We’re gonna get all high tech up in here and talk about the popular My Fitness Pal app. If you haven’t heard of it, you’ve probably made an account at some point and totally forgot about it. Seems to be the way things go these days! I’m telling you, you need to open up your account again and give this tool a second chance because it’s seriously helpful and best of all, FREE! So, if you really don’t know anything about My Fitness Pal, It’s basically a food tracker. You can enter in just about anything and it logs all the nutritional info for you. Say you try a recipe out of a new cookbook. Unless the cookbook states the calories per serving, trying to figure it out on your own can be a nightmare. But chances are you’ll be able to look up that exact meal in the app. You can pull up various meals off restaurant menus and if you’re using your phone to access the app, you can even scan bar codes. But that’s not all, My Fitness Pal offers so much more to help you stay on track that I’ll explain in this blog. The only downside is it can be easy to fall out of the habit of tracking every single thing you eat daily but the app’s loaded with extras to motivate you throughout your journey. It will take some time to get the hang of things but in the mean time, here are some basics every newbie needs to know about My Fitness Pal.
1. Set up your profile
Downloading the app and creating a log in is your first step. DO NOT skip over putting together your profile. This is just basic info about yourself, your goals, your WHY, and a photo of yourself. You may be tempted to skip this step but I encourage you to get it done right away. My Fitness Pal is more than just a food tracker. It’s a community of people with similar goals. If you set up your profile others can learn more about you and connect with you. This community will keep you accountable so you log in daily. It’s important and doesn’t take long so just do it!
2. Set your goals
When you’re setting up your account, you’ll have to answer a few questions about where you’re at now, your fitness levels, and how much weight you’d like to lose. It will then set up you ideal daily macros (calories, fat, protein, and carbs). You can go back in and edit your macros by going into your “Goals”. I suggest just keeping them the way they are at first unless you’re on a special diet and need to adjust them. You can also choose which nutrients you’d like to receive info on in the “Settings” section.
3. Log EVERYTHING
If you’re consuming it, it needs to be logged. Even if you take one bite of leftover pizza! Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds and I’ve actually found that it prevents me from munching on food throughout the day due to the fact that I’m way too lazy to log one bite of pizza. Logging is simple. You can search for a particular food, pull it up in your recent food list (you can change it to either “all meals” or a particular one) or you can use your bar code scanner. Just make sure you’re choosing the closest option that pops up and the correct number of servings you ate.
4. Plan ahead
You won’t always have time to log your meals in the moment. Life’s hectic and you’re only human. I plan everything a day ahead of time. So tonight I’ll log everything I plan to eat tomorrow. I get the basics logged and then adjust as the day goes on. This also gives you an idea of where you’re at as far as your macros go to help you choose the appropriate snacks when you do decide to munch. Another shortcut you can take it to eat the same thing every day for breakfast, lunch, and your snacks. That way you can copy the exact meal you had the day before without having to re-log it all.
5. Add your exercise
Unfortunately, Beachbody programs don’t show up when you search for them in the exercise part of the app (unless I’m missing something?) so I actually don’t log my workouts at all. But you can enter in various cardio and weight training options. I recommend you do this if you can because it gives you a good idea of exactly how many calories you’re burning in a day.
One thing that you’ll most likely fail to really get involved in is the My Fitness Pal community and in my opinion, it’s the most important part of the tool. Living a fit lifestyle is HARD. Eating what you should, meeting your daily macros, exercising, and staying on track is super difficult. There are days you’ll feel like a failure. You’ll want to just give up. That’s where the community part comes in. You can check out endless discussions or start your own. These can be anything from motivation, random fun topics, questions, and just getting to know people. You can also join groups with weekly challenges, healthy recipes, specific fitness programs, or struggles you may be going through (such as the “Emotional Eating” group). You can become friends with other users and even read their blog posts right on the app.
7. Bonus tools
I haven’t explored all of these yet but it want to mention them anyway. While checking out the app more to write this blog, I came across the “Recipe” tab where you can import your recipes and have them all saved. Pretty cool. You can also run a ton of different reports to see how you’ve been doing over a period of time. My Fitness Pal even has their own blog called Hello Healthy with even more resources to read up on.
Trust me when I say the My Fitness Pal app is legit. As long as you’re honestly tracking every single thing you eat, you WILL reach your goals. It’s a little overwhelming at first but take your time and get the hang of logging your food. Then you can explore the rest of the site when you’re ready. If you break your streak, no worries! Just get back on track the next day. If you have any questions on using this tool, please leave a comment below or over on my Facebook page and I’d be more than happy to answer it the best I can 🙂