Yesterday morning I enjoyed a pleasant surprise when I stepped on the bathroom scale. For the first time in many years the first digit was a "1"! So far this year I've dropped 30 pounds. Much of that loss came with the aid of a calorie counting and exercise tracking app called My Fitness Pal.
My Fitness Pal boasts nutritional information on over a million foods, and I believe it. I have yet to find a food that's not already included in theIr database. The genius of this tool is that several times throughout the day I enter the foods I've eaten into the MFP diary. Using the free mobile app available for iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows devices, recording the foods I've eaten is fast and easy.
There are no restricted foods or particular diets to follow. Simply being aware of the nutrition I've consumed combined with my exercise is enough to keep me on track for weight loss. Keeping a daily journal is the key for me and many others. Studies have shown that those who maintain a daily diary of their eating lose twice as much as those who don't keep a journal. I know that one of my biggest challenges has been eating junk late at night. Now, with my food journal as close as my phone, I have learned to just say no.
One of the other things that's been really helpful to me is the community aspect of MFP. I am reminded regularly by the app that those involved in like-minded community lose more weight. I have about a dozen friends who also use MFP. They have given me permission to follow their progress and I have given them the same permission to hold me accountable. The MFP app provides a page for my friend's comments. There are lots of encouraging words that flow back and forth as a result. This friendly accountability really came through for me in a big way when I quit for about a week. I received texts, emails and phone calls encouraging me to get back on track. For those who want it, MFP also offers a group feature.
One does not need to have a smart phone app to use MFP. The MFP website provides the same food and exercise database along with access to one's network of friends. However, the MFP mobile app is the secret sauce for weight loss as far as I'm concerned. My sister-in-law told me last week that she thought recording her foods all the time was a tedious chore. (Yet, she is sticking with it!) I wondered about that for a while until I remembered that she does not own a smart phone with data access. Therefore she has to turn on her computer every time she wants to make a diary entry. Yes, that would require a bit more dedication.
One of the best things about the MFP mobile app is the barcode reader. More than half of the time I don't type anything in to the app. Rather I focus my iPhone camera on the barcode on the food package and the MFP app automatically brings up all the nutrition info for me. One more click adds the food to my diary. Simple. Easy. Convenient.
Finally I love all the help and advice that is offered on the website. There is a full featured and active forum where anyone can ask a question and receive answers quickly. There is something really cool about a community of helpful people supporting one another as they experience the trials of weight loss together. I would highly recommend these posts for anyone just getting started.
If you are wanting to lose weight and get yourself into better physical shape, I can't recommend My Fitness Pal highly enough. I don't know how they keep it free. I've never experienced any solicitations or ads on the mobile app. Honestly, when you consider the alternative costs that result from poor health, this app alone is worth the cost of your phone and data plan!