I’ve mentioned before that I’m trying to get my fitness and health back on track. One tool that has kept me accountable is MyFitnessPal.com. Many websites, programs, and apps exist to help the health conscience keep track of diet and excerise. Of course, there’s always a pen and paper diary too. MyFitnessPal is a popular tool, and the one I’ve stuck with after trying a few different options. MFP allow you to track water, food, exercise, and weight.
I mostly add meals using the iPhone app. I also use the app on my iPad and the website on my computer. In Diary view breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks are shown with calories in-and-out at the top. Often I refer to the remaining calories before deciding on my dinner for the evening. Plus nothing is better than having some calories left at the end of the day and getting to make the tough decision of what dessert or snack to enjoy.
Adding meals is as simple as hitting the plus sign. You can use the search tool or scan the barcode on your food. MyFitnessPal has an impressive database of brand name and restaurant chain nutrition information. On the add food screen there are several tabs: recent, frequent, my foods, meals, and recipes. A new feature that I like is “add frequently paired food.” It allows you to quickly add a meal without having to select each item. For example, if I add Cheerios to breakfast, MFP will suggest also adding milk.
I find 99.9% of recipes online which is evident by the cookbooks gathering dust on the shelf. MFP is savvy to the internet chef and has built a recipe importer tool. After entering the URL, MFP will try to match the ingredients. Often I have to make corrections to the ingredients and quantities, but it is still faster than manually adding each ingredient. For some reason the tool refuses to work on my iPhone or iPad so I’m stuck using the good ole desktop.
MFP’s exercise tool seems to be the most lacking area. The number of exercises in the database are limited. There is the option to manually add exercises but that leaves you scratching your head for calories burned. MFP does not include strength exercises in the calories-out count which I find a bummer. I usually have to use my desktop for entering exercises as well.
Not going to lie keeping track of calories can be a real downer. Some days I just want to say f* this all and eat a whole pizza and a gallon of ice cream. However, it can still be great motivation. I’ve kept up with MFP now for a few months straight and have definitely noticed a difference. I have completely cut out sodas. I’m not wasting 300 calories on a Coke! (Now that I’m drinking so much water, if I do try Coke it tastes way too sweet and syrupy!) For me, calorie tracking helps me to eat in moderation. With limited calories I naturally gravitate toward more nutrient-dense, lower calories food. I still eat the things I like on occasion but I try to balance it out with a lighter meal. I’m never giving up hot wings and beer! Plus, it’s similar to Weight Watchers in that you earn calories for exercise. Even if you don’t want to do a restricted calorie diet, it’s always good to know what you’re putting into your body on a daily basis. The best motivation is seeing results. I can see what I weighed six months ago and compare it to what I weigh today. Higher or lower, I have a better picture of my progress.
TL:DR: MyFitnessPal is a great option for tracking your daily health habits. MFP makes to record your eating and exercising habits and see your progress over time. Add friends for even more motivation!