Get Fit With the My Fitness Pal App
Collaboration with guest writer Amanda Ali (@amandaanne86)
I hate the term DIEt, it is a word that has many negative connotations associated with it and to some it is synonymous with the words starvation and struggle.
When you decide to lose weight, tone up or eat healthier the best way to think about it is by associating it with a lifestyle change and healthier choices rather than a gruelling fad diet that is less likely to bring about positive results.
The My Fitness Pal App may seem like a tiresome counting calories tool at first glance but it isn’t. Counting calories may not sound like fun but this fitness app goes a lot further than merely counting calories. Even if weight loss is not your main objective and you just want to improve your eating habits then this app can help.
What you can use the program for:
Weight loss and identifying poor eating habits:
For weight loss this app is useful because it helps you put your eating habits in blatant perspective. When you start reading labels, tracking what you eat and how much you are eating it is a real eye opener. If you have gained weight or if you have unhealthy eating habits and are unable to lose weight then this app will show you if your meals are the culprit.
The foods the average person consumes especially while eating out have tons of hidden calories, sugar, fat and a lot of sodium. Even some low fat items may be loaded with sugar to compensate for lack of flavour.
How to get the App:
Although there is a free app for this program on smart phones and tablets you can also download it to a desktop computer for free.
Getting started and setting goals:
Once you get the app you will have to begin by setting goals. The app will ask you to input your current weight, your goal weight and how much weight you would like to lose. The app will then suggest how many calories you should be consuming in order to achieve your goal weight. You can adjust you calorie intake at any time if your goals change.
Recording your calories:
Once you have set your goals you can begin recording. Recording what you eat and how many calories you eat is actually rather easy with this app. Most of the foods you buy at the grocery store have serving size information on the back and how many calories the food is per serving. The app also has a search option that includes many grocery store and restaurant food items that will come up when you search.
If the food you are eating does not come up (for instance a certain brand of cereal) you can add the food yourself directly from the information on the back of the box and store it under the “my foods” category for the next time you eat it.
One of my favourite things about this app is that it tells you how much carbohydrates, fat, protein, sugar and salt you consume and you can adjust these categories online based on what you would like to track. On the homepage of the app there is also a “see nutrients” button which allows you to see a more thorough break down of your daily nutrients.
The app will also allow you to create and save meals which are helpful if you eat the same foods frequently. This feature saves time so you can easily pull up your meals and add them to your food diary without having to input the foods again.
The app will also bring up your frequently eaten foods and meals for all of the categories: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and it will allow you to record how much water you drink throughout the day.
Working out is also important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and if you are burning calories you should also be eating more. The app has a section where you can add your workouts so that when you burn calories the app will automatically add the calories you burn to your daily caloric allowance.
Tracking your Progress:
The app will track your progress and give you an estimated weight loss based on your daily food intake. It will also show your progress by allowing you to add the pounds you have lost and track them on a graph.
Keeping you Motivated:
If you have trouble staying on track with your healthy lifestyle you can join this program with your friends or family. The app will allow you to send messages to each other, check each other’s daily food diaries, and see how much your friend has worked out. If you or your friends have not logged in for a while the app will display a note urging you to send messages of encouragement to each other.
Your friends will be able to see your progress but they will not be able to see how much you weigh.
If you do not want to join with others you can do the program by yourself and your profile will remain private.
Success: Our Stories
I have lost 50 pounds and counting with the help of this app. I have been using it for over a year and a half and it has trained me to become a good judge of how many calories and fat many foods contain, so that most days I can keep track of what I eat without having to use the app.
It does become tiresome after a while, but I always return to it when I’ve stopped using it and feel like I have gained some unwanted pounds as it has proven to be very useful.
The online version should be updated and the tools for searching, adding and editing foods should be improved. The online version is less user friendly than the app.
I think this app is great at putting our meals in perspective. It helps teach proper serving sizes and helps you learn to distribute your calories wisely and make the most of your meals.
I think the food database could be a bit more extensive to include more brands and it would be easier if the app converted measurement for you so that you know exactly how many grams of rice is in a cup or how many grams is in a cup of cooked pasta because sometime food packages give you the information for the foods before they are cooked.
I also think the app has the ability to be a bit addictive and I do think that people should use the app but not become obsessed over everything they eat. It is great to use the app to track meals and calories but you should not let tracking calories consume you to the point where you cannot go out and enjoy a meal without worrying about exceeding your limit. People should understand that there will be times when you eat a bit more poorly or that when you do have a slice of cake it isn’t the end of the world and it is okay to indulge once in a while.
I have lost 16 pounds using this app. I began using it after I got back from two cruises in a 3 month span and hadn't been eating very healthy. I lost all the weight I gained on the cruise and I will keep using the app because I like that it encourages me to eat proper portions, more nutritious food and I can track my goal of drinking more water.