Today I would like to sing the praises of the free App MyFitnessPal by Under Armour. I like it because it trains you to be conscious of what you’re eating and make better choices. It also shows you – with numbers- how beneficial exercise is. I admit it took a few tries before I started using it regularly but now I believe it is beneficial for helping establish good habits.
KEEP AT IT
A friend told me about the app last year (you can also use it on the computer but I find that more tedious). At first I was horrified logging what I ate and only used it for a few days. It didn’t help that I started it while on a road trip when I was eating all kinds of junk anyway.
I tried it for the second time in the Fall of 2015 when a co-worker was using it and had lost weight. This was really helpful because he would check on me periodically to see if I logged my meals and at lunch time he would say, “It’s time to enter our lunch.” He pointed out the idea that you can enter your meals ahead of time and plan your calories. This is helpful, for example, if you know you’re going to eat out for dinner. You can be conservative with your breakfast and lunch. I lost about four pounds using MyFitnessPal for about two months. It may not sound like much, but weight is like GPA. It goes in the wrong direction very easily and the right direction painfully slowly.
After I left my job and had no routine for a while, I couldn’t be bothered with logging in my food throughout the day. However, another friend was using it which put it back on my radar and my recent Fitbit research motivated me to start it the third time and I believe this time I’ll stick with it. I realize it’s not just a diet but a way to live healthy. We are surrounded by tempting foods and drinks and we’re always going to have to be conscious of what we consume.
KEEPING TRACK OF CALORIES
The way MyFitnessPal works is you log your meals and snacks and it keeps track how many calories you consume. After a few weeks, you will find that you eat the same food for the most part so it gets easier to select it from your list. You also log your exercise. If your phone has a pedometer it will automatically deduct calories for your movement, but if you go on actual walks I suggest you log specifically. It seems to deduct more calories that way. MyFitnessPal can also be synced with other apps like Fitbit.
What is helpful about seeing your calories is you can begin to make better choices by substituting lower calories foods. Also, when looking at the calorie content of food you start to question if it’s really worth consuming. You can decide that it’s not worth having a high calorie slice of cake when a 90 calorie Fiber One Brownie tastes really good anyway. And you can see how your exercise has an impact on your daily calories allowance. On days I am when very active I can eat a little more (have something fun) and still be under my goal.
You also begin to see patterns in your weight loss. For example, I lose a few pounds (and get very happy) then it comes back the next week (ruining all my plans for thinking if I lost this much weight every week I’ll be where I want to be in a month or two) but then the following week it goes down again. After you see your pattern you don’t get devastated when you gain some weight because you know you are establishing good habits and it will eventually go down.
HOW MYFITNESSPAL IS MOTIVATING
What motivates me the most about it is when you click on the button to “complete the day” it tells you if every day were like today you would weigh X in five weeks. This is an estimate, but you get the idea if you stay in your calorie count, your weight will decrease. You also realize one bad day here and there isn’t horrible if overall you’re establishing healthy habits. I suspect there is a psychological motivational benefit to seeing a weight ten pounds lower associated with YOU on those days when you are below your daily calories.
Wisdom I have gathered from using MyFitnessPal
- Stick with it. It takes time to build up the habit of logging your stuff. It’s upsetting at first facing what you eat but you have to face it in order to change. It will get better if you give it some time.
- If you give up give it another chance in the future. As with many things in life it may take multiple tries before it sticks.
- If this app doesn’t work for you try a different one.
Have had success with MyFitnessPal or another app?