NEW ORLEANS -- Three local women say they tried every way to lose weight and keep it off. But now at-home technology, which is as simple as wearing a watch, is helping them lose weight more easily.
Aura Vides remembers her top weight of 236 pounds back in 2003.
"I was by a friend of mine's house and we were helping install a surround sound and I'd moved a ladder and it said 'Weight not to exceed 225 pounds.' And I looked at that and thinking 'Oh my God, in reality I shouldn't even be getting on this ladder,' " said Vides.
She remembers a lifetime of being overweight and trying the latest fad to become thin.
"Everything. I even got fat loss shots at one time. I've done low carb, high protein, the slim fasts, you name it, I've done it all," she adds.
After Hurricane Katrina, along with her asthma and acid reflux causing problems, she took off 25 pounds. Then last year she joined a training program, but the weight wasn't coming off that quickly. Then, in April of last year, she heard about bodybugg. That's when another 45 pounds came off.
"What it did do for me was show me true accountability and what it showed me was I really wasn't burning as much or as many calories as I thought I was versus what I was eating," Vides explains.
Here's how it works: An arm band that you wear on your upper arm calculates how many calories you are burning throughout the day. That information can easily be downloaded into a special computer program. There you click on what you had to eat that day and instantly you get a running tally of calories in and calories out.
Since 3500 calories equals a pound, all you have to do is make sure you have a 500 calorie deficit daily to lose a pound a week, or 1000 calories daily to lose two pounds a week. It even gives you an hour-by-hour reading of calories burned so you can see how well you did on your workout. It also calculates your meals into protein, fat and carbs.
The experts say it works.
"The arm band is actually based on some pretty good technology, and I was surprised because there actually were quite a few research studies," said Dr. Melinda Sothern, an expert in weight loss and public health at LSU Health Sciences Center.
Sothern said leaders in the scientific field find the bodybugg is off by only 10 percent from very sophisticated medical equipment that measure metabolism. That's a good estimate of calories burned. East Jefferson General Hospital fitness expert Mackie Shilstone uses metabolic monitoring in his programs as well.
"It allows you to have data points input and track your movement," said Shilstone. "And secondly, it does a food journal and science tells us if you can move and take more steps or if you can record what you eat and write it down, you're going to eat less and you're going to move more and that's what weight loss is."
"There is a study that was just published that showed that simply by counting calories, people lose weight, that there is something about actually paying attention to the calories that makes them lose weight," explains Sothern.
Over at The Fitness Club in Boutte, Louisiana, owner Leah Woolf not only lost 25 pounds with the bodybugg, she found out she was under eating and slowing her metabolism to store more fat.
"As soon as I put on my bodybugg, I actually on average burn about 2900 calories a day and I thought I was only burning 2500. So I actually when I started the bodybugg, I started eating more food and lost weight," said Woolf.
Now she counsels her clients on how to use it. A year ago Tanya Colee, 40, was 22 pounds heavier. But now her weight loss inspired her to work at The Fitness Club with Leah, teaching classes.
"I just didn't have a handle on what it took to lose the weight and I always felt like I had to starve myself. And so then you try to starve yourself and before you know it, you're just eating everything in site," said Colee.
"A key point in weight loss, of any sort, is to actually recognize what it is we do. When we look at the studies and you know, so many people say 'Well I'm really not eating anything and I still gain weight,' when they actually record everything single thing that goes in their mouths, they actually are eating way more than they think they are eating," said Dr. Henri Roca, with Family-Integrative Medicine at LSU Health Sciences Center.
So it's basic math, with a tool that acts like your calculator. And Aura hopes it will help her take off those last 20 pounds.
"Even though I'm not at the weight I'm supposed to be, my mind is more fit and I'm a lot more confident. And I have to be honest, at 46, probably for the first time in my entire life, I feel like my life is starting," said Vides.
The bodybugg costs $200, with a $10-a-month computer program fee. You can also get an additional watch that displays your calories, steps, and activity level without logging on to a computer. You can find more information here.