My Fitness Pal [what I’ve learned so far]Posted: February 10, 2012
At the end of January, I decided to cancel my WW membership. I was still logging my points ever day, but never went to any meetings – and couldn’t justify paying $40 a month to use the online software. My plan was to take a week off, re-evaluate, and then decide whether or not to enroll in WW online to use the Etools (which is cheaper than the membership that includes meetings). That same week, I was introduced to My Fitness Pal. I checked out the site and wasn’t impressed at first. I wasn’t sure if this was for me, or how easy it would be to use, but I gave it a shot. Now that I’ve used it for a little over a week, I’ve changed my mind- I’m a fan!
I’m still learning how to navigate everything on the page and really haven’t had much time to look into any message boards or recipes. I’ve really only used it to log food and exercise.
When you sign into your account, this is the welcome page you see:
Due to my height/weight/weight-loss goals, My Fitness Pal has determined that I should aim for 1500 calories a day. I’m trying to lose about a pound a week, which should be a realistic goal. You can add “friends” and view their progress as well (as much as they want to share through privacy settings) and post messages on the main page for each other to see.
For logging food, the page looks like this:
Since I eat the same thing for lunch or breakfast several days throughout the week, I like the fact that you can just copy your meal from another day. When I was logging my food through WW Etools, I would save items as my favorites, which was also very easy, and just add them in. (I wish MFP had a ‘favorites’ option, but so far I haven’t found it.)
But, when you click to add a food, it will bring up all of the foods you have added so far, so that you can click and choose from items that you eat often.
It also gives you the option to add “quick calories” instead of inputting every single ingredient or looking up a food in the database. I use that sometimes, but really try to look up the foods as much as possible. It can be a little bit of a pain to look everything up (especially if you have salad with 10 different types of vegetables!) but once you add something in to your food log, it really is easy to just click through your list and find it. You can also create your own recipes (and add in your own calories), which is what I did for my overnight oats and protein muffin. The food database is also REALLY impressive! There are a ton recipes and foods entered by users- like pretty much anything you can think of. The database also includes several of Mama Pea’s recipes that people have entered, including the Spicy African Peanut Stew that I made the other night (and have leftovers of for lunch today!) There’s also pretty much every type of beer you can think of- which I had a lot of fun looking at last night. I was shocked at how many calories some of my favorite Dogfish beers had- yikes! (Good thing I don’t drink much!)
Here’ yesterday’s food logging:
The site defaults Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snack categories and I added in “pre” and “post” workout foods.
The exercise part of the site is pretty similar, in that you search the database for common exercises and enter your time spent doing a particular activity. It also brings up your most common exercises that have been entered, so that you can choose from those.
You can create your own exercise and estimate the calorie burn, which is what I did for Bodypump. I know my exercise metabolic rate based on my heart rate (from testing I’ve had done) so I estimated my own calorie burn for Bodypump. I have various effort ranges for Stationary biking, based on when I’m teaching spin class (which is very vigorous) or just riding my spin bike at home (which can be anything from moderate to vigorous). For Bob’s yoga dvd, I really have no idea how many calories I burn. I sweat a lot and it does get my heart rate up, and I’m sure it probably burns more than the 200 calories I put down. But, I’d rather underestimate than overestimate (and really, I don’t see exercise as a pass to go nuts on my calorie consumption anyway).
A sample from Wednesday, when I did a little bit of cardio before Bodypump:
You can add in exercises for strength training, but I really haven’t used that yet. My strength training usually comes in the form of a class or DVD that combines it with cardio, so I just group it in that category.
One of the things that I find kind of entertaining is that at the end of the day, when you finish logging, it tells you “If every day were like today, you’d weigh ‘x amount’ in five weeks!” (That “x” amount is usually 10 lbs. lower than what I weigh now, which just makes me laugh.) I know that losing 10 lbs in 5 weeks is totally unreasonable for me- but hey, if it really happened I’d be very happy (and very close to my goal)!
Something I have become aware of by using this software as opposed to logging through WW is that I was eating a lot of calories before- more than I thought. Since WW counts fruits and vegetables as “free foods,” I really wasn’t counting those calories at all. But, even though those are all “good” calories, they still count. So, if you’re eating 500 calories worth of fruit each day on top of everything else, it isn’t really going to help you lose! I’m not bashing WW at all, because I think that it can be very helpful for a lot of people. Again, it just didn’t work for me.
Here’s the thing about logging onto any site like this: it only works if you’re honest with yourself. I found that when I’ve logged before, I’ve lied to myself to make myself believe that something I ate didn’t count (if I didn’t log it). And really- that is just dumb and completely not helpful to my progress at all. OF COURSE it counts if you eat it! So with this site and the addition of snapping a photo of everything I eat- even if it’s just one cracker from the pantry – I am holding myself accountable. I’m always really good during the week and fall off the wagon a bit on weekends, but man, I am trying my darnedest to fully commit- on weekends too!
I know that some people have suggested to me before that maybe if I stop caring so much about what I eat and stop trying to focus so much on losing weight, maybe things would change for the better. I have to say, from much personal experience, that does not work for me. I lose weight when I hold myself accountable 100% and eat mindfully, plain and simple.
I’m hopeful that I see some good results with this program. 🙂
One more thing: I just had to scan this photo of Marie Osmond that I saw in a NutriSystem ad yesterday. Does this looks ridiculous and air-brushed or what? And what’s going on with her boobs?!
Have a great weekend, guys!
Have you used My Fitness Pal (or any similar program)? Do you track your calories/exercise when you’re trying to lose weight?