Today’s post is going to be something a little different. Today, I’m going to share my experience with the My Fitness Pal app with you all!
We’ve discussed this tool in some of our posts on apps for truck drivers, but have never really given a full run down on it. I think this app is really helpful and I’ve been having a lot of success with it so far, so I thought I’d share my thoughts with you guys so you can make an informed decision on whether or not this is something you want to try out (hint: you should).
What is My Fitness Pal?
My Fitness Pal is a calorie counter/food diary smartphone app. It’s available on all major devices — iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows…there’s even a desktop website available for those who don’t have a smartphone. Best of all? It’s free! Yep — totally free — no catches, no gimmicks, nada. Nothing like having success with something that literally costs you nothing.
How do I work this new fangled contraption?
After you download the app and create an account, it will prompt you to enter your personal information. This includes things like your current weight, goal weight, starting weight, height, activity level, and so on and so forth (see pic on right). Based on your measurements, activity level, and how much weight you’re aiming to lose and in how long, My Fitness Pal will generate a daily calorie allotment for you. Each day, you’ll record any exercise you do and everything you eat. Your goal is to stay right around or under the calorie range it gives you. This is how you lose weight!
My Experience Thus Far
When I downloaded this app, my intentions were not to lose a whole bunch of weight. I’ve never struggled with weight, so my goal was more so to start eating healthier, maybe lose around 5 pounds, and get back those abs I had in high school. Ok, maybe not that last one, but I can dream.
After entering all of my information in, My Fitness Pal gave me a daily calorie intake of 1360 calories. Ok…sounds a little on the light side, but I can do this. I probably don’t eat much more than that on a daily basis anyway, right?
Wrong. I was soooo wrong.
My first day using the diet tracker, I ate the way I normally did — whatever I wanted, without a second thought. Sweet baby Jesus! Am I really taking in this many calories a day?! It’s amazing the things we eat without thinking twice about how many calories are in them. 250 calories in my Starbucks drink. That ranch dressing on my “healthy” salad? 210 calories! In JUST the dressing! That’s 1/6th of my daily calorie allotment right there! Right away I saw that the healthy salad I thought I was eating wasn’t so good for me after all.
After my rude awakening, I started changing my eating habits. I stopped putting globs of mayo on every sandwich (while throwing a mini hissy fit in my head because my sandwiches are now “too dry”). I’ve started looking at the nutritional content on items and I meticulously measure out the exact number of Sun Chips it says are in one serving on the back of the bag (15, FYI). I [try] to ignore the call of those 4-cheese chicken nachos at Qdoba, because I don’t think I need to see the calorie content of those puppies to know they’re proooobably not too healthy. I know — globs of beans, ooey gooey cheese, and loads of sour cream…who’da thunk, right? It’s probably my entire day’s worth of calories served with a side of Small Heart Attack. But I digress.
As for progress, since I started using this app two weeks ago, I’ve lost a few pounds. Granted, that’s not a lot, and some of it is probably water weight, but it’s still weight! And more importantly, I’ve started learning how to make healthier choices. Baby steps…that’s what we’re all about here on The Healthy Trucker.
What I Like About the My Fitness Pal App
There’s a lot to this app that I really love, and I think you guys will find it beneficial too.
Accountability. For example, I love that this stupid app gives me a guilt trip when I eat something I probably shouldn’t have. I won’t forget the judgmental eye of My Fitness Pal when I added those glasses of wine to my diary on Friday night. Or those three quarter-sized Italian wedding cookies that rang in at 150 CALORIES. FOR 3. 150 CALORIES FOR 3 QUARTER-SIZED COOKIES. Curse this app.
But seriously, if you’re trying to lose weight or eat healthier, I really recommend downloading this for yourself. I think part of the reason that it’s so successful for so many people is because it holds you accountable. If you log on every day, and physically see the nutritional info of what you’re eating, you’ll be more likely to make healthier decisions. If I log on and see that I ate an 800 calorie cheeseburger on Tuesday afternoon? I’m probably not going to feel too good about that later (no matter how delicious it was) and will definitely be more conscious of my meal decisions next time.
Extra Calories. I also like that you can add the calories burned during a workout to your daily allotment. This is particularly helpful if you know you have an event or special occasion that you’re going to eat a lot at. So if I want to go out with the girls and have some cheesy fries and a couple drinks, I can bust my butt during a Zumba workout, add 300 extra calories to my day, and not feel guilty later about those extra calories I take in. Of course, doing this will only maintain your current weight, so if you’re looking to lose weight, you’d want to work out but still only consume your daily calorie goal.
Moderation. Another perk of the app is that it teaches you about portion control and moderation, which is a big factor in losing weight. I don’t cut out everything delicious. It’s not realistic to say, “I’m never going to have any comfort food again.”
I’ve just learned to only have two cups of popcorn instead of the entire bag. I really can’t emphasize this enough — you don’t have to cut out ALL of the yummy foods you love, you just have to make wise decisions. You can indulge, just indulge in moderation! For example, yesterday I really wanted some Arby’s. I treated myself and ordered a roast beef sammich, but got a side salad instead of the curly fries (I still cried on the inside. No one said eating healthy was fun).
Food catalog. One last thing that I really like about this is the variety of foods in their system. I’ve never had to create my own foods in this app, but if you can’t find what you need you can input the nutritional data yourself. You can also scan an item’s barcode to put it in the system. My Fitness Pal lets you save meals and remembers previous foods you’ve entered, so if you’re a creature of habit like me and have the same thing for breakfast every day, inputting your meals in every day will be a breeze.
The My Fitness Pal website says that those who keep a food journal double their weight loss. While I cannot attest as to whether this is true or not, it seems plausible to me! Motivation is something that’s hard to come by for me. And if I don’t see how many calories are in those 3 slices of pizza, I’m not going to think twice about eating it. But being able to physically SEE not only how bad some of the foods I crave are, but how healthy the ones I do eat are, is really beneficial to my success.
For those of you on the journey to losing weight, or even just looking to adopt healthier meal choices, I highly suggest checking out the My Fitness Pal app. Let me know if you have any experience with this in the comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts!
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