Can a smartphone really make you fitter? A look at My Fitness Pal

Smartphones are becoming an integral part of our life, and the phrase companion is frequently used to to describe how we interact with them.

The barrier between what a phone can and can’t do is reducing all the time as apps and technology becomes more sophisticated, and the potential for having a positive impact on our lives becomes a reality.

Apple have recently starting running a commercial on using an iPhone to improve fitness and personal wellbeing, but just how possible is it to achieve significant results using only a smart phone to coach you?

As the grey hair has started to bed in I’ve recently put on a few pounds again, ( a reoccurring theme in my life ) and I’m looking to take control back, improve my fitness and hopefully my energy levels. I’m going to try and achieve this using only my iPhone and Apps, and I’ll share the results as part of the process here on CoolSmartphone.

There are 3 specific areas that I’m going to look at as part of this exercise.
1) Monitoring and a Control
2) Tracking Activity
3) Exercise

To monitor and control the process I’m going to use a popular and free App called My Fitness Pal.
My Fitness Pal acts as a central hub for your fitness programme, it sets you goals, tracks your calorie intake, and monitors your weight loss against your target. It also allows you to record your exercise, some of which can be automated by using interfaces to other tracking Apps.

Setting a goal within My Fitness Pal is easy, from the Goals section of the app enter your current weight, your target weight and how much weight you want to lose per week and you are ready to go.
Setting the Activity Level on this same screen is important as My Fitness Pal uses this information to work out your net Calorie intake allowance.

Setting your Goals

Setting your Goals

A key element to My Fitness Pal is tracking the food that you eat during the day, and it’s important that you are honest when entering the details otherwise the results will be negatively impacted.
My Fitness Pal includes an incredible food database to help you enter & maintain your diary, and entering information is easy.
If the food you are eating has a bar code on the packaging, you can simply use the Apps built in barcode scanner to scan the product allowing My Fitness Pal to perform a lookup on its database, it’s a process that only takes a couple of seconds.
If you don’t have access to the bar code you can also perform a text search, and My Fitness Pal remembers your entries forming a quick pick list to select food from.
Of course there’s always an option to manually add entries if you can’t find a food type in the database.

Logging your Food

Logging your Food

The process remains at its easiest when you enter food as you eat it rather then batching it up to enter at the end of the day when the process can become a chore.

Tracking your progress is also a quick task to perform, simply go to the Progress section of the app and enter your current weight. If you are following the apps guidance properly you should see weight slowly starting to fall.

At the end of each day press the finish logging option and you’ll be given an update on your progress and a prediction of when you’ll reach your goal. You will also get a warning if you aren’t eating enough to remain healthy.

 

image

Tracking Your Progress

Adding exercise records in My Fitness Pal works in the same way as adding food entries, and also includes a database of common exercises with the associated calorific burn values.
My Fitness Pal also interfaces with popular exercise systems such as Fitbit and Endomondo to make My Fitness Pal the central hub of the fitness activity.

Tracking your exercise is important as the more calories you burn through exercise the more food you can eat as part of your daily allowance. Dieting on your own is always difficult so My Fitness pal includes a social/community element, where you can befriend other users to offer and receive support during your fitness regime, this feature can be invaluable.

My Fitness Pal isn’t a magic solution, but it puts the control of your fitness back in your hands, it informs you, it guides you and it educates you about a good fitness routine.

My Fitness Pal is available on most popular smartphones and also as a web app at http://www.myfitnesspal.com