You're not planning on eating THAT are you?!
My Fitness Pal - the mobile version of the person who slaps that second muffin out of your hand!
This post is to shed light on the reasons I've re-added My Fitness Pal.
My Fitness Pal (MFP) is an online app that acts like a food and fitness journal. You record the foods you consume each day, the amount of water you drink, and what exercise you've done. MFP requires you to enter your current weight and your 'goal weight'. It then calculates how many calories you should be consuming each day, and shows your daily sum at the top of the app. You can alter your current and goal weights at any time.
I have used MFP on and off for a couple of years now, but recently hadn't been using it. Here, I'll share my reasons behind me re-adding the app around a month ago.
Both times I have been pregnant, I've eaten lazily. Far too much fast food and not enough fresh vegetables. I relied on McDonalds, and had pretty much what I wanted to have! Doughnuts were a major craving for me in my second pregnancy, and my will-power seemed to disappear! As my lower back was so, so painful (Paracetamol just didn't touch the sides!) I wasn't able to go to the gym (I had been going 6 days a week previous to falling pregnant). So the only form of exercise I was getting for around 2 and a half months was walking our dog!
You can imagine, some of my skinny jeans no long comfortably fastened, and I had to make my clothing choices based on what didn't threaten to cut me in half, instead of being able to wear whatever I wanted! It's so frustrating, because until around springtime this year, I'd had the same issue; choosing what to wear based on how flabby it made me look/how tight it was. The gym had enabled me to feel more body confident. Now, I'd done my very best to self-sabotage and ruin all my hard work.
I realised I was having more "oh, f**k it, one more won't matter" days (weeks) than ever. I wasn't making myself accountable in any way for what I was fueling my body with.
One day, something inside me snapped. I'd had enough. So I re-added the app that I'd promised my husband months ago that I wouldn't use. I'd become borderline obsessed last time; refusing to eat certain meals in restaurants because they weren't listed on My Fitness Pal and cutting out some fruits because MFP indicates they are 'not good for you' (yes, they do have a high sugar content).
This time, I knew I needed a visual reminder to keep me anchored; to stop me having a second doughnut because "it won't matter". So far, I've used it pretty much every day and am feeling more in control of my eating.
Positives of using My Fitness Pal
- Being aware of just how many calories are in that giant chocolate bar.
- It's free! (The app not the giant chocolate bar!)
- It is easy to add foods you have purchased by simply scanning the bar-code of the product.
- Makes you more aware of portion sizes, and the need to weigh certain foods to ensure you're not over-eating (think cereal, pasta and potatoes).
- It is a form of 'controlled' weight loss, as you can visually keep track of how many calories you are consuming.
- You perhaps don't feel as restricted as some other 'diets'; you can have that doughnut you fancy as long as it fits in with your daily intake.
- You can track other nutrition information as well as calories. I pay particular attention to Fat and Saturated Fat levels, as they are important to monitor for your health. As I workout daily, I also need to ensure I consume enough protein, which you can also track on MFP. I tend to always go over my daily recommended sugar amount due to the different fruits I have throughout each day (and that evening bar of chocolate probably doesn't help either!)
- You can sync MFP with a Fitbit if you wear one, so exercise and steps taken can be used towards your calories.
Negatives of using My Fitness Pal
- Being painfully aware of just how many calories are in that giant chocolate bar - on the day you really really need it!
- When eating out, only several chain restaurants are included on there; and even then, not necessarily every meal they offer is listed. This makes eating out and using MFP incredibly difficult to track. Which leads me on to...
- It is not completely accurate; some things are listed with such a wide variation of calorie amounts, it's difficult to know which one is most accurate. I had garlic bread in an Italian restaurant, and typed it into MFP. The calories ranged from 56 to 456 calories. With no mention of the actual restaurant I was in on MFP, I simply had to make an educated guess!
- Some people treat it as if they do not add a certain food to MFP, it "doesn't count". You must remember, of course, that you can fool an app but you cannot fool your own body - if you have consumed it, you've consumed those calories whether you record them or not!
- Calories it allows for exercise are not always accurate; without the use of certain fitness trackers, it doesn't allow you any extra calories for a 60 minute weight-lifting session...
- It doesn't take into account body type and overall body goals. It is predominantly based on 'weight' loss. If you, like me, are not bothered about the number on the scale but instead, your fat and muscle mass percentages and your measurements, it can sometimes feel a little off-target.
- Like all 'diet' ideas, you can become obsessive and it can begin to take over your life; food is a necessity and also something that should be enjoyed in moderation.