My Fitness Pal Smartphone App: An Electronic Weight Loss Coach

So, you have decided to lose those few flabby pounds you’ve gained over the holidays. Good for you! Admitting that you have a problem is the first step to the solution. So let me congratulate you a little further by recommending a little guide that will help you along your path. It’s called “My Fitness Pal” and this app is on both iPhone and Android.

First off let me start by saying that the app is free. Yes, it’s free. Free as in beer. Free is a good thing. And for the quality of this app that is a great thing. Now let me say that this is not a full weight loss coach. You will need some determination and will power to use this app. But congrats for even starting your journey!

Lets get started!

Let’s begin taking a look at this. My overall impressions of the app were great. It’s functional, easy to use, and feature rich. My Fitness Pal really has the potential to help keep you on the proper path. My biggest issue is that ads displayed in the app. It is an Ad supported app, so if this bothers you then you may want to look elsewhere. On a larger screen phone it’s easily ignored but on smaller screens it could take up precious real estate.

So, we start the app and you’re asked if you are a current member or want to register. My Fitness Pal records all of your progress to their website. Since you are reading this I am going to assume that you are a new member. So go ahead and create your account. You’ll enter the standard username and password, email, password, height and weight, sex (yes, is not an option), and lifestyle activity, and so fourth and so on.

The app will also ask for the amount of exercise you get and how much weight you want to lose each week without giving snake oil promises of 30 pounds in two weeks. I appreciated this because proper and healthy weight lose must be achieved with a pound or two a week, not fifty.

I would recommend after entering your profile, and being pushed to the main screen, you have a look around and get the hang of the app. At first it’s slightly confusing, but it grows on you rather quickly. The app is well laid out but throws a lot of info at you quickly.

Have you been naughty or nice?

On the main screen you will find your daily digest of information. This shows many calories you are allowed to eat for the day, how many were taken in by food, exhausted by exercise and what’s left. If you want you can also take a peak at your total nutritional intake for the day. You’ll be presented with a chart that looks very much like the back of food label. I went into information overload the first time I read this. But it’s nice to see what I’m doing with myself. A healthy diet consists of getting the proper nutrients as well, not just limiting calories.

My Fitness Pal Smartphone App
My Fitness Pal Smartphone App

On the same screen you’ll have access to enter information into your daily diary of food and exercise. Simply click the Add to Diary button. From there you can enter food and exercise info. I’ll start with the food. My Fitness Pal breaks your entries into breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can search for foods, select recently used items, or select from a custom made food or meal list. If you decide to eat more then carrots for lunch you can also add multiple items as well.

My favorite feature though was the barcode scanner. Not sure what you just ate? It’s OK. We all have those moments. You can scan the barcode with your camera and the app will do it’s best to find the nutritional information via the world wide intermaweb. It doesn’t do a half bad job either.

Now, like I believe I said, I don’t like exercising all that much. It’s not like I don’t like it really, it’s just that I don’t have time. You know, like you do… But anyway, I pretended like I had time, just for you, to try this out. Adding any exercises works much the same way that adding food to your diary does. The only issue is, if you can’t remember what that exercise is called that the guy just taught you in the park that made you bend like a trifold pretzel door, then you’re stuck browsing through every exercise to find the correct information. There is no barcode scanner for that. Sorry.

Your daily diary

Next we go to our daily diary. Here you can see how bad or good you’ve been. A full breakdown of what foods you ate and what exercises you’ve done will be listed here. Basic information like calories eaten, calories burned, and remaining are displayed in this list as well. Access is granted from here, as well, to add to or edit your diary.

And then the last tab. Your progress tab gives you a nice little line graph over a period of time to track progress and goals. It can be somewhat gratifying and self-rewarding to see that line move down. I was impressed that it tracks not only your weight, but your neck, waist, and hip measurements as well. It’s nice to see a little diversity and something extra with this app considering there is so many like it all over the market now.

My Fitness Pal Smartphone App
My Fitness Pal Smartphone App

And last, but not least, is the options tab. Pretty self explanatory. You can change your profile or any of app your settings here.

I suppose it should be mentioned that you can view any of the information online via the account you created when you first started the app. Your daily diary and progress can be tracked there. I never utilized this much because I like the info in my pocket on the go. Also the last thing I want to do is sit and track my weight when I get to work or when I have a few minutes of downtime at home.

Conclusion

Over all I liked the app. It’s well designed and laid out. My Fitness Pal has a few nice features that set it self above other apps, like the barcode scanner. The app is intuitive and easy to use. It’s limited on features though. I would have liked to see more integration online with the app, maybe something with the community or access to the forums, or maybe some social networking integration.

The price is perfect considering it’s free. With it being an ad driven app though you may have issues with screen real estate on smaller devices. Larger screens were not bad. The app is also pretty stable. I didn’t see any force closes on any platforms or devices.

So, would I recommend it? Yes. Counting your calories is a fundamental aspect of weight loss, whether you are on popular diet program (i.e Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Diet to Go, etc) or a self-made diet plan.

Give it a shot and see how you like it. But give it a week or two before you start investing your time heavily recording information with it. Make sure you like the app and it feels fluid to you. If it doesn’t, move on to the next, because after all there are more apps that operate exactly like this one. It’s simple, polished, and easy to use with a couple nice extra features but nothing innovative whatsoever.

