I’ve been using MyFitnessPal for a month now and I am by no means an expert or a seasoned user. In fact I am a serial dieter and a serial quitter. Dieting is in fact the only thing I’ve quit at and I give up time and time again because frankly I find it too hard, too restrictive, too boring and I just give up before I see any results.
Things seem to be different this time around though, I’ve actually found a plan I can stick to and one that I actually want to do wholeheartedly because I can already see it’s working. It’s starting to become a habit now and logging my food and drink just feels normal. I’ve become so much more aware of my choices and I’ve actually said ‘no’ to things I would have eaten in excess before.
Over the last month, I’ve made some changes to my routines, things to help make dieting easier for myself and to ensure that I stick to plan each day. I’ve also received loads of messages from people who want to give calorie counting a try but they’re not sure how it works or how best to get started. The big thing they ask is ‘do you have any tips?’ and whilst I’m still only new to this I actually do have some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way.
So, since you can only write so much in an Instagram DM I thought I would share my top tips here:
Create a meal plan– This is a must for me, since returning to work I find I don’t have nearly enough hours in the day and I certainly don’t have time to be thinking about what I’m going to have for dinner when I get home. Each weekend I create a menu for lunches and dinners for that week. This helps me know what to buy in the food shop and also means I don’t have to worry about organising a meal when I’m rushing around bathing and doing the bedtime routine with the baby. The reason I plan my lunches as well as my dinners is due to the next tip…
Log in advance – Each day I can look at my menu and know what I am having for lunch and dinner the next day. I use this to pre-log on MyFitnessPal. Each evening after dinner has been eaten and everything is organised for the next day, I take a little time to enter the following day’s meals. My breakfast is always the same during the week because I eat it on the train to work so that’s easy to log, I know what I’m having for lunch and dinner so I pop it all in the night before. The reason I do this is because I love to know what I have left once my three main meals are accounted for. I can go out or go to work or simply hit the fridge for a snack knowing exactly what I can afford to eat without ruining my day. I would hate to track as I go, eat all the food and then find out I don’t have enough calorie allowance left for my dinner, that would probably cause me to fall off the wagon and go over my allowance for the day.
Sync up your activity tracker – Must must must! If you have one, you need to link it to your MyFitnessPal account. I have a Fitbit and whilst I’m just going about my day it’s clocking up my steps and MyFitnessPal is converting my efforts into additional calories for me to use that day. This has had a positive effects in two ways; one more calorie allowance (yay) and two, I’ve actually opted to walk more, I’ve turned down offers of a lift home because I want the steps from that 15 minute walk, I’ve gone out at lunch for a stroll rather than sitting at my desk because I want those extra steps. It’s made me more aware of how much I walk and made me more determined to hit my step goal each day.
Don’t use those exercise calories – Well you can if you want or need to but I’ve found I have better losses when I don’t. So to give it some context, MyFitnessPal has assigned me 1820 calories a day to achieve a 1lb per week weight loss. As I’m walking I am gaining calories, sometimes as many as 600-800 extra if I’m out walking all day. This in theory means I could eat 2620 calories and still be within my allowance. Am I going to lose a pound a week by doing that? probably not. So I try to use my base 1820 allowance and allow my exercise calories to give me a deficit. Sometimes, I do use them though, if we go out for an impromptu dinner or I’m seeing friends for lunch or if it’s just been a really shit day at work and I need chocolate. I will use those extra exercise calories to allow me to enjoy myself, to not feel deprived or like I can’t go out and enjoy myself. It’s all about balance and making sure you can still enjoy your life whilst you’re changing it.
Make you diary public and make some friends – I love to see what other people are doing, not because I’m nosey (well I am a bit) but because I so often get stuck for ideas and end up eating the same thing over and over again. By making your food diary public on MyFitnessPal and by reaching out to other users to become friends you can see what they have been spending their calories on. You can inspire each other, encourage each other and challenge each other to do better.
So, those are my top tips for using MyFitnessPal and these are the steps I take to make the diet work for me, to make it enjoyable and make it so that I can actually stick to it long term.
If you’re an avid user please share your tips and follow me on the app, my username is my_life_as_mama. The more the merrier right.