10 Tips for Making the Most of MyFitnessPal

By now, many of you know that I'm a MyFitnessPal member (MyFitnessPal is a free online calorie counter), and this month, my goal is to log every day. That's the FIRST goal. The second goal is to come in under my alloted calories, which is easier said than done! As part of doing this, I decided to survey MyFitnessPal users for their best practices. The advice I've recieved is already helping me, and I hope it will help you! MyFitnessPal Logo

1. Log everything: Even the bad stuff; even "one hershey kiss," someone said. The most important thing is that you log, especially in beginning. Get in the habit of logging. Period. If you don't add something "you only cheat yourself," one user said.

2. If you can, pre-log: When I first heard this, I was a bit skeptical, I'll be honest, but in fact, since I started pre-logging, I'm seeing better results! For instance, I put a roast in the crock ot before I left the house this morning, so I already know what I'm having for dinner. As I logged my breakfast, I went ahead and logged dinner! I just finished logging lunch and I know I can't snack between now and dinner if I want to keep within my calories. Or, I'll have to make time to workout for some additional calories!

You can also pre-log your entire week. Some people even add in their exercise plans! One user said:

I have to agree that I have been trying to pre-log as well because it helps me stay on track mentally and if I have physically logged in what I will eat for the day, I tend not to stray as much. Same with excercise. If I log it before I have done it then for some reason, it gives me more motivation to do it!"

3. Use the app: It's excellent! It's fast and it's extremely handy for when you're out at restaurants that do not have the calories listed. I commute to and from work on the metro and have dedicated that time to using the app to log.

4. Use the forums: Ask questions. Ask for advice. That's how I get this info- I asked! I was VERY (pleasantly) surprised at all the feedback I received! I wasn't expecting so many responses!

MyFitnessPal Forum

5. Read the Success Stories: They're flat-out amazing!! I try to look at one story a day for motivation. Today, I read this story-- best friends who lost a combined total of 166 lbs! Incredible!

6. Make friends: This has helped me the most. I was friends with two people for the first 6 months on the website and I hardly tracked. I'm sure my status said I needed some encouragment, but my friend's statuses were saying that too! Not very motivating! I decided to reach out to you guys and I also invited my sister-in-law to join. When I see that they've logged or worked out, it makes me want to! I also love the fact that we can leave each other comments!

MyFitnessPal Friends

7. Take it one step at a time: This is a learning process. I love what this user said:

Focus on calories in / calories out to begin with. Once you feel like you have a good handle on that, you can start paying more attention to macros (protein/fat/carbs), other nutrients (fiber/sodium/sugar/etc.), clean eating, or whatever other nutritional goals you may have in mind. But if you try to jump into all that at once, it can be overwhelming."

8. Spruce up your profile: You're not going to feel invested in something you haven't invested any time into. Take a few minutes to answer the questions in your profile and upload a picture!

MyFitnessPal Profile

9. If you can, get a heart rate monitor (or fitbit) to help track exercise calories: I've been wanting a heart rate monitor for awhile and now I have a good reason to get one! One user said:

Invest in a heart rate monitor so you can figure out how many calories you burn during workouts. This helps if you are going to eat back your exercise calories (I usually eat back half) and it gives you an idea of how hard you need to workout to "burn off" something. For example, I know that to burn off one shortbread cookie from Panera, I have to do a tough Jillian Michaels DVD for 40 minutes. Is it worth it?"

10. Make your food diary public, at least to your friends! Alright, so, I'll be honest: I didn't want to do this! I thought, "Oh no, they'll see those mini dark chocolate candy bars I ate yesterday or how I didn't drink enough water," but I went ahead and made my diary public anyway. The reason? Knowing that people will look at it is motivating. How many of us are ashamed of the crap we eat? Transparency is key for me in this fight. If I'm ashamed of it, I simply shouldn't eat it. (Thank you Sara at Licorice and Olives for pushing me to make my diary public!)

If you're a MyFitnessPal member and want to see more best practices, the thread is right here.

I'd love to hear your tips and tricks as well! Leave them in the comments!

Happy hump day :)