Guest author Matthew is a health advocate who is fascinated by how Smartphones have not only improved the way we communicate but also increased the information we have access too. Matthew researches and makes available Nutrisystem discount deals for 2011 and eDiets coupons and discounts, for dieters who want to save on these two proven weight loss programs.

Review of a Popular Weight Loss and Fitness App for Smartphones

Weight Loss And Fitness App

Perhaps you’re an always on the go kind of person with a few flabby pounds you can’t seem to get rid of. Maybe you just want to watch what you eat or you want help maintaining that perfect weight you’re at now. Perhaps you’re just too embarrassed to seek help. Whatever the reason may be, I think I may have something to help with that.

Recently I took a look at an Android app called “Diet and Food Tracker” by Sparkpeople.com. It’s certainly a worthy app for a few minutes of your time. It’s a well-organized and easy to follow diet and health planner.

So what makes this app so interesting? It does more than calorie counting. The developer of this app was nice enough to factor in and encourage a daily dose of exercise as well, which can be a very important part of any health regimen.

Oh, the Settings…

So let’s take a look at the app. Congrats, you decided to take the plunge and download it. It’s easy to find on the android market, and best of all, it’s free! When you start the app you’re greeted with the introduction screen. The app will ask a basic set of questions like your age, weight, health conditions, weight goals, gender, etc. I was impressed that Diet and Food Tracker didn’t set unreasonable goals with snake oil promises of 20 pounds in two weeks. They limit your weight loss from half a pound to two pounds per week. Losing too much weight to fast can be seriously unhealthy, so I appreciated this.

Weight Loss and Fitness App

If you need help or want a second place for your data you can also link the app to your Sparkpeople online account, or simply use it standalone. The decision is up to you. In this case I choose standalone. I am a very on the go person and when I finally hit a computer the last thing I am doing is checking my weight and diet. I’d rather have all that info in my pocket.

After setting up your account you’re sent to the “Today” screen. Here you’ll see some nice articles to read for your morning constitutional, the calories eaten today, and the calories burned. You get your info served to you with two nice line graphs and some simple text. Overall it’s easy to follow and to see what’s going on for that day.

Food for Thought

Now, you’re getting the nibbles and you need to get something in your stomach. Before launching towards the fridge like a mad cow you might want to check out the “Food” tab. Here is where you will log your daily eats. It’s a tad confusing at first glance but you get over it quickly after you realized how it’s designed.

This tab is best used if you plan ahead. You can select and add the foods you are planning to eat along with the calorie count and dosage for each meal. The developer was even nice enough to include a snack time. Adding food is cumbersome though. You search and find what food you will be eating, how much, what brand, and so forth, and add it to your daily meal. Hence, planning ahead… Adding your meal and foods can be a tad annoying and does take time. If you decide you enjoyed what you ate though, you can always copy the meal to the next day. There are only so many days I can stomach the same thing meal though. This process is a necessary evil for the app. It certainly isn’t my favorite part.

Feel the Burn!

Next we continue our journey on over to the exercise part. Are you excited? Are you pumped!?

Weight Loss and Fitness App

After clicking on the fitness tab you’re greeted with the daily push-ups you’ve done. Not terribly exciting. But you’ll also get a run down of the time spent moving and calories burnt. Just like the “Food” tab, you enter in you exercises done and how long you did them and the app will guesstimate from there. Straight forward but it takes a couple seconds. Rinse wash and repeat day after day.

Weigh in Time Boys

The last important stop is the weigh in tab. Like a wrestler on game day, the app has you check your weight religiously. Step on the scale, shriek in horror, input your numbers, peek at your graph, rinse, wash, and repeat, next day… With any luck you’ll be watching that little blue line on that nice simplistic little graph going down in no time.

Of course, if you so choose, you can always adjust your options and settings later on. The “more” tab stores all this info. Curiously there is also some mysterious water setting I couldn’t figure out. I leave this as a mystery to you. The app isn’t clear at all what to do with this. But, anyway, you’ll have the options to change your personal info and settings, view your reports, and share your progress so far.

Conclusion

All in all in the app isn’t bad. It’s free so the price is great. The colors are very pastel and easy to read. I didn’t really experience any force closes across multiple devices, which is such a great thing on a hardware-fragmented platform like android.

I also had no trouble multitasking with the app as well. The information was harder to read on smaller screens though. There is some info to plug in to the app. In fact, get in the same mentality as your birth control; you’ll need to do it everyday.

Would I recommend this app? Yes, I would. Whether you are on a commercial weight loss program (i.e Weight Watchers, Medifast, Atkins, BistroMD, etc) or you are following your own diet plan, the Diet and Food Tracker by Sparkpeople can be a valuable tool. Not all people like to count calories, though. Play with it for a week and see how it feels with you. If you don’t get your mojo going from it, then move on. There are similar apps on the market.

Guest author Matthew is a Smartphone lover and technology addict who enjoys reviewing fitness and weight loss related apps. In his blog, he reviews weight loss programs and features discount offers for Medifast and Bistro MD coupons for 2011, two proven meal replacement and food delivery weight loss plans.

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