When I tell people the success I’ve had in getting back into shape, I usually get asked what steps I took to accomplish this. Believe me, it’s been a lot of hard work and dedication, but I’ve found a couple of essential tools that have really helped me in this process.
It’s a simple equation, really, when it comes to the overall picture… exercise + eating right = getting in shape. However, when you break it down into different components, I think that the “eating right” piece has been the most essential.
One of the things that I credit most to my success is the daily use of www.MyFitnessPal.com (MFP) and its free iPhone app (also available for Android and Blackberry). The website states that it’s a “free calorie counter, diet & exercise journal.” Now now, don’t get your panties in a bunch thinking that it’s automatically too difficult to use. I guarantee 100% that this app is the real deal! I use it with very little effort or thought… it’s truly become routine for me.
I use MFP on a daily basis to track not only my daily meals, but also my daily exercise. I used this a few years ago, but only kept up with it for a couple of months. At the end of 2010 (last year), I decided to log back in and begin using this daily as a way to keep myself accountable during the early stages. As of today, I have logged in a whopping 99 days in a row! Is that dedication or what?
Diary screenshot from the iPhone app (taken from MFP/mobile page):
What I really like about MFP is the following:
- Extremely large food database with not only generic items, but entries that MFP members have included from brand names, restaurants, etc. You can find literally any item in the database and, if by slim chance you don’t, you can add it to the database.
- The iPhone app seamlessly syncs with the website, so no worries if you’re on the go! You can easily add in your foods easily. This is key for a busy girl on the go.
- The MFP forums are super active. If you need any little bit of motivation from others, have questions, or want to discuss other people’s success stories, you have this all at your fingertips.
- The MFP site/app tells you exactly what you need to do to achieve your goal. You can also adjust your goal at anytime, and the MFP recommendations adjust with it.
- MFP calculates for you! On top of your nutritional needs, it’ll also determine your BMR, BMI, etc.
- Weight loss ticker – it’s pretty awesome to see visually how many lbs you’ve lost through the tickers/badges. You can even pull reports over time. Awesome for the visual/data-heavy person.
- My MFP badge as of today! 🙂
I highly recommend that you give MFP a try. At the very least, it doesn’t hurt to have a good understanding of what you’re consuming and burning on a daily basis. From using MFP, I’ve come to learn the nutritional and caloric values of many of the foods I eat, and also portion sizes! I’m much more cognizant of the foods that I consume, which I find amazing. Love it.
To get started, head over to the website and do the following (copied and pasted from their FAQ):
“A. Using MyFitnessPal is very simple. Here’s how our basic process works:
- Based on your fitness profile, we’ll recommend a daily net calorie target for you to achieve your weight loss (or gain) goals.
- As you eat and exercise throughout the day, you need to log your meals and exercise in our Food and Exercise diaries. MyFitnessPal will calculate the number of calories you’ve consumed and burned from exercise and let you know how many calories you have left to eat for the day. If you stick within your calorie limits, you should achieve the weight loss you’re looking for.
- The best part of our system is that logging gets easier the more you do it. MyFitnessPal remembers the foods and exercises you like most and makes it easy for you to add those items to your diary. In just a few days, logging can be as fast as 30 seconds — it’s literally that easy.
- Periodically (we recommend once a week), you should weigh yourself and check-in your new weight with the site using our Check-In feature. Checking in your weight allows us to track your progress over time and also adjust your calorie goals to reflect your new weight.
- That’s it! Just a few minutes a day can show you so much about what you’re eating and how that impacts your health.”
Note: The way I look at my daily food and exercise is this — because I love food, I’m going to workout so I can eat the foods that I enjoy. I end each night with a sweet treat, and I have no guilt whatsoever. Oh, by the way, did I confirm how much I love MFP? Yes, I do. Go try it now, and let me know how it goes!
Question: Are there any other online fitness/health tools that you’d recommend?