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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.

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                      Published on November 14, 2018

                      Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                      Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                      With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                      For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                      In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                      Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                      Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                      It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                      For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                      Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                      Symptoms of Fatigue

                      Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                      • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                      • mental blocks
                      • lack of motivation
                      • headache
                      • dizziness
                      • muscle weakness
                      • slowed reflexes and responses
                      • impaired decision-making and judgement
                      • moodiness, such as irritability
                      • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                      • reduced immune system function
                      • blurry vision
                      • short-term memory problems
                      • poor concentration
                      • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                      Causes of Fatigue

                      The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                      • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                      • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                      • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                      • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                      Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                      Medical Causes of Fatigue

                      If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                      Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                      Anemia

                      Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                      Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                      There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                      This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                      Diabetes

                      Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                      Sleep Apnea

                      Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                      Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                      Thyroid disease

                      An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                      Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                      • Lack of sleep
                      • Too much sleep 
                      • Alcohol and drugs 
                      • Sleep disturbances 
                      • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                      • Poor diet 

                      Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                      • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                      • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                      • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                      • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                      Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                      Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                      • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                      • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                      • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                      How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                      Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                      1. Tell The Truth

                      Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                      To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                      Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                      The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                      One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                      • How you feel
                      • What time of day it is
                      • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                      • How your mind and body reacts

                      This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                      2. Reduce Your Commitments

                      When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                      If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                      When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                      Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                      3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                      If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                      Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                      If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                      Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                      Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                      4. Express More Gratitude

                      Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                      It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                      Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                      5. Focus On Yourself

                      Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                      There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                      But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                      We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                      6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                      Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                      Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                      The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                      Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                      7. Take a Power Nap

                      When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                      Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                      This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                      8. Take More Exercise

                      The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                      Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                      The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                      You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                      9. Get More Quality Sleep

                      To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                      Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                      My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                      10. Improve Your Diet

                      Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                      Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                      On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                      To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                      Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                      Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                      11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                      Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                      When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                      Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                      My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                      12. Get Hydrated

                      Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                      Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                      If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                      The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                      The Bottom Line

                      These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                      If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                      Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                      [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                      [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                      [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                      [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                      [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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