Cell phone apps are new weight-loss tool

Dallas chef Kent Rathbun vowed last December that he was going to lose weight. "I'd already started, right after Christmas," he says.

But the big wake-up call came in January.

"I fell while trying to Rollerblade," says Rathbun, who opened his flagship restaurant Abacus in Dallas 10 years ago. "I broke my femur in half."

The portly chef's weight didn't help. He says he has tried to shed pounds in the past, but this time, a combination of factors — being 48; the desire to keep up with his kids, who are 6 and 2; and the big break — strengthened his resolve.

One other thing: This time, he has been managing his weight loss with Weight Watchers Mobile, which connects him to the program's eTools. Wherever he goes and whatever he eats, Rathbun can access and update his personal plan with his iPhone.

The Weight Watchers plan is just one of a growing number of cellphone-based applications helping people manage their weight.

The program Rathbun is on costs $39.95 a month, which includes meetings, online access and his iPhone app.

Since January and despite the broken leg, Rathbun has used the eTools to shed 70 pounds. "I'd like to lose another 60 or 70," he says.

Rathbun demonstrates on his laptop how he can access the eTools, which are subscription add-ons, to monitor his weight-loss plan on the computer or through his phone. Weight Watchers uses a point system, based on size, weight-loss goal and activity level, to limit how much you can eat. Recently, the company introduced an iPhone application through Apple that's similar to Weight Watchers Mobile.

Rathbun, using his iPhone and Weight Watchers Mobile link, shows how he can deconstruct the grilled chicken breast with avocado he just ordered, inputting each ingredient to come up with a point total for the dish. Once he does this, it becomes part of his personal database online. He can also search the Weight Watchers site for the point values of thousands of foods and dishes.

For more about Weight Watchers eTools and Weight Watchers Online, go to www.weightwatchers.com.

Other downloads

What are the best BlackBerry and iPhone tools to help manage your weight? We asked Nadine Fisher, registered dietitian and social media and Internet entrepreneur, for advice.

The best applications combine the ability to track food intake (eating) and energy expenditure (exercise). They may also provide information on eating out, food preparation and food selection.

BlackBerry Calorie Tracker by Livestrong: This app helps you with information such as how many calories are in your lunch and how many walking burns, and keeps a digital diary of your daily calories. ($2.99)

Calorie Counter by FatSecret: This is the essential app to simply find nutritional info for the food you eat and to keep track of your meals, exercise and weight. (Free)

iPhone Livestrong Calorie Tracker: Lets you calculate daily calorie intake and expenditure. ($2.99)

Edibles Diet Journal: A cool app that lets you keep track of your calorie intake. ($4.99)