Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change-Logging Your Food

I could rattle off statistics and facts about why food logging makes losing weight more successful but I’d rather get on with it and have you thank me later. By logging your food you’ll become an expert on what you eat and how nutritious it is becoming more aware of what you put into your body. That’s what this lifestyle change is about.

MyFitnessPal is the most popular calorie counter and for good reason. It’s free and simple to use giving us real insight into our nutrition and calories burned during the day. It works!

What It Can Do For You

  • It tracks your weight and calculates a recommended daily calorie intake. It also contains a well-designed food diary and an exercise log.
  • The homepage provides a clear picture of how many calories you’ve consumed during the day. It also shows how much of your recommended intake remains, as well as how many calories you’ve burned by exercising.
  • If you’re using a fitness tracking device, MyFitnessPal can likely connect and sync with it and then include the data in the exercise log.
  • The app tracks your progress towards your goals and offers chat forums with fellow users. These include conversations, recipes, tips and personal success stories.
  • MyFitnessPal’s nutrition database is huge, containing over five million foods. You can also create custom foods and dishes, or download recipes from the internet.
  • It even saves your favorite meals so you can log those quickly.
  • Additionally, the MyFitnessPal app has a barcode scanner, so you can instantly enter the nutrition information of some packaged foods. (I love this!)
  • Each day is presented as a pie chart, showing your macros (the breakdown of carbs, protein and fat.) You can also write a note for the day, such as how the day went or how you were feeling.

Let’s Begin!

I want you to go get the MyFitnessPal application and put it on your cell phone (so you always have it with you.) Then, under Settings set up your Profile and Goals. Be honest because what you put down will be used to calculate how many calories a day you should eat to get to your goal weight.

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Under Settings is where you’ll put your personal info and preferences. Click on Profile to start.

Once your Profile is done, click on My Goals. What you put here will determine how many calories you can eat each day, and how the app will figure out those calories.

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These examples are from my account, yours will be different. The lock icons are for the premium (paying) part of the app so ignore them. I use the free version but if you want to have more control over your nutrition, or have a medical condition you might want to try the paid version.

While setting your Goals decide how fast you want to lose weight under Weekly Goal and pick an Activity Level. If you’re just starting to log food it’s a good idea to pick Not Very Active. (I have Lightly Active picked because I’m in maintenance but at first I used Not Very Active.) Ignore the Nutrition Goals you don’t need to change them.

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The Home tab of MyFitnessPal.

When you’re finished with your Goals look at the top of the Home tab. Under Goal, it will tell you how many calories a day you need to eat to get to your desired weight. MyFitnessPal will never go below 1,200 calories a day it’s the lowest you can go without a doctor’s orders.

The Home tab will tell you at a glance where you’re at in your day and if you have a tracker or count steps it will show you how many steps.

I’m maintaining my weight now but when I started I was at 1,200 calories a day. It took me about a year to take off almost 60 pounds. The first 30 pounds came off without aerobic exercise (riding my bicycle) but when I started to exercise with my new diet the weight came off faster without having to target any areas of my body.

MyFitnessPal connects to many apps and devices listed under My Apps And Devices. I’ve used it with my Jawbone UP3 and my Fitbit Charge 2 band. If you don’t have a tracker no worries you don’t need one to use MyFitnessPal.

Let’s Log A Food

The first time you log a food either use the barcode reader or look it up using search. The next time it’ll be there for you to pick under one of the convenient tabs or you can Multi-Add your foods.

MyFitnessPal’s nutrition database is huge, containing over five million foods. You can also create custom foods and dishes, or download recipes from the internet. Resturant food and brand names are included.

Let’s log peanut butter. If you know the brand you can add it for a more detailed search result. Look for the one that matches and add it to your Lunch.

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Each food has their own category. Here we do a search for peanut butter.

The database is good but pick carefully and pay attention to quantities. If you pick the first entry and only had 1 tbsp. you can change it after logging that food and it will reflect that change in your entries portion and calories. Don’t forget to log your drinks and snacks.

