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.
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.