Calorie Counting My Way to Better Habits

The most important healthy habit that I have adopted this past year is calorie counting. Specifically, I have been using the MyFitnessPal app on my phone. There are many other apps available that do the same thing however I haven’t used any of them.

Here’s what I like about MyFitnessPal:

  • Free to use (with a lot of functionality).
  • Large user base so you can easily find foods.
  • Integrates with many other fitness apps.
  • Connectivity options to cheer friends on.
  • Great blog.

The premise is pretty basic: in order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. The initial set up of the app is very good at helping you customize a plan by determining your level of activity and setting realistic weight-loss goals.

Personally, I have lost just over 50 lbs in the past year. The majority of it was by dieting alone. I didn’t follow any specific meal plans or diet craze.

Screenshot from MyFitnessPal of my weight loss progress over the past year.

At first, tracking felt time-consuming and tedious but I quickly got into a flow. Using the app has become second-nature to me (some may say it borders on obsessive.) The most difficult aspect was finding low-calorie foods that made me feel full. Once I figured out some of my daily staples it became fun to experiment with a variety of foods while remaining within my calorie budget. It was also eye-opening to become aware of my eating habits.

When you track your activities in the app, you can opt to increase your calorie budget for the day or to maintain the original budget and see the weight loss happen at a faster rate. I love this because I’m able to “earn” extra calories to splurge on some comfort foods. Having this kind of flexibility in my diet encourages me to stick with it because it doesn’t feel too restrictive.

MyFitnessPal offers a great blog through the app. It has introduced me to many topics related to dieting, wellness, health and fitness. I have also discovered some great recipes. They are neither pushy about upgrading to their premium plan nor do they make you feel that that the free experience is lacking.

Most importantly, using this app daily and seeing results helped me to gain the courage to establish new healthy habits. By linking my Fitbit activity tracker to MyFitnessPal, I was able to directly see the relationship between activity and calories burned.

Integrating new activities into my routine was gradual and progressed from long walks to hikes and bike rides. Eventually I found myself pushing further physically and now regularly practice Yoga, Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Aside from the physical benefits, what surprised me the most was the side effect of better mental wellbeing. I encourage others to begin their journey to better health by being mindful of their dietary habits.

MyFitnessPal has been instrumental on my journey. However, there are many apps out there that can help you do this and may be a better fit to your personality. In my experience, attaining a healthy lifestyle is a process of integrating new positive habits and phasing out the negative, one step at a time.

5 thoughts

    1. I agree, the current landscape of men’s health tends to focus on body building and extreme diets.

      My path to wellness has been gradual and has focused on mindfulness and dealing with stress.

      I see so many people my age just give up because they don’t believe that it’s in their realm of possibility to gain new habits beyond their 30’s.

      I just hope to inspire others by showing them that small changes can have a huge impact!

      Like

  1. Such a thorough post! Thank you for your detailed review of MyFitnessPal – I actually just went and downloaded it now! I used to track my foods every day and did find it tedious as well, but once you get used to doing it you get into a good habit. This post has inspired me to get back into a good habit!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting post. I’ve been procrastinating on making some dietary changes myself but this app will hopefully make the transition a little easier with being able to monitor my eating habits and find recipes. How has your time training in Krav Maga and Brizilian Jiu Jitsu been and how long have you been practicing both those martial art disciplines?

    Like

    1. I’ve been practicing Krav Maga for 6 months and have found that it has had a huge impact on my overall fitness. There is a huge cardio and high-intensity training component that you can see results from in 6 weeks. The mantra is defense through aggressive offense. It’s physically demanding and works on the principle that you need to program the basics into muscle memory so that you have an instant defensive reaction when you suddenly find yourself having to defend yourself. I’ll be testing for my level 2 in a month!

      Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a different beast all together. It’s also physically demanding in that you need to be strong in awkward positions and fairly flexible. What I enjoy is the mental aspect to this sport in that you have to figure out how to use your opponents body mechanics to your advantage.

      Like

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