Exercise & Health

The MyFitnessPal App – Does It Work?

myfitnesspal

A new year brings about all kinds of goals, many of them being health and fitness related. I’m not a big resolution person to be honest. Twice I set running related goals with a friend (which we actually attained!) but I usually don’t partake.

It may not seem like it to some of you, but this post is highly personal to me. But I’m hoping it helps someone, so I decided to write it. At the end of last school year, I was at the highest weight I’ve ever been in my life. I had some minor health issues, that I wasn’t even aware of at the time, and I just wasn’t happy in my own skin.

I had used MyFitnessPal in the past, but not really faithfully, and I wasn’t really careful about what I was eating. I just ate whatever I wanted and put it in the app for a few weeks. As you can imagine, that didn’t work and didn’t last!

But this time was different. I was more determined. I’m not always great at sticking with things, but 7 months later, I’m still going strong.

I’m going to take you through a few parts of the app that have really helped to keep me on track.

Caloric Need and Deficit

myfitnesspal

So this app takes your height, weight, and activity level and tells you how many calories you should eat in a day to lose a certain amount of weight each week. For instance, when I started, I was eating 1400 calories per day to lose 1 pound each week. Now that I’ve lost weight, that number has gone down. (However, eating that small of food makes me nervous, so I still eat the same, but take the slower weight loss.)

Exercise

The app also takes into account any exercise you may have done that day. It figures out a generic number of calories burned, based on your measurements, so I’m sure it’s not exactly accurate, but it just gives you an idea.

The app can also be connected to other fitness apps on your phone. I’ve tried to connect my Garmin app, but haven’t been successful yet, so I just use my iPhone health app to record the steps I take during the day.

Recording Foods You Eat

Entering the food you eat is pretty simple. Honestly, the easiest way to do it is by using the barcode feature. Just scan the barcode on what you are eating and it comes up with all the nutrition information! Obviously that doesn’t work for fruits and vegetables, but it helps for things like cheese and rice.

It also allows you to enter recipes. My dinners are generally pretty simple, so I don’t use a whole lot of recipes, but if I make dessert or eat some of my home canned goods, that is when it comes in handy! It takes the ingredients and calculates the amount of calories and nutrients per serving (which you determine).

And then there is the good old-fashioned type in the item and click on the best fit. Some of the foods have green check marks beside them. I tend to gravitate toward them because they’ve been verified somehow and tend to be closer to accurate than some others. I’ve also double checked calorie content on the internet, just to make sure what I am inputting is relatively close to accurate.

Nutrients and Macros

There is a section in the app that lists nutrients and macros consumed throughout the day. There are some healthy experts who pay close attention to macros. I don’t, but that may work for you. The percentage wheel makes it easy to keep track of carbs, fats, and protein.

I tend to look at the nutrients tab more closely than macros. But that’s just my preference.

Progress

Every so often, I enter my weight into the app. It graphs my progress, and then displays it for a selected amount of time.

Helpful Hints

Here are just a few little helpful tricks I’ve found throughout the months to help you out. There are many advertisements to upgrade the app to “Premium”. Unless you really want to know what is behind the little pictures of padlocks, I wouldn’t bother. The free app is great the way it is.

You’ve got to enter everything you eat. Yes, everything! You put 1/4 tablespoon of butter in your rice? Put it in the app! You ate a handful of mozzarella cheese or a bite of a cookie? Put it in the app! Those bites here and there add up faster than you realize!

Put meals in days ahead of time. If I know what I’m having for supper for the next few days, I enter them early so I don’t have to worry about it later. I can also see if I’m going to be able to add an extra snack somewhere!

Other Lifestyle Changes

I did not just use this app and miraculously start losing weight. I needed to make other changes in what I ate and how I exercised as well. I limit added sugar intake, limit dairy intake, and choose carbohydrates carefully. Protein is my friend! I also try to exercise each day, combining cardio (running) with strength training.

Here is the part that will make some of you laugh and others think “What is wrong with you?!” I eat basically the same thing for breakfast, snacks, and lunch everyday. I know how many calories it is, and it just makes life simpler for me! Doing this gives me more freedom with what I eat for dinner.

I know there are people who say you shouldn’t count calories, just eat all healthy stuff. Others say don’t eat carbs. Some say fat is terrible. None of those things work for me. And if one of those things works for you, that’s great! But if you really want to start 2019 healthier and don’t know where to start, this app is free, so give it a try! You may love it or hate it, but it’s worth a shot! I took a shot in the dark twenty-two pounds ago, and I’m still going strong!

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