Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Blogging Through the Alphabet (Favorites Edition) - M is for My Fitness Pal

We all need an accountability partner when it comes to eating healthier, exercising, and/or trying to lose weight. I have my mom, daughters, husband. But all they can do is encourage me and, occasionally, get in on some exercise with me.

Enter My Fitness Pal.

I love this program! Before I got a smart phone I just had it on my computer. I logged each meal I ate, with the quantities, and it pulled from its database of thousands of foods to tell me exactly how many calories I was consuming. Not only that but it registered all of the nutritional values, as well.

I have lost about 10 pounds in the past using My Fitness Pal. It's so easy to use!

Now that I have an iPhone, it's even easier! The phone app has a barcode feature that allows me to just scan the barcode of what I am eating and it pulls it up. The searching has been eliminated! You can't get any easier than that!

When you first sign up with My Fitness Pal it has you enter your current weight and goals. It computes for you how many calories you should eat each day and the recommended nutritional values of the foods you eat. Then you are all set.

For instance, this time around I want to lose about 8 pounds. I put in my current weight (don't you want to know) and how many pounds I want to lose at approximately 1 pound per week. It calculated my daily calorie intake of 1200 calories and told me exactly how much fat, fiber, sodium, carbohydrates, sugar, protein, etc., I should try to consume each day.

At the end of the day I can look at the nutritional values to see where I succeeded and where there is room for improvement.

It is also a social media tool where you can accept "friends" to follow you in your journey. It's great to receive notes of encouragement when they see that you were under your calorie goal, when you exercised, and, hopefully, when you have lost pounds!

It really helps with portion control because you are entering how many servings of each of the foods you eat and it helps you realize what a true portion is.

My favorite feature, however, is the tracking of exercise. I think we get in a mindset of trying to figure out how many calories we need to BURN. But My Fitness Pal calculates the number of calories you have EARNED with your chosen exercise. What is really great about it is that if my calorie goal is 1200, but I have ridden my bike for 30 minutes, I might earn about 200 more calories for the day. Here is where it really comes in handy .... it's late evening and I am starving, but I am out of calories for the day. I can strap on my shoes and go for a run or a bike ride and earn some more calories so I can have a snack before I go to bed. It actually gives me incentive to exercise more!

And the added bonus is that because you are tracking your calories and nutritional values, you soon realize that healthier eating just starts to take the place of junky eating. And then you don't crave it nearly as much.

For the past month I have been tracking Brynne on my My Fitness Pal account. We knew that she was overweight. But, when I plugged in her height and weight numbers on some health websites, I saw that she was classified as overweight and her BMI was much higher than it should be. At about the same time she mentioned how she would like to wear a two-piece swimming suit (a tankini .. she is 9). But I sit at the pool and watch extremely overweight girls wearing swimming suits they should not be wearing showing very big bellies. Overweight children is an epidemic! Although we want Brynne to have a healthy body image, we are not being very good parents if we just throw up our hands and say, "this is the way God made her" and not do our best to educate her in healthy eating and taking care of our bodies through exercise.

She and I have been on a journey and she is doing fantastic! Using My Fitness Pal has actually changed her taste buds! She craves healthier food (even vegetables, folks) and doesn't enjoy the taste of her junky foods nearly as much as she used to. We don't deprive her of her favorite foods. She just makes sure to eat one serving and only eats those less-than-good-for-her foods occasionally. For instance, she rewards herself with her absolute favorite Easy Mac on Saturdays instead of eating it every day for lunch. She also gets special treats, I'm not cruel. But her regular daily eating habits have changed tremendously. And she is exercising every sing day in some way ... riding her bike, walking, running, swimming, whatever we can fit into our day. We are being intentional about earning calories and getting our bodies in shape.

And at the end of each day we review her nutritional values together. That is probably the most important part of it.

As of yesterday, she has lost 3 1/2 pounds and very noticeable inches! She will be in that tankini before you know it!

And in joining her in her journey, I have lost 3 1/2 pounds, too, and I feel more in shape than I have in a long time.

We are both looking and feeling good!

My Fitness Pal has been a very important part of our journey. And I highly recommend it!

Ben and Me

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