Monday, February 1, 2010
A healthy alternative to Facebook
I'm always on the lookout for new websites to play around on besides beloved Facebook, so I just had to share a little bit about a site that's become a personal favorite of both Cam and I over the last few weeks. It's called My Fitness Pal, and it's a really cool free online resources that allows you to track your daily food and exercise. The website was recommended to me by a friend of mine after I told her Cam & I were really making an effort to lead a more healthful lifestyle this year. I had decided that I wanted to keep a food journal to keep track of what I was eating, but I had started doing it in an actual journal, which was really tedious. Now hear me out, I don't think that counting calories and writing down everything you eat all the time is a good idea, as it can develop into a very neurotic, confining way to go through life. However, I do think that it can be a good thing to do for awhile if you're trying to make changes in your diet because it allows you to figure out troublesome areas in your eating habits that you might need to change. That's why my Fitness Pal is such an awesome resource-it allows you to easily input the foods you eat each day, and then it shows you all the nutritional information as well. This is great because it allows you to track not only your calories, but all the nutrients in your food, so you know if you're lacking in things like protein or fiber as well. When you make a profile on the site, you input your height and weight and other information and it gives you an idea of about how many calories you should be consuming each day. When you finish logging in your food at the end of the day, it shows you your total calories (along with totals of all your other nutrients as well), and then it tells you if everyday was like today, you'd weigh X lbs in 5 weeks. I think this is one of the most helpful parts of the site as it shows you how big of an impact each day makes on your overall health. That's not to say you can indulge every now and then, I love food (desserts in particular!) and can't imagine not having them, but this just helps to give you a little bit of a reality check in that it shows you that if you indulged every single day, you will gain weight. What's nice is that the site allows users submit different foods, so the nutritional information for the majority of foods/restaurants is already in the system. Another great thing is that it saves a list of your recently used foods, so if you're like me, you probably have the same thing for breakfast and lunch most of the time. So the site makes it really easy for you to fill out your daily food log as what you're eating is already stored in your list of recent foods. It also allows you to save whole meals as well to easily put them back in your food log at another time. Another feature of My Fitness Pal is that it allows you to input exercise, which is a wonderful way to keep track of your workouts, along with showing you the additional calories burned that you gain from working out. The site has a large community of users, who you can communicate with through message boards or by "friending" them (like on FB!). It also allows you to see graphs of your data, so for example it can show you a chart of your net calories consumed over the past week or the average minutes you've worked out over the last month. The site is well-designed, very easy to use, and an extremely helpful tool if you're trying to eat healthier. I love to use it, but the person who really loves it is Cameron! He is such an engineer--his mind is very numbers based, and information really makes sense to him when it's laid out in tables and graphs. For him, this site is a great way to asses his nutritional habits in a way that speaks to his style of learning. So will we use this site forever? Probably not. But right now, it's really been a helpful tool in our effort to eat healthier and eliminate "junk" from our diet!