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I recently decided that in addition to returning to my training after the half marathon, I wanted to start to eat better and lose some weight. While I started counting calories, it was semi-effective, but I needed something a little better to work with.  I had previously used the iPhone app LoseIt!, but I found it severely lacking and quit after a few days. When I put the question out to my Twitter followers, my friend Shana recommended MyFitnessPal.

The first thing I liked about MyFitnessPal is how it was how it was multiplatform. Available both for Droid and iPhone (with Blackberry coming soon) in addition to being on the web, the app could be where I was, regardless of how I was connected. Additionally, the different platforms all sync up to a common server, so if I add food via the Droid, I can check it later on the website to see how many calories I had taken in.

When you sign up for MyFitnessPal, it asks what your weight loss goal is and how much weight you want to lose per week.  If you choose too quick a weight loss per week, the system warns you that you’ve gone below the recommended number of calories per day and recommends a slower weight loss.  I chose to set it for a pound a week, which is a safe amount to lose and gave me a safe amount to eat per day.

Whenever you eat something, you enter it into the software. If it’s in the database, it will populate the nutritional values into your daily consumption. If it’s not, you can add it to the database yourself and have the option of sharing it with others using the system. It makes it simple to watch what you eat when any food is accessible or addable like that. My biggest problem with LoseIt! was the limited selection of the food and the inability to add your own foods. The app also had a west coast leaning in its food selection, so eating common foods here on the east coast did not appear and was arduous to accurately track what I was eating.

Additionally, using MyFitnessPal to track your exercise will accomodate your caloric intake appropriately. I use RunKeeper and Nike+ to track my running, but I don’t use anything else for my other exercises. By adding them into your MyFitnessPal profile, it adds a number of calories appropriate for your workout, so you have more to work with on days when you exercise.

The ultimate question is: does MyFitnessPal work?  I’ve been using it a little less than a week and I have already lost 1.5 pounds. I’ve predominantly kept the same exercise schedule, but adjusted my diet to fit into the MyFitnessPal profile set for me, so it has helped me control my diet in a healthy way that makes me more aware of what I am eating and makes sure that I don’t overindulge when I am not paying attention.

There is also a social aspect to MyFitnessPal, but I didn’t get to experience much of it due to lack of friends using it. There’s a community that talk to each other via messageboard and a way to make friends and work with them to lose weight. There is also a way to make friends and work together to lose weight. If you do use MyFitnessPal, feel free to befriend RFJustJon and we can support each other through the trials and tribulations of examining and controlling diets.

I enjoy food. I like eating and may not be a fully fledged foodie, but I realize I need a guide to pay attention to what I eat. MyFitnessPal has help set the guidelines that I need. It allows me to regulate my consumption and finally lose those lingering holiday pounds.

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