A green check means the food item was checked and is correct. Many foods won’t have one but no worries the majority of the data is correct without the green check. I think it’s the best database I’ve ever used they all have some mistakes and I’ve tried a lot of them in the past.

Logging A Meal

Let’s start with Breakfast it’s the most important meal of the day that sets you up for the whole day. If you eat a healthy breakfast it will give you energy throughout the morning without hunger pains.

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I eat oatmeal with fresh blueberries and chia seeds every day for breakfast it sticks with me and gives me plenty of energy towards my morning bike ride.

This is what a logged meal looks like. Tomorrow when I go to log Breakfast again I can load it separately or as a meal depending on my settings. Foods already logged will show up in the Recent, Frequent, etc. tabs for each meal.

Complete Your Diary, Snyc Your Apps And Check Your Progress

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After exercise and steps are logged (and synced) they’ll be added to your calories for each day. (Later we’ll talk about using MapMyFitness to log exercise.)

You can manually log any exercise (including steps) with MyFitnessPal each day so it can be added to your daily burn. If you have a tracker connected (under My Apps And Devices) the data will be shared between apps and show up like my data above.

At the end of each day click on Complete Diary to see how you did. It will tell you how much you’d weigh if every day was like today, in 5 weeks time giving you a snapshot of how you’re doing. There’s more!

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At any time of the day, you can check your Calories, Nutrients and Macros to make sure you’re on track. Your Macro percentages are already set up for you.

What Are Macros?

Macronutrients or Macros are the building blocks of nutrition. You probably know them better as carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Macros are the nutrients you need in large amounts, as they provide your body with the calories it needs to function.

Carbohydrate + Protein + Fat = Total Calories

Carbohydrate: Provides fuel, the energy for your body and brain. It’s found in all plant foods, like grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and also milk and yogurt.

Protein: Helps to build and repair your muscles, organs, skin, blood, and different chemicals, like hormones, in your body. It’s found in large amounts in meat, poultry, fish, legumes, dairy, tofu, and eggs, and in smaller amounts in nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

FatInsulates and protects your bones and organs, acts as backup fuel for energy and helps in brain development. Healthy, unsaturated fats are found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, and mackerel. Unhealthy saturated fats are found in high-fat beef, pork, butter, full-fat dairy, and processed foods, like cookies and donuts.

Balancing your Macros is an easy way to watch calories since together they equal your total calories per day. By eating the right percentage of each you’re making better choices with your food. giving your body what it needs each day.

Can I Trust The Calories Listed For Each Food?

Finding out the correct calories in a serving of a food isn’t easy. Do a search and you’ll find a different number of calories for the same food. It makes it hard to count calories and be consistent. This can set you up for failure when losing weight.

Logging food daily with the same database and reusing these foods under your profile ensures that you use the same number of calories for the same foods each time. MyFitnessPal works to be accurate checking its food database for mistakes when possible and removing them. You can trust the numbers and this application to help you lose weight even if the numbers aren’t perfect because of how it works.

Be consistent in your logging, stay within the recommended calories per day, use the same entry for the foods you eat daily and be patient. You will start seeing the weight come off.

MyFitnessPal Worked For Me

I can’t say enough about how much MyFitnessPal helped me lose weight and eat better. I had no idea how many calories to eat, I tried many different apps failing miserably and learning nothing. I was getting heavier and more depressed.

I’ve been using MyFitnessPal for over 2 years now. After the first year, I really didn’t need to log anymore but it was so easy I just kept it up. By doing so, I’ve kept within 4 pounds of my target weight because I see what I’m doing wrong before it gets out of control. It’s a great feeling to have a normal BMI and I work to keep it that way.

When you start using MyFitnessPal daily to log your food you’ll find more to love about it. You’ll be reversing your Real Age and losing weight in no time.

We started out lazy, got fat, and then it drove us crazy but we can regain sanity by logging our meals. I got you!

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Tracking Bike Rides With Your Fitbit

I believe in wearable health devices they do so much to help keep me on the right path helping me to balance my activities so that I can stay healthy. I couldn’t have lost weight, mastered my insomnia or kept track of my food or exercise without them. They are meant to be a tool in helping us get an idea of how we’re doing not a medical device but if used correctly they are very useful.

