Archived Story

MyFitnessPal proves to be new best friend

Published 12:05pm Friday, October 12, 2012

I’m writing this just after lunch Thursday, and I am not pleased.

I just used an app on my iPhone called MyFitnessPal to calculate the calories I just consumed – and based on the horrifying results, I’ll be eating a bowl of cereal for dinner or hitting the gym tonight to stay within my allotted calorie count.

The MyFitnessPal app and its corresponding website, www.MyFitnessPal.com, are a food tracking system designed to promote healthy living.

“Losing weight isn’t easy – we know,” the website reads. “Study after study has confirmed the benefits of keeping track of the food you eat and the activity you do. It’s simple – the more consistently you track your food intake, the more likely you are to lose weight.”

Don’t get me wrong – I’m no health fanatic.

But the transition from a fairly active college life to a sit-down desk job has taken its toll, and I decided in August to get myself back on track and try to form healthier habits that will become a consistent part of my life.

I had several friends recommend the app, and I was dubious. I didn’t want to become obsessed with calorie counting.

But the app has proved to be quite useful in showing me my eating habits. It has a huge bank of food items – everything from vegetables and fruits to that hamburger from McDonald’s.

I haven’t failed yet at finding a food I’ve eaten on its extensive food item list.

“At MyFitnessPal.com, we focus on making sure you can log your meals as quickly and easily as possible,” the website states. “Because the easier we make it for you, the more likely you are to stay on track, and the more likely you are to succeed in your weight loss goals.”

MyFitnessPal uses factors such as lifestyle, age and current weight to determine the number of calories you need to consume each day to reach your weight goal within a realistic time limit.

The app promotes fitness as well, allowing you to track your workout routine and adding back calories for cardiovascular activity performed. In some cases, you can get an entire extra snack or meal thanks to some exercise.

After finishing a food log for each day, the app gives the (normally) encouraging message: “If every day were like today…you’d weigh XYZ pounds in five weeks.”

The app also gives a warning when a person logs less than 1,200 calories that reads, “Based on your total calories consumed for today, you are eating too few calories. Not only is it difficult to receive adequate nutrition at these calorie levels, but you could also be putting your body into starvation mode. Starvation mode lowers your metabolism and makes weight loss more difficult. We suggest increasing your calorie consumption to 1,200 per day minimum.”

I appreciate that the app creators do their best to teach people the proper way to get healthy, even breaking down nutrient details based on the foods consumed and presenting a pie chart of the carbohydrates, protein and fat eaten per day or per week.

If you aren’t happy with your weight or level of overall fitness, I highly encourage you to download this free app and begin tracking what you eat each day and incorporating a fitness routine.

In a few short weeks, I’ve already seen results – and, more importantly, I’m much more conscious of the calories I’m putting into my body without having to reference the app.

And while I’ve had my share of slip-ups (sometimes I can’t avoid those French fries!) I’m healthier overall thanks to this app.

There is no quick-cure miracle to getting healthy – I wish there were.

But it’s a great investment in yourself to try to get on the right track.

As I saw posted on a social media site once, “I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.”

Spears is managing editor for The Outlook.

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