such a fat shit that I couldn’t have just moved more???

  21. I’m down 94 lbs (in 2.5 years) so it’s been plenty of time to try different tricks. Ultimately it’s about what’s finding right for you!

    One thing that’s good for me as a snacker is to keep my hands busy. I actually taught myself how to knit (using youtube) and knit when I watch tv or movies. I get so into it I don’t even think about getting up for a snack. Another trick is a cup of tea at night when I have a sweet tooth. It feels decadent without being high cal.

    Ultimately what’s worked for me is tracking my food. At first counting calories and now I just jot down what I eat. Keeps me thinking about what I’m eating without being too focused in.

  22. Using an online food journal (like Dailyplate.com) helped me gain a better understanding of how much I was eating and the breakdown of protein, fat and carbs. Once I realized how many calories were in processed snack foods, my morning muffins or even my favorite frappes at Starbucks – I started making healthier choices. That combined with daily cardio sessions helped me loose the last 8-10 pounds of baby weight.

  23. I agree, measuring your food is key. This also relates to portion control. Such as, a serving of pasta is 1/2 cup…but do we really only put 1/2 cup on our plate? Probably not. I also portion my meat using the “size of your palm” rule. These things really help bring things into perspective!

  24. I use the Runkeeper app on my phone to track my workouts. It’s nice because it sync’s up with their website so I can see the route and where I went fast/slow. I also am in Weight Watchers so I use all their eTools (journaling, progress reports etc…) and it has made a huge difference for me (I’ve lost 128 pounds so far!)

  25. I just want to thank you for the recipe for the chicken & rice 🙂
    I made it tonight and it came out amazing!!!
    I added
    1 package of raw chicken fingers
    3 bags of white rice (boil in the bag type)
    1 green pepper
    1 red pepper
    1 orange pepper
    1 yellow pepper
    1 large regular type onion
    1 pkg of old el paso taco seasoning
    1 cup water
    oil for pan (canola)
    salt & pepper to season after it was cooked
    Came out awesome!!!
    Hubby loved it!!! I think this would make a nice potluck dish 🙂
    Thank you so very much!

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