The only time I successfully dropped a significant amount of weight, I counted calories. Sure, I saw results on the scale, but I became obsessed with numbers. How much had I eaten? How much had I burned? What was my current weight?
(See my “Weight is Just a Number” post with pictures…)It all got to be too much. I was skinny but I was a ball of stress. When I let go of the numbers, I let go of a lot of anxiety.
So I was a little hesitant when I was offered the chance to review the My Fitness Pal app for iPhone (and Android). Because it’s a tracker that is designed to help you lose weight (or reach other goals) by logging your food, fitness and more. And it’s all connected to your social networks — if you choose; more on that later — so you can try and stay accountable. What does that all entail?
Now, it’s pretty important to note: while I certainly wouldn’t mind losing a few pounds and getting down to my pre-baby weight and fitness level, it’s not really a priority right now. But I am concerned with making sure that no matter what I do, it doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding. This is not a time in my life that I’m looking to quickly shed pounds, cut calories or do any drastic diet changes that would affect my supply. So using the app is as much to make sure I’m getting ENOUGH calories and from the right, healthy foods as it is to do anything else.
With a few caveats, I found the app to be extremely easy to use and a great way to quickly log my meals and workouts.
The setup is pretty standard, requiring you to put in your height, current weight, overall weight goals, etc.
(HA! I have a 3-month-old…five workouts a week would be amazing. But I’m trying. I ended up changing that to 3 times a week just to make it more achievable.)
But what My Fitness Pal didn’t take into consideration was that I am breastfeeding, so a “normal” amount of calories for someone looking to lose weight wouldn’t work for me.
Studies have shown that most healthy breastfeeding women maintain an abundant milk supply while taking in 1800-2200 (or more) calories per day. Consuming less than 1500-1800 calories per day (most women should stay at the high end of this range) may put your milk supply at risk, as may a sudden drop in caloric intake. Source: Kelly Mom
Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the adjustment from the app itself, but I was able to log onto the website and tweak the settings, and I bumped my calorie goal WAY up to 2,200 calories a day. Once I did that, my projected weight loss went to .8 pounds a week. Eating lots of food? Doing a few light workouts a week? And losing weight VERY slowly? Sounds good to me!
The best part of the app is how many foods are in the system. Some common … and some less common products.
Logging can be tedious when trying to input homemade items and meals — this bruschetta, for instance, was Publix bread, two kinds of cheese, canned tomatoes, sauteed onions and peppers, basil, salt and balsamic vinegar. Delicious. But nuts to try and break down.
Unfortunately, that is what you have to do if you’re serious about following calories in/calories out, so while it can be annoying to get down to the nitty gritty, I found this app did all of the searching and logging very quickly and easily.
One thing that sets My Fitness Pal apart from other “diet” tools is that it’s very connected to social networks. You can make friends (the latest update lets you search your Facebook connections), send messages of support, ask for help and more. As you know, I’m HUGE on building community, especially when it comes to setting goals…but because I was using the app to make sure I was eating enough, and enough of the right foods for breastfeeding, I felt less compelled to post everything publicly. So I can’t really speak to that feature…if you’ve used MFP and want to share your experience, I’d love to hear from you!
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, per se, because I really try to spend each day making healthy decisions, but I know that many of you have committed to try and lose weight, get fit, eat real foods and more in 2013, and I am SO excited about that. If you are looking for a way to be accountable for what you eat and how you exercise, and you’re a numbers nerd like me, My Fitness Pal can be a great tool for you to try. At the very least, it will help you get a better idea of what you’re eating, how much you’re burning, and where you can make some healthier decisions.
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Disclosure: “Compensation was provided by Welch’s via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Welch’s.”