Tuesday, December 02, 2008

First time I've heard the name "Mary Lou Retton" since her Wheaties days

Like many other weight loss bloggers, I was asked to try out the Mary Lou's Weigh platform, which is an alternative to the bathroom scale. The twist is that instead of a digital or dial readout, the platform talks to you in Mary Lou Retton's voice. It also doesn't tell you your actual weight, it tells you the difference between your current and starting weight. (For the geeks out there, my husband the math man, says, "It's a vector scale. It measures difference and magnitude." I am a geek, because I understood that.) It also gives a little daily snippet of advice.

I was skeptical of the idea that it would really be less "overwhelming or de-motivating" to hear how much my weight was changing than to see the actual number on the scale, but was surprised to find that it was actually a lot easier to step on the platform than a typical bathroom scale. I got mine right before Thanksgiving. My numbers have been -2.5, -1.5, -1.5, -1, -1, and 0 so far. I also tested it while holding various heavy objects. When I "gained" three or four pounds, I got a message not to give up. When I held my ten-pound cat, I got an error. This is intentional. There is a limit of a 10 pound change per day, so that if your dog or child steps on it, you will not lose your data.

I am very nearsighted, so one really nice and unexpected feature of the platform is that I don't need to put on my contact lenses or glasses to use it. I usually get on while my husband is in the shower so he doesn't have to listen to my little pep talk from Mary Lou. Even on the lowest volume setting, it is still pretty loud. That might be a problem if you're shy about others knowing how you're doing on your weight-loss program.

The platform has a slot for alternate advice cartridges (my contact says there are a few currently in development). It would be nice if they develop a maintenance cartridge, for those who don't want to lose weight but want to keep from gaining too much. There are also people who are trying to gain weight in a healthy way -- the platform could be useful for them if there was an appropriate cartridge. It would be nice to be able to change things up and have a different voice, too. Mary Lou Retton can be a bit much first thing in the morning. As much as I'd love an inspirational quote of the day from Jillian Michaels, or a recommendation from Stephen Colbert to try the new weight-loss products from Prescott Pharmaceuticals, I doubt that those cartridges would be profitable enough to be practical.

The advice is supposed to be one of the selling points of the platform, but it's mostly run-of-the mill stuff like shopping with a list and getting extra exercise when you're feeling blue. I don't think that it is going to be anything that long-time dieters will find surprising. I did like, however, the applause when I lost weight, and I liked the overall positive message of the website and the materials that came with the platform.

For those who are interested in trying the platform out and didn't win one from Roni's Weigh, I was offered a discount for the readers of my blog.
I'd give away mine... but I like it too much. Sorry! If you use the code perfblog at checkout, you can get one at a promotional rate of $39.99 (a 50% discount). I will be interested to hear what you think.


  1. Sounds interesting. I don't know how I'd deal with a loud perky voice giving advice in the morning, but like the idea that things are relative and not absolute, and that you get encouragement on the way. Am I right in adding up your numbers to see that you've lost a big bunch? Or do they reflect daily differences from the original total?

    It's a nice promotional rate - and says a lot to me that you like the original enough to keep it :)

  2. Great review... I was interested to see if you'd got one of these as I always enjoy your take on things! I dunno if it would screw me up any less to hear my weight was fluctuating wildly from day to day, as opposed to seeing that in the actual number, but it's an interesting idea and from the website looks like it's done with the heart in the right place :)

  3. altopower, those are differences from my starting weight. So the first day I lost a bunch, but then I slowly gained it back during the multi-day pie festival that was Thanksgiving.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07