Holly at I Dream of Skinny posted a challenge for the blogging community: She created a group over at iChange, available through tomorrow from this link: http://www.ichange.com/partners/idreamofskinny
Like Holly, I was impressed that iChange didn't even ask for a credit card when offering the 30-day free trial. Our group has a nutritionist who will look at our food logs, post suggested meal plans, and offer general advice. We can also post messages for our group members or to the public message boards.
I checked out the upgrade page to see what the charge is for the real deal. Plans start at $19 a month, but you can try it for two weeks free (if you miss signing up for Holly's group). There is an intensive premium plan for $99 a month. That sounds like a lot to me, but it also seems like the fee buys a lot of services. If I were looking for something at that level, I would probably want to meet with someone in person, but some people might prefer the convenience of online coaching. The $19 a month seems like a pretty good deal, considering the level of interaction I've seen in our group. Here's a detailed review of it from The Sassy Pear.
What I like so far: The nutritionist working with our group has been really friendly and encouraging. I like being able to get and give support in a group of like-minded people. I like the members of our group. I like the to-do lists and badges. I like the thought of getting personalized feedback.
What I don't love: I am already logging my food on my LoseIt! iPhone app, and the logging interface is a lot simpler and quicker than on iChange. The iChange site is not optimized for mobile use, so logging from the website on my iPhone is not an option. What I'd really like to do is marry off LoseIt! to iChange -- then there would be a convenient app for logging on the go, and a really great community for getting feedback and comparing notes. (I only have one friend on LoseIt! and that makes me feel like a LoseIt! loser!) Logging on iChange is a multi-step process: First you click on "add" next to a meal. Then you type in all or part of the food name for that meal. Then you save it. Then you search for nutritional info that matches that food. Then you click on "I Ate This!", edit the serving size, and add it to your journal. I am sure I would not stick with logging unless iChange develops convenient way to do it than this. Maybe iChange will develop a mobile site or an iPhone app in the future (or buy an already-established one like LoseIt!).
I think that the 30-day challenge could help me shake up my routine a little, though. One of the things the dietitian posted is a checklist with recommended servings for each food group. I downloaded an app called Servings that allows me to track those servings on my iPhone. (The app was a little tricky to use at first, but I'm getting used to it). For now, I'm using that and LoseIt! when I'm mobile and planning to update on the iChange site each night. That's a lot of tracking in different places, though I think I can keep it up for 30 days.