While attending a wedding shower a few weeks ago, I had a very strange experience. As the cake was cut, several of the guests scrambled to get out their smart phones to check their myfitnesspal.com. app. They were on their food diary checking to see if they had enough calories left in the day for the cake. So today, with my column deadline looming, I decided to check out Myfitnesspal.com. As I pulled up the webpage, it looked eerily familiar. As I explored more I realized that I too had an account and logged in. As I did, a Facebook type status popped up saying “Leftygolfergirl” (me) had not recorded any data for over six months and might need some motivation. Gee, you think? Turns out I had the intent of using the site but did not follow through.
Following through on diet and exercise programs is pretty tough for most of us. Infomercials about diets and home exercise equipment make it sound so easy to lose weight and have the body of your dreams. If it were only that simple. Real lifestyle changes take time, planning and perseverance. It also takes a ready-to-change attitude in order to be successful. My friend and co-worker, Jack Crain, has been using MFP for more than a year. I chatted with him on the phone today to find out why he thought it worked so well. Jack, an employee assistance program specialist, told me that one of tenants of a 12-step addiction program is simply that the program will work if you work that program. He feels that is why he is so successful — because he is faithful about keeping track of his diet and exercise activities and is staying motivated. Let’s look at some of the features of Myfitnesspal.com:
— Customized program: When you set up a (free) account on MFP, you enter your height, weight, age and exercise level. The program computes what your ideal weight should be and sets up a calorie limit per day.
— Food log: Most nutrition experts agree that the only way to lose or maintain body weight is to track your caloric intake. It is eye opening how much more we eat than our bodies need. MFP makes it easy to log in your foods and has a large database of restaurants and ready-made foods included. It also tracks the nutritional content of your diet so you can make sure you are eating a high-quality diet.
— Exercise log: MFP also tracks your exercise and calories burned. It uses this number to adjust the amount of calories you can consume and still be under your goal. This is great for a night when you might want to cheat a bit on the healthy eating. Just increase your exercise and it balances out.
— Weight log: MFP allows you to enter your weight daily and will track how close you are to your goal weight.
— Special features: As I said earlier, MFP has a Facebook-like application as well. You can connect with your friends that are users, send messages, chat and share your triumphs and struggles with your friends and family. It even sends you a personal message at the end of the day telling you, based on what you ate and how much or little your exercised, how long it will take you to reach your goal.
All in all, Myfitnesspal.com is a wonderful and absolutely free way to keep yourself on track. It also has an app for smart phones so you can log in anytime or anywhere. Why not give it a try? Get signed up today, send me a friend request, and let’s get started on getting in the best shape of our lives.
Kathy Hansen has more than 20 years of experience in the health and fitness field and, despite eating a chocolate-filled Cadbury egg, still made her calorie goal yesterday. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com