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What You Eat Matters! Use Myfitnesspal to Keep Track Of Your Eating Habit

What You Eat Matters! Use Myfitnesspal to Keep Track Of Your Eating Habit

It’s easy to remember what you had for dinner yesterday, but what if I asked you what you ate last Friday? Most of us have difficulty keeping track of our food choices. When you don’t record what you’ve eaten, it’s easy to overeat.

Recalling what you had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is one thing, but do you remembering snacks can be problematic. Did you take one of the doughnuts that your boss bought for the office? Would you remember the late-night ice-cream binge or the post-work-week snack attack? Even if you could recall all the things you’ve eaten, you’d have a hard time remembering the size of the portion that you consumed.

Being unaware of your caloric intake can make it difficult to lose weight. Instead of identifying constructive ways to shed pounds, lots of us resort to beating ourselves up or trying to stick to a boring or restrictive diet.

You can’t solve a problem until you identify its TRUE cause

If you want to get to the root of your unhealthy habits, collect some data on yourself. By looking at precisely what you eat, you’ll be able to home in on dieting missteps that are making you unhealthy.

Think about the last time you tried to solve a problem without knowing what caused it in the first place. It’s nearly impossible to come up with a solution unless you have a clear overview of the situation. Your health and wellness is no different. By writing down exactly what you eat and how much of it you consume, you can make healthy dietary adjustments.

MyFitnessPal helps you collect the information you need

If you find the idea of keeping a food journal cumbersome, there’s a streamlined electronic food journal that can help you make informed decisions about your eating habits. MyFitnessPal is an app that enables you to record data about your meals and snacks.

Using this app is superior to other food journals because it allows you to set goals for yourself and track your choices in real time. It can project the approximate number of calories you should take in based on the information you supply.

Besides having a quick and easy way to enter meals and snacks, you’ll be able to pull from a database of over 5 million foods to find the best estimate of how many calories you’ve consumed. If you eat at a restaurant or enjoy food without a nutrition label, you can search the database to figure out the nutritional value of those items.

You can also log exercise in MyFitnessPal in order to determine how that affects your necessary intake for the day. The app is also designed to interface with wearable fitness trackers and apps so that you can sync your data to get the clearest picture about your health. If you want to make a change but can’t hire a trainer or a dietitian, this app may give you the tools to get you started on your wellness journey.

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How to use MyFitnessPal’s best features

Set your calorie intake target

After you’ve created a MyFitnessPal profile, you’ll have a chance to set your health and fitness goals. Note that you can set these goals in-app or on the desktop version of the service.

On the desktop version, go to the “Goals” tab and click on “View Guided Setup” to change your goals at any time. The link will take you to a page called “Update your diet profile.”

    It will give you a chance to input your weight, height, and activity level. You’ll also select if you are trying lose, gain, or maintain your weight.

      After you’ve recorded that information, the app will determine the number of calories that you should consume each day to reach your goals. You can find that number by clicking on the “My Home” tab, or going to the “Goals” tab (shown below).

        You can make changes to customize and refine your goals as your needs change. Checking and updating your goals on the app is simple as well. Just click on the sidebar menu and go to “Goals” to have the information in the palm of your hand.

        Scan barcodes to get all the information you need

        While many of the features of MyFitnessPal are accessible on the website as well as through the app, the barcode scanner is only available through your phone. In future updates, the company would like to include a manual input option for barcodes numbers, but until then, we still have our phones.

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        On the top left, click on the sidebar menu to show your options. Scroll down to “Diary” and click on it. Select a meal. You’ll get a screen that looks like this:

          On the top right-hand side, notice the symbol that looks like a bar code. Click that symbol, which will open a scanner. Scan the barcode for the item you ate. This will load the nutrition facts for that item, which will appear like the image below.

            You can adjust the serving size and number of servings to get an accurate reflection of your intake. When all of your information is correct, hit the check mark in the top right-hand corner. This action not only enters the food into your food journal, but it also subtracts the number of calories from your caloric intake goal.

