Tracking what you eat can be a cumbersome task and can feel like more work than its worth when you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet. Thankfully, like most things these days… there’s an app for that. The nutrition tracker, MyFitnessPal, has extensive food database to help you keep tabs on your food, whether you’re eating out or cooking at home. It can be used on a computer or on your phone so that you’re always aware of your caloric intake and can make informed decisions. MyFitnessPal also tracks your exercise, however, I don’t find this portion of the app to be very useful (more on this later).
MyFitnessPal is one of the most effective tools I’ve used for weight loss. It’s a pretty easy to use system, but there are some things you should know in order to use it effectively.
If you’re just getting started on your health journey, you’ll want to use MyFitnessPal to consistently log everything you eat. It sounds overwhelming and it can be until you get the hang of it. So I recommend that you spend your 1st week on MyFitnessPal, tracking what you are CURRENTLY eating and observing. Spend some time figuring out how to use the app and building the HABIT! Get a baseline of how many calories you’re actually eating so that you know where you are compared to where you want to be. That way, you can set realistic goals for yourself.
MyFitnessPal breaks down your food intake so that you can see the nutrients you’re getting. You’ll start to notice foods that you’re eating that have very little nutritional value or are higher in calories than you may have thought. You’ll also start to see if your eating an unbalanced diet. Are you getting too many carbs? Too much fat? Not enough protein? Learn from this and start to note small changes that you can make!
I remember when I first started using MyFitnessPal and I realized how much FAT is in an egg. I LOVE eggs, but didn’t want to have to eat low fat for the rest of the day. I changed from 2 eggs to 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites. I still get my eggs for breakfast, but it saves me about 10 grams of fat –which makes room for another food I love: CHEESE! Check out more of my healthy alternatives in the recipes section.
Use your observation week to…
1. Observe what dietary changes you need to make
2. Decide which of those foods you can live without
3. Start to look for healthy alternatives for the foods you don’t want to live without!
4. Set goals for next week.
Do you naturally go over your recommended calories by 500? Set a goal to get down to an average of 300 calories over next week. Calculate which foods you’ll swap or cut out to reach your goal and get going! In no time you’ll be exactly where you need to be, eating more nutrient dense foods, and feeling great!
Lessons I learned using MyFitnessPal:
1. Set a customized goal: MyFitnessPal is generally inaccurate when recommending calories. To ensure that your going to see results from using MFP, you’ll have to calculate your calorie needs and take into account your level of exercise and your weight loss goals. You can take the trustworthy and accurate number you calculated and customize MFP so that it’s working for your individual needs.
2. Share! It’s extremely intimidating to share what you’re eating. I never realized this until I connected with my friends on MFP and decided to share my “Food Diary”. It took me over a month to work up the nerve, but when I finally did (so that my husband could help me NOT because I was being vulnerable), I learned that NO ONE CARES! Really! No one has ever said one negative thing to me on MFP. It’s been only ENCOURAGING! It’s awesome to have someone “like” your progress… even if it is simply that you’ve logged for a few days straight. I often go over my calories and still feel rewarded. No longer do I feel shame when I log the chocolate I ate, I feel empowered! So take a bold step, be vulnerable (it leads to happiness you know) and share!
3. Find Friends: You may be wondering, “Who am I sharing with?” I only had a handful of friends when I first started finding people on MFP. Then I linked my Facebook and that showed me all of my Facebook friends who used MyFitnessPal. That definitely upped my list. But my favorite way to find friends on MFP is to meet new people through the app. Some of my biggest encouragers and some of the people that I’ve been most helpful to are people that I met through a community forum. It helped me realize that maybe I did have something to offer. I also learned that there are amazing and inspiring people out there that can change you for the better by simply joining your team of supporters! PS– I’m “jahneva” on MFP… find me!
Have you used My Fitness Pal (or any similar program)? What was/is the hardest part of tracking your calories consistently? Let’s learn from each other!
Want step by step instructions for starting a MyFitnessPal account and customizing it to your needs? Find them here.
Love and gratitude,