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what is my fitness pal?
My Fitness Pal is an app and website that is very popular and used to assist you in becoming healthier through different avenues. You can use it to help you lose weight, to help you maintain your weight or even to gain. There are tools to help you establish better habits, in eating, in lifestyle, sleep and exercise. There’s a big community section where you can “meet” others on the same journey, get advice, have questions answered and learn so much.
I wrote a post about it recently and decided to do another and go more in depth.
getting started with My fitness pal
Go to the My Fitness Pal webpage and create an account. There’s both a free and a premium version. I use the free version. I’ve beta tested the premium when it first came out but the free version gives me the information and data I need. This page gives you what the premium version offers.
Log in to your account and create your profile, add as much or as little as you want. I use this as a page to write down my fitness goals, record when I reach certain milestones and keep track of my weight loss on a ticker. Add a profile picture and you’re ready to set your goals.
Click on update diet and fitness profile to input your information. Recommended weight loss goal is 1-2 lbs. per week depending on how much weight you have to lose. I always had mine at 1 lb. even though I had a lot to lose. The algorithm will give you a daily calorie goal and if you choose 2 lbs. you’ll end up with less calories than if you choose 1 lb. You want to get a number you can live with or this isn’t going to be successful. And remember, this doesn’t mean you’ll only lose a pound every week, some weeks will be more, some less.
my home page
After you set up your profile and get the numbers you need, click on “my home” and you’ll see your feed. From here you can add food and exercise. It will also show you your daily log in streak. I’m currently at 3040 days of continuous logging.
The My Fitness Pal food database is extensive. There are over 11 million entries. This is the part where you’ll need a bit of patience at first. Right now you’re going to search for everything you log, or use the barcode to scan foods that have one. Once you enter a food, it’ll save it for you and the next time, you just click the box. The more you do, the quicker and easier it’ll become. There are a lot of restaurant foods in the database which makes eating out much easier to manage.
One important note to remember about the database is that anyone can make an entry. You need to look at a choice before adding it, see if it makes sense. When there’s a checkmark next to it, it’s been verified, including anything from the USDA website. If you find an entry that says a slice of pizza is 100 calories, move on. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
your food diary
Your food diary is set up with standard categories – breakfast, lunch, dinner and a couple of snacks. You can personalize these however you like, in the settings. When I worked nights I made them into six-hour blocks, since my meals were at weird hours. Now I work during the day so I went back to the breakfast/lunch/dinner ones as well as “good snacks” and “foods my dietitian won’t like.” I’ve seen diaries with categories like “$7*% I shouldn’t have eaten.”
Like to cook? Not me, but I do it. You can log a meal, by adding all the ingredients, inputting the serving size, and naming it. After that initial entry, you’ll only have to click on the name for it to show up in your diary.
You are able to record any and all exercise in that part of your daily diary. Even if you don’t have a fitness tracker to input data, having your weight recorded and entering the exercise and time will give you a relatively close calorie burn. You can enter both strength training and cardio.
sync My fitness pal with other Apps
My Fitness Pal can sync with a number of other apps. I sync it to my Fitbit account. I use Fitbit to log my exercise calories on My Fitness Pal. It even works with Alexa.
track your progress
On My Fitness Pal you can track more than just food and calories. You can track your weight, measurements, goals and even print out reports that show you just how well you’re doing. You can add photos of yourself along the way, it’s so hard to see your own weight loss on a daily basis, looking at photos makes it more real. I couldn’t see a difference when I looked in the mirror until I held up two pictures of myself, side by side, one was fifty pounds less than the other.
My Fitness Pal has a huge community section. There you can search for friends, read blogs, join all types of groups and read the various message boards.
There’s a Getting Started section. I recommend reading the notes pinned to the top of the section.
Also in the message boards are sections for losing, maintaining and gaining weight. There’s one for success stories if you’re in need of some motivation or if you want to toot your own horn and post your own success story, or a Non-Scale Victory (NSV) which is anything you did that doesn’t relate to that specific number on the scale, like walking for 30 minutes or fitting into a smaller clothing size. There are also sections on food, exercise, one for recipes and even a fun and games one.
I suggest starting in the Introduce Yourself section. You can let others know about you and request friends for your wall. Friends, even those you may never meet, add so much to the experience. They know what you’re experiencing since they’re doing it as well. When the scale says you lost 0.2 lbs., they’ll send congratulations. In your daily life, how many of your friends and family will do that? I’m on there as kar328 and always happy to welcome new friends.
Head on over to the groups section. There is something for everyone. Groups for locations, diets, sports, exercise, medical conditions, pretty much anything. It’s a great way to “meet” people who have similar interests and are on the same path. My favorite is one where you decide each month how far you’re going to move, whether it be walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing. It’s not a contest, your goal is simply to make the miles you pledge at the beginning of each month. You post your miles and the moderators keep track on a spreadsheet that tallies all the numbers, including whether you’re on track or not, past challenges and total miles overall since you joined. I’ve been on that one for several years, so you get to “know” the regulars and that’s an added bonus.
I can’t stress the benefits of the Community section enough. It’s hard to do this, especially on your own. But here, you don’t have to.
is my fitness pal helpful for weight loss?
Absolutely. There is so much information available to you, to assist you, to be there with you and cheer you on. It takes a bit of work to get it going, but once you do and make food logging and checking in a daily habit, your health journey will be well on it’s way.
Are you ready to take that first step? What are your goals? I would love to see your answers in the comment below!