Recently I bought a Charge 2 Fitbit band and I love it. It gives active (during exercise) and resting heart rate, sleep stages (REM, deep sleep, etc.) it tracks diet, has a Relax (deep breathing) mode, gives you a Cardio Fitness Score and more. It’s put together well and easy to wear while sleeping.

Fitbit has a good community of users behind their products. They have many groups one can join to exchange information and share your ups and downs with on your journey to good health. One such group I joined was Cycling and it was clear that some of these people needed my help.

The first few times I tried tracking my rides on the Fitbit it was a trial and error period for sure. My Fitbit uses my phone’s GPS to track rides, meaning I need to have my phone with me to work and has a feature where it will automatically track cycling after so many minutes of riding. It sounds so simple but it wasn’t.

I was already using Mapmyride and Myfitnesspal so when buying my Fitbit I made sure the app connected and shared data with them. The food data worked flawlessly but the cycling was another story.

The first time I used Mapmyride everything was good until I synced the Fitbit app. The Fitbit mapped my ride, I couldn’t enlarge the map and the info was limited. The info from Mapmyride did not show up. The data had not exchanged and I was stuck with 2 different versions and maps of my bike ride in 2 different places. I wasn’t happy with that.

After some thought, I went into the Fitbit exercise tile and changed the bike ride setting to not track my rides automatically. So the next time I biked my Mapmyride data was right there under my exercise tile on the Fitbit app and I was thrilled.

Looking closer, I noticed something. It said that the data came from Myfitnesspal, not Mapmyride. Just to see I took Myfitnesspal out of the equation and sure enough, I was missing my cycling data again. So, if you don’t have Myfitnesspal connected even if you don’t use it, your data won’t show up like this.

Myfitnesspal is all about nutrition and how many calories you can eat for the day adding and subtracting calories from what you burn (or don’t) changing many times in a day.  I think because of this it’s more active in sharing data between Mapmyride and the Fitbit app so I’m thinking that’s why it works this way. It’s just a guess but if it’s not broken I’m not fixing it.

What does all this mean? If you have a Fitbit and cycle outdoors it’s very easy to get your ride turned into steps, see your normal ride stats and have it all show up under your exercise tile on the Fitbit app if you just follow these simple instructions. Also, many people talk about putting their Fitbit bands on their ankle, shoe or other places while biking. I don’t know what started this nonsense but you can keep your band on your wrist.

Get Your Cycling Data Here

  • download Mapmyride and Myfitnesspal
  • fill out the profiles on these apps
  • make sure all 3 apps are connected to each other
  • on the Fitbit app press the exercise tile
  • under the Exercise Goals settings, tell the Fitbit to IGNORE Outdoor Bike.

turnoffautoWhen IGNORED it will look like this (above)

Next Time You Bike

  • log your ride using Mapmyride
  • when finished, sync with the Fitbit app under the exercise tile
  • your workout will be on your Fitbit

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When finished and synced your ride will show up under your exercise tile like this (above)

Your maps will be stored on the Mapmyride app and site, they’re enlargeable and detailed unlike what the Fitbit offers alone. I can go and look up my past rides, log a ride I forgot, edit my workouts and much more than can be done on the Fitbit. All changes will be on the Fitbit after syncing.

If you want these results you must follow my instructions to the letter including using Myfitnesspal in the loop. I don’t use Strava, or other biking apps so if you do, experiment using them instead of Mapmyride. I’d be interested in the outcome if you do.

After riding my bike I can’t wait to pour over my statistics about my ride and find out how I did. The easier it is the better. Enjoy your rides!

My hope is this helps the many friends I’ve made in the Cycling Group on Fitbit. I have written these instructions too many times in comments on posts asking for help so this is a selfish attempt to save time and my hand from cramping.

For detailed info on what Mapmyride can do for you follow the link and read my post on what the free version can do for you.

You Got To Hit It To Get It!

