Friday, January 17, 2014

My Fitness Pal - by Matty Jacobson


Being sexy isn't easy. It takes a lot of discipline: eating correctly, working out, and keeping track of everything so you know you're doing it right.

It's true those things come naturally to the luckier of us. But for everyone else, we either have to be meticulous about what we put into our bodies and what activities we do to ensure our food is getting put to good use, or we simply become unhealthy, out of shape and overweight. 

There are a lot of apps that serve this purpose. I've tried a few, but the one I'm most satisfied with is MyFitnessPal. 

This app isn't just for people like me who are trying to trim the fat. It's also for anyone who wants to maintain a certain weight, or even gain muscle weight. 

The program gets your current weight, your goal weight (if you have one) and your height. It then generates how many calories you should be consuming each day. Surprise, surprise, it's not 2,000. In fact, for me to stay at a svelte 185 (I'm 6-feet 2-inches tall, mind you), I should only be consuming 1,390 calories per day. 

"But Matty!" You're screaming right now, I assume. "Swimmer Ryan Phelps! He's about your height and he consumes 12,000 calories a day!" 

Well, that's because he's an athlete. And most days, I end up consuming between 3,000 and 5,000 calories because I also run. That's one of my favorite parts of the MyFitnessPal app. 

At the end of your workout, you let the app know what type of activity you were doing, and how long you were active. It then adds the applicable amount of calories to your diet. So if I want to go to a movie and plan on downing an entire tub of popcorn by myself, then I need to work out for about an hour to free up the necessary 1,000 calories. 

It's simple, but I had to get into the habit of adding my food to the diary after every meal. (Ideally, this app would come with some sort of computer chip you swallow that doesn't digest and reads everything you eat so you don't have to do any work -- but I'm not holding my breath for that technology.) But the food diary is really simple to use. Anything you purchase can be scanned with the app's barcode feature. Anything else will most definitely be in the diary's database. 

And if you're cooking a ridiculous recipe all your own, just add the ingredients to the diary separately. The diary keeps track of what you put into it, so once you've entered it in once, you only have to scroll through your foods to add it again. 

At the end of the day, MyFitnessPal tells you how much you will weight in two weeks if your eating and exercise habits remain the same. 

Some days, the app tells me I'll weigh 175 pounds, and one or two times I've been told I'ld weigh more than 210 if I kept it up. But for the most part, actually utilizing the app has made me more aware of the kinds of foods I eat. 

Now if only the App Store could come up with something that would track my food and activity without my having to do a thing. 

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