Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Fitness Pal (A Free App)

How did I hear about My Fitness Pal? I asked my daughter for a recommendation, of course. I know there are all kinds of tracking systems available these days which will count your calories and help you meet your goals. This is the only one I've tried so far, so I can't say it's the best. I can only offer my opinion on how well this particular app is working for me.

Mostly I decided to give an app a try because I was curious. Many of my students have told me they use apps to track their calories, or dietary percentages, or calories burned when they work out. Another reason is that I've been feeling very stuck in terms of weight loss. (I still have refused to step onto my no-longer-trusty scale, so I have no clue what I actually weigh. I can only tell you how I feel.) I have whined on this blog dozens of times (at least!) about the irritations of menopause. Number one on that list is my inability to lose weight. (Of course, there is no problem with putting it on. That part is a cinch.)

I haven't attempted to count calories myself since I was in high school. And that was WAY back, in another century, back when counting calories meant looking up each food I ate in the back of my weight loss book. Now that we have apps, the process is way, way easier.

If you are interested in testing out My Fitness Pal, all you will need is a smart phone or an I-Pod. I'm using my I-Pod as my phone is not very intelligent. To get started, just go to the app store and download the app for free. (My favorite price.) It will ask you to enter some information, including your name, birthdate, height, weight, and how much you would like to lose. (I just estimated my weight.) Then it will suggest a number of pounds to lose per week. You can adjust this number if you like. I went along with the suggestion to lose one pound per week. In order to accomplish my goal, it suggested I eat 1200 calories per day. I decided to try this.

Yesterday was my first day tracking my food choices, calories, percentages, and exercise. The very best part of the My Fitness Pal app is the scanning feature. I scanned in all my food for lunch (I happened to be eating a bunch of scan-able products for that meal) which, once I figured out how to do it, turned out to be terribly fun! It is a very quick, easy way to get an exact count on your calories and nutrition. If your food isn't scan-able, you can enter each individual food, like lettuce, separately. This is, of course, more time consuming. But once you have entered a certain food, it will be saved in the system and you won't need to re-scan or re-enter it.

By the end of the day, I had already learned a whole bunch about my diet. I ate about 60% fat yesterday. My carbs were very low, about 11%, and my protein made up the rest. I'm not sure if this will turn out to be typical or not. I was concerned about keeping the calories so low, but I actually came in at 3 calories UNDER my goal! I did go to bed hungry. And I woke up hungry this morning. I think I may have already lost my one pound for the week! (Still not getting on that scale, though.)

I definitely ate less than normal. I'm sure if I hadn't been tracking my calories, I would have continued to snack on the couch in front of the TV last night. But I drank a second cup of tea instead of eating more food. And I do believe that weight loss means hunger. I don't think you can lose without ever feeling uncomfortable. A small amount of discomfort is the cost. As long as you are getting enough protein (key to keeping your muscle mass) and enough veggies (for your vitamins and minerals) AND not starving yourself (mild hunger in the evening is not starving!) I think My Fitness Pal can help you lose weight in a healthy way.

If you are intrigued, as I was, with the possibilities of these weight loss apps, why not join me in the 21st century? Give an app a try! Please comment below if you are currently using a different app to lose weight and would like to share your reasons, your advice, or your questions!

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