Tracking Your Rides Or Map With Bekkie

Sure it’s fun riding your bike but looking back at how far you’ve come in your quest for good health by keeping track of your rides is priceless. Whether you want to remember a particular ride, see the furthest you’ve ever ridden or how you rank against other riders in your area, you’ll want to use an application to record your rides using your cell phone’s GPS.

These applications act as free bike computers giving you all kinds of information on your bike rides along with a map showing exactly where you’ve been.

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Pick your type of bicycle and start your workout.

What can they tell me that I don’t already know?

  • Average speed
  • Top speed
  • Distance rode
  • Ride duration
  • Calories burned
  • Elevation
  • Splits
  • Date
  • Time
  • Rank (comparing you to people who ride your same trails)
  • Routes

These applications keep track of every ride you do with them and you can look at your rides in detail. Open an account with them, set up your profile, pick your bike type and ride. Take some time to set up your profile because that’s how the application figures out your calories burned. They will ask you for your existing weight, sex, age, bike type, and height.

Auto-pause.

On Mapmyride there are options to auto-pause your rides meaning all you have to do is press Start and the app will stop and start when you do automatically until you’re finished without touching your phone. If you walk with your phone during your workout it might act confused but when you finish and press Stop it will be correct.

Listen to your ride stats out loud.

There is a function (using your phone’s Google voice) where you can set what you want the app to tell you (out loud) while you ride. The application will tell you whether it’s paused or not and much more all without touching your phone. You don’t have to wear headphones unless you can’t hear your phone where you keep it during rides. I love that feature!

I use Mapmyfitness which is Mapmyride by Under Amor.

Confusing? Not really, Mapmyfitness is the main company that puts out the different applications for walking, running, riding, hiking and even walking your dog. To make it easy for people to find the application for their particular exercise they are color coded. No matter which one you use as soon as you sign into your account your personal info will be there.

Take a look at Mapmyride for yourself. Here are the different applications under the Mapmyfitness umbrella so you can see what I mean. You can use any of them for your bike riding they are all the same and work the same.

And there’s more…

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Connect your fitness bands, smart scales, shoes or heart rate straps.

If you have a fitness band, like a Fitbit, or a Jawbone UP3 you can connect them to Mapmyride which will share your exercise information (such as calories burned and time ridden) giving you credit on your connected band’s application. Make sure you always let your applications sync because that’s when they swap data.

For your caloric needs, Mapmyride also connects to Myfitnesspal (another Under Amor application) and will add or subtract your calories burned during biking (or exercising) to the calories you can eat for that day. Even after losing weight I still use it to log my food and maintain my weight it’s excellent.

I’ve been keeping track of my rides since my first ride on 2/20/16 when I rode 5.96 miles. It took me 1:06:06 at an average speed of 5.4 miles an hour and Mapmyride keeps track of them for me, maps and all.

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From the website, all of my personal triumphs. Clicking on any of them on the site will bring back all of my stats plus the full map.

Mapmyfitness has a website online where you can look at so many cool things about your workouts. It’s amazing how much they give you for free and although there are ads you won’t mind when you see what they offer.

What can I find on the Mapmyfitness website?

  • Workouts
  • Goals
  • Achievements
  • Calorie calculator
  • Routes (maps)
  • Challenges (get involved)
  • Blog (cycling included)
  • And more

There are other applications you can use, like Strava, that are similar but Mapmyride has been time tested by me and Under Armor is a good company. Make sure your free version offers what you want unless you want to pay monthly. Strava doesn’t offer riding stats out loud either.

When picking out your application to use make sure you look at everything offered and read the reviews carefully. You don’t want to trust your metadata to just anyone.

You might be asking yourself why would you want to go through this hassle when you can just ride? I find it helpful to look back at my old workouts and see how far I’ve come. To become healthy it’s about more than just enjoying yourself it takes work and using the right tools for the job.

Good health is a balancing act that requires eating the right foods, getting the right amount of exercise and quality sleep each night. Once you have your health under control you’ll feel great and everything in your life will be enjoyable.

Warning! Tracking your rides and data can be addicting and have serious side effects of making you very healthy.