Back in January I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app, used it for a few days and promptly gave up because I eat largely meals I cook from scratch - so the amount of items I was having to input just wasn't sustainable alongside a full time job and part time masters. That's also the reason my blog posts have suddenly stopped recently, I ran out of time.
Then over my Easter holidays one of my colleagues invited me to join her back on it. So I decided to give it another chance. When you're spending your holiday studying you need something to procrastinate with right? So, I got right back into it and started logging every little thing I ate. I didn't bother with the water tracking as I'm fully aware that I drink enough water each day - if you aren't it's quite a useful feature just to check up on yourself.
|The kind of meals I regularly cook for my dinner|
On the whole, I would say I eat pretty healthily. Sure, I occasionally snack like a crazy fool and go and buy every single type of sweet, plus popcorn, plus *shock horror* standard coke... The meals I cook for dinner tend to be crammed full of veg, as is my lunch and my breakfast is pretty darn healthy; consisting of shredded wheat, yoghurt and fruit. What I learnt is that yes, I had pretty much assessed my diet correctly. When I don't leave the house and buy rubbish - I do amazingly. When I head out and eat ice cream and fast food, things become a little different.
You can quite clearly see the days when I went mad on the food front. Wednesday I ate everything and anything that I thought looked tasty, it was entirely worth it. Tuesday was going amazingly till I ate almost a whole tub of Ben and Jerry's - again entirely worth it - Blondie Brownie get in my face again already. Then Sunday and Friday I barely seem to have eaten anything. It then all averaged out to 451 calories below my 'target'.
Below are examples of the basic nutritional breakdown of the meals I was eating, which for me is by far the most fascinating part of the whole exercise. The reason I'd keep coming back and logging my food. The first is quite a typical breakdown and as you can see I'm a bit low on the protein, this doesn't mean I didn't get enough, I'm just aiming for a higher percentage of my intake to come from protein - quite difficult as a veggie.
What I do think is that counting calories makes me a bore. Logging all my food is a lot of effort, it takes time and frankly its a bloody boring conversation to be having with anyone. No-one cares and frankly I think they're right not to. If I do continue with it past this holiday I will be doing so quietly in the background.
Having said that, it is a great tool if you are prone to just eating. It makes you stop and think before you take that second packet of crisps, especially if you are connected to friends via the app and know that they'll see if you are under or over your calorie limit. It's certainly working excellently for my mum who is successfully losing weight using it. It is pretty quick, definitely easy and gives you so much information to utilise.
One last negative before I close, being under your calorie limit doesn't mean you've eaten well. Being at your target weight doesn't make you healthy. Being a little overweight doesn't make you unhealthy. More than counting calories, making sure that the calories are ones that are worth putting into your body is important. Using this app, or any other form of calorie counting it appears to be all to easy to 'save' calories so that you can eat some junk. The end result tends to be hangry people who may be eating less but are eating badly. My mum has definitely done that and were I actually trying to lose weight, I could see myself doing that too.
On that note, I'm off for a bike ride. Exercise is the better way to create more calories for yourself to eat :P not deprivation.
Have you tried counting calories? Used My Fitness Pal?