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.
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.
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.
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.