            With such a simple process, it’s easy to monitor your consumption and determine whether you should indulge or eat a light meal.

            Check your overall statistics to see your progress

            You can see how you’re doing ever day under the “Diary” tab. If you want to examine long term trends, MyFitnessPal makes that easy to do too.

            To see how you’re doing over an extended period of time, go to the sidebar menu on the app. Click on the “Progress” tab.

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              At the top, you have the option to view your weight and designate a period of time. You can also look at measurements such as your waist, neck, or hips, by clicking on the “Weight” tab. You can adjust the period of time from one week, to several months to get a graph or your progress.

              Input exercise data

              MyFitnessPal syncs with fitness wearables such as the FitBit and the UA Band, but you can also sync other exercise apps to upload your data directly into MyFitnessPal.

              If you don’t have wearables or fitness apps, you can also enter your exercise by hand. Input your fitness data by going to the “My Home” page on the desktop version of the site. Click on “Add Exercise” in the “Your Daily Summary” box.

                You can also go directly to the “Exercise” tab to manually input your physical activity.

                  You’ll easily be able to consider your training routine alongside your diet. MyFitnessPal even has a database that allows you to search for your exercise if you are uncertain about the number of calories you’ve burned.

                  Using the app enables you to input the same information by going to “Diary” and clicking on the plus sign under “Exercise.”

                  After you’ve selected an exercise, it will appear under your most recently used options so that you can quickly add it again without having to search the database.

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                  If they don’t have barcodes, search for it

                  By returning to the “Diary” tab on the sidebar menu of the app, you can add food under the meal or snack heading of your choice. Your favorite meals and snacks will appear so that you can add those without looking up the information, but if you’re trying something new, you can enter the item in “Search for a Food.”

                    If you typed in “hummus,” the app would give you all the options for hummus in the database. You can select from different brands, and the adjust the serving size to get the most accurate information.

                      It also comes with supplementary articles too

                      The home page of the app not only shows you your progress for the day, but it also displays featured articles to keep you motivated and educated. The articles include everything from fitness and diet tips to blog posts about activities that get you out of your office and into the world.

                      If you want to search for articles on a particular fitness topic, go to “Blog” on the sidebar menu. You can type a search term and find a plethora of articles on your topic of choice. Read them on your phone to arm yourself with the knowledge that you need to succeed.

                      MyFitnessPal keeps you accountable and visualise your small progress

                      Many of us struggle with making good decisions about what to eat and whether we should exercise. Without motivation, it’s easy to fall into bad habits such as snacking too much or leading a sedentary lifestyle.

                      By committing to recording your meals, snacks, and exercise, you’ll notice a shift in how you perceive the small actions that make up your day. That chocolate chip cookie doesn’t look as appealing when you realize that it will put you over your caloric intake goal for the day. Binge-watching your favorite show when you can see that you haven’t exercised all week may not seem like such a good idea.

                      MyFitnessPal lets you see the big picture. It’s intuitive to use, and it streamlines the process of recording your health data. You can pay for the premium membership to get the most advanced features on the app, but everything I’ve shown to you today is available in the free version of the app. With so many tools at no cost, there’s no reason not to give it a shot.

                      More by this author

                      Jolie Choi

                      Having experienced her own extreme transformation process, Jolie strongly believes that staying healthy takes determined and consistent action.

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                      Last Updated on July 23, 2019

                      5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

                      5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

                      In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

                      Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

                      How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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                      • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
                      • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
                      • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
                      • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
                      • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
                      • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

                      When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

                      1. Realize You’re Not Alone

                      Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

                      2. Find What Inspires You

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                      Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

                      On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

                      3. Give Yourself a Break

                      When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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                      Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

                      4. Shake up Your Routines

                      Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

                      Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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                      When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

                      5. Start with a Small Step

                      Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

                      Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

                      More to Help You Stay Motivated

                      Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

                      Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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