My Fitness Pal vs. My Fitness Parent

As I mentioned a few months ago, I quit Weight Watchers and switched over to using My Fitness Pal. I had every intention of using it just like WW, tracking every single morsel that passed my lips, and I figured I would see the same results I had seen with WW in the beginning.

Then the holidays happened and I couldn’t bring myself to keep track of just how many cookies, M&Ms, Ferrero Rocher balls, and God only knows what else I was emotionally binge eating.

I think I am finally back on track now. I’ve been waking up at 6:45 every weekday morning (except for two) during the week to use the elliptical before work. This is HUGE for me as I love to sleep and need, like, 11 hours every night to not be ragey. I’ve been trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies into my diet, while slowly phasing out all the cakes and wine — which has been more than a little problematic as my IBS has decided that pears (one of favorites) are no longer acceptable. I learned that lesson the hard way, and no amount of over-the-counter remedies worked to ease the pain. It was so bad one day that my boss had to send me home early from work because he could see what poor shape I was in. So, lesson learned. No more pears.

It’s been hard, you guys, and I haven’t been perfect, but I made a decision a few days ago (after some questioning from a friend) to make my food and exercise diary public on MFP. There’s something about having to own up to other people (even if it is just my measly 6 friends) about my food choices that makes me re-think if I really want to eat those four mini-Snickers bars before dinner.

The problem is that I think MFP is being a little over-generous in the amount of calories it thinks I am burning when I work out — being more of a pal than a parent, if you will. It tells me that for every 45 minutes I spend on the elliptical, I am burning 441 calories. I’ve just been accepting that as fact and only thought to question it recently when I wasn’t seeing the numbers on the scale go down quite as much as I’d like. I checked the elliptical itself and it tells me that 45 minutes is only 359 calories. That’s a big difference! That’s, like, an entire snack right there. I appreciate MFP’s generosity and encouragement, but I need the tough love right now to make this happen. I don’t need to be coddled, I need to be told that I can do more even though it feels like my legs are on fire.

I like being able to track my workouts and hold myself accountable, so I’ve had to start logging them at the end of the day, when I’m all done eating. That way I don’t think I have any extra calories lying around waiting to be consumed. I’m also back to my old WW way of tracking: enter everything in the morning so that I know exactly what the plan is for the day. This lets me know up front what I’m working with, and I’m less likely to reach for a snack if I know that it will definitely make me go over.

I weighed in this afternoon —  two days before official weekly weigh in day — and I’m down 1.2 pounds.

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6 thoughts on “My Fitness Pal vs. My Fitness Parent

  1. I pre-track my points for the day through WW, too. I’m much more likely to stay on track when I’ve already added foods into my daily count and know that something simple — like a single cookie — will put me higher than where I want to be! It’s much easier to hold myself accountable that way.

    My Fitness Pal is interesting, though I just don’t feel the urge to exercise the way I should! I’m a WW devotee, though I do plan to start adding in some light walking and get myself moving a bit more in the new year. 🙂

    • There is nothing I loathe more than exercise. I HATE IT. The problem is that I hit a plateau with WW and I just stopped losing, so I had to start moving and jump start my system. It’s working, but I don’t like it.

  2. I know what you mean about MFP seeming too generous with how many calories you burn for things. I have my FitBit set up to automatically calculate how many calories I’ve burned from my daily walking around the office on jobs, and update it to MFP. I had to look at the way it was calculating because it just seemed off. It turns out the way it was doing it wasn’t very accurate at all, so I adjusted some settings so it gives me less points than I should get, but I don’t think about it, and work off those extra every day.

    You have to remember that with MFP, a lot of the entries you search for are put in by other users. A lot of it could be they are doing higher intensity than you, or they could be lying to themselves. I’d suggest manually entering your burn for every work out you do so you’re more honest with yourself. If it’s something that’s not on a machine and calculated (sit ups?) just add it with no burn, so you’ll still see it, but not count on being able to spent those calories. Feel good about it, but not over eat by a miscalculation.

    I’m sure you know I love the idea of sharing my diary with friends who will tell me to cut back on the ranch on my salad, or that if I traded this for that, I could get under my goal again. Subconsciously I find myself making better choices because of it. When offered a snack, I turn it down because I don’t want to log it and go over, or getting Dr Pepper 10 because a friend tried it with me, and it’s better than the 150 cal sodas we were drinking…

    As for logging food. I agree with Meg about planning your day as best you can, maybe entering your planned meals in the morning, and updating if you have a 2nd serving of something, or don’t eat as much as you thought. For me, it helps keep me on track and know how well I’m doing that day. The only downside for me is I have a hard time planning out meals in